Minimalism is a very empowering word - it’s taking full control of your life in my opinion. So much is involved with approaching life with a minimalistic mentality, where you switch from focusing on material and focus more on substance. The goal, for me, is to reduce consumption and become more intentional with money.
Here’s my story- it involves borderline homelessness and a whole lot of nothing - literally.
I feel like I’ve always been minimalistic in nature. I hated having old things unless it had MAJOR sentimental value. Growing up I was always left with the smallest room, meaning I couldn’t keep a lot of things in there. As I got older, I eventually had to leave the Niagara region for a job that I received right out of university. Being that I had a lot of debt due to school, that resulted in me looking for a cheap option for shelter. Mississauga was too expensive at that time for me, which lead me to sleep on couches at my 2 of my aunts’ houses and my sister’s apartment (the good ol’ days). Where I would commute from Hamilton, Ancaster or Oakville. At the same time my Dad had sold the house that I grew up in and where I still had 'my room' and that is what made me borderline homeless and it was a running joke with people in my life at that time.
I only had my car so I could to get to work. I also knew that I eventually would get my own spot so I never tried to accumulate anything I didn’t absolutely need - as I had nowhere to put it. After a year or so of that, I settled down in the den of a friends condo that was converted into a bedroom. It was TINY. It literally fit only my queen size mattress and a dresser, again, nowhere to put anything at all. It was super small but it was cheap and that’s really what kept me comfortable. That brings me to about a year ago, where I was living with my girlfriend at the time in a 700(?) square foot, 1 bed, 1 den condo. Where I only have so much room for my personal things. I took up 1/3rd of the closet in the bedroom, a place to hang my jackets and have shoes near the front door and a nightstand (snowboarding gear goes in the locker). The funny thing is that it’s the most space that I’ve ever had and I realized that it’s more than enough. At that point I realized that living minimally made me happier and adopting a principle of focusing on need over want makes life so much more simpler.
How I make it work/why I’ve learned to love it and reason why you could too!
Created a Capsule Wardrobe. When I was younger I used to have a lot of clothes - I barely wore half of them. As I got older it would bother me and I would eventually find myself purging my closet often. So I made the commitment to have a wardrobe that would only have clothes that I actually wear and can be matched in different ways. It helps that I love basic items. Nothing makes me happier than a solid grey hoodie or a plain white t-shirt. For work, I’m allowed business casual which allows me to use the button ups that I enjoy wearing outside of work, for work. This type of closet results in me buying fewer clothes, needing less closet space and buying better quality items.
Need vs want. Two very different things. This plays well with the capsule wardrobe as I previously talked about. When I want something new I really think about what it could replace. If it’s not replacing something, I don’t buy it. (There are SOME exceptions. Did I need to buy a desktop computer when I have a laptop? I mean, I could rationalize it but a laptop would work just the same. Sometimes you just gotta treachyo’self) You really have to be aware and be intentional when living a minimalist lifestyle. The odds are definitely stacked against you. Next-Gen stats for advertising and marketing do not play in your favour when it comes to consumerism these days. It's definitely something that is hard to be aware of but it can be done.
Priority. It’s beneficial to be clear in your priorities. I mean this on a larger scale - I should hope that you realize by now that the mortgage/rent is a top priority. Think about what you want to accomplish in life, see how much you spend, and you’ll soon see that you can better satisfy the priorities in your life by not spending on things in life that are not as important.
Environment. Reducing any type of consumption in every way possible will help the environment. Wasting less food, buying fewer clothes (recycling, production), buying reusable products, turning off light bulbs etc. Living minimally helps the environment and I personally believe it’s important to be aware of it. I wasn’t very conscious of it as I began but have made it somewhat of a habit.
Experience true happiness. It’s amazing how true the statement, ‘less is more,’ actually is. When you don’t focus on the materialistic things, you end up being more focused on yourself. Instead of accumulating random items, I’d rather accumulate happiness and find fulfillment through things that are not material. Experiences are what I’m after. I find that my outlook on life and personal happiness has been affected positively by my current mindset.
Again, I’m not an extremist with minimalism but being conscious of my consumption, in the way that I am now, has had a significant impact on my life. It’s human nature to want more than we need, with pretty much everything.
I challenge you to buy into this mindset! Give it a shot. Try this out:
Take half of your closet, stuff it in a box and put that box away. Don’t buy any clothes for a month. This will help you realize how much clothes that you don't actually wear - which I'm sure you're already aware of - it's about buying into the mindset!
Go on a shopping hiatus. See how long you can go without buying something new that isn’t a complete necessity. Hold yourself accountable. If you’re buying something new, it should be replacing something else!
Just remember, being a minimalist isn’t about being frugal. It’s about reducing consumption, being intentional with your money and living a meaningful life.