mom reading to a daughter while enjoying a simplified, minimalist home
Minimalism & Decluttering

How Do I Start Living as a Minimalist? – 10 Essential Ways to Simplify

mom reading to a daughter while enjoying a simplified, minimalist home

What’s Inside: I answer the question, “How do I start living as a minimalist?” with 10 basic essentials to incorporate into your life, plus tips to simplify your home & time.

You’re exhausted.  Your to-do list is neverending.  Your calendar is stuffed. Then again, so is your house.  It’s cluttered, chaotic, and not the peaceful abode you dreamed of when you first moved in. 

Your social life consists of carting kids from activity to activity and your dream of having quality dinners together around the table seems as far off as your chances of winning the lottery.   This adulting thing is sparking no joy.  

Take heart.  There is a solution to the madness.  I’m going to show you 10 simple ways to start living as a minimalist.  Transform your life and take back your time.  This beginner’s guide to living a minimalist lifestyle will walk you through how to eliminate the insane and begin calm into your life.

What’s the minimalist lifestyle about?

While the definition of minimalism can vary from person to person, the widely accepted notion is that a minimalist lifestyle is the removal of the unnecessary in our lives to pursue the primary.  At its core, a minimalist life is one that trims out all that doesn’t matter so that you become free to focus on what does- your family, your faith, your purpose, and your passions.

How do I start living as a minimalist?

While there are many places one could begin and many ways to start along the journey to minimalism, this beginner’s guide focuses on 10 practical ways you can start learning how to live life as a minimalist.  Follow this guide and watch how your world transforms!

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How to become a minimalist: 10 essential first steps

 1. Know your why

Just like any journey of change, living life as a minimalist begins with setting your intention.  Why do you desire to live with less? What are the reasons you’re beginning this simple living journey?  Change is hard, and if you don’t have a solid reason for why you need this change in your life, you won’t succeed in accomplishing it.

Your why becomes your lighthouse through the proverbial storms of life- and in the literal storm of stuff that your kids leave in your living room. It guides you through the challenges of change and reminds you of the home you long to create.

 2. Create goals and make a plan

Some say a goal is a dream with a deadline. It’s not enough to wish for your ideal life.  You have to make the changes that are required. Notice I didn’t say make excuses. There’s no shortage of excuses for why we can’t have the life we’re after.  The truth is, if you want something badly enough, you make it happen. If you really want to begin a minimalist lifestyle, create a specific goal and outline a plan for how you will achieve it.  Then, get started!

If you need some great advice for how to create a life with complete focus, be sure to check out Michael Hyatt’s new book, Free to Focus.  I took a listen on audible and it is filled with golden productivity tidbits to help you get more done!  If you love it, he has a fantastic planner that follows the principles of the book to help you organize and manage your time more effectively!

3. Declutter your space

Most people assume the answer to “How do I start living as a minimalist” is “Throw out all your stuff.” 

Decluttering is probably the tip that’s most synonymous with becoming a minimalist.  Thanks to gurus like Marie Kondo, tidying up and decluttering has really gone mainstream.  It’s a great way to start your journey to minimalism because it helps you see that you can, indeed, live with less.

Whether you are a weekend warrior or only have time to declutter a drawer at a time, it doesn’t matter.  Progress is progress. When the decluttering process gets overwhelming, or the decisions get tough, remind yourself of your why.  Remember the goals and intentions you set at the start of this journey to simplify your life and keep pressing on.

Decluttering Tips & Techniques to Help you Along the Path to Simplifying:

How to Declutter Your Home in 5 No-Nonsense Steps

The Decluttering Advice You Haven’t Heard Yet

How I Decluttered Our Problem Area for Good!

The Simple Mindset Shift That Will Transform Your Minimalism Journey

ways to start minimalism

4. Capsule your closets

Laundry and dishes are two of the most time-draining chores for any mom.  It seems no matter how much you do, there’s always more. Lighten your laundry load by creating a capsule wardrobe.  

 Capsule wardrobes are a great way to start a minimalist lifestyle because the benefits are immediate and long-lasting.  After you curate a capsule wardrobe, you will finally feel good about everything you wear. Plus, you will greatly reduce the time it takes you to get ready & the decisions you have to make in the morning.

But don’t stop with yourself!  Create a capsule wardrobe for your kids!   Help them streamline the decisions they make in their morning by creating a wardrobe that coordinates and works for their styles.  Check out my practical guide to creating a kids capsule wardrobe.  It’s an easy way to help your kids start seeing the value of living life as a minimalist.

5. Become More Intentional

One of my favorite answers to “How do I start living as a minimalist?” is to create a life that reflects your highest priorities. When you view everything in your life through the lens of simplifying, big changes happen. Decisions become much easier to make.  This works for your time, your purchases, and your energy.

Want to know if you should attend an event or agree to serve in a project?  Run it through the filter of your priorities.  

Does it support the things that matter most to you?  

Will it take time and energy away from the things you value most?

Will it add value to your life?

Should you buy this thing?  

         Does it bring you joy? Is it useful in your home?

         Do you need it or do you own something similar that could work?

         Will you still love it in 6 months? In a year?

         Is it worth space in your home? The maintenance it will require?

Another easy beginner minimalist tip? Become intentional about where you store things.  Consider storing items close to their point of use so that they aren’t constantly being trekked across your home to be put away (because you know that rarely happens!).  Or, consider grouping similar items in the same place so that everyone knows where to find and return them. 

beginner's guide to living life as a minimalist

6. Reset your habits & create a routine

Analyze your habits and routines as you learn how to begin a minimalist lifestyle.

In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear highlights the significance of making tiny changes to your routines and habits to magnify your success and achieve your goals.  If you want to start living as a minimalist, begin changing the habits that are keeping you stuck in your current situation.  

One practical way to begin a minimalist lifestyle is to adopt a morning and evening routine.  

For instance, start each morning by running a load of laundry through the washing machine.  After breakfast, load the dishwasher instead of setting plates in the sink. 

In the evening, place the laundry into the dryer.  After dinner, clean up dishes and cookware immediately.  Fold the laundry and put it away. Then, do a quick walkthrough to secure any remaining dirty dishes before starting the dishwasher.  Unload it in the morning as part of your morning routine.

Another great habit that helps keep a tidy home is to start a 15-minute quick clean routine right before bed.  Have kids help tidy their toys. Clean off tables, counters, and other horizontal spaces. Put things back into their homes.

 If you’re thinking this will take hours, not 15 minutes, take heart!  Once you have decluttered and every item has a place inside your home, this routine becomes much more manageable.  Don’t stress if you’re not there yet!

If you want to learn more about how to create atomic habits, here’s an introductory video.

ways to start minimalism

7. Plan Simple Meals

“What’s for dinner?” can be one of the most stressful questions to answer in your day.  Instead of relying on takeout or fast food because you’re too tired or uninspired, spend time creating a simple minimalist meal plan. 

Begin living a minimalist lifestyle in the kitchen by creating one week of meals your family loves- meals that are also easy to make and use basic ingredients.  Then, create a master grocery list for this weekly set of meals so you don’t have to think about it again.  

Continue this process, developing additional meals to add to another rotation.  Work to add meals until you eventually have one month of meal plans created with accompanying grocery lists (4 weekly meal plans).  

Not only will this simple minimalist tip save you time and energy, but it will also save you money.  Be sure to check out our favorite family chili recipe and add another easy weeknight meal to your arsenal!

8. Follow a Budget

Speaking of saving money, one of the often-overlooked ways to begin a minimalist lifestyle is to design a budget.  When you keep an eye on your money, you’re more acutely aware of what you’re spending it on. Coincidently, when you are mindful of what you’re buying, you start accumulating more money.  Minimalism and money go hand in hand. 

Budgeting doesn’t have to be complicated. Start small by sticking to a weekly spending goal for your miscellaneous purchases or by limiting the number of times you eat out in a week.  

There are lots of great budget strategies out there, like zero-based budgeting and the 50/30/20 rule, so find one that works for you and your family.

Not sure where to start?  Check out my list of 28 Financial Goals that Will Transform Your Life.  Once you’re inspired to start living as a minimalist when it comes to money, begin setting your own financial goals with this free printable! 

More Advice for Budgeting Beginners:

How Sinking Funds Can Transform Your Finances & Keep You Out of Debt

How to End Money Fights With Your Spouse

focus on experiences versus stuff

 9. Focus on experiences > stuff

Another way to begin living life as a minimalist is to focus on experiences instead of stuff.  This is a super practical tip that’s simple for any beginner to understand, yet it’s sometimes not so easy to implement.  

After years of thinking through the lens of stuff, transitioning to thinking about experiences can be a shift.  However, it’s a shift that you’ll never regret once you learn how to start. Try giving the gift of experience the next time you’re invited to an event that you would normally purchase a gift for.

For example, I took my niece out for a day of candle making and lunch instead of buying her a birthday present.  My nephew went to his first 3-D movie and a frozen yogurt bar. I gave my cousin money toward his epic honeymoon instead of another platter.  I’ve purchased packages at resorts for vacationing friends who deserved an extra special day. I paid for a friend to get a massage at a spa on the anniversary of her miscarriage. I’ve donated money to charities my friends are passionate about in lieu of birthday or Christmas gifts.  

 I don’t share this to make myself look good, but to demonstrate that no matter what the occasion or situation, you can always find an experience alternative to stuff.

start living as a minimalist when you travel
At the top of the bell tower in Lucca, Italy

10. Travel- The Ultimate Experience

Travel is the ultimate example of spending money on experiences over stuff. This is one of my favorite ways to practice living life as a minimalist.  My husband Ryan and I value travel and prioritize saving our money for those experiences. We’ve backpacked through Italy, road-tripped across the Yucatan, ziplined in Hawaii, and spearfished in the Caribbean. Ryan’s gone on missions trips to Brazil, Honduras, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Cambodia (I’ll eventually get to go, once the babies are older).  

Before you assume it must be great to be made of money, you should know that we’ve taken all these trips while living on one income.  Even if we were both working, we always lived on one salary.  Most of the time the second salary went to debt payoff, remodeling our fixer-upper, or saving for an emergency fund.  Later on, I quit teaching to stay home with the boys (another reason we always lived on one income- we planned for that opportunity). You see, when you start living as a minimalist, your priorities become clear and your money gets spent where it matters to you.  

I don’t have fancy boots, $300 purses, manicured nails, a brand new car, or the most current technology.  But what I do have is a passport full of stamps and a lifetime of memories.  

And while you’re traveling, don’t be weighed down with stuff!  Check out my guide to packing light and learn ways to start being minimalist in your travels!  Plus, scope out my series on traveling on a budget to see how we afford to travel the world without going into debt!

Need more inspiration to travel?  Check out these 15 benefits of travel!

The best answer for how to start living as a minimalist? Just get started!

Learning to start living as a minimalist doesn’t have to be overwhelming.  Even as a beginner, you can make small changes that will have a huge impact on your home and life.  Cut items from your schedule. Clear out clothes you don’t wear. Craft easy to make dinners.

Beginning a minimalist lifestyle doesn’t have to be complicated. As you start to make these 10 simple but essential changes, you will begin to uncover even more ways to simplify your home, schedule, and routines so that you can live a life reflective of your priorities.  A life you love.  

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 ways to start minimalism

 

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