Saturdays are usually when I write a book review, and today’s no exception. After only halfway meeting my reading goal for last month (targeting 4 books, read two), it’s time to get back on track again. Today I’ve read “The More of Less” by Joshua Becker – creator of BecomingMinimalist.com. In minimalist fashion, I did not buy this book, instead getting it out of my local library where I get so many awesome free things.
The Beginning Of the Journey
Joshua and his family started out like many of us – with too much stuff. What he found was that his stuff was controlling him rather than him controlling his life. He had to spend time and money acquiring stuff, cleaning stuff, organizing stuff, etc. One day while cleaning out his garage, and being unable to play with his son because the task was taking so long, his neighbor shared a pearl of wisdom. “You don’t need to own all this stuff”. That statement was a life changer, and him and his family began their journey of minimalism.
It wasn’t always an easy process, and the family didn’t agree on everything, but they eventually made it through the journey and found more happiness on the other side. In the book, Joshua shares his own families journey and struggles toward minimalism, as well as stories from others who’ve found joy in a life of less.
He opens the book talking through what he calls “The Universal Benefits of Minimalism”, where he outlines the more and less of living a more minimalist life:
- More time and energy to spend in ways that are better aligned to our values
- More money from buying less
- More generosity by freeing up money by buying less
- More freedom from possessions, consumerism, and stuff
- More contentment with what we have, rather than always striving for more
- Less stress financially, and about your possessions
- Less distraction from what really matters in life
- Less environmental impact by overall consuming less
- Less work for someone else to clear out our stuff when we pass on
- Less comparison with others
The book then goes into detail about some of these benefits, as well as some tips for beginning your own minimalist journey. Overall, by the time I was done reading it, I was chomping at the bit for a decluttering of my house.
How do you start? Start small, he advises, by tackling one area of your belongings that’s relatively simple. Maybe it’s your car, or your bathroom. Save the big projects like the kitchen and basement for a later time, after you’ve built up your desire to live with less. Just keep going room by room until you’ve been through your entire house.
One tip that I loved, which I don’t often see, was a recommendation to not be afraid of just putting decisions off. Many times, when getting rid of “things” we may have stored around the house, we might feel overwhelmed at the prospect of getting rid of stuff. This is something that’s different for different people, of course, but for people that have a hard time letting go of things just putting it “out of sight/out of mind” can be a good strategy. So if you want to declutter but find yourself becoming paralyzed, just pack things you’re not sure if you want to get rid of in a bag or box and stick it in the basement/closet. Leave it there for a while and see what you go get out of the box. You’re very likely to never go into the basement to retrieve your things. After some time, you may find it easier to get rid of those things because you can see you never use them.
Another tip that I also thought was great was to use decluttering as a method for getting rid of excessive memoribilia from time gone by and putting it to better use. Do you have a box full of objects from a parent, grandparent, or your college years? Instead of leaving the box of stuff in your basement, select a few, very meaningful objects and use them daily around the house. Take a picture of the other objects, and give them to someone who could use them instead.
That last sentence above was a concept really struck a cord with me – the idea that by keeping things in our house and not using them, we’re really depriving others of the joy of truly using them. I can empathize with that, because as many people do I have plenty of “stuff” that I keep for sentimental reasons. I should just give it away and let others benefit from using it.
Parallels With My Experiences
Now, I am not a minimalist by any stretch of the imagination. I lean more toward the frugal side of things, saving objects “just in case” we can use them later. I also do my weekly shopping at warehouse clubs, so I have an extensive pantry. Side note – J.D. Roth recently wrote an interesting article over at Money Boss on the difference between minimalism and frugality-I highly recommend checking it out. But over the years, I’ve come to embrace more of a minimalist ideal, especially for myself. Although I still have plenty of things saved to use later, I’m much quicker to just get rid of stuff I don’t need/don’t use. I also try to avoid bringing too much new stuff into the house, although with three children and bargain-hunting tendencies I’m not always successful.
One area that I did minimalize, which I’m still enjoying now several years later, is the main bathroom upstairs. For years, I’d been keeping make-up and nail polish that I “might need” one day. The drawers had all kinds of things in them. After listening to an audio version of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I went through the bathroom and just tossed out all those things I “might” need one day. It’s been so much easier to keep things organized, and now I don’t have any nail polish (because I don’t really wear it) and one small bag of makeup. I’ve done similar things in the kitchen and my bookshelves (yes, plural). Having less things really does make it much easier to keep spaces clean and organized.
So I’m far from a minimalist, but I can definitely see the benefits. Now that I’ve read this book, I’m inspired and energized to go through my stuff again and see what can go. So that’s how I’m going to be spending this weekend! Starting in my garage, which is in desperate need of a de-cluttering and clean out.
What do you think of minimalism? Do you lean more toward the frugal side of things, scoring bargains and saving things for later? Or the minimalist side, owning less things total? Or are you like me and “it depends” on what specifically we’re talking about? Let me know in the comments!