If you spend much time online reading personal finance sites, it will not be long before you start coming across information and personal stories about minimalism.
People who are successful and live a “zen” lifestyle all talk about minimalism and its benefits. In a sentence, minimalism is about living with less. Living with less is the first step towards getting more out of life.
Having things…the big house, the fancy cars, the designer clothes may seem like things that put you on the map, but do they really? For many, all these things are a big source of money going out of your bank account each month.
For me, minimalism is about evaluating the true value things that cost me money as well as things that cause physical and mental distractions in my life.
It will not be easy to go from a life of excess and “things,” but baby steps taken one day at a time can get you to a simpler life it you so choose.
Here are some of the steps I am taking to live a simpler day-to-day life and enjoy more of the “experiences” life has to offer.
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1. Cut Your Expenses
Do a deep dive into where your money is going and see where you can save money. Do you have monthly subscriptions you don’t use, but you are paying for? Are spending excess money on food and eating out?
I have eliminated as many “bills” as possible. Having 20+ bills to be paid each month can become overwhelming not to mention the increased possibility of some of these bills being overlooked and not paid.
If you are making an effort to live with less, cutting expenses should not be complicated and should be part of your minimalist plan.
2. Limit Credit Cards
Credit cards are a necessary evil (or benefit) in today’s society. I have always wondered why a person would need more than one credit card, but there are some people that have several credit cards.
When it comes to finances, I have gone down to one major credit card (with rewards) and have gotten rid of all but one or two store cards that spend most of their time in a drawer.
I don’t even consider a 10% – 25% discount on a purchase a good reason to open a store account.
3. Carry Less Things in Your Purse or Backpack
If you need the item, by all means, take it with you. If you spend a lot of time digging through your personal bag looking for that one item, you may be carrying too many things.
Throw out paper scraps, receipts and wrappers as soon as possible. You will be surprised the things you can do without in a purse or backpack. The farther I progress through this process, the better it feels to “lighten the load.”
This is a quick and easy step if you are just getting started on your journey to living minimal lifestyle.
4. Look at What Causes You Stress
Are there certain things you look at in your home and you just don’t know what do with them. You don’t use it, yet you don’t want to give it away or sell and it is in the way and complicating your life.
I understand things that have sentimental value, but you cannot keep everything. Give yourself permission to not feel guilty about making decisions that reduce the level of stress in your life.
5. Declutter, Declutter, Declutter
Go through all areas of your home and purge. Even though I have downsized my home, when I look around there are still clothese I have not worn in over a year and things that I have not used in as long.
Someone said “the things you own end up owning you”. This is so true. Taking inventory and reducing you personal possessions is something you should do regularly.
You will feel leaner and more focused for taking this step. Less is more when it comes to knick-knacks. It has to have special meaning to me if I have to dust it every week.
6. Reduce Paper Files
Paper files can be a real junk trap. Files should be purged no less than once a year and in most cases probably more often. We often keep things we don’t need to keep, such as; instruction manuals.
They are available online. If it is available online, why have it taking up room in your home? There are very few things that require keeping longer than seven years.
Most things only require a year. If you really want to go lean, take a picture of the document and keep it in a searchable electronic file.
7. Reduce Electronic Files
Have you ever seen the computer desktop of a person and the whole screen is covered with files? How can you find what you are looking for when there are 100+ items to search?
Keeping a lean electronic filing system can save you a lot of time and energy. If you have to keep it, jump drives and cloud storage are great options for keeping your electronic filing system neat and clean.
Although there are only 7 steps here (simpler is better), these are very powerful steps that can be life changing. Even if you pick one of these suggestions and follow it, you will see the difference.
If you only have limited time, set aside an hour a week to declutter your home. You may find that you like the result so much, that you will find more time for decluttering and organizing.
No one has to be an expert at this process. It just takes getting started and striving for continuous improvement. Start will small steps and see if you don’t feel lighter and more energetic.