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Mastering Minimalism: Eight Steps To A Life Of Less Stuff And More Freedom

Mastering Minimalism: Eight Steps To A Life Of Less Stuff And More Freedom

 

by Emily Josephine

 

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. You have permission to quote small portions of this book in other publications, digital or print, as long as you give credit to the author and include a link to her website, http://liveyourdreamswithemily.com.

 

Disclaimer: The URLs to the websites listed in this book are live at the time of publication. The author accepts no liability for dud URLs. In addition, the style of homeschooling presented in this book is based on the author’s opinions and experience. The content herein is for educational purposes only. The author accepts no liability if you try it and it doesn’t work for your family.

 

License Note

This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please send them the link to download their own copy from an online e-book retailer. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

***************

Dedicated to Dennis Nigon, my high school speech teacher who insisted that the word “stuff” was a verb.

 

Table Of Contents

Introduction

Chapter One: Why Minimalize

Chapter Two: It’s All About Love

Chapter Three: More Stuff, Or More Life?

Chapter Four: Made In China By The Living Dead

Chapter Five: Burnin’ Down The House

Chapter Six: No More Plastic Money!

Chapter Seven: Wait, Wait, Then Wait Some More

Chapter Eight: One In, One Out

Chapter Nine: All Systems Go!

Conclusion

[]Introduction

When you hear the word “Minimalism”, what do you picture? A man living in a log cabin with nothing but a small wooden table and a single chair? A large house with mostly bare walls and scattered with a few very expensive pieces of custom-made furniture? The last camping trip you went on where it rained and the tent sprung a leak and the raccoons ate all the cereal and crackers you brought?

While some supposed minimalist gurus have tried to define Minimalism – for example, wanting everyone to own no more than 100 objects (and yes, each paper clip and safety pin counts) – it simply means…well, living simply. It means cutting back your spending so that you buy only things that you really need, plus a few things for beauty and/or luxury. It means growing into an awareness that less is more – more freedom, more money, more realization that consumerism is slowly killing the planet.

You may already be on the minimalist journey, and didn’t know it! But if you’re reading this book, you likely aren’t anywhere near where you want to be and are looking for someone to nudge you along.

Hello, my name is Ms. Nudge!

What to expect from this book

I begin with the six main reasons to minimalize. Then, I get into the eight steps/principles that my husband and I have followed and continue to follow that have helped us lead a simpler life. Don’t worry – you won’t have to give up flush toilets or hot showers like we have. Although if you have a shower with hot water…hmm, what’s your address, please?

Sorry, I distracted myself for a moment. No, you won’t have to give up every modern convenience, but you will have to make a paradigm shift. In fact, you may have to make several. But that’s okay. If your brain is like mine, it could use the exercise!

Enough nonsense. Let’s get into the six reasons to start the journey toward Minimalism.

[]Chapter One: Why Minimalize

I’m sure you’ve heard most, if not all, of the following reasons to move toward Minimalism. But I’m going to include them in my book first of all, just in case a total newbie downloads it; and second of all, I wanted to make sure you got your money’s worth of characters and pages. After all, I don’t want to fill your reading device with fluff that has nothing to do with the topic at hand, right? Don’t you hate it when you read a book and the author gets totally off track and goes on and on about something that you couldn’t care less about, something completely unrelated to the book’s title or general content?

Speaking of book titles, you wanna hear the funniest title I’ve ever –

Huh? Oh. I got off track. Fluff. So sorry.

What the heck was I talking about? Oh yeah, thanks! The six reasons to minimalize. Right.

REASON #1: You save money.

This one is a no-brainer. Minimalists spend less money than other people. They’re not necessarily cheapskates like me, but they buy so much less stuff than other people do that even when they pay more for quality items, they end up with more money at the end of the month than Joe Jones next door.

And it’s not just the immediate result of refraining from a purchase that saves minimalists money. The practice of Minimalism saves them money down the road because they don’t have as many repairs or cleaning bills.

REASON #2: You don’t need as big a house when you’re a minimalist.

This, of course, ties in with the first reason to minimalize: saving money. If you have fewer material goods, you don’t need as much space to contain them, so you can comfortably live in a much smaller house, which is generally much less expensive than a large house.

Unless, of course, you’re comparing an apartment in New York City to a large ranch-style house in Alabama. I’m talking apples to apples, not apples to jackfruit.

Anyway, a smaller home not only saves you money, but requires a lot less work and prevents you from collecting clutter. Which leads perfectly into the next reason to minimalize…

REASON #3: You have less work.

Minimalists usually live in smaller homes than average, and don’t arbitrarily and mindlessly fill their homes with stuff for the sake of filling their homes. This means that they have less cleaning to do, less maintenance, fewer repairs, and only occasional decluttering that probably takes five minutes for the entire house.

We (my husband, our son, and I) lived in a twenty-one-foot travel trailer for five weeks one time. The one good thing about the experience was that it took me a whopping two minutes to sweep it. Oh, and that when the wind blew, it gave us that heady Dorothy-flying-to-Oz feeling. Fun stuff.

Anyway, if you hate housework, like me, or are just plain lazy, Minimalism should be right up your alley. Even in our relatively huge 576-square-foot home we finally got built, I can get the whole thing swept in under twenty minutes, and dusted in about half an hour.

REASON #4: Your home is less likely to be burglarized.

Burglars look for homes that are lavishly furnished, with items such as a home theater system and evidence of multiple computers and other electronic gadgets. Even if you have a $10,000 diamond ring hidden under your mattress, burglars are unlikely to break into your home if your living room has only basic and obviously used furniture and no large-screen T.V. in sight.

I don’t mean that choosing Minimalism equates to living in a shack with a sofa that looks like it was dragged out of the landfill. However, even a tastefully decorated place with quality furniture will not be as attractive to thieves if that décor and furniture is not opulent or numerous.

REASON #5: You help save the planet.

Above all else, Minimalism is about breaking free from the consumerist mindset and learning how to be content with less. This helps save the planet in two ways. First of all, the fewer things you buy, the fewer things are manufactured, and thus the fewer of the planet’s natural resources are used and less pollution is produced.

Second, most of what is sold in stores – except for that occasional store that sells only fair-trade goods – is made by people working for unfair wages in dangerous working conditions. The American greed for cheap and numerous things has perpetuated this inhumane treatment of our fellow human beings.

Some people would argue that if not for those factories, those people wouldn’t have any work at all and they and their families would starve to death. That’s warped thinking. If people would be willing to buy less and pay more for what they do buy, they could demand quality goods from workers who were being paid fare wages, and from factories that were monitored for their working conditions. Yes, I know I’m talking about a complete upheaval of the current corporate-manufacturing system, but this is possible.

‘Nuff said. Minimalism helps the planet – including the other human inhabitants of the planet.

REASON #6: You gain freedom.

Repeat after me: “The more stuff I have, the less freedom I have.” Say it again.

Now, say it backwards while hanging from the ceiling by your toes.

Great job! Wasn’t that a titillating experience? You’ll never forget that mantra again, will you?

Why is this true, that owning more material goods diminishes your freedom? The most obvious is that more material goods equals less money in your pocket, which leads to less financial freedom. In fact, for most Americans it leads to debt.

Being a consumer leads to having less time, as well. The more stuff you have, the more time you must take to watch over your stuff. Not to mention all the time wasted in either going to a store or browsing online to buy the things in the first place. The corollary is, of course, that Minimalism leads to greater time freedom.

A less obvious effect of simplification is more mental and emotional freedom. Tell me the truth: do you have in your house a junk drawer, and/or a closet in a spare room into which miscellaneous items are thrown willy-nilly? How do you feel whenever you open that drawer, or door to the closet? Likely as not, you experience a little bit of stress. You know you should declutter it and throw some (maybe most) of the items away, but the very thought makes the room start spinning.

Stress. See? To live minimally leads to greater mental and emotional freedom, because you don’t have to deal with great (or even small) piles of junk.

A simpler life leads to emotional freedom in one other way, as well: you learn to stop being attached to things. I’ll tell you from personal experience: to get to this kind of detachment requires a lot of determination and perseverance. A few years ago, my family made a major lifestyle change that required us to get rid of over half of our household possessions – wall art, books, clothing, furniture, knick-knacks, dishes, you name it. Even though I had done light decluttering before, this job took a lot of sweat and soul-searching. I had to release my emotional attachment to many objects. I had to get the revelation that it wasn’t the thing that was important, but the memory attached to the thing.

My gut wrenched for two weeks after I gave my wedding dress away to a charity!

But now, I find myself not caring very much about things. Of course, if you break into my house and steal my computer, I will not be happy and I will come find you. To politely ask for it back. However, that would be because I need the computer, not because I have an emotional attachment to it.

SO…minimalizing your life brings greater levels of freedom. That leads us to the question of, how do you get there? What are the eight steps (some are more like principles) you need to take in order to master Minimalism? Actually, the first three “steps” involve adjusting your perspective. They are more principles than steps, but they must come first or nothing you do in the way of simplifying your life will have any lasting effects.

[]Chapter Two: It’s All About Love

I’m not sure you’ll hear any other author of Minimalism books say what I’m about to say. So you probably should sit down, in case you start to feel faint.

Above all else, if you are going to master Minimalism, you need to learn to love. Not the bedroom kind of love. Not the love you feel when the YouTube video you desperately want to watch actually loads in under sixty seconds.

I’m talking about agape love, or unconditional love. It’s the love that is patient and kind. The love that suffers long. The love that enables you to bear up under pressure, to believe the best of everybody, to maintain hope that the journey you are on has a purpose and will lead you to a good end.

Why does Minimalism encompass love? Or, rather, why is love necessary for you to master Minimalism? Because if love is absent, there will be no real purpose behind any of the other steps or principles to mastering Minimalism. Your decluttered closet will be a crammed-full mess within a couple of months. You will start buying furniture to replace the unnecessary pieces you gave away. You will give into the temptation to hit the mall on the weekend to lift yourself up after having a hard week at work.

Without love, Minimalism becomes just another religion to follow. You will end up being bogged down by rules, feeling like you have to work to please the Minimalist gods (the online gurus), and feeling guilty when you know you’re not measuring up. And you will never measure up. And you will eventually quit your journey to become more minimalist because you won’t be able to stand the constant emptiness and pressure to be better.

Love needs to be the driving force behind your choice to become a minimalist. You need to remember that you are on this journey because you want to make the world a better place…because you love.

Whom do you need to love?

Love yourself

In the Bible, Jesus admonishes us to “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” In other words, you have to love yourself first or you cannot love your neighbor.

“You’re crazy! Of course I love myself! Who doesn’t love themselves?”

A lot of people, that’s who. People who medicate themselves with nicotine, alcohol, and all manner of drugs. People who attempt to bandage their wounded souls with weekly shopping sprees. Depressed people, anxious people. People who regularly punish themselves for not being perfect.

I know what I’m talking about. I’ve been one of those people. I used to not like myself most of the time, and downright hate myself some of the time.

If that’s you, then I need to tell you:

#
p<>{color:#111;}. You have value, much more value than you can conceive.

#
p<>{color:#111;}. Your existence makes a difference in the world.

#
p<>{color:#111;}. God created you because He wanted you. Therefore,

#
p<>{color:#111;}. God loves you beyond what you can imagine.

Repeat those sentences to yourself while looking in a mirror, three times a day, for the next sixty days. If that doesn’t help you to love yourself, start taking a magnesium supplement. That’s what helped me.

No, seriously. Do a search for “magnesium and emotional health” if you don’t believe me. All the self-help books in the world can’t cure your self-loathing if what you need is better nutrition.

That’ll be $100, please.

Okay, I’d better go on before you stop loving me.

My point: you need to be able to love in order for Minimalism to work in your life, and that love needs to start with yourself.

Love others

For some people, loving others is easier than loving themselves. For others, meh, not so much. People can be stupid, insensitive, cruel, and inconsiderate. At least, that’s our bias when somebody else hurts us. Or when we’re just having a bad day.

But learning to love other people – even our enemies – is essential to living a minimalist lifestyle. Love for others is the foundation of true Minimalism. Otherwise it’s all just a show that will make your friends think you’re weird. If they’re going to think you’re weird, then they should have a good reason, right?

If you struggle to love other people, beyond family members and close friends, here are some tips to help you open your heart.

#1: Forgive. The act of forgiveness leads to miracles. Suddenly, you can love yourself more, and love not only the person you needed to forgive, but love a whole lot of other people as well. It leads to emotional healing, sometimes instant, sometimes gradual. It leads to joy and peace, which in turn can indirectly cause a host of wonderful things to happen in your life.

Forgiveness is, in short, a release from a prison that you threw yourself into.

#2: See the other side. I always like to share the analogy of the guy who cuts you off in traffic. In the initial seconds that follow, you get angry. You have all sorts of vile things to say to and about him. But how would you respond if you knew the man was driving his pregnant wife whose water had broken to the hospital?

Most of the time, if someone is acting like a jerk it’s because they’re having a hard time with life at that moment. They don’t mean to insult or ignore you; or, if they do, they wouldn’t have meant it three hours later. Like me when I have P.M.S.

Always try to give the other person the benefit of the doubt.

#3: Pray for people you don’t like. It’s hard not to develop a sense of compassion for someone for whom you are praying on a regular basis.

#4: Practice kindness. Open and hold doors for perfect strangers. Do a chore for your spouse. Start handing out thoughtful cards on your co-workers’ birthdays. Smile when you meet someone on the street. Offer words of encouragement to someone who looks down. Give your restaurant servers generous tips.

When you act kind, your heart grows kinder. And this makes it a whole lot easier to love other people.

Now, if you thought this step in mastering Minimalism was hard, wait until you read the next one!

[]Chapter Three: More Stuff, Or More Life?

This step and the next one are more paradigm shifts than actual actions. Although, as I alluded to earlier, making paradigm shifts is to your brain as cardio workouts are for your heart! Anyway, you will begin to see with these next two steps how loving yourself and loving others comes into play with Minimalism.

In the book Your Money Or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, the authors explain how money equals your life energy. The money you earn is earned by you expending your life. Therefore, the things you own – unless given to you by others – are gained by your expending your life.

That sounds kind of harsh, doesn’t it? “Buy the latest iPhone, and shave five years off of your life!” Thank goodness it doesn’t work exactly like that, or we’d all be dead by now. What Robin and Dominguez are doing is trying to get their readers to see that we spend most of our time at jobs we don’t like just so we can keep up with the Joneses. If we didn’t “need” so much in the way of material things, our lives would be much less stressful.

Look at modern-day (or ancient, if you want to – not much has changed with this kind of society) hunter-gatherers. They work for a few hours a day obtaining food – and in the process hides that they can use to make clothing – and the rest of the day is spent in leisure. Children up through their late teens play all day long. The adults have no pressure to build up nest eggs, or to finish projects assigned by them to other people who are somehow superior to them, or to make enough money to make a mortgage or car payment on time. The only thing they own is the clothes on their backs. Talk about simple living!

So, that’s the next step in mastering Minimalism – quit your job and go join one of those tribes.

I’m joking. Sort of. The fact is, we would all be a lot happier and healthier if we would pare our needs and wants down to a fraction of what they are now, and then only work enough to pay the bills, plus have a couple hundred extra dollars a month to invest in case we ever get to a point where our physical bodies will no longer allow us to work and we have no one to take us in.

Or in case we ever need to buy a plane ticket to fly down to South America and become a hunter-gatherer.

Learning to be happy with less

If you are used to buying and having a lot of stuff, how do you make the paradigm shift we’re talking about here? How do you come to the realization that whenever you buy something, you are spending – often wasting – your life? Robin and Dominguez make it simple: keep track of every cent that goes into and comes out of your life for each month. Take a notepad with you everywhere you go (or use your smart phone). If you pick a quarter up off the floor in a public restroom, go get tested for disease and then write down that you earned twenty-five cents…and spent however much the blood testing cost. When you get a paycheck, write down the earnings. When you buy a cup of chocolate-flavored caffeine, write it down. When you give a dollar to a starving co-worker to get something from a vending machine, write it down.

At the end of every day, put all of these amounts in a notebook or spreadsheet dedicated to the task. At the end of every month, tally up how much you spent versus how much you earned. Then ask yourself, “Was the time and stress and headache I endured at my job worth all of these things that I purchased?” If you’re like most people, the answer will be “NO!” Do this for a couple more months, and you will get so disgusted with the way you are throwing away your life that you will begin to think twice before making a purchase. You will start to find more frugal ways to get the luxuries you really want; for example, you might start getting up fifteen minutes early to make your own cup of Java.

The things you own represent your life energy. Are they really worth it? The longer you do this exercise, the more often you will answer “No” to that question, and you will begin to minimalize without even thinking about it. It will just happen as a result of this new way of viewing the world, money, and stuff.

This paradigm shift relates to loving yourself. When you awaken to the fact that your desire for things is slowly killing you – as well as stealing away a comfortable life in your old age – you begin to make choices that improve your health and well-being. The next powerful paradigm shift that will enable you to master Minimalism has to do with loving others.

[]Chapter Four: Made In China By The Living Dead

I no longer buy new clothes if I can help it. Well, except for underwear. Which I don’t wear if I can help it, so there you go.

I cringe whenever my son sets his sights on a new toy. I refuse to buy Del Monte, Dole, or Chiquita bananas. Why am I so weird? About my feelings about buying, I mean, not about wearing underwear.

Exploitation of human labor.

Did you know that the clothes you buy in most any store were made by people being paid pittance and working in dirty – even dangerous – conditions…and that many of those people were children? Did you know the same goes for the parts used to manufacture your refrigerator, computer, living room furniture, and telephone?

Does all of this sound familiar? It should. I already went over this in the first chapter. It’s the fourth reason to master Minimalism, remember? But this reason will mean nothing to you unless you make a conscientious effort to grow your compassion for the people on the other side of the world who are manufacturing all this stuff you supposedly need.

If you don’t care about what your greed is doing to the rest of the world, you won’t change. Any attempt on your part to live more simply will be half-hearted and short-lived.

These workers are human beings, too. They deserve a living wage. They deserve happiness. They deserve good health. But they’re not getting any of this, because we Westerners (especially Americans) have to live in our mini-mansions, own at least two luxury vehicles, have a two-hundred piece wardrobe, furnish every room to the full, and buy every new gadget that comes on the market.

You might notice my lack of sense of humor in this chapter. That’s because I’m passionate about this topic. Get a revelation about what your wants are doing to other people on the other side of the globe!

I’m preaching as much to myself as I am to you. I wish I’d known twenty years ago what I know now, and even now I don’t always buy fair trade (see beginning of chapter about my son wanting toys). Yes, I am a hypocrite, and I don’t like it. But I’ve made a lot of progress, and whenever I have the choice to buy fair-trade or used, I most certainly do.

Now, if you still love me, let’s move on. We’ve gone over the most difficult steps; everything hereafter will feel like coasting downhill.

[]Chapter Five: Burnin’ Down The House

About twenty years ago, one of my uncles wrote to me that he wished his house would burn down. At the time, my naïve, inexperienced self thought that was a horrible thing to say.

But having gained twenty years of life experience and having had to severely downsize my stuff a few years ago, now I totally get what he was saying. At the time, he was making a transition into a different life and knew that he couldn’t do it without first being able to let go of all the clutter in the house he was living in. He didn’t want to have to go through the physical and emotional labor of doing so, but if a fire came along and destroyed everything, well, no more worries!

That brings us to the next step to mastering Minimalism:

Burn down your house.

NO NO NO NO NO!!! Just kidding! You can reduce clutter in a much less drastic way that will not land you in prison. Here’s the REAL step we’re going to discuss in this chapter (I’ll bet you’ve already guessed it)…

Declutter.

Groan. Moan. I know, I know, you’ve heard it before. You’ve probably even read Marie What’s-Her-Name’s book about how tidying up magically changes your life. You at least have heard of the three bags/boxes system, where you have one bag for the things you’re going to keep, one for the things you’re going to donate to charity, and one for trash.

In fact, you may be at the point where if you read the word “declutter” one more time, you will run around the block, screaming.

Declutter.

Heh, heh.

Seriously. You’re the one who downloaded this book, and so I’m assuming that you still have at least a little bit of clutter in your life and you want to know how to get rid of it without feeling guilty about it. You know, because the thing cost you a pretty penny, or because your BFF gave it to you on your wedding day.

Therefore, I’m going to give you the 10,000-foot view of the decluttering process, in case you need a little nudge in that direction (that’s my name, remember? Ms. Nudge?).

Breakin’ it down

A) Start to change your perspective.

Things are just things. They are not memories, they are not the people who gave them to you. Unless you bought them fewer than six months ago, they no longer have the monetary value that they did when you bought them.

Even if they are still valuable in the financial sense, they do not belong in your house if they cause you stress and bother.

B) Set a time to begin decluttering.

Be serious. Have Siri remind you, or do like those of us who still live in the Stone Age do and write it down in your planner or on your calendar. And do not allow anything but illness or death (yours or that of a family member or friend) usurp the scheduled time.

C) Get together your three bags and boxes.

You know – for keeping, giving away, and tossing. Some professional organizers allow you to have an extra container for things you’re not sure about, but I’m not a professional organizer. I just play one on T.V.

Okay, so I’m just a crank who won’t let you be wishy-washy about stuff. If you don’t make a decision about something right away, chances are good you never will.

D) Start small.

Start with a closet or junk drawer. Then, when you get into the decluttering groove, move on to entire rooms. But even then, mentally divide the room into sections and tell yourself that you are going to work on just one section at a time. This prevents overwhelm.

E) Be ruthless.

If it’s not beautiful, or if you haven’t used it in the last year, it goes bye-bye. Better check with your husband on that set of golf clubs, though, before you have them hauled away.

I’ll let you keep a handful of sentimental items, but only a handful. Take it from someone with experience: for most items with sentimental value, you forget they even existed (or the memory of them becomes neutral) within a few weeks to a few months of getting them out of your home.

What about furniture? Should you get rid of furniture that is more to hold up a corner of a room than for anything else? Absolutely! Of course, if you are married you may want to check with your spouse on this first.

As a matter of fact, by the time you get done decluttering there’s a good chance you’ll discover that you no longer need as many bookcases, night stands, etc. because of all the other smaller items you’ve eliminated from the house.

I go into greater detail about successful decluttering in my book, Crazy Simple: 307 Ways To Save Money, Your Health, And The Planet. Look for it at your favorite online ebook retailer.

So, you’ve learned to love, changed your perspective about material goods and how they are produced, and burned down your house. I mean, done a ruthless declutter. What next?

[]Chapter Six: No More Plastic Money!

Your house is now clear of all clutter. The only items remaining are the ones you actually use on a regular basis, or that bring joy to you – or both. For the first time in forever, the coffee table actually has room for a cup of coffee, you can walk into your walk-in closet, and you can dance around like a maniac on your aerobic workout days because you were able to downsize furniture to the extent that you emptied half your living room.

You feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. You feel free. Happy. And you want this feeling to last until you take your last breath. What to do to prolong this elation?

Cut up your credit cards.

That’s right, you heard me. Cut up your credit cards. If you don’t, you will get tempted to buy things you don’t need. Studies have even shown that people who pay cash for everything they buy spend less money. That’s because it’s a lot more painful to see the actual George Washingtons and Alexander Hamiltons leaving your wallet, than it is to swipe a card through a machine.

Credit cards are abstract, cash is concrete. Your brain makes the connection between the emptier wallet and the thing you just bought, and it pinches. Because you’re not a masochist, you don’t like that pinch, and so you make sure not to experience it unless you have to.

BAM! Automatic minimalist!

“But I promise I’ll pay off the bill at the end of every month.”

I’ll let you have one – ONE – credit card under the following circumstances:

#
p<>{color:#111;}. You are naturally frugal, AND

#
p<>{color:#111;}. You have always paid credit card bills before their due date.

If you are a natural spender, you need to stay far away from them.

“But what about emergencies?”

If you’re serious about mastering Minimalism, by this point you should always have money leftover at the end of the month. In other words, you should be debt-free except for possibly a mortgage. If you’re not, you can find any number of websites that explain the debt snowball, which is the most effective way for getting out of debt as quickly as possible.

Before working the debt snowball, you should have created an emergency fund. If you haven’t, spend a few months saving up that leftover money for an emergency fund. Use the money in your emergency fund, not a credit card, to pay for emergencies.

Here are a few examples of bona fide emergencies:

*
p<>{color:#111;}. Unexpected medical bills

*
p<>{color:#111;}. Vehicle accident

*
p<>{color:#111;}. Natural disaster damage (tornado, hurricane, etc.)

*
p<>{color:#111;}. A plane crashes onto the roof of your house

Most pregnancies, monthly bills, and elective surgeries are not emergencies. Neither is Apple coming out with a new phone, or having to buy a new dress for your cousin’s upcoming wedding.

“What about debit cards?”

Debit cards are acceptable for two kinds of people:

#
p<>{color:#111;}. the naturally frugal, or

#
p<>{color:#111;}. spenders who have paid only with cash for at least three months to get into the habit of being more frugal.

Again, it is a card, which is not as concrete as cash. So if you are a spender, you need to pay with cash only for a while in order to get the revelation that things cost money. Or, in the philosophy of Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, things cost your life energy.

Whoever you are, always use the debit card as a credit card. When you do so, a debit card has all the same protection that a credit card does.

[]Chapter Seven: Wait, Wait, Then Wait Some More

Some people believe that Minimalism means you never buy anything ever again, unless it’s something you absolutely need. This is because a few of the minimalist gurus teach that; but remember, Minimalism is about getting out of the consumerism mindset and being cautious and conscientious about what you buy. It does not mean never being a consumer again.

One of the best ways to be a conscientious consumer (say that ten times fast) is to wait a month before buying anything. Now, if you’re like my husband and wait until your underwear is in tatters before replacing it, go ahead and buy a package right away as soon as you realize it’s not covering anything anymore.

And, lest anyone accuse me of trying to starve them to death, I give everyone permission to buy food as they need it. Do you feel better now? ;)

I’m talking about seeing a cute pair of jeans in the store when you have four pairs at home you never wear. I’m talking about that power tool for the woodworking hobby you’re going to start “someday.” I’m talking about letting your child talk you into an impulse buy on a toy that you have a sneaking suspicion they won’t care about three months from now.

Oh, who am I kidding? They probably won’t care about it a WEEK from now!

I’m talking about realizing that yeah, paying $3,000 to put a new transmission in your car is expensive, but it’s a lot cheaper than going out and spending $15,000 for a gently used car.

When you see something that you really want to buy, but don’t really need, wait a month.

“But it’s a sweater that’s on the clearance rack and it won’t be there in a month!”

Great! Waiting a month will definitely save you money, then, won’t it? Ladies, ‘fess up: unless you’re super-cheap and hate shopping for clothes (like me), even after decluttering your closet you probably still have more clothing than you need. Don’t buy a new sweater unless your old one doesn’t fit anymore, has a stain you can’t get out, or is developing holes or getting threadbare. Ditto for every other item of clothing you might name.

Wait a month. Even if the item is still available after that period, one of two things will probably have happened:

#
p<>{color:#111;}. You will have forgotten the thing even exists, or

#
p<>{color:#111;}. You will have trouble remembering why you wanted the thing so desperately in the first place.

For some people, a week is sufficient time before deciding to buy something. You can try that if you want. But if you find yourself still wanting most things after seven days, wait out the entire month. You will save a lot of money doing this, and be able to master Minimalism much more easily.

You’re welcome.

[]Chapter Eight: One In, One Out

What happens when you do end up buying a new item? How do you keep things from accumulating in your home?

One in, one out. Every time something new enters your house, you give away, throw away, or sell a similar item. The exception is if you have a sort-of okay ten-year-old car, and you also have underaged children. I recommend that you keep the old car for the kids to practice their driving skills in rather than letting them drive the newer car. Unless you really don’t want to pay the insurance for the older car and are willing to tell your kids to wait until they graduate high school to get their driver’s license.

But in most other cases, when you bring a new item into the house, get rid of an older one. Donate books to your local library, or save up a bunch to take to Half Price Books so you can make an extra dollar. Collect items in a box, and when it’s full, send it off to a local charity.

In the suburbs where we used to live, there was an unwritten, unspoken rule that anything that anybody set out in the alley next to their backyard fence was up for grabs. We actually had two Mexican women (we lived in Texas) who would drive through alleys every Saturday collecting things that they would sell somewhere, and a Mexican man who would drive through alleys to collect metal to take to the local metal recycler who paid so many dollars per so much weight. That made it super-easy to get rid of larger items that we were too lazy to sell or take out for recycling ourselves.

Which reminds me…

You are exempt from the one in, one out rule if you have a side business that involves collecting items from garage sales and alleys and reselling them. But you must have a plan in place to eliminate the items if you don’t sell them after a certain period of time.

Everybody else: one in, one out. Some minimalist couples/families do one in, two out. Either way, you will prevent collecting clutter. You may even end up getting the new items at a discount if you can sell the old ones.

See, the last couple of steps haven’t been too bad, have they? The eighth – and very last – step I want to share with you will take a bit of work up front, but once that initial work is done you might consider it the easiest step of all.

[]Chapter Nine: All Systems Go!

Thank my husband for this step. After I’d written down the rough outline for this book, I read him the first seven steps and asked if he could think of anything else we do on a regular basis to keep our life as minimal as possible.

He came up with this one: set up systems. In other words, systemize as many aspects of your life as possible, and life will not only be simpler, but you will also save money by planning ahead. Let’s look at a few areas of life and how you might systemize them.

Food and meals

I’ve heard that people generally eat the same foods every day…and even among healthy eaters, the variety is limited. So begin your systemizing with your food and meals.

#1: Eat simply and healthy.

Yes, you can be a minimalist and still be a gourmet cook, if that’s a passion of yours. However, the healthiest and least costly meals are often those that contain the fewest ingredients. For tons of ideas on how to eat simply and healthy – without sacrificing flavor – check out my book Simple Diet, Beautiful You. Here’s the direct link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B012BMN268

#2: Create a master shopping list.

Get a piece of paper, and divide it into the following categories: vegetables, fruit, beans and grains, baked goods, dairy and meat (unless you’re vegan), nuts and seeds (unless these are only consumed as treats), condiments and herbs and spices. Then, look around in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. What are the staples that you/your family consume? When I say “staples”, I include any kind of food that is eaten several times a week, even if it’s ice cream. Write them down in the appropriate categories.

Unless you’re close to the usual time you go grocery shopping, this should complete your master list. If you know you are out of some of the basics, wait until after your next shopping trip to round out the list to make sure you don’t forget anything.

You might decide to tweak – or dramatically change – your diet after jumping on the minimalist bandwagon…and after creating the master shopping list. No problem! If you do, just cross off the items you no longer plan to eat.

#3: Schedule one day a week to grocery shop.

You may already do that. If not, and you find yourself wasting a lot of time in the store nearly every day after work, pick one day on which you will shop for the next seven days and stick to it. If you pick Saturday or Sunday, go as early in the morning as you can to avoid the weekend crowds.

What if you pass a farmer’s market on your way home from work, and so like to buy your produce every day? Keep doing it, but set aside another day to pick up the other items the market doesn’t sell.

#4: Plan one to two week’s worth of meals.

The idea here is to eat the same meal on a given weekday. If you plan one week, then every Monday you would have, say, quinoa and sprouted lentils for the evening meal. If you plan two weeks, the quinoa and lentils might be for Monday week one, and chicken stir-fry for Monday week two.

If you have a family, you might plan breakfast and the mid-day meals for the weekend, as well.

#5: Use the master shopping list and the meal plans to write out the next grocery list.

Always make sure to check your food stores first to see what you already have on hand. And don’t be afraid to use something that is already in your pantry or freezer if it can act as a close substitute to something on your meal plans.

Knowing what kind of meal you’re going to prepare, plus having a master grocery shopping list, is as close as you can get to systemizing this area of your life without having every meal delivered to your door!

Bills

Having bills paid straight out of your bank account is the simplest bill-paying system a minimalist could ask for. So, whichever utility companies allow you to do an automatic draft, sign up for the automatic draft. Even if you have the option of paying online, you still have to remember to do it.

Maybe you’re like we are, and live in a rural area where not all services have automatic bank draft. Here’s how I handle it: when we used to be on the grid with water, I would write out the check and get it in the mail within forty-eight hours of the bill arriving. When we get the energy bill, I use their automated phone payment system that very day. Our combined phone and Internet service has an automated bank draft service – hallelujah! – and so that’s how we take care of that.

Chores

One reason that we downsized so drastically in house is that I hate housework. But, being a typical woman, I also hate piles of clutter and mounds of dust. Maybe you’re not a woman. Maybe you’re a man who has to mow the lawn and trim the hedges so that your HOA doesn’t come knocking on your door. Maybe you have a backyard garden to tend to, a dog to walk, or a porcupine to bathe.

Systemize your chores – whatever they are – however you can. When we lived in a bigger house, I would clean one part of it on Monday, another part on Tuesday, and so on. You might want to decide that lawn-mowing will occur every Friday evening before your poker game so you can get it over with for the weekend. Keep all of your cleaning supplies in one spot. You might plan to dust and sweep during commercials while you watch T.V.

In essence, have a schedule and train yourself to follow it as best you can. In addition, have a place for everything, and everything in place, so that you never waste time looking for the items required to do your chores. Which is a perfect segue to the next section of this chapter…

Organize

To organize is a way of systemizing. Here are a few areas in your house where putting things in a logical order creates a kind of system.

Arrange the books on your bookshelves in alphabetical order according to author. Or group them according to genre or topic.

Arrange your closet or dresser so that all the items that color-coordinate – and that can be worn in the same season – hang together. Hang little-used items in the hardest-to-reach places.

Organize your desk drawers…and keep them organized.

Guys, get busy on your workshop in the garage.

And so on. Organizing will be much easier now that you’ve decluttered, but it’s still a temptation to slack off on it. You don’t want to do that, because it will lead to wasted time, wasted money, and a more complicated life.

Routines

Efficient routines are at the foundation of any good system. Having a bedtime routine, for example, ensures that you won’t forget any of the important pre-sleep aspects, such as brushing your teeth. Having a well-oiled morning routine ensures that your day gets off to a good start.

Establish routines in your day wherever they make sense. One critical routine that many people ignore is planning the next day the evening before. Sometime between finishing the evening meal and going to bed, take ten minutes to ponder the following day. Are there specific tasks you know you’ll need to accomplish the next day at work? If you are a micro-business owner, prioritize what you need to get done in a planner, either paper or digital, so you don’t waste time with your inbox or with social media.

What errands will you need to run? If you have children who attend school, ask them if they have any permission slips or other papers that you need to sign, prepare their lunches, and have them gather all the supplies they’ll need for the next day in their backpacks so they don’t forget anything the next morning when they leave.

You can systemize your morning at work by establishing a routine that gets you up early enough to prepare and eat a healthy breakfast, as well as to leave the house early enough so that you won’t be late in the event that a truck full of pancake syrup dumps its contents all over the freeway. Then when you get to your job, establish a routine that will start your day off the most efficiently.

The long and the short of systems

You can’t systemize everything in your life. For example, I don’t think your spouse would appreciate your scheduling hugs and kisses. Although it would be good for you to put these on your to-do list if you haven’t been generous with them lately.

However, you can put systems in place in many areas of your life. And when you do, you will get into habits and routines that will help you save money, reduce your stress, and even need less stuff.

[]Conclusion

Let’s recap the eight steps to mastering Minimalism.

#
p<>{color:#111;}. Love. Yourself and others.

#
p<>{color:#111;}. Understand that material goods equal your life energy. Track your expenses to make sure you’re not wasting your life energy.

#
p<>{color:#111;}. Realize that consumerism hurts other human beings.

#
p<>{color:#111;}. Set your house on fire. I MEAN, declutter! Ruthlessly. As though your house had burned to the ground.

#
p<>{color:#111;}. Cut up your credit cards.

#
p<>{color:#111;}. Wait a month before buying anything you don’t absolutely need for survival. Especially that ferret in the pet store that looks SO-O-O adorable.

#
p<>{color:#111;}. Follow the one in, one out rule.

#
p<>{color:#111;}. Create systems to help your days flow more smoothly.

Those steps give you an excellent overview of how to become – and remain – a minimalist. Or at least, a sort-of, almost, minimalist.

But that may not be enough to get you where you ultimately want to be. You may want to know your options when it comes to housing: energy-efficient? Tiny? Rent or buy?

You may want tips on how to live more sustainably, such as how to clean without chemicals and how to save energy. What about work? Nine-to-five for forty years doesn’t seem terribly minimal, doesn’t it? And everybody could use a few more ideas on how to save money, especially with children.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a book that had all the above information in it, and more? Well, guess what?

THERE IS!

It’s my book Crazy Simple: 307 Ways To Save Money, Your Health, And The Planet. Look for it at your favorite online ebook retailer.

One kind reviewer has stated that this is the best book on simple living she’s ever read! I believe you will enjoy it, as well. You will also discover the (absolutely free) alternative health practice that has changed my family’s lives for the better – in a HUGE way!

Again, just do a search for it at your favorite online ebook retailer.

ONE MORE THING before you go: If you enjoyed this book, Mastering Minimalism, please take a moment to leave a positive review at the online bookseller’s website from which you downloaded it. It will help others on their journey toward a more sustainable lifestyle to get helped by the information in this book, as well.

Thank you SO much!

All my good wishes of many blessings to you,

Emily Josephine


Mastering Minimalism: Eight Steps To A Life Of Less Stuff And More Freedom

The journey toward Minimalism can be tricky. This book will help make the journey of learning how to be a minimalist much less difficult – even enjoyable – for you. Wannabe minimalists often have not only hundreds, if not thousands, of material goods to declutter, but also a plethora of mainstream mindsets that make navigating their way toward voluntary simplicity a rough and rocky path. I wrote this book to ease that navigation process for newbies. I also wrote it to help intermediate Minimalists who want to dive deeper into the journey, to overcome the obstacles that are holding them back. The steps and tips are those that my husband and I used to begin the journey toward Minimalism, and the ones we continue to use to remain on the path. The book begins by briefly addressing what Minimalism truly is (as opposed to what religious minimalist gurus have made many people think it is). It continues by explaining the benefits of becoming a minimalist. The rest of the book, the bulk of it, describes the steps you need to take in order to master Minimalism; that is, to overcome the insidious materialistic mindset of the modern age and to integrate the philosophy into your soul so completely that it becomes as easy as breathing. The first step toward simple living is one you likely won’t hear about in any other book on the subject. Then, you will be asked to consider two major paradigm shifts that will completely change the way you look at material goods. The remaining steps are more practical and hands-on, enabling you to take instant action on your desire to join the minimalist movement. If you are looking at becoming a minimalist, or you have already begun moving toward it but need some encouragement to “fight the good fight,” read this book. It will help.

  • Author: Emily Josephine
  • Published: 2017-04-09 17:35:10
  • Words: 8631
Mastering Minimalism: Eight Steps To A Life Of Less Stuff And More Freedom Mastering Minimalism: Eight Steps To A Life Of Less Stuff And More Freedom