Why the Minimalist Lifestyle Appeals to Me

Minimalism appeals to me, because it makes me focus on what I truly love and need. One of my favorite blogs is Zen Habits. I started reading Zen Habits for the productivity tips, but lately I’ve been fascinated with Leo’s simple guide to a minimalist life. If you were to come into my home, you’d never guess that I even think about minimalism. My home isn’t a disaster area, but it has plenty of clutter. It’s definitely well lived in.

So why does the minimalist lifestyle appeal to me? I see several benefits.

Minimalism Means Less Clutter

I have lots of clutter in my house, and I hate it. I would love to actually have a place for everything, but in order to do that, I need to get rid of a lot of stuff. I don’t have a garage, and my outside storage shed is very small. So everything I store would need to fit in one of my five closets. I have to admit, I like the thought of only owning as much stuff as I can fit comfortably in my house.

Minimalism Means Less Waste

If I bring less stuff home, I don’t have as much opportunity to waste. I really try hard not to waste anyway, but sometimes that’s hard in a cluttered home. If the refrigerator or freezer gets cluttered, I forget what I have, and sometimes the yogurt hiding behind the milk goes bad.

The same goes for clothes. If I own the minimal amount of clothing I need to get by, I’m not likely to forget about an outfit hanging at the back of the closet. I can’t count how many times that happened when my daughter was a baby. She had so many baby clothes, that I’d forget exactly what she had. Then I’d pull out an outfit, only to find that she had outgrown it already.

Minimalism Means Learning to be Content

I really believe that having an overabundance of stuff breeds discontentment. It seems that the more things a person has, the more they need. I know that’s true in my life. When I have the ability to buy more, I find that I start buying to fill some sort of unmet need in my life. By cutting down the amount of stuff I allow myself to buy, I force myself to deal with my discontentment. I need to learn to be content with what I have and find satisfaction in my relationship with God, my family life, and with who I am as a person.

Minimalism Means Really Loving What I Have

By forcing myself to cut down on the amount of stuff I own, I cut out the stuff that I’m ambivalent about. By embracing minimalism, I cut out everything but what I really love.

I remember reading Little House in the Big Woods as a child, and I remember reading about Laura and her doll, Charlotte. Laura LOVED Charlotte. I think she loved her so much because Charlotte was her only doll. Charlotte was precious. Charlotte was special. How many things do I own that I consider to be truly special? My photographs are special. Everything else? Not so much.

Though I doubt I have it in me to become truly minimalist, I am setting a goal for getting rid of stuff. Cutting my things to what I really use and love lends itself to my quest to live a more frugal life. So by the end of the year, I will go through every room in my house and get rid of what I don’t use or love. And to be really frugal, I’ll sell what I can and put it toward my debt.

For more on minimalism, be sure to check out Leo Babatua’s books:



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By , on Sep 25, 2007
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.

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{43 Comments}

  1. Jan:

    Minimalism is a new living trend. It requires living a determined life as well. Once you purge get ready to maintain, for every item you bring home have given to you as a gift, you will have to find an item that you can give up. Easier said than done. The only items brought in the home that do not apply are food, cleaning, and home maintenance light bulbs, office supplies and such. Items that get used up, the staples of the home. Often even a true minimalist will find themselves tucking an item in the back of a closet because it still has value only to forget about it and never use it again. True minimal lifestyle is freedom, it is also a challenge!

  2. Jan:

    I am a true minimalist. It has taken me year to totally understand the meaning of the word but I have been one my entire life. I have raised children and in the process managed to stay a minimalist. I would have the children go through their toys in November and for each toy that they had asked Santa for they had to pick one they felt that they had outgrown. I then took the children and the toys to the children’s home in our city and they allowed the chidren to hand the toys to the needy kids. We never gave broken or old items they were just items the kids had outgrown. To this day my kids are always looking to help someone else out who is a bit down on their luck whenever they are able and it comes back to them 1,000 times over. Minimalism is a freedom ! It does not mean doing without it means having exactly what you want need and use and the top of the line, and nothing more! No extras and nothing more than what you need. This entire approach to living leads to pure contentment and a happiness that is pure radiance!

  3. Sara at On Simplicity:

    “By embracing minimalism, I cut out everything but what I really love.” That’s my philosophy exactly.

    I’m glad I found this older post; it’s a great reminder why I love simplicity. We truly do get more out of life when we have less stuff to get in the way of our experiences.

  4. You’re right and think of how much money we save by taking the the approach of minimalism. How that needless junk people buy, do we really need it? We may think we do, but after a short (very short) period of time we realize we have no use for it. We save money and the environment by not wasting things. This post is actually a great “how to” starter to teach people how we can use minimalism. Good job :)

  5. barb:

    Great Post! I was a minimalist for much of my life until I got a job that paid more than I was used to. I began collecting Ak Native art works as I was in a position to get good prices. I overdid it, & now, 1 lost job later am having to try to sell those works of art that I had become emotionally invested in. I never wanted to like “stuff” so much, it just happened, & I’m trying hard to give it up. I also have a difficult time parting with books, even though the majority of my books were gotten at thrift stores, I want to keep them. Don’t know why. I love the idea of being in a very clean & minimal environment.

  6. Annie:

    Wow, you just hit about 10 different nails right on the head! I’ve had this nagging feeling that in order to live more green, more frugally, and more “zen”, I need to completely irradicate everything extra in my life which seems odd…live more frugally, more green by getting rid of perfectly good stuff?! But it is true, I can’t possibly keep track of my good clothes or my good edible food if I can’t find it! I’m off to purge!

    Thanks!

  7. I also admire this lifestyle, I agree that we have too much ‘stuff’ I have been trying to cut down for years now, and sometimes I feel like i am making progress, but other times I know that I am more cluttered now, than I was years before!!
    -Ezra

  8. i became a minimalist the moment my next door neighbor mentioned the term. it sounded so appealing. my wife, two kids, and i are in the process of learning what it means to truly become minimalist. thanks for the encouragment from your post.

  9. Jody:

    I found your site through the CNN article. I really enjoyed this post. I feel like I could have written it myself. I also have no garage and find storage to be a real issue in our home. I hate the feeling of the clutter but I find it is really hard to get rid of things. I often feel wasteful if I do get rid of things. Having children has made decluttering a constant battle in our home. Thanks for the great post. It has inspired me to declutter even further.

  10. Diane:

    I was reading last night that we should keep our bookshelves mostly empty to encourage us to buy new books.

    I pass on the books I’ve read and are happy to part with on to my neighbour for her daughter. Once she’s read them she passes them on two doors down to a lady who takes them to the pub with her for her reading circle.

  11. Nic:

    Nice post.

    The less clutter I have the better I feel. My house feels more peaceful and clean. I have bad allergies and have to make sure everything in the house is clean and dust free. Having less things to dust makes it a lot easier.

  12. joe k:

    I have embraced the minimalistic lifestyle over the past 5 years and it has made a huge difference in my life. I lost a high paying job and have been unable to find another in the same pay range. I was forced to accept 1/2 of what I was used yo. I live in a smaller place now, got rid of the car payment and bought 2 cars that are 10 years old, no payments. I gave away much of my stuff to family members in need and felt good doing it. Now, I have only my key possesions, the things I truely love. And you know whats strange? Im making 1/2 the money, but Im twice as happy and content

  13. Thanks for the great post. I am definitely a minimilist by nature, and a thrower-outer much to my horder husband’s dismay. But I find advantages in all the things you cited. Not to mention, we are two adults and three young kids living in a 700 sq ft house, so I have to be ruthless!

  14. Lynnae:

    Good luck at your garage sale! That’s a great way to get rid of extra stuff!

  15. What a great post! I have been thinking about how much stuff I have sitting around, too, and how much more I’d appreciate each item if I didn’t have so many things of the same type–books, video games, cookbooks, even pens! We aren’t super cluttered, yet, but I could see it happening within 2 years if we don’t start to purge things as we acquire new ones or just learn to be content with what we have.

    There’s a community garage sale coming up this month that might see a lot of my excess stuff…

  16. Lynnae:

    @m- that’s really great! I like a quiet environment too, and that’s my ultimate goal!

    • J.P. Reynolds:

      If only our government behaved as you do, we would be so better off!! Congrats!!

  17. m:

    The min. lifestyle has always applied to me.

    From the time I started living on my own, I began paring down my things, and leaving behind all the “stuff” I’d learned to drag around with me from my parents’ example. Not that they had too much, but they did not embrace the minimalist aesthetic that appealed to me.

    Their walls were filled with art, knick knacks were all over the place, the basement was filled with papers and junk. Nowadays, they too have embraced minimalism and have been downsizing and clearing out clutter more and more as well.

    I like a “quiet” environment. Not a bunch of stuff on walls or around the home. I despise waste, so the less I have, the less I may end up wasting. I don’t like things sitting around going unused. I want to have what I need and what I use and nothing more.

    Life is easier that way and more satisfying to me. I am working on getting rid of more things still, despite downsizing after every move, and I think I’ve moved about 11-12 times in the past 15 years.

    I try to have quality items that I take very good care of rather than a bunch of items that are mostly disposable or needs to be continually replaced. In all, I find a more simple or minimalist lifestyle to be more calming, more simple, more satisfying, and usually–but not necessarily always–more environmentally friendly and cheaper as well.

    I don’t know that it’s for everyone but I’m happy with my gradual move toward a more and more simply lifestyle as time goes on. I find great satisfaction and contentment from it and hope to continue to progress further and further in this direction over time. For me, making changes gradually works best.

  18. Lynnae:

    Kid stuff is the hardest stuff to control, I think. I’ve really cut back on how much I give the kids, but they’re the only grandkids on both sides of the family. It’s hard to control how much the grandparents, aunts, & uncles give them.

    One thing I try to do is get my kids started with things they can collect. My son likes Thomas the Tank Engine, so that’s something the rest of the family can get him for his birthday that will add to something he already has. Less clutter that way.

  19. Great post. We really try to be aware of this, and want to minimize the amount of toys, etc. that our son receives from us and others.

  20. I have really become aware of just how much ‘stuff’ I have accumulated over the years that I really don’t need. I am trying to make better use of what I already have and working on getting rid of the clutter.

  21. Hilda:

    Speaking of toys, I have a huge collection of stuffed animals. I thought about giving them away (they’re practically brand new, most with tags still) but I can’t seem to part with them. Maybe if I give one at a time then it won’t be much of a shock to me. That’s definitely something I got to work on.

  22. Paula:

    I have two huge built in bookshelves. They take up one full wall in my living room. They were stacked with books. Books I bought, read, then put on the shelf.

    At the beginning of August, I listed 90% of those books on Half.com. I sold 75% of them on there and the rest I sold at my garage sale. My shelves are clear, no more book clutter, someone else is enjoying the books I had and I have less to dust.

    My dh regrets selling the books, but I don’t. They weren’t his books anyway, they were mine. I think he’s got issues with “more stuff = more security”. I think it has to do with how poor they were when he grew up.

    I love(I mean LOVE)the books I kept.

  23. Lynnae:

    gblguy, that’s so true. I really want to get rid of half my kids’ toys. It’s hard to do though, when they’re used to having so much.

    And less stuff does = less stress.

  24. Lynnae:

    That’s great! I have a hard time getting rid of books. Everything else is getting easier though.

    And I think you’re on to something with your husband. I grew up without a ton, and I’ve always had a hard time getting rid of things. It took a long time for me to acknowledge that stuff doesn’t equal security.

  25. I agree 100% I am a huge proponent of less is more.
    As for toys, this is confirmed when I walk in my boy’s rooms and see toys all over the place, and half of them a are broken.

    Great post and for me less stuff = less stress.

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