Do you often find yourself amazed at how much junk you have in your home? Maybe you’re cleaning and can’t find anywhere to put things, or you buy a shirt and realize it won’t fit in any of your drawers because they’re already full.
You’ve probably heard people talking about being a minimalist, and today we’re going to talk about what that means, what it doesn’t mean, and how adopting some variation of a minimalists’ attitude can help you in your quest to become debt free.
What Is Minimalism?
The idea of minimalism with regards to your lifestyle is to get rid of as many physical objects as you can. The purpose is to remove clutter and enjoy the things you need. While most of a minimalists actions are physical, the end-goal is most often to encourage a sense of peacefulness and comfort that can be hard to find in a house filled to the ceiling with random junk you don’t care about.
If you search around online you’ll find all sorts of people taking minimalism to all sorts of extremes. There are a few bloggers who live with no more than 100 items in their possession. Total. Others talk about digital minimalism and how to delete most of the files on your computer, simplify your computer’s workspace, and more.
Before going to extremes, start with the basics:
- Get rid of things you don’t need and don’t use
- If you’re not sure about something, put it in a cupboard or box. If you don’t touch it for 6 months (or a year if it’s something like seasonal clothing) you can be confident it’s ok to get rid of
- Now that you have some breathing room, start thinking more critically. Do you need EVERY book on your shelf and every plate in your kitchen? Do you have sporting equipment from sports you don’t play anymore?
As you go, you’ll probably get more excited about getting rid of stuff – just go with it. Minimalism is all about being mindful of what you own. Once you’ve paid attention to how much stuff you have, you’ll think much harder before buying something you don’t really need. Before every purchase, consider the space it will take up, how often you’ll use it, and how quickly you’ll be bored or dissatisfied with it.
What Minimalism Isn’t
The most common mistake people make about minimalism is equating it with being frugal. This misses the point of minimalism entirely. Consider someone who loves playing guitar. If they don’t have a lot of money, they might make due with a cheap guitar just so they can play.
A minimalist would obviously never get rid of their guitar (it’s loved, well-used, and positively contributes to their life). When it came to buying one, nothing about minimalism says to cheap out on it. In fact, a minimalist would probably spend MORE on the guitar because they understand its importance in their life and because they’re not wasting their money on a ton of other junk they don’t really need.
Minimalism And Debt
Working your way out of debt requires changing your thinking in many ways. You’ve already become more cautious about spending, and you pay more attention to your money.
While getting rid of your stuff, consider selling it. Any money you make can go to pay off your debt.
Learning to enjoy what you have means you’ll be less likely to run out and buy things out of boredom. And when you ARE out, the combination of your new minimalist attitude and your debt payoff goals should combine to make you extremely selective about any new purchases.
Remember, you don’t have to live out of a backpack to identify as a minimalist. Do what’s comfortable, and remember that making conscious, realistic choices about your possessions will free up space, help you relax, and relieve you of pressure to buy more stuff to fill the space.