26 April 2012

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The best things in life aren’t things


A look at the benefits of living with less in your home


On your path to scaling down your lifestyle and the possessions you have, you might feel like you are being sold short of a lot of luxuries. In practice, however, this is not true. Living with fewer possessions, uncluttering your home, having less gadgets and fewer appliances are not just beneficial for those who are over indebted: many people have found that there are numerous benefits to this sort of lifestyle.

Of course you can sell everything of value you can live without to pay back your debt, but the rest, such as clothes and trinkets, can be dropped off at a charity’s shop or a less fortunate community. This way you not only unclutter your life, but you help others too and realize that you are indeed fortunate because you have the necessities.

Are you owned by you possessions?


Making your home minimalist means you don’t let your possessions own you: there’s nothing extravagant and you don’t buy the most expensive things, but the best quality you can afford so they last longer. When you own much fewer things, it makes sense that they are simple; to keep with the uncluttered life you are going for and to be value for money. The irony is that wealthy people tend to come around to minimalist living quicker than the rest of us. When you have all that you need and want, you realize that possessions don’t make you happier or calmer. Often the opposite is true.

When we don’t have large sums of spending money, we tend to think that something pretty, clothes or something to entertain us (magazines that will become clutter) will make our lives better. Yet, when you have less to spend, living a minimalist life will be beneficial to your sanity and your savings.


Less things to look after means more time for activities you truly enjoy
Image courtesy of Greg L. photos

The benefits you might not have realized



Besides having more money and getting free of debt, uncluttering your life of all unnecessary possessions and storing the rest out of sight has numerous benefits. According to Becoming Minimalist’s list of the benefits of minimalism, the second benefit besides having more money, is setting an example for your kids. Living with less teaches children that we don’t need possessions to feel secure and happy and that our worth is measured by more than what we earn. Teaching children this is very valuable in a very materialistic society.

When they experience happiness, contentment, entertainment and learning from a young age that is not centred around toys and gadgets, they will be much more balanced growing up. Seeking the approval of others is a part of growing up, but if children know that material possessions don’t make you fun or cool to be around, they will go through these growing pains much easier. They will also be able to discern which of their peers have fallen victim to relying on possessions for happiness and who are truly happy.

The other main benefit is being able to find your umbrella…or any other possession you truly need. When our homes are cluttered and our closets a mess we lose the things we really need much easier. Also, having one of an item means that you can remember where it is much easier. Furthermore, think how much easier it will be to clean a home with only one or two appliances or decorations on a flat surface and nothing lying around on the floors. Having guests over will be much less traumatic. You don’t have to worry about your home being tidy when there’s nothing to lie around, if they have small children the things you don’t want them to reach can be put away in a snap and if you have people sleeping over there’s much more space to put a blow up mattress – something you should invest in as minimalists also holiday in a minimal fashion, choosing camping and exploring nature over fancy hotels and seeing big cities.

Live a better life


When you don’t care to accumulate possessions you start to look at your life differently and make better choices. You don’t gravitate towards people who seem to be living the most glamorous lives, but have nothing more to offer. You look for a job that suits your personality, your values and is fulfilling because a salary is no longer your number one motivation. You don’t have the burden of fixing, organizing and cleaning so much clutter. You will find that your values and priorities change and that you no longer struggle to resist the temptations of shopping and using credit to accumulate better, faster, more expensive possessions.

Of course, you can’t achieve all this in a day. It takes a shift of your values and a re-evaluation of your life. Start with selling and donating the things you do not need and getting rid of the clutter room-by-room and see how much more free you feel in a clutter-free space.



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