According to Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus, self named 'The Minimalists,' minimalism is a lifestyle that is centered around asking the question "what adds value to your life" and simplifying or clearing the path so that everything in your life meets these values. I find this to be simple and beautiful. To clear the path of 'stuff' and find out what truly is contributing to a purposeful life. I first stumbled upon The Minimalists around February 2016. I started by reading their book Everything That Remains, a book about their journey from 'maximists' to minimalists, from debtors to financial freedom. And it sounded like the key to happiness.
My husband and I were hooked. We sat down and took a hard look at our lifestyle. We found a lot of excess. We had credit card debt. We were renting a 2 bedroom home for just the 2 of us. We were spending over half our income on home expenses and we had no savings. There's no one way to start on this minimalist path and we chose to first focus on getting our finances in order. We worked hard and paid off our $8,000+ credit card debt within 3 months. After that we needed to make a plan for how to reduce our living expenses. This is where we discovered the tiny house movement. We continued to work and save and within 3 more months we had a down payment and moving expenses and purchased our first home - a tiny home. We ordered it from a company who had it built in just 6 short weeks.
With the tiny house coming in such a short amount of time it was time to tackle our physical belongings. Over those 6 weeks we reduced our belongings by about 90%. From a 1,011 sq ft home to a 399sq ft home.
First went the clothing, a huge amount of the clothing donated hadn't been worn in months if not years. The jeans that did fit, the dress that makes me look fat, the t-shirts that have holes in them. All found homes at local charities or were recycled. Next we went room by room asking ourselves the question "Does this add value to our lives?" Now we only had 6 weeks to accomplish this task so we did our very best to contemplate what we really would need as quickly as we could but I was afraid that because we had to decide so fast that we would end up getting rid of things we would need in the new home. My fears were unfounded. It's been 7 months in the new tiny home and we haven't had to replace anything that we gave away/sold/recycled. In fact I would argue that we didn't go far enough. Over the past month I have come back to reevaluate what we have left that still contributes value to our lives and have found several things that are not needed. I ended up selling the 20 or so books that I had originally kept along with about half of my remaining clothing.
To further commit to creating a purposeful life I will be doing 'The Minimalist Game' starting March 1st, 2017. The game goes - Get rid of 1 thing on day 1, get rid of 2 things on day 2, 3 things on day 3 and so forth until you either no longer have anything that doesn't add value to your life or reach the end of the month. Some people compete with one another to see who can last the longest but we are doing the game as a family. Since we did just reduce our belongings 7 months ago I am unsure how many days we'll be able to play the game but we will go until we are confident that we only posses things that add value to our lives.
If you'd like to learn more about minimalism and this value centered lifestyle I would recommend starting with The Minimalists Blog or by watching their documentary on Netflix.
If you'd like to play along with my family this March on our minimalism game please leave a comment or email me directly!
Have a great week!
Allison Bost, MSW
This Tiny House Wife