A Guide to Living the Minimalist Lifestyle

FT Contributor
A woman throwing clothes out of her closet to live a more minimalist lifestyle.
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Minimalism is a stripped-down, simplistic lifestyle that is quickly gaining in popularity across the country. Often framed as a reaction to capitalist excess, minimalism focuses on the accumulation of few possessions, a simple, clean aesthetic, and the reduction of distractions and diversions in order to focus on things that are truly important.

With the ease of shopping online and a culture of conspicuous consumption, your house or apartment can fill up fast with things you don’t really need. Many people are turning to minimalism in order to help streamline their lives and reduce clutter. Minimalism can create a sense of calm and peace, helping those who feel overwhelmed by the accumulation of physical possessions regain control over their lives.

What Is a Minimalist Lifestyle?

While a minimalist lifestyle may vary from individual to individual, in general there is a focus on quality over quantity. Minimalists try to find out what is important to them and live without excess. You can implement minimalism in a variety of different areas of your life, including your wardrobe, money, house, or any part of your life.

Benefits of a Minimal Lifestyle

There are a variety of attested benefits to living a minimalist lifestyle, from fulfilling financial goals to bettering your mental health.

  • Financial freedom — One of the many benefits to living a minimalist lifestyle is that it increases your financial freedom. When you’re not constantly spending money on things, you’re able to save money, build a financial safety net, seek meaningful employment, and spend money on experiences that truly matter to you.
  • Getting rid of clutter — Another benefit of minimalism is that it cuts down on clutter in a variety of areas in your life. From your closet to the apps on your phone to the laundry list inside your head, leading a more minimalist lifestyle can help you to reduce excess and thoughtfully curate your physical and mental surroundings.
  • Spending more on experiences — Minimalism is all about experiences, not things. By making a commitment not to purchase things you don’t need, you might find yourself spending more instead on meaningful experiences, like classes, vacations, hobbies, and more.
  • Less stress — A maximalist lifestyle can be a huge source of stress for many people, whether they’re trying to constantly keep up appearances or just trying to make ends meet. Minimalism may reduce stress by forcing you to focus on the things that truly matter, and purging the things that are only causing you unnecessary anxiety.

Reasons to Become a Minimalist

Just as the day-to-day practice of minimalism looks different for everyone, there are a variety of different reasons to become a minimalist. Whether you’re struggling financially, stressed out by constant competition, or just want to simplify your life to focus on things that are truly important to you, minimalism can be a simple solution to a wide range of issues.

  • You’re struggling financially — Many people turn to minimalism to resolve money struggles and improve their financial health. A minimalist lifestyle discourages frivolous spending, and can help you to set a budget and keep on track. Living a minimalist lifestyle also encourages you to spend only on things that matter to you, rather than on things you don’t truly need.
  • You’re burnt out — Sometimes, clutter and excess can be a mental problem as much as a physical problem. If you’re burnt out on too many distractions and feel overwhelmed by too many things going on in your life, minimalism can be a way to withdraw, engage in healthy boundaries, and reset. Minimalism can also encourage a personal or professional switch toward things that are more meaningful to you.
  • You have too much stuff — Whether you live in a small apartment and are trying to make the most of your space, or have a garage or basement packed full of junk that you dread sorting through, minimalism is a way to meaningfully engage with your possessions and pare down your belongings to the essentials. By reducing the things that you own, you can free up time, space, and mental energy.
  • You’re anxious and stressed — The modern age is full of constant stressors and demands on our attention, from work to social media to 24/7 news. A minimalist lifestyle helps you reduce anxiety by allowing you to narrow your area of attention and get rid of things that stress you out.
  • You want to focus on what’s important — Even if you know what really matters to you, it’s easy to get distracted and be thrown off course. Leading a minimalist lifestyle helps you center yourself on things that are important and pare away everything that’s non-essential. Whether that means focusing on your family, creative pursuits, giving back to your community, travel, or something else entirely, minimalism helps you make progress toward achieving your goals.

How to Become a Minimalist

While minimalism looks different for everyone, there are a few simple strategies to keep in mind when adopting a minimalist lifestyle.

Create Rules for Yourself

Before you embark on a journey toward minimalism, it’s important to understand why you want to become a minimalist. Are you feeling overwhelmed? Out of space? Need to save money? Once you understand your reasons for becoming a minimalist, you can set rules for yourself in order to better achieve your goals.

Declutter Your Home

Decluttering is often the first thing people think of when it comes to minimalism. As far as decluttering goes, there are a variety of strategies you can employ, including getting rid of items you don’t use often, organizing your possessions into categories, and starting with one room at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed. Minimalism also helps you reduce unnecessary purchases and the accumulation of items you don’t really need.

Develop a Budget

Minimalism can help you financially. If you’re trying to implement a minimalist lifestyle, it’s helpful to create a minimalist budget that focuses only on the basics. Instead of buying things you don’t really need, a budget ensures that you  spend money only on things that are essential or important to you.

Simplify Meals

Mealtime is another area where you can implement a minimalist lifestyle. Kitchen clutter can be overwhelming, and you might find yourself spending more than you need on ingredients and meals. Try to organize and consolidate your kitchen equipment, and focus on simple, nourishing meals that are affordable and easy to make.

Staples like rice, beans, a source of protein, and fresh vegetables are all good things to stock up on. Getting into a routine when it comes to mealtime will also help you to implement minimalism in your day-to-day life.

While a minimalist lifestyle isn’t for everyone, there are a variety of benefits to reducing clutter in your everyday life. Minimalism enables you to achieve your financial goals, make better use of your space, reduce stress and anxiety, and focus on the things that are truly important in life.

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