My Journey to a Minimalist Lifestyle: Why it's Important to Live Simply

     When people hear the word “minimalism,” a few different ideas may come to mind. One may think of a man or woman who owns 3 t-shirts, 2 pair of pants, 1 pair of shoes and swears he or she has all they need. One may think of someone who lives in an extremely small space and judges anyone who lives in more than 1,000 square feet. Or, one may be intrigued and think, “I could do that, if it weren’t for [whatever they think they can’t live without].”  I, too, had all of these thoughts before my boyfriend and I bought our tiny home.

     A year and a half ago, we were living in a 700 square foot apartment with hardly any furniture or belongings that made this space feel “complete.” We were constantly shopping at various chain stores because we thought the rooms felt empty and needed more objects to fill in the spaces. Not much later, I stumbled across an article with an incredibly charming handcrafted tiny house that pulled me in. It had everything. The floors, stairs, and paneling were made of reclaimed wood. The wonderful kitchen had a full stove, oven, and stunning white farmhouse sink. It had so many features while also greatly fulfilling our design aesthetic. Fortunately, we had the financial savings, so the only thing holding us back was the actual space. Could the two of us (and our two cats) possibly live in this 250 square foot house for the next several years?

     We were 23 and 24 years old and strongly wanted to embrace any opportunities that came our way. We wanted to spend less time watching the newest Netflix series, and more time outside and with our loved ones. We wanted to spend less of our money on stuff, and more on traveling and experiences. We decided this was the time to make a change that would give us a new perspective. So we went for it! Looking back, it was such a thrilling and thought-provoking time. Once we saw the house and made plans to tow it down from Washington, I looked at all of my things in a new light. What would I keep? Which items (that really didn’t have meaning) would I part with?

     People often ask me, “How do you fit all your clothes in your closet?!” (I should mention I have a 17 inch wide closet that my boyfriend Rodney and I both share.) I tell them that once I had the intention of moving into our beautiful home, it was easy to say good-bye to the “stuff,” if it meant this is where we’d be living. We loved the tiny house so much that if it meant we had to donate or sell 75% of our belongings, that was okay. However, this does not mean that you have to own a tiny house to downsize or live minimally.

     I highly encourage this lifestyle to anyone (especially to those who are young and haven’t accumulated so many things yet). Not only has it made it much simpler to get ready in the morning, it has saved us so much time and money. Packing for a trip is faster because most of our wardrobe is interchangeable. Doing laundry is much quicker because the majority of our everyday clothes fit in 2 loads. And finally, we’ve saved so much money because we buy with intention. We simply don’t have the space to buy a new item every week, so we make conscious decisions when we feel the need for a new pair of shoes, pants, or jacket. And if we do bring a new item into the house, we donate an existing one. It’s a great, simple tip for anyone to follow.

     To those who are intrigued by the minimalist lifestyle but just can’t overcome the idea of living without their 200+ piece closet (which is what I had): First of all, you can. Second, start small. Begin with things that you haven’t worn in a year. I once heard the advice of turning all the hangers in your closet the opposite way. When you’re putting it away after you’ve worn it, place it back the correct way. If after a year, there are hangers that are still hanging the opposite direction, donate it. You can clearly live without the item if you haven’t worn it all year. If the closet is simple, but the kitchen is where you like to spend your money? Our home has 8 plates, 8 glasses of various types, a silverware set, and an assortment of kitchen gadgets that are important to us. Save what can be multi-functional and what you enjoy using often, and donate the rest. We love baking in our house, so we managed to keep the Kitchen-Aid and get rid of the waffle maker and blender - handheld immersion blenders are wonderful and get the job done. My point being, that if you really want to live simply and without so much stuff, keep the things that bring joy to your life and part ways with the rest. You may miss it for a short while, but then you get creative and it passes.

     This past year has been one of the best years of my life and I know I have our impulsive decision to buy our tiny house to thank for that. It hasn’t all been easy, but we’re learning new things everyday. Believe it or not, we still have too many clothes and probably watch too much TV! (Why are there so many good shows?!) But it’s an improvement. I’ve learned that although the act of buying things may bring short term happiness, it’s what those things can bring to your life that creates long lasting joy. I hope to take the practices I’ve learned and continue applying them to my life no matter what kind of house I have next; and I hope to encourage others to do the same. Live simply. Spend your money on experiences. Spend your days exploring. And spend your time with friends and family. You don’t need to live in a tiny house to do that.

Author: Molly Goldsmith | Check out her blog, www.ahappytinylife.com