Minimalist Lifestyle – My Experience and Simple Living

Material consumption is a common part of life. Everywhere we go, we are bombarded with messages that more items will bring happiness and that certain things will give us that allusive contentment we seek. However, it’s no secret that the more stuff I have, the more I seem to be bogged down by it. Minimalism is the answer to getting out of the rut of overconsumption. 

Living a minimalist lifestyle means getting rid of all items other than those deemed essential and necessary. The general idea is constantly decluttering, being conscious about buying, and living a simpler lifestyle. 

This lifestyle can be tailored to each person through their habits, schedules, and desires. While some people go extreme by ridding themselves of things like vehicles, wearing the same clothes each day, and having no furniture, other people focus on keeping the things that add value to their life while still decluttering and parting with rarely used items. There are many ways to become a minimalist and many benefits. 

What is a Minimalist Lifestyle?

Living minimally means to own and use objects (ranging from clothing to kitchenware) only that serve a specific purpose. Identifying what is essential and getting rid of all the extra stuff is part of minimalist living. Being very conscious of purchasing items in the future is also part of the process. 

Minimalist Decor - Minimalist Lifestyle - Gone Minimal
Minimalist Decor

By determining what things are necessary and purging the rest, life in all areas will become less cluttered, giving you the freedom to discover what is truly important to you and pursue the things you’re passionate about. 

Minimalism is unique to each individual. Some prefer to go extreme minimalist, living with nothing but the essentials, while others still want a home to feel like a home, keeping more items that are technically necessary but not going overboard with clutter. 

Minimalism cuts down on the high volume of items with the intention of freeing time to do things that actually add value to your life

How to Begin a Minimalist Lifestyle

Start by looking at your life realistically and decide on the best minimalist lifestyle for you. Do you want to be fully free from all the closets of clutter? Do you still want some decorations and items for leisure? Either way, you can always change your mind and shift to whatever level of minimalism fits your personality, desires, and lifestyle. 

Going through every item you own can be daunting, so start small. Schedule a recurring time-slot each week to go through a particular space in the house. The time to organize and declutter each area or room will depend on the size and the amount of stuff in it. 

Simply Sorting Clothes - Minimalist Lifestyle - Gone Minimal
Simply Sorting Clothes

Go through the area and take every object out. Create four piles: throw away, donate, sell, and keep. This is a great way to see just how much stuff you own and will enable you to see how much or how little you use certain items. 

Once everything is organized, go back to the keep pile. Go through each item and ask yourself if it is essential to your everyday living. We all have stuff we keep around that we use occasionally, but is it essential? For some people, getting rid of specific clothing items like dress clothes or certain types of tools/office supplies are worth keeping around. For others, they decide it’s worth getting rid of, and they can just borrow or buy that item again when they need it. 

Minimalism cuts down on the high volume of items to free time to do things that add value to your life. However, by getting rid of all but the essentials, one can also be giving up convenience, and more time will be spent searching for a specific item when the need arises. 

Some prefer to go all in and become extreme minimalists — people who own the bare minimum, taking the idea very literally. Examples include: 

  1. One outfit that they wear day after day,
  2. Little to no furniture, 
  3. No TV or books. 

Repeat the process with each room or area. Make sure that you do actually get rid of the items that you aren’t keeping. Letting a bag full of donations sit in the garage for months won’t help your psyche. Putting in a little extra effort at the beginning will lead to lasting habits in minimalist living. 

A Woman and Man Packing Boxes - Minimalist Lifestyle - Gone Minimal
A Woman and Man Packing Boxes

Living a Minimalist Lifestyle

So you’ve gotten rid of that old dress from the 90’s that you’ve told yourself you’ll wear again, and you had a yard sale for all that old furniture collecting dust in the attic. Why do you still feel like your life is a messy blur, bogged down with stress and too much stuff? 

There are many aspects to living and maintaining a minimalist lifestyle, including paying attention to spending, making a conscious effort not to buy any more stuff, and decluttering the digital world.

How to Live a Minimalist Lifestyle

Here’s a simple checklist for minimalism that will get you on track to clearing out the clutter, freeing up space, mentally and physically, and making time for what’s most important and life-giving. 

  1. Decide what kind of minimalist you want to be. This will help you set goals for organizing and decluttering. 
  2. Ask yourself why you want to be a minimalist? What goals do you have that becoming a minimalist will help you achieve? 
  3. Schedule a set time each week to go through each section of your home, or commit to doing multiple days in a row, depending on your schedule. 
  4. Go through each room/area. Organize into piles: toss, donate, sell, keep. 
  5. Get rid of all non-essential items. Throw things away, donate and list items for sale. 
  6. The Keep Pile: go through each time again and decide what is truly worth keeping. Create a space for items you aren’t sure about where they’ll be visible. Give yourself a time limit to use those items. If a week or month or several months go by and those items still aren’t used, get rid of them. 
  7. Develop a minimalist mindset. Pay attention to shopping habits, see how much money is being spent where and consciously choose not to buy anything extra or unnecessary. These habits take practice but becoming aware of them is the first step. 
  8. Declutter your finances. Cancel credit cards, consolidate accounts, etc. Financial strain is one of the top stressors in marriages and life in general. With more money comes more problems. Commit to regularly donating, meet with a financial advisor and see what areas can be let go or cut down. 
  9. Declutter digitally. Clearing emails, deleting social media or limiting consumption, and organizing files on the computer are all ways to feel lighter and stress-free. 
  10. Commit to decluttering mail and paperwork daily. Get rid of all junk, and tackle bills and letters that need responses right as they come in. 
  11. Consider incorporating extreme minimalist techniques like selling the car and choosing to bike to work or moving into a smaller home with much less space to store random stuff.
  12. Continuously declutter, organize, and determine the essential items. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the mass consumer mindset, but remember why you’re doing this. Find what is most important in life and consciously choose to do those things. 
A simple File Folder - Minimalist Lifestyle - Gone Minimal
A simple File Folder

Tips for Living a Minimalist Lifestyle

Sounds easier now, right? Here are some additional tips and tricks to excelling at minimalism and maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

  1. Learn the difference between mindful and impulsive spending. 
  2. Know what triggers you to spend.
  3. Discard items that are worn, torn, and broken. 
  4. Give everything a place/home.
  5. Use the library to rent books and even movies.
  6. Cancel cable and utilize streaming services. 
  7. Learn to take time for self-care. Saying “no” can be the best thing for us sometimes. 
  8. Let go of duplicates. Kitchen items, clothing, etc. 
  9. Spend time exploring where you live. The less time you’re in the house
  10. Get rid of toys your kids don’t play with weekly or regularly.

What are the Benefits of Living a Minimalist Lifestyle?

Becoming a minimalist has many benefits. Choosing what is most important and getting rid of the rest clears up space physically and mentally. Here are 20 benefits of living a minimalist lifestyle: 

  1. Less time spent cleaning 
  2. The ability to see what is most important in life
  3. Less stress and clearer mind
  4. A greater sense of confidence and freedom 
  5. Spending less money 
  6. Positively impacts the environment 
  7. Less mindless consumption 
  8. Improves focus 
  9. It opens up time and space to pursue passions and hobbies 
  10. Creates an alternative way of living 
  11. Less materialistic 
  12. Opportunity to measure success in different values (other than the size of a house, what type of car, or the number of shoes in the closet) 
  13. Awareness of spending habits and improved relationship with money 
  14. Prioritizes quality over quantity 
  15. The desire to own a massive amount of things decreases 
  16. More space physically and mentally to be creative
  17. Items that are kept are easier and faster to find 
  18. More peace and less chaos 
  19. Saves money
  20. Improves time management 
  21. Healthier relationships with others and with self 
Women Simply Laughing - Minimalist Lifestyle - Gone Minimal
Women Simply Laughing

Types of Minimalist Lifestyles

Minimalism isn’t a one-size-fits-all lifestyle. Minimalism can be an overall theme in your life or used in specific areas. Here are some common types of minimalist lifestyles. 

Minimalist Lifestyle Eating

A minimalist’s eating habits focus primarily on simple meals, whole foods, and low-cost. Here are some ways to eat more minimally: 

  1. Focus on eating whole foods instead of processed ones. 
  2. Buy only what you need, nothing extra. 
  3. Create meals with few ingredients and steps — keep it simple. 
  4. Discard appliances that are rarely used. 
  5. Clean out the pantry and spice rack regularly — keep only what you use regularly.
  6. When buying meal ingredients, focus on foods and condiments that you’ll use more than once. 
  7. Make proteins, carbs, healthy fats, fruits, and veggies staples in your diet. 
  8. Try not to buy packaged products if possible to cut down on waste. 
  9. Use simple seasonings and sauces. 
  10. Cut down kitchen items like dishes, silverware, and cups, to what you and your family needs. Keep an extra set for guests. Ditch the rest. 

Minimalist Vegan Lifestyle

Being a minimalist vegan takes simple eating to the next level. Veganism is a diet where people eat only plant-sourced foods. Any animal products like meat, dairy, eggs, honey, gelatin, etc., are off the table, literally. 

Being vegan can be considered a minimalist lifestyle because it can be viewed as limiting, but like any diet, finding the foods you enjoy and making meals from them becomes a habit. 

Here are some tips on eating a healthy, vegan minimalist diet (from someone who was vegan for five years): 

  1. Use the same guidelines for food as other minimalists by eating mostly whole foods: proteins, carbs, healthy fats, fruits, and veggies.
  2. Mix up your protein: legumes (beans, peas, lentils), soy (tofu, tempeh, edamame), and seitan (wheat protein) are easy and delicious plant-based protein sources. Trying using pea protein in a smoothie for breakfast, fried tofu for lunch, and tempeh bbq wings for dinner (yes, this is a real thing, look it up). 
  3. Utilize Youtube for healthy and simple meal inspiration.
  4. For extreme minimalists, try the fruitarian diet, by eating only fruits, the raw vegan diet, by only eating raw foods (essentially nuts, fruits, and veggies), or by doing a juice cleanse. (Please consult a health professional before attempting these trends.)

This video with High Carb Hannah does an excellent job of creating simple plant-based meals. 

Extreme Minimalist Lifestyle

Extreme minimalists choose to live with the bare essentials and nothing more, taking the term minimalism very literally. Extreme minimalists believe that fewer things lead to a less stressful life by having less to care about and worry about. By living frugally, extreme minimalists have more money to spend on the things that matter to them.  Here are some ways to become an extreme minimalist: 

  1. Discard everything and anything that you don’t want or need.
  2. Work on one area or room at a time.
  3. Determine your essentials, the things you’ll use daily. This will be different for everyone. 
  4. Develop a one-for-one mindset. Any time you buy something, let go of an item in your home. This will prevent clutter from sneaking back into your life. 
  5. Get rid of all clothing items except for a couple of outfits, pairs of shoes, and underwear. 
  6. Keep only one of each kitchen item — ditch the rest. 
  7. Donate media — books, movies, etc. 
  8. Declutter and donate all decorations. 
  9. Get rid of all furniture that isn’t a necessity. Some people prefer to have their bed as their only source of furniture. 
  10. Downsize and move into a smaller home.
  11. Sell your car and opt for public transportation. 

Japanese Minimalist Lifestyle

Japanese minimalism is a concept that lands somewhere between standard minimalism and extreme minimalism. The focus is on the aesthetic of keeping a living space simple, clean, and pleasing to the eye. 

Rooted in Zen Buddhism, the main concept of Japanese minimalism is called “Ma” (pronounced maah), the celebration of the space between the things, not the items themselves. Japanese minimalism follows the general rule of ridding oneself of all items but the necessities while allowing for statement decor and items that add value to the space. 

Japanese Minimalism - Minimalist Lifestyle - Gone Minimal
Japanese Minimalism

Here are some ways to incorporate this ancient, beautiful practice into your minimalist lifestyle: 

  1. Lose all the clutter; get rid of all but the essentials.
  2. Adopt a minimalist interior designer mindset. The spaces aren’t just simple; they are beautiful. 
  3. Use horizontal lines to decorate the home. 
  4. Emphasize natural architectural details. 
  5. Keep or buy furniture that is low to the ground. 
  6. Focus on a neutral color palette. 
  7. Think about each room’s energy flow.
  8. Choose statement pieces that create a light and airy space — remember it’s about the space between objects, not the objects themselves. 
  9. Use natural decor as statement pieces. 
  10. Create a peaceful place to sleep. 

Incorporating simple minimalist ideals into daily routines is a proven way to relieve stress, get organized, and create room in life to pursue meaningful things.

Minimalist Lifestyle Clothing

Clothing is undoubtedly the most difficult area of life to declutter. Okay, maybe not for everyone, but for many of us, a closet full of clothes brings joy. Admittedly, we all know we own too much clothing, a good chunk of it never gets worn, and there might be items with the tags still on. Decluttering your closet and creating a simple staple wardrobe is an important and very freeing part of living a minimalist lifestyle. Here are ways to get rid of the baggage for good:

  1. Take everything out of the closet, dresser, or anywhere clothing is stored.
  2. Organize into four piles: toss, donate, sell, and keep.
  3. Go through the keep pile intentionally. Get realistic if there are still too many items (this depends on each person’s opinion of the minimalism standard). Keep items that you love and wear regularly. Say goodbye to those rarely worn items or items you keep telling yourself you’ll fit into someday. It might hurt now, but you won’t remember them when they’re gone, trust us. 
  4. Embrace the idea of repeating outfits or wearing the same thing every day. 
  5. Keep multi-purpose items that can be worn in different ways. 
  6. Opt for a neutral color palette.
  7. Borrow clothes for special events instead of buying them. 
  8. Let go of the idea of keeping up with trends and embrace your unique style. 
  9. Pay attention to your spending and buying habits. 
  10. Create rules for buying and wearing to keep buyers’ temptation in check. 
  11. Consistently audit your closet to keep from hoarding. 
  12. Develop the one-in-one-out mindset. Every time you purchase a piece, let one piece that you own go. 
Shopping For Minimalist Clothes - Minimalist Lifestyle - Gone Minimal
Shopping For Minimalist Clothes

Related Insights

Is being a minimalist healthy?

Being a minimalist can become an obsession, but its benefits highly outweigh any negatives. While extreme minimalism might not be for everyone, incorporating simple minimalist ideals into daily routines is a proven way to relieve stress, get organized, and create room in life to pursue meaningful things. According to a Duke Libraries Thesis by Aimee Chabot, “…minimalism is a promising pathway to greater individual well-being with positive second-order environmental effects.”

Living a minimalist lifestyle also benefits people financially. By being more aware of what they’re spending, and spending less in general, people are able to live with minimal to no debt. This study by the Journal of Economic Psychology shows that ”people who endorse materialistic values have more financial worries, worse money-management skills and a greater tendency towards compulsive buying.” 

What makes a person minimalist?

A person who is a minimalist is someone who owns very few material items. They focus on keeping only the essential objects, perhaps allowing room for some that create joy. A minimalist eats simply, dresses simply, and lives simply. They focus not on what they own but on seeking experiences, creating, and pursuing hobbies and passions. A minimalist is generally less stressed, calmer, and happier than the average consumer. 

Are minimalists happier?

Minimalism can bring a greater sense of happiness by owning less stuff. This sense of freedom allows them to focus on what really matters to them instead of getting tied to their material possessions. By owning fewer items, repeating outfits, biking to work, and living in a sparse, small home, minimalists are a living example that being rich in items is not the key to happiness but the opposite of it. By having less, minimalists experience more. 

How do I start a minimalist lifestyle?

Starting a minimalist lifestyle can be a rewarding and transformative process. It involves intentionally simplifying your life, letting go of excess belongings, and focusing on what truly matters to you. Tailor your minimalist lifestyle to suit your needs, values, and circumstances. Be patient with yourself and enjoy the benefits that come from simplifying your life.

The Fight Against Overconsumption: Real People Who Want to Adopt a Minimalist Lifestyle 

According to a poll on social media, most people want to incorporate minimalism techniques into their daily lives. Of the 10 people asked, 80% said they’re interested in learning more about minimalism. Not one person claimed to be a minimalist, but they all agreed that using minimalism in certain areas of their lives would lead to a greater sense of peace and happiness. When asked what area of life they’d like to try minimalism, most people said that their closets were the top priority, while the home, in general, was a close second.

Areas of Life to Use MinimalismPercentage of People
Closet 70%
Home Overall20%
Finances 0%
Areas of Life Where Real People Want to Use Minimalism

Other Resources:

Final Thoughts

Being a minimalist is a process that can start small and grow from there, or you can dive in and fully immerse yourself in this unique lifestyle that has broken away from societal conditioning. By decluttering and keeping only the essentials, you’ll discover what’s most important to you in your life. The minimalist lifestyle allows for more time for actually living by bringing less stress, less baggage, and an elevated sense of happiness and freedom. Tell us, in what ways do you incorporate minimalism into your everyday life? 

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