When you look around your home, you probably don't realize how many things you have. Did you know that the average American household owns 300,000 items? That's insane!
It's mainly due to the consumer culture and having to keep up with the Joneses. However, thanks to decluttering gurus like Marie Kondo and lifestyles like minimalism, many people are enjoying the benefits of decluttering their homes.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by all the clutter in your home, you should consider living a more simple life. Keep reading to discover how decluttering has changed my life and how it can change yours too.
What is Minimalism?
There's much confusion about what exactly minimalism is. In short, adopting the lifestyle of minimalism is about living with less. Practicing minimalism should create less stress, anxiety, and concern over finances in your life.
It also changes your perspective to focus more on experiences while appreciating what you have. Minimalism is designed to detach us from our possessions and encourage us to concentrate more energy on our relationships, health, and goals.
Minimalism has many nuances, and some people are skeptical of the lifestyle, but overall it should cause us to pause before we make more mindless purchases.
7 Simple Ways Decluttering Has Changed My Life
Living with less seems like a hurdle at first. It requires a complete shift of thinking and could take some time to master. But, the benefits outweigh the sacrifices!
I recently began the process of decluttering our house using Marie Kondo's KonMari Method. It requires me to go through our belongings by category to determine which items still bring me joy and which ones do not.
This minimalist mindset has encouraged me to part with many items that I no longer need, but to do so with an appreciation for their purpose.
The process of decluttering has changed my life for the better in the following ways.
1. Less anxiety
When you see a pile of unsorted mail or clean laundry unfolded for days, it's enough to create a sense of tension and urgency. Psychology backs this up! Seeing clutter overloads our brains and develops feelings of anxiousness.
To fix this, we donated clothes that we no longer wanted, which freed up drawer space, so it's easy to fold and put away laundry. We also sorted through mail to decide what to file and what to shred.
Minimalism is about living with less. Taking these steps has reduced my anxiety and given me greater peace of mind.
2. New Perspective
Once you've decided to take the plunge and develop a minimalistic lifestyle, something happens. You begin to change your perspective on things and on life in general. What really matters will become apparent to you. You might even second-guess yourself when considering purchasing an item.
This new perspective certainly resonated with me after decluttering. With less on my mind, I was able to ponder things other than my growing to-do list. If you've whittled down your commitments, you might find yourself pursuing them more diligently and thoroughly than before.
So often, we buy things to help us form an identity that keeps up with the Joneses. But, when we let go of those things, we discover that we can still be ourselves! We don't need possessions to define who we are.
Decluttering has cleared my mind and released any feelings of needing belongings to define me. It has made me confident in who I am as a person rather than in my car, house, or other belongings. My mind is open to focusing on what is truly important in life.
Many people buy things to impress others – to gain friendships or that new promotion at work. But, after a while, it becomes exhausting.
Pursuing financial independence and early retirement (FIRE) certainly gets questioned by our friends and family. However, becoming a minimalist frees you from the apprehension of impressing other people. It takes the pressure off!
Just like with our reasoning for implementing this financial lifestyle, you need to understand the why behind what you're doing with decluttering.
You're also free from worrying about your items. The concern that you're not making enough money to buy all the things you want disappears because those items no longer provide the value you seek.
5. More Harmonious Relationships
When our houses are in a state of disarray due to clutter or disorganization, our relationships suffer. We start blaming or become passive-aggressive about the mess. Not only that, but often spouses or partners might buy things without speaking to their significant other, and this leads to arguing and fighting.
Minimalism paves the way for healthier relationships! Decluttering has decreased the amount of time we need to spend cleaning, and minimalism has lessened the number of items we purchase. Therefore, reducing the fights or disagreements about our messy house or searching for misplaced items.
6. Extra time
Fewer possessions mean more time for the things you love, like traveling or putting more energy into a hobby. Giving attention to your family and health are likely to take priority as well.
If you've overcommitted yourself to people, you'll also find that simplifying your schedule of commitments will open up your time for this.
We benefit from decluttering and minimalism for all of these reasons. It helps us choose how we want to spend our time.
7. More Savings
Debt is a common problem for many Americans for reasons such as medical expenses, student loans, and credit card debt. The average American owes about $38,000 in debt.
Using a minimalistic approach to my lifestyle has allowed me to apply the same methods to my finances. Tidying up our finances has forced me to go through our budget with a fine-tooth comb and eliminate unnecessary expenses.
Eliminating your need to continuously make purchases frees up your income and the scare of having a debt over your head. You can now save for retirement, vacations, college, or charities.
How Can minimalism work for me?
The great thing about minimalism is that it doesn't take a lot of effort to get started! The key is remembering that you need to live on less.
Here are some first steps to take towards minimalism.
1. Personalize Your Rules
Minimalism looks different for everyone. The single guy's minimalist lifestyle will differ significantly from the family with six children.
Sit down and make a list of how many items you want to keep. You should also consider how much you want to downsize your home. Having a vision for your minimalism keeps it realistic.
2. Start Decluttering!
Make a list of all the places in your home that you want to declutter. Start by throwing out things that are broken, no matter how much value they have to you. You can also donate items that you no longer use regularly.
The central idea of minimalism is freeing up space to reduce the feeling of anxiety. A good rule of thumb is that if you don't use it or haven't used it in six months, throw it out or donate it.
Organization can come quickly to some people, and others struggle with it. However, to maximize space and save time, decluttering and organization are essential.
The best way to organize is by separating your items into categories. This way, you know where everything is, and you can find it easily.
4. Commit to Buying Less
Now that you've decluttered and organized your home, it's time to keep it that way and fully embrace minimalism! Decide to stick to the rules that you wrote down before decluttering and stick to them as best you can. It won't be perfect at first, but with practice and dedication, you'll reap the benefits minimalism has to offer.
Minimalism: Less is More
Decluttering not only removes the unnecessary tangible items from your life, but the stress, anxiety, and fear associated with clutter. The benefits of minimalism are significant, even if it takes a little extra work to change your mindset and actions in the beginning. I haven't been disappointed and neither will you!
Sam is the co-owner of How To FIRE, a blog that discusses financial independence and early retirement. She uses her BS in Finance and MBA to help others get control of their finances through budgeting, saving, investing, side hustles, and travel hacking. Due to following the FIRE Movement’s principles, she was able to quit her high-stress job in the financial services industry in July 2019 to pursue her side hustles full-time. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her dog “Simba” and traveling with her husband, John.