One of the most common things you hear when learning about minimalism is, “minimalism looks different for everyone.” I consider myself a minimalist of sorts, so I started thinking, what does minimalism look like in my life and how is it different or similar to other minimalists?
It’s All About the Passion
Minimalism, for me, is all about passion. I want to make more room for the things I am passionate about by reducing distractions and resources that go elsewhere. This means spending less money on things that don’t support my ultimate goals and eliminating all the clutter (both physical and mental) that gets in the way.
The Passions Minimalism Supports
I lay out my passions like this:
Relationships: family, friends, significant other
My cat Mango
Building an independent career
Health & Wellness: yoga, exercise, eating healthy, mindfulness
Things that make me feel alive: travel, freediving, kiteboarding, surfing
So, What Does My Minimalism Look Like in Practice?
In practice, minimalism looks like me continually evaluating a few things:
The possessions I own
My finances and what I spend money on
Where and how I spend my time
Minimalism With the Possessions I Own
I live in a 900 square-foot house, there’s not room for much. Despite the fact that I have been downsizing for years—purging my closet, book collections, memorabilia, etc.—there always seems to be more to get rid of.
Anytime I’ve had an especially stressful day, I start scanning corners of my house to see what can go. It’s like I think I’ll be a little freer if there is less stuff taking up my living space. It’s a way for me to feel in control, but also feel a sense of freedom knowing that something I believed I “needed” can go and I am completely okay. Pretty much every week I have a paper grocery bag in the corner of my room that I toss clothes, jewelry, books and actual junk into so I can easily build a load worthy of a stop at Goodwill.
My wardrobe is the neverending minimalist challenge in my life. Week after week, I get rid of the items I rarely enjoy and my closet is still packed full. I always envision having the ultimate minimalist wardrobe of neutral-colored clothes on one of those freestanding wardrobe racks or artsy DIY projects where someone literally hangs clothes from a freaking tree branch tethered to the ceiling. The neutral colors part of the fantasy is totally unrealistic because my wardrobe is sick with color, but the minimal amount of clothes is on the horizon!
As far as buying new things, I do a serious mental check before making a purchase.
Do I need it?
Does it bring me joy? (Marie Kondo is totally weird but helps me.)
How much will I use it?
What else could the money go to?
Ideally, if I don’t need it, I don’t buy it. For example, I always want new sandals but I have four pairs I love and wear regularly—that’s enough, so sandals don’t make the cut.
Minimalism With My Finances
Minimalism to me isn’t about not spending a lot of money, it’s about only spending it on what makes me happy in the long run. I have no issue dropping $500 on an international flight or on kiteboarding lessons—can make that decision in about 30 seconds—but considering buying an $8 shirt at T.J. Maxx will take me 30 minutes. It’s a short-lived pleasure purchase that doesn’t support anything I actually care about.
I drive a normal car, live in a small house and do my best to stay out of debt because the lower my cost of living, the more money I can put towards enjoying life and investing in myself! International trips, trying new sports, taking blogging courses and splurging on delicious meals with my loved ones are all ways I make my hard-earned dollars count. No designer clothes or fancy haircuts—I’ll trade that stuff for a freediving lesson or backpacking adventure any day!
My Minimalist Budgeting Tactics
To keep up with my spending and savings goals, I broke up my bank account into three accounts: Checking (Bills), Fun Money and Savings. Most of my bills are recurring so I know exactly what I need to survive each month and that amount goes into my checking, plus any spending money (which I roughly budget in advance). Any other money I make, I separate between Fun Money (usually towards travel) and Savings. Then, the secret is to NOT TOUCH the fun money or savings. Savings doubles as an emergency fund, but you can only use it in a real emergency.
I put absolutely everything on my high-rewards credit cards (not exceeding what I actually have to spend) so I earn money just for spending money. Then, I pay the credit card off in full every single month.
When I wasn’t sure where my money was going, I created a spreadsheet with my checking account history and credit card history for a few months. It took some work, but I made categories for every single purchase and was left with a beautiful pie of exactly where my chedda was going. It was amazing, really. Seeing exactly how much of my time (time=money) was going to alcohol haha.
I haven’t been making the pie charts lately, but I do paperclip money to notecards with ‘Travel’, ‘Bills’ and ‘Retirement’, and the goal amount per week written on each.
Minimalism With My Time
This is probably the hardest place for me to apply minimalism.
I want to do everything, all the time. I want to work a serving job, freelance write, develop an eCommerce website, teach yoga, write “just for me”, get better at every water sport imaginable, workout, travel the world and have plenty of time to spend with my loved ones. Can’t you just feel how exhausting that list is? I am exhausted, but I can’t seem to stop because I hate compromising and giving up anything!
Though, I’ve made improvements in recent years. I am getting better at saying no. I am learning the subtle art of not giving a f*ck (that one’s really helped me while waitressing) and I am slowly working my way towards a stable career in writing and editing!
Minimalism Is Reminding Myself That Real Life Is Now
I have the curse of believing that one day I’ll “make it”. It’s similar to another issue I have where I constantly feel like I am waiting for real life to start. So many people think this way.
When you’re a kid, you think life will start when you don’t have to listen to your parents. Then, you think it will start when you graduate from college and have a “real” job. Then it won’t start until you get married. But wait, no. Life actually won’t start until you have kids! Ugh, the madness.
Anyway, to sum up this section, minimalism with my time is me daily reminding myself that this is it. I’ve already made it, I’ve already arrived, real life is now! All I need to do is enjoy each day and work on creating a life where I can further enjoy each day.
What I Really Want Is a Simple Life
And that’s what minimalism helps me get. Minimalism reminds me that my life is made up of the beautiful moments shared with people I cherish and moments where I learn something new or give back—not what I own. For me, the simple life is when you prioritize your health, get to work on something that makes you feel alive and important (even if it doesn’t earn you a living) and do it all surrounded by people you want to be around.
Now, for my shallow answer to “what the simple life means to me”.
I just want a private backyard where I can hang clothes on the clothesline and rinse off in my outdoor shower. I don’t need much in the house, just ice cold A/C and everything completely updated. No need for daily Starbucks coffee or a yacht. As long as I have the disposable income to eat well, travel the world on a whim and never have to ask for time off from anyone, I am a happy little minimalist. I mean, guys, that’s it!
What Does Minimalism Look Like in Your Life?
I want to know what minimalism looks like in the lives of others. Do you relate to parts of my minimalist lifestyle or some of my thoughts? Is it completely different from your perspective on minimalism?
My minimalists out there! No need to be minimal with your words—share!