Long before I ever heard of Minimalism, I read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. I also listened to his radio show for a long time. My husband and I were able to pay off debt, increase our retirement, buy a house, and go on a family vacation once a year. While we’ve had to set some of those financial goals aside while I worked less for the last few years to take care of our son, it really helped us start questioning all of the things we “needed” to buy.
Before we were married, my husband and I both spent years “chasing the carrot,” meaning trying to get an education, get a job and advance to a career, and then gain higher income. All to improve our quality of life. But deep down we have always questioned this American way of living. We don’t want to wait until we retire to do the things we enjoy. At retirement age, we will both be 65 or 70, and we may not be able to travel, hike, kayak, or take long walks on the beach. I mean, I hope we can, but there’s no guarantee.
In the last few years, we have been living on less than we make in order not to accrue any additional debt. That meant removing some things from our budget, such as brand new clothing and household items. We eat in restaurants less often. We make strict lists for the grocery store and stick to them.
We did not suffer.
We also decided we want to raise our son differently. To be content with life, love, experiences. Not a bunch of stuff.
A life-changing preschool lesson
Recently I wrote about one of the homeschool preschool lessons I did with my son on the environment and pollution. That lesson is one of the things that prompted me to start going plastic-free after learning about plastic pollution in the ocean and discovering that only about 9% of our plastics get recycled. That means 91% is not recycled!
Sometimes we learn more just by teaching others.
So in 2016, we started eliminating many items that were only available in plastic packaging. Striving to go plastic-free led me to learn about toxicity in our everyday products and the cumulative effects they can have on our bodies and health. By 2017, we started phasing out most household and personal items that contained toxic and harmful ingredients, such as shampoos, make-up, perfumes, deodorants, household cleaners, etc. I bought less and less commercially produced products. I embraced the idea of making my own necessary items (shampoo and laundry detergent) and eliminating the rest from my life (scented lotions, body sprays, household cleaners, fabric dryer sheets, etc.).
Eliminating shopping stress
This enabled me to eliminate bi-monthly trips to Target, which saved me time, energy, and money. Eliminating shopping at department stores had the added benefit of reducing stress. I find most shopping stressful! Especially when there’s too much shopping in my life. It’s fun to buy a new blouse or cute shirt for my son now and then, but stores are visually overstimulating and cause sensory overload in many of us.
Then I discovered minimalism
If you’re not familiar with minimalism, Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist defined it like this: “It is a lifestyle where people intentionally seek to live with only the things they really need” in order to spend time on the things that really matter.
My family and I have been exploring this lifestyle in recent months. My most recent influences include Joshua Becker; The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn, and Ryan Nicodemus; and Courtney Carver of Be More with Less and Project 333. I’m also inspired by Marie Kondo. If you’re interested in reading any of their books please check out the Minimalism section of my Books page.
The common thread I’m hearing from these amazing people is that you can improve your quality of life and live your best life by owning less stuff. But what does owning less stuff have to do with my quality of life?
So many things, readers and friends!
The Minimalists explain that minimalism begins with getting the stuff out of the way so that you can get to the things that really matter to your life. That might include relationships, health, giving, following passions, and improving yourself. The question all of the authors above pose is: What could your life really be like if you didn’t have such a cluttered, busy life? Could you:
- Work less, and develop passions more?
- Save money by living in a smaller home (because you had fewer belongings), which would cost less for the mortgage/rent, energy, water, and general maintenance?
- Save money from buying less?
- Enjoy more time with family and friends instead of spending that time on cleaning, maintaining, and repairing a larger home and thousands of belongings?
- Focus on taking better care of your mind and body with that extra time?
- Volunteer some of that saved time and energy? Give some of that saved money to your favorite charity or cause?
You can also read my post about the book Everything That Remains by The Minimalists where I shared how profoundly inspired I was by the minimalist mindset.
Way fewer toxins + less plastic + less shopping+ less stuff
= less stress + extra money + more time + better health
= higher quality of life.
I hope some or all of this can help you and your family too! Let me know what steps you’re taking to make your life better and to be the change too! And don’t forget to subscribe.