How’s that for a blog post title? Living a simpler life. You may be wondering what the heck this is about.
Well, it’s about a few different things. Minimalism, financial responsibility & living a meaningful life.
Photography by Katherine Gail Co
So what is minimalism? The Minimalists explain that “minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom”. They focus on quite a few different ways to achieve minimalism, the main one being – realizing that physical possessions don’t provide happiness. Therefore, we should strive to reduce excess consumerism, possessions, commitments and even debt. It’s about focusing your time, money and energy on things that fulfill you and make you happy.
Although material possessions are a big part of the minimalist movement, what draws me in the most is the idea of focusing on living a meaningful life. This really isn’t about living in a tiny house, or having no furniture. It’s about spending your time and money on things you truly love. Not only is this whole idea good for us, but it’s also good for the earth.
My hubby doesn’t exactly realize it yet (he hasn’t read the books), but for the last few months, we’ve been making a few small changes to embrace minimalism and the idea of living a simpler life. I’m already feeling happier and more at peace. So, naturally I’ve been wanting to share on the blog. Grab a snack, this will be a long one.
Photography by Katherine Gail Co
Five Ways We’ve Embraced Minimalism
+ My hubby and I share a car.
This one seems to shock people the most.
The first week of January we decided to sell my car. Primarily because my sister needed a car and I knew I would get the best price by negotiating with my parents, rather than trying to sell my car at a dealer. Initially we figured we’d live with one car for a couple of months while I decided what car I wanted (I couldn’t decide on a new car back then). But, here we are four months later and I have no intention of going into debt for another 5 yrs over a car. I’ve realized that you absolutely can live without certain things. Once you no longer have it, you adjust. You simply figure it out.
I realize that certain jobs may make something like this extremely difficult. But, have you ever thought about how you could make it work? I work from home most days, but when I need to go into the office or run errands, we make it work. Either I’ll drop my hubby off at work first and then pick him up, or I’ll take an Uber to work and he’ll pick me up. And yes, you may be thinking, that’s an added cost. And it is, but at the same time, it isn’t. I no longer have a car or insurance payment. How much are your payments? I could take an Uber to work 4 days a week and still pay less than a car payment + insurance. Will we live with one car forever? It’s unlikely, but for now, it works for us.
+ I made a significant career change
So much of my life has changed over the last year. After being diagnosed with PCOS I knew I needed to make a serious career change. Any of you that work doing audits in public accounting, or have a friend or family member who does, know how grueling the job can be. It’s not uncommon to work 70 hour weeks without a single day off for months straight.
This was my life. I was stressed, unhappy, grumpy, eating poorly and sitting at a desk 14 hours a day. I knew I would never get better if I stayed, no matter how much I adjusted my eating habits.
Even though I was literally on the verge of a big promotion, I decided to give it up. My promotion raise and bonus? Out the window. But, it’s the best thing I’ve done for myself in YEARS. Even though transferring to a new role means less money and no promotion, it gives me the time and freedom I lacked for five years. I no longer work 70 hour weeks – not even close. But, the icing on the cake is having the freedom to make choices about my time and schedule that I never had before. That my friends, is priceless.
+ We seriously cleaned out our house
Haven’t you heard? Clutter = stress. Read this post on why mess causes stress. Yes, that rhymes.
I usually declutter a couple of times a year. The hubby on the other hand is a bit of a hoarder. Thankfully, he isn’t a big purchaser either so it’s not like he accumulates things quickly. Regardless, after reading more about minimalism I did some serious decluttering. I went through our closets, bathroom cabinets, drawers, kitchen, pantry, garage – basically EVERYTHING. We donated over 8 large trash bags with clothes, office supplies, canned goods, etc. If we didn’t use it, out it went.
You may be thinking this sounds like some spring cleaning. Except, it really wasn’t. We got rid of a lot more than just clothes that didn’t fit. I took a serious look through my closet and only kept things I wore often and made my happy. I didn’t hold on to anything “just in case”. The same applied to the rest of our house.
+ We are cutting spending on things that don’t matter
This one is tough considering I need to buy things for my blog. How many times have I confessed about going overboard at Target? A ton. But, here’s how I see it – First off, I’m not perfect. And second, beauty products and this blog brings me happiness. I love trying out new products, writing, taking pictures, editing. It’s a really important part of my life. Therefore, as it relates to beauty products and makeup this whole idea takes on a new meaning.
Anyways, back to the original point, we’ve taken a serious look at our spending and cut all the things that aren’t necessary or don’t matter. I’ll give you two examples:
#1 Cable – This really isn’t something that adds value to our life. In fact, it probably takes some away. I’ve never felt good after sitting 4 hours watching mindless television. It’s just not who I am. Other than watching Walking Dead together, cable isn’t something that brings us together. Plus, I don’t consider watching TV a good way to spend time with my hubby or friends. Therefore, we cut it. That’s $60 a month we can now spend on dinner or paying off our house.
# 2 Convenience – Don’t get me wrong, paying for convenience is SO worth it in some situations. But sometimes, it’s important to reconsider. For instance, we realized we were paying an extra $10 a month so that we could activate or deactivate our alarm system from our phones. Seriously? $10 a month? Sure, it’s convenient, but is it really worth $10 a month? Hell no. I didn’t even have the app on my phone! All we need to do is make sure we turn the alarm on before we leave and that’s it. No need for an app.
All of this may look different for you. Maybe certain TV shows are important in your life. Or getting together to watch games with your friends is something you really enjoy. The point is to look through where you are spending your time and money and reevaluate if it’s worth it. Yes, I spend money on makeup, but other than that I really don’t spend money on much else. I don’t buy clothes or shoes very often. We don’t buy Tuna a bunch of stuff. We keep it simple.
+ We’re spending time on things that fulfill us
Obviously I spend time on this blog. But, I love doing it. I can easily spend all Sunday writing, yet I never feel like I’ve wasted my time, or like I haven’t enjoyed my weekend. Further, blogging has helped me connect with so many wonderful people both online and in person. I also get to explore a creative side I didn’t even realize I had! It makes my life richer in so many ways.
Although my hubby doesn’t have a blog, he recently started volunteering at the animal shelter where we adopted Tuna. Something as simple as taking dogs for a walk helps the community, relieves stress, improves his physical health and makes him happy.
And, to merge the last two points, later this year we are going on a trip to Ireland and Iceland to spend time with my parents and to go to our friend’s wedding. Spend money on stuff or Iceland? Definitely Iceland…
There are still numerous ways we can continue to embrace the idea of minimalism, and we plan on doing so. However, I wanted to share how we’re already living a simpler life with small changes since people often read the word and automatically think it isn’t something they can’t do.
The best way to sum this up is the following: this idea of minimalism has been described as “the joy of living with less”. But, “less” can take on different meanings for different people. For us, it’s been less stuff, less stress, less expenses. For you, that may be less time spent with negative people, less credit card debt, or less commitments.
Minimalism isn’t all or nothing. You can slowly embrace as much as you feel comfortable with. You don’t have to sell your house and live off the possessions you can fit in a backpack. That’s not the point. It’s about simplifying your life and focusing on what really matters.
If you’re interested in reading more about the minimalist lifestyle, I recommend starting with the resources below:
Optimal Living Daily Podcast (they have daily episodes where the host reads from various blogs)