by Dana George | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on May 27, 2021
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When stuff has taken over your life, minimalism puts you back in control.
In 2014, the L.A. Times ran an article about how much "stuff" we Americans surround ourselves with. At the time, the average U.S. family had 300,000 things in their home, from thumbtacks to toasters. And though the number of children in the U.S. accounted for less than 4% of the total number of children on the planet, American kids owned nearly half of all toys and books. Given how many more items we've purchased to shelter in place comfortably over the last year, it's fair to assume that we own even more today than we did in 2014. Here, we'll discuss taking back our homes by adopting minimalism and the five ways the practice can save money.
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In brief, minimalism is a design in which the fewest (and simplest) elements are used to create the maximum impact. Think about a model home. One of the things that makes the space attractive is the minimalist design. The furniture in each room has a purpose, and the art is simple but impactful. There are no extra pieces of furniture thrown in for "flair," no knickknacks lining shelves, no mental clutter.
Minimalists strive to keep only those things that serve a purpose. They have everything they need for daily life without being surrounded by all the possessions they "may" need one day or the junk they've become emotionally attached to.
The benefits of minimalism are not limited to being able to clean the house faster. Being a minimalist can also pad your pocketbook.
Before saving money, a minimalist lifestyle allows you to make money. These are extra funds to shore up your emergency savings account, begin investing, or pay down existing debt.
Walk through each room of your home, including the basement, garage, and attic (if you have items stored there). Take a moment to touch each item and try to remember the last time you used it. If it's been a while, there's an excellent chance that you can live comfortably without it.
Have a garage sale or advertise on Facebook Marketplace or your neighborhood website. In whatever way is easiest for you, sell the things you haven't been using. Why keep housing things that are of no use to you?
Once you've jettisoned the extra stuff from your life, here are five ways you are likely to save money.
Have you ever bought a birthday gift but couldn't remember if you had birthday cards or wrapping paper at home? Because minimalism leads to keeping only the things that serve a purpose, you'll have a much clearer picture of what you already have. That means cutting back on duplicate purchases and saving money in the process. Each savings means more opportunity to invest in your future.
Combing through your possessions, pulling out the things you don't need, and selling them to someone who might find a use for them takes effort. After putting all that work into the project, you're less likely to want to refill the space. Maintaining simplicity requires making intentional purchases, and intentional shopping means no wasteful buying.
One advantage of minimalism is the way you'll get to know yourself. After a while, you will have a better sense of what you value -- including things you "want" and the things you "need" to live your best life. The simple act of cutting back on wants and focusing on needs can benefit your monthly budget.
Let's say you need a new winter coat. Rather than buy the first discount jacket you see, you look for quality. You want something built to last. It may cost more at the time of purchase, but if a high-quality coat lasts several years longer than a discount coat, you're money ahead.
If you've been thinking about upsizing because you have too much stuff to fit comfortably in your current home, or you're sure you can't downsize for the same reason, becoming a minimalist can remove that barrier. Think about your life without all the extra belongings you've been dragging along. If you kept only the possessions that serve a purpose, how much less space would you need? The ability to live comfortably in a smaller space gives you the option of saving money on housing.
If you decide to adopt a minimalist lifestyle, don't be discouraged if you can't do it all at once. Minimalism is an ongoing process. You may spend years refining what works best for you and letting go of the possessions that slow you down. The entire concept behind the practice is to find a healthier, happier way to live. If that takes you a little more time than anticipated, so be it.
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