In this period of life, where we’re living through a pandemic, it’s become increasingly clear that many people are needing to change the way they live and learn to live with less. Fortunately, we were ahead of the curve and opted into this life lesson a couple years ago. We decided to live a minimalist lifestyle because the constant need to upgrade, buy the next best thing & keep up is just exhausting. And all for what? Approval!
The minute you mention minimalist there’s always a shift in the room or in this case a virtual shift because I can’t actually see you. In my experience people are either intrigued as to how you’ve managed to live with less or secretly scared that you’ll start judging their spending habits. Rest assured there will be no judgement here today. Just me, sharing how we’ve adapted to a minimalist lifestyle. For some reason that sentence makes it sound like we’ve joined a cult. We haven’t, I promise!
If you’ve never heard of minimalism here’s a very basic synopsis stolen from Becoming Minimalist: “The minimalist lifestyle is about living with only the things you need. Minimalists are free from the desire to buy and accumulate more. Instead, they find happiness in relationships and experiences.”
A little under two years ago my husband (also known as LéHusband or Sean) & I lived in a 4 bedroom apartment with beautiful wood flooring, incredible light and way too much room for the two of us. As newlyweds we had more than enough to furnish all four rooms and soon realised that we were just living in excess. So we made the decision to move into a loft apartment that cost only slightly less than our large four bedroom home in the hopes that living with less would bring us more joy.
Almost two years on and I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. We did some serious decluttering and sold, gave away or donated more than three quarters of our stuff. If you want to see more of the process check out my decluttering & minimalism series on YouTube.
I know it can be stressful and in some cases really painful to downsize and live with less but if you’re thinking about doing it or you’re in the middle of the process, stick it out, the end result really is worth it!
I thought I’d share some of the reasons we decided to change our lifestyle and the difference minimalism has made in our lives:
Less really is more
Ever have those days where you stand in front of your wardrobe and think “I have nothing to wear” but in reality your clothing is overflowing. Yeah that was me and in the end I would pick out a white tee & the same pair of jeans I’d worn all week. This got me thinking that maybe I didn’t need all the extra items and that maybe a more curated wardrobe would be better for me. And I was right! Now when I stand in front of my wardrobe I’m only seeing a few carefully selected pieces that make me happy and encourage me to be more creative with what I have. It also means I spend less time aimlessly scrolling through online stores.
Curate your style
This needs a separate post but for now, make sure to research and plan for the kind of style you like and want to emulate. Before clearing out my wardrobe I knew what style I liked and how to execute it and this made deciding which items to keep a whole lot easier. If the item didn’t fit into my ideal style or didn’t fit me, I didn’t keep it. Granted I was left with less than 30 items but I loved and wore all of them.
I always have friends and family ask me how they can find their style and I always give them the same method I’ve followed for years but for some reason I don’t really talk about it online. If you want to know more about curating your style let me know in the comments and I’ll do a post on it.
Just let go
(It took everything in me not to make an Frozen reference)
This is true for many things in the process of living a minimalist lifestyle but for now let’s talk about those random items in your closet. The pieces you’re keeping for a dress-up party one day, the goal-weight jeans, the jersey you wore when you first kissed that dreamy guy or your matric dance shoes from 10 years ago. Get rid of it if you don’t regularly wear it. You decide what ‘regularly’ means to you but I gave myself a 6 month period because that would most likely include summer & winter items.
Chances are when that dress-up party comes along you will have forgotten all about the item you kept just for this occasion! Oh you thought I forgot about you, nope! If you’re keeping an item because it’s ‘special’ or for the sake of memories – you’re more likely to remember the anecdotes or the joke someone made, more often than the once a year that item resurfaces. If you want, you could take a picture so you can show your children or look back on one day but there’s no point in lugging around excess physical baggage for memory that’s stored in your head.
Do what feels right to you
If you don’t like it, don’t keep it. I think especially with furniture, I found it hard to let go because I had a little voice in my head saying ” You spent so much money on that, just make it work”. My mom raised us to work for what we want and to value what we have. I somehow thought that donating or passing on furniture I no longer liked meant I was being ungrateful or wasteful. When in fact it would be more wasteful to hold onto it simply out of guilt when someone else could make good use out of it.
I came to realise that I would much rather live with no couch than look at a couch I hate every single day. In the end we only kept five furniture items from our old apartment & over time we’ve saved up and bought the pieces we really needed or wanted instead of just keeping the old stuff for the sake of it.
Simple, in most cases, is probably better
Maybe I’m a magpie, always attracted to shiny things but I managed to accumulate a lot of pretty decor (read: random knick knacks) for one day. But when is ‘one day’ and am I willing to hoard (yes, you read right) these items until that day comes? As much as I didn’t want to believe it I was hoarding. This friends, is the definition of hoarding: “A persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them”. Sound familiar? This stark reality hit me between the eyes and I saw those items for what they were, JUST THINGS. By the time I got to ‘one day’ I probably wouldn’t want those things anyway. Now instead of having random little bits that actually just accumulate dust, I have carefully selected pieces that make me happy or serve a purpose.
Carefully selected is a phase you would have seen pop up a few times. Two years ago this is something I truly didn’t understand – I would just buy, buy, buy with the intention of thinking about it later but never actually doing that, which meant I just accumulated more and more stuff. This friends, is consumerism. It’s not sustainable, it’s not healthy and it’s not the lifestyle I want to lead.
Don’t get me wrong, I still spend money, too much in fact, but on items I have thought about and planned for rather than buying on a whim. I no longer buy because I’m angry, sad or overwhelmed, I buy when I’ve thought about it and know it’s a good investment. Even for something as simple as a white tee, I’ll plan, research, shop around and then make a final decision.
So if you take anything away from this, take away that minimalism is less about having nothing and more about making careful selections about how you want to live your life.
If you have any questions I’d be happy to answer them in the comments. Or if you have specific post you’d like me to do, just let me know.
I’d also love to know, are you currently living a minimalist lifestyle or would you ever consider it?
Hi Le’chelle, hope you doing good!
Thanks so much for this piece, i have copied and pasted it to re read again…
Im on the same path and i think ive become so much happier with having less!
Everything you wrote is so true!!
A post on how to find your style will be SO great!
Wow wow wow I feel like this was written for me.
Thank you for writing this.
We as a family of 4, 2 year old boy and a 2 month old little girl might have to give up our home (rented)with this virus 😢 and I was sad ( still am) that’s our home and to think of going smaller or even staying with my parents it’s hard.
But I feel so much better after reading this and after seeing the changes you and hubby made and survived yes survived in a smaller place lol
Thank you for sharing your life with us and your experiences.
Absolutely loved this blog post! Thank you for sharing. I’m currently, trying to Be more minimalist. It is taking me time but I’m working through a drawer at a time/cupboard at a time. Also I’ve adopted a rule, if I buy something, two things need to go. Also going through lockdown it’s really taught me that I can live with basics and do not need much else. I would be very interested in how you found your style or working with just a few pieces of clothing. Thanks again for these tips 😁
I’m a true magpie and hoarder! This post articulated my thoughts and daily struggles. I’ve been living in China for two years and came home to a room full of stuff. I finally decluttered my wardrobe which I haven’t worn in 2 years and probably won’t because my style has changed, my body has changed and my career has changed but because I loved these items I struggled to part with them. I managed to live my first year in China with basics which made me realize I don’t need so much things. I can see the clothes in my cupboard which makes it easier to choose an outfit. Having less helps you to breathe and think clearly. Each day is definitely a challenge as that red sign that silently says SALE is my weakness! I know think, think and rethink buying things as I really only want staples that would be timeless and functional.