Oh, how I used to love stuff. As a child, I clung on to old toys. During my teen years, I kept piles of disused magazines and concert tickets. As I reached university, I had developed a ridiculous film collection that sat cluttered and untouched. My wardrobe was crammed with clothes, most of them barely worn. My weekends were spent shopping and I had acquired an addiction to gadgets. I wanted a better phone, a bigger TV and, even more, DVDs.
I was a consumerist through and trough, chasing stuff that I truly believed would make me happy.
One of the best things that ever happened to me was taking the steps towards becoming a minimalist. Being a minimalist is something that often naturally happens to people once they are on the road anyway. As you move around with nothing more than a backpack, you begin to realise that not only can you survive with very little stuff, but, that it actually feels quite good. As you wander day by day meeting amazing people and seeing incredible things, you start to value experiences other physical items; the basic principle of minimalism.
Being a minimalist in the ‘real’ world though is a lot harder, probably because you find yourself surrounded by a society that is built around materialistic things. But taking the steps to declutter your life could be one of the best things you ever do. It’s my number one saving tip and exactly the reason why I was able to save £8,000 in a year to travel the world.
What is minimalism?
Minimalism, or ‘simple living’ as it is sometimes called, is the practice of living with fewer possessions. It’s about letting go of the meanings we put into material things. It sounds a bit like a hippy fad but, honestly, it really isn’t. It’s just taking control of what you really want and ignoring the materialist pressures and impulses that society put on us.
You don’t have to take minimalism to the extreme to realise the benefits and, for anyone who wants to travel, it’s a great starting tool.
Minimalism helped me travel the world
There are lots of ways minimalism travel and adventure go together. Decluttering your place and selling your unwanted stuff is an easy way to earn money. Living like a minimalist can help build savings and you will spend less each month – money that can go towards funding your dream.
How to embrace minimalism
Firstly, you need to go through all your stuff and get rid of unnecessary things. You will need to set aside some time to do this. I used a technique that requires touching every single item I own. I asked ‘have I used this in the last year?’ and ‘does this bring joy or enrichment into my life?’. If the answer is no to both these questions, the item goes.
Sort out 3 piles for the items you get rid of. One for stuff that you can sell, one for the charity shop and one for the bin or recycling.
This was not an easy task at first, mostly because I found a way to make every item significant in my life. Learning to let go of things that you have imbedded emotions into is difficult, it takes a bit of discipline.
In the end, though, I ended up with a huge pile that I got rid of, making a decent bit of money in the process.
Stop needlessly spending
Once you’ve decluttered, the next most important stage of minimalism is to stop buying. We love to impulse buy.
I set myself a 12-month challenge that I would not buy anything that wasn’t an essential item; food, cleaning products, clothes that replace worn out clothes and gifts for other people.
I didn’t buy anything for a year with the exception of 2 tiny slip ups.
By the end of the process I found that I had stopped longing for things and most of all, I now hated shopping. I was so disinterested in walking around shops I found it a complete waste of time. I didn’t have to remind myself not to impulse buy because I had completely lost the urge to do so. My daydreams about being rich disappeared. I stopped caring so much about money. I felt completely detached from material things and free from the longing to want more all the time.
There are so many other benefits
• your place will look better
• you will have less to store when you travel
• when you clean it will be easier and quicker
• less time spent shopping means more free time
• you will feel good….minimalism is a detox that declutters your mind!
Explore a little more
If you like the sound of minimalism and want to find out more, I can recommend checking out the below blogs for a bit of inspiration. The Minimalists are always a good place to start…
The Minimalists are 2 down to earth wealthy guys who are serious minimalists. On their website, you can find loads of resources and funny stories.
Becoming Minimalist has some easy step by step guides for embracing minimalism as well as a good social media community:
Brooklyn to Mars a website by Markus who, following a fire, resolved to live with less.
The Simple Year is the story of a family who set themselves a challenge of not buying anything for a year.