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6 Easy Ways to be a Semi-Minimalist

Guest post from Rebecca of D&R Tabb

Minimalism as a way of life is intriguing to many of us, but difficult to put into practice. Here are 6 relatively pain-free ways you can introduce yourself to a ‘less is more’ lifestyle.

1. Make getting rid of stuff fun!

In the spirit of Crystal’s 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home series, I did “7 Days of 7 Throw Aways.” I made a game out of finding 7 items each day to give or throw away. This was so much easier than trying to de-clutter the whole house and I even found myself coming up with more than 7 items some days.

2. Streamline your Facebook news feed

Evaluate each person on your news feed and decide if seeing his or her status updates every day are worth the time you spend reading them. If you don’t want to ‘unfriend,’ simply click “Unsubscribe” or subscribe only to the “Most Important” updates.

This makes your online visits quicker as you spend less time perusing through unnecessary information in order to find the information you are interested in.

3. De-clutter as you go

Small changes make a big difference. While you are waiting for water to boil for your spaghetti dinner, go through your utensil drawer and find 3 things you don’t need anymore. Challenge your children to find 5 things to give away during the commercial break of a show. Progress, however small, is still progress!

4. Lay ground rules

If you go shopping for new clothes, make “one in, one out” your rule. If you buy a new shirt, another shirt has to go to the garage sale pile. If you buy new underwear, get rid of a few old pairs (you’re probably due for that, right?)

5.  Surround yourself with minimalist thinkers

Conversations with like-minded friends will bolster your confidence that you’re making wise choices. Not all our friends and family will ascribe to our choice to reduce when everything in our culture tells us “More! More! More!” but be conscious of the influence others have.

If you feel inadequate or envious after visiting a friend with many possessions, counter that feeling by reading quotes on minimalism or making a list of reasons to be thankful for less.

6. Re-think the American dream

I used to dream of having a large home. But I have learned living in our small home is just as good! I love that I can almost reach our entire home with the vacuum plugged into one outlet. I am so glad to only have two bathrooms to clean.

While everyone’s choice of home is personal. I have really started to question whether the money and effort that goes into owning a large home is really worth it, not the mention the time spent to earn that money!

This choice can make a huge difference in your commitment to being a “semi-minimalist” because you must be intentional about what you bring into your home.

Rebecca is a former educator turned stay-at-home mom. She enjoys exercising, reading, and blogging about her life as a wife and new mom at D&R Tabb.

photo credit


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79 Comments

  • Missy says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I think #6 is a biggy! I, too, have a smaller house compared to others, but it takes me much less time to “super clean” then them, leaving me more time to spend on things I really love doing! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Heather says:

    Amen on #6. Every time I get aggravated with our lack of closets, I remind myself that I value travel and financial security more highly than a large house. We can’t travel much now due to young children and other issues, but it will be more possible in the future mainly due the money we are saving now with low house payments.
    It’s so important to consciously decide where to put your money. For example, if you hate to travel, and like to clean a big house, then you know what choices to make. However, I think some people choose the big house just because it’s kind of expected of them by their family and friends.

  • jessica says:

    I miss being able to vacuum my entire house without unplugging!!!! We bought a larger home when we moved…mainly because it was foreclosed and still the least expensive home for the area we moved to. I miss my smaller home.

  • Erin says:

    Loved reading this one. Reaffirms what I’m doing. 🙂

  • Debby says:

    I love how she pointed out FB posts! We don’t normally think of it as clutter but it really is! Clutter of the mind is clutter in daily life. If they don’t lift and make your life better then there is not need for them in your life! I also love the last one. We just bought a house and instead of being “house poor” and buying my dream home…we decided to buy a smaller home. It still has an extra bedroom for toys and such but every other room is functional. I love this post and I think everyone should strive to do at lease a few of these!!

    • Meredith says:

      I love that she did the FB one too. However, I would take it one step further. One should ask if they really NEED Facebook. If you are truly using it for conversing with family and true friends, then by all means, keep it. However, my mom, dad, bro, aunts, uncles and cousins would rather talk via phone or we just simply use our email. When I realized I was cluttering my mind with people from band class in 1994, I cut the cord and deleted the account. I have so much more free time now!!!!

      Ditto on the home too. We live in a townhome and our mortgage payments are small. We bought several years ago. We bring in more money now and we could upgrade. I drive by beautiful homes dreaming and then I realize how we don’t even really use 100% of what we have. So, I think we’ll stay awhile longer!

  • This is my mantra! The less the better. I thought I was the only one who couldn’t wait to downsize our current home (12 years and counting til the youngest graduates from high school) and move to a smaller place, no yard, way less upkeep and ESPECIALLY less stuff! So important to find others who are like-minded…not an easy task in this culture!

    • holi says:

      My youngest is finishing 9th grade this year and i have been waiting for a smaller house for years! But with house prices so bad here we are trapped for longer than i want…..

  • Mandy says:

    “While you are waiting for water to boil for your spaghetti dinner, go through your utensil drawer and find 3 things you don’t need anymore.” I disagree with these kinds of statements. Part of the problem these days is that people don’t take a minute to just breathe. Multi-tasking has become too expected in every situation, which is probably why there has been a rise in yoga and meditation classes. People should take time to relax and not think of what other productive tasks they could be doing every second of the day.

    • Crystal says:

      I definitely agree that we need to allow a lot more room for margin in our lives. The thing I have found is that when I use my minutes well for the bulk of the day, it brings more peace and order into our lives — and then allows some “white space” in my day and room for margin where I can just intentionally *be* (relax, read, laugh with my children, savor the moments, etc.) and not have to worry about *doing*.

      However, if I’m not intentional in using my minutes well and having my priorities in order, my life is cluttered and chaotic. So for me personally, efficiency has been the key to finding peace and breathing room. Well, that and saying no a lot. 🙂

      You might enjoy this post of mine:
      https://moneysavingmom.com/2010/11/time-management-101-stop-trying-to-do-it-all.html

      • amy says:

        I agree with Crystal… if I’m in the kitchen ‘waiting’, I try to do something else in there like empty the dishwasher, etc… that way I don’t feel guilty sitting for an afternoon cup of tea and I don’t have to remember to go back into that room later to complete the chore I could’ve done earlier.

    • April says:

      I know if I have to be in the kitchen cooking, when I have a couple minutes to spare, I do that, or wash the side of the fridge or wash some of the dishes. It helps me get extra time so i can play with the crew before bed…

    • Lisa-panaMOM says:

      I’m with you, but I know that I’m simply wired differently.

      I love to linger in my thoughts. Or to just focus on dinner while I’m making it. I don’t do Freezer Cooking because I miss the joy of daily preparing food for my family. I don’t do to-do lists because they stiffle my freedom in each day. I find no satisfaction/peace in completely bare countertops. My closets will always have more clothes in them then Crystal’s do.

      And, that’s totally OK!

      I think the key is figuring out what works for you, and being totally okay in that. My house is warm and welcoming. My family is peaceful. And I just do it the way that works for me.

      • Meredith says:

        You are totally right!!! Lisa, I think you and I are wired the same! Your second paragraph took the words out of my mouth. I don’t like to do lists and I don’t have freezer cooking sessions. I may make things for the freezer out of leftovers and I may make a list if something big is going on… but not on a daily basis. My countertop has the main things we use out on it and I like it that way. And our closets, as organized as they are, are crammed. All of this is OK!

        • Crystal says:

          My philosophy is: “Do what works for you.” If cooking from scratch every night, no lists, and stuff on your countertops is your thing, more power to you!

          And you’d probably get along well with me, since it seems most of my close friends are quite the opposite from me — and I love and appreciate their differences and am constantly learning from them! 🙂

      • Slides n' Sandboxes says:

        I loved your post!

  • Mandy says:

    I disagree with #3. People should take the time to relax and just breathe; not think about filling every second of the day with tasks.

    • Carrie P. says:

      I agree. There is a point where control must be let go of and scheduling every little thing is just not healthy!

      • Lisa says:

        Ditto to this. I am *ALL* for my home being decluttered, clean and happy, but not to the point that every waking moment I spend in it is trying to do something else. I absolutely love to sit and have five minutes of pure peace every so often.

        However, most of the other things are fairly true. I don’t do waste well and I like my home being organized 🙂 Just my way 😉

    • Christy Carden says:

      I don’t use time like this to declutter but to clean as I go. Clean up the dishes already dirtied in the cooking endeavor. Or empty the dishwasher so it is ready for this next round of dishes to go in it. I just don’t see the point of watching a pot of water (a watched pot never boils). I agree with what Crystal said above. If I am efficient with my minutes, then maybe, I can sit down and relax for a few minutes after the kids are in bed instead of emptying and refilling the dishwasher. Speaking of kids, someone is usually underfoot, so having them help me with a task like that while waiting for pasta to cook keeps them busy too–idle hands…. Or I use that time to prepare another section of the meal–chop and assemble salads while waiting for pasta to cook.

    • Connie says:

      I didn’t read #3 that way. I guess I thought of it more as a way of breaking down an otherwise daunting task. To say I’m going to organize and pare down my whole house is a little overwhelming. To break it down into 3-5 minute tasks here and there makes it do-able. You don’t have to clean out every drawer in the house in the same day; just start with 1 drawer. That’s how I took it.

      I totally agree with you that we need to take time to just live in the moment. But, if I can use 3 minutes here and there, during the day, then I have a bigger chunk of free time in the evening to enjoy my family. So, I guess I’m middle of the road. Use some of those short downtimes to be productive and use some of them to just be in the moment.

  • J says:

    I love having less, when we moved a significant distance and bought a smaller home, virtually little outside upkeep, it was a BIG change. Almost a year later I can attest to how much freer both of us feel. We have managed several loads of stuff to our local donation sites since we moved. Aaaargh! Why? We paid a lot of money to haul “stuff”. Silly. We probably have half of what we used to and are still striving for less.

  • Jen Sullivan says:

    I LOVE this!!! I am trying to become more of a minimalist and I found this very helpful. Crystal, I was going to send you a message and ask you to blog more about your minimalist life and how you got there, maintain, and I’d love pictures of the rooms, closets, etc… Thanks for this post!!!

  • Thanks for these tips!

    My husband and I have lived in 6 places in 6 years of marriage, and I am in love with our newest home. It’s 3 bedrooms on only one floor, with 1 bathroom. Everything I need is nearby, and I don’t have room to store a lot of excess stuff. We also have closets (unlike some of our other homes) and a garage, which I love. After 6 years of moving and living out of boxes and suitcases, I am really thrilled to finally be able to sort everything and get rid of the stuff we no longer need.

    I’ve always been a minimalist, but after living in China for two years, I realized how little we really need. We’re looking forward to selling a lot of our stuff on Craigslist, Amazon, E-bay, and at yard sales this summer. 🙂 Thanks again!

    • Jennifer says:

      (I think) I would love to down-size to only 1 bathroom. We have 2 and the one I use less frequently always seems to get neglected. Though, having 3 people (and soon to be 4) sharing 1 bathroom might be a bit difficult though.

      My hubby & I move a lot too, and we purge a bunch with every move. We are currently purging without a move, and it is proving to me a bit more difficult for us. It is easy for us to decide not to take something to a new place, but a bit harder to say we don’t need that here.

  • Jessica says:

    I am working on simplifying now. I have gotten rid of over a thousand things in the past two and a half months. We had thought about buying a bigger house, because we have so much stuff; but decided that it would be easier to declutter and add some storage cabinets in the garage. Though part of me would love a bigger house, I would rather spend more time on what matters most to me instead of more time cleaning.

  • Chris says:

    It is so tempting to think of less as depriving yourself of something. But I have come to learn that the old saying, “less is more” is especially true in all of these areas. If I can afford to go out and buy something new, than by having the mindset that I don’t just keep adding but I now either rid myself of something that is no longer useful, bless someone else with something I no longer use, or sell something today while it is still useful is so much more “fulfilling” than holding onto something because I think I just might need or use it someday. Clutter adds stress to my life and I am unable to be a blessing to anyone when I spend so much time dealing with stuff and waiting for “someday”. It is definitely a process and the small steps is the key.

  • Chris says:

    And to answer your question, I agree that it is a good thing even if I may not necessarily agree with all six of these things. 🙂

  • Carrie P. says:

    I love this! I am not minimalistic, but I am pretty good( can always use ideas like this to improve;) about getting rid of things,not being attached. My problem is keeping up with the stuff I choose to keep and organizing it. I have over my 8 years of marriage, gotten rid of literally probably a ton of stuff ( via donations and even setting truckloads of stuff by the road!). I realized how negative an impact too much stuff can have when my parents decided to drop off all of my childhood things one day. They did this days after I had married my husband and he had been deployed for 3 months. They taught me some extremely poor habits of keeping junk because it “…might be worth something someday”. I was left alone in a house with piles of junk to sort through. It took me a couple years to get through it all. Most of it was given away or thrown away. Maybe 5% was worth keeping. I learned that things can cost us more than they can earn us, including sanity and comfort, space and time. My family and I are much happier with a less cluttered home that we can find everything in. We don’t have a huge home, not even a basement. I love that we do not have so much stuff that our home has breathing space despite not having that extra storage space! I especially am grateful when I see that those who have huge basements seem to almost always have them full of things that they are unaware of or don’t even see for years! Grateful because it is so tempting to fill empty spaces…and I bet I would…thankfully that temptation is not there for me. I can always stand to get rid of things…you should see my kids’ toy bins…and under my bathroom sink…but I have come a looooong way. Thanks for another encouraging article!

    • Jen says:

      We had one of those basements that became a dumping ground after I moved in with my husband! We were married in our mid-thirties, so between the two of us, we had a lot of stuff. The basement was previously “finished” , but outdated, with panelling and dark blue carpet. Carpet! Who puts carpet in a basement that hasn’t been waterproofed, especially a bathroom? It was dark, ugly, and musty smelling. I hated going down there; it was so depressing. My laundry room is down there, and I was always so sad to see all the stuff sitting around for no reason. It’s actually a nice space, with a bedroom, bathroom, living area, office area, two storage rooms and the laundry room. But it was nasty, depressing, and did I mention the stuff? 🙂

      Finally, we hauled off a pick-up truck load, and two van loads of that stuff to Goodwill. My husband ripped up all the carpet, and pulled down all the old drywall and panelling. Of course, we found mold… I knew it was there from the smell. We cleaned it, did some foundation waterproofing, put up new drywall, painted it a vanilla color, put down ceramic tile, and now it is awesome! It took a year, but it’s unbelievable how nice, bright, clean, and inviting it is. We’re still de-cluttering the rest of the house, but at least now my basement is useable! I’m happy when I go down there now.

  • A says:

    I am trying to become more of a minimalist (except for my clothes, just can’t do it… I’ve given away at least 10 things in anti-closet-clutter moments that I regret and want back!! ESPECIALLY when I see something similar on PINTEREST! I’m just going to go for organization from now on. :). We have a great basement with tons of storage, so I’ve been slowing re-organizing the upstairs and neatly tucking away seasonal things and weird things like extra blankets and games downstairs so that the upstairs is more orderly. And lots has been thrown out. This is thanks to this recent four week series and also Pinterest (because I see other perfect houses and I think “wait…I have a blanket similar to that in the closet! I can fold it and put it on the bookcase by the chair!” or “I have a whole stack of pictures that I printed and a whole slew of empty photo frames…I can do a collage like that!”. I’m not a very good decorator, so it has really helped me and I haven’t spend a dime! (Well, I did buy castile soap to make my own kitchen spray, but besides that… 🙂

  • Carrie says:

    I am in the midst of a major house decluttering. One of the things I try to ask myself when I’m doing this…if we had a house fire and lost everything, would I go out and buy a replacement?

  • Eldie Wood says:

    I really enjoyed your outlook on your small home. In the book the millionaire next door that is one of the qualities of a millionaire is that they live way beneath their means. You are in good company in your modest home Crystal.

    • Diane says:

      You are right. My cousin works for a man who is a millionaire but you’d never know it by looking at him. He drives an old truck, wears plaid shirts & jeans and lives in an apartment.

  • Jessica H says:

    I have recently realized that I am suffering from information overload. I subscribe to so many e-mail newsletters; I spend too much time scanning the internet looking up information; I bought way too many books on pregnancy and taking care of babies (seriously do I need almost 20 books to get through my pregnancy and raise a healthy child?) I need to focus on less and hopefully learn more.

    • I struggle with this too. I justify it because I am learning things, but it’s better to be conscious of how much time I am spending and making sure it’s not adding more stress or taking too much time away from family

  • Emilie says:

    I agree with number 6: I think multi tasking for a few mintues here and there gives a longer time to breathe/relax later on.

    I try to multi-task by staying within that room. So while in the kitchen do kitchen things, push dishes away while the spaghetti cooks, sweep while the kids do homework, wipe down the top of the fridge after the last load of dishes is washed, etc. I clean the bathroom sink after I brush my teeth, I clean the shower while I am in it, and I do squats and calf raises while I brush my teeth and push-ups on the shower wall while my conditioner soaks in. In the office I often clip coupons while I read blogs.

    Sometimes the only way to get anything done is to multi-task!

    I would love to see other things that people do in the 3-5 minute time range (the time for the water to boil)
    🙂

    • Brandy says:

      While I cook, one thing I do is wash the dishes as I go so that I don’t have to worry with it later.

      • Catherine says:

        Wash dishes, wipe down counters, wash baby bottles, declutter my huge kitchen island hotspot, set the table, put toys (or anything else) away, unload the dishwasher, load the dishwasher, fold laundry, put away laundry (bedroom is right next to kitchen), flip laundry (washer/dryer is right next to kitchen – okay everything is next to the kitchen, it’s a small apartment), wipe down cabinets or handles, sweep the floor, shine the sink, put away small appliances, make note of what foods we have in the fridge/freezer/cupboard so I can better plan out meals/grocery trips, wipe off chairs/table, listen to a song on my MP3 player and dance! There’s always something to do lol

  • April says:

    my grandmother passed away 3 years ago and me and my mom are still dealing with her stuff. i didnt realize she had so much of it and I grew up with her! she had 2 big storage lockers and we wittled one away a little over a year ago(most of it coming to my house) and we are just getting to the second one(my step dad passed, mom had knee replacement). OM goodness…we’ve worked on it 6 hours in 2 days and have barely made a dent. storage tub after storage tub packed of everything(and i mean everything…tins full of receipts, buttons, awards, knick knacks out the wazoo, papers from the 70’s). Ive already took a truckload of stuff to the thrift store(mostly lawn ornaments).

    naturally, im a pack rat by genetics. I cant do this to my kids. every crazy duck or rooster of hers I find I remember it sitting on a shelf or a table(and it doesnt help that she wrote the dates of when she got it and from whom) or her half finished cross stitch projects or somethng with her handwriting kills me everytime i have to put it in the trash bag or donation pile. (and i know i could make a small fortune holding a yard sale but that means even more stuff would have to come into the house! I am keeping the bigger stuff to list on craigslist)

    It’s hard to change 36 years of habit but Im working on it 🙂

  • With all due respect to Rebecca, I don’t think what she’s describing is minimalism. Minimalism is a commitment to live with the minimum you need; “semi-minimalism,” with the minimum you need to live comfortably. While “one in, one out” is a fantastic way to declutter your home, buying new things when your old ones still do the job isn’t minimalism. And finding things to give away while you’re cooking or watching TV implies you’ve been buying more than you need to begin with.

    The easiest way to be a semi-minimalist is not to buy things you don’t need. (That includes extra space, like Rebecca observed.) Don’t throw replace or things away if you can fix what you already have. Learn to be happy about the things you do have.

    • Sarah T. says:

      With all due respect to you, I’m not quite sure what your point is. And the fact is, “one in, one out” will never declutter your house. It’ll merely keep more from adding to it.

      I like Joshua Becker’s definition of minimalism: “The intentional promotion of the things I most value and the removal of anything that distracts me from it.” This helps people live a balanced life. If stark minimalism does it for you, by all means, do it. For me, my brand of minimalism is more in line with the “semi-minimalism” mentality if you have to define it. Fortunately, “semi” means that there’s wiggle room for each person’s interpretation. I have a feeling most of the readers who have been following along with the month-long challenge are starting to really notice the benefits of living with less and seeing that it really is, in fact, more!!

  • Ami says:

    #5 – I have one person I’m often with that is NOT a minimalist thinker, and in this case I think it is a benefit. It makes me see the excess that’s so evident in her “normal” habits, and motivates me to determinedly break out of that mold. She makes me recognize the excess in my habits more. And she’s nicer than me, so I’m also reminded we all have our strengths and weaknesses!

    #6 – We are considering buying a bigger house of value equivalent to our current home in a few years (ours is already big at 2200 sf). But the house would be contingent on having people to fill it…6 or more children, and a regular habit of hospitality. So I disagree with this pointer because, as a growing, homeschooling, hospitable family, we use the space.

    That being said, our joy should come from having the home full of people, not stuff.

    • RuthS says:

      Yes, we are hoping for a bigger house too. I spend a lot of time in our house, and I would love more space for homeschooling and entertaining. I love your last line!

    • Lana says:

      I so agree! We raised and homeschooled 5 children and lived in every inch of our 2900 sq foot house. Now we are empty nesters in the same 2900 sq feet. We still need the space if we want our children to feel welcome to come home with their children and visit. Yes, it is alot of house to care for but it doesn’t get dirty with only 2 adults like it did when there were children growing up here. Our home has also seen alot of hospitality over the years and some groups as large as 100 for parties. We would not have had it any other way.

  • Sarah says:

    Most of the people I know who have chosen to buy larger homes did not grow up in a large home. I guess if you’ve never lived in one, you might think the grass is greener on the other side. I grew up in a 5000 square foot home on 10 acres. It is a beautiful home on a beautiful property, but I couldn’t imagine us trying to take care of it by ourselves. There is an army of people who tend to that house on a daily basis. Cleaning people, window washers, lawn care people, landscapers, pool maintenance – not to mention the plumbers, electricians, handymen, etc. who are there on a regular basis when stuff breaks. Kind of defeats the purpose of minimalism! I would choose our townhouse with a tiny lawn over that any day.

    • K* says:

      Sarah:

      You are absolutely right! I grew up in a trailer (my parents had a low income, but were also frugal and now have hundreds of thousands in the bank … seriously!), and my dream has always been to live in a large house with stairs and an attic and a basement.

      • Sarah says:

        We lived in a trailer, too, for about two years, so I can completely sympathize. My dad is a 2nd generation small business owner, and in the 1980s, times were tough for the business. Since then, he has re-built his business and now owns several properties (all purchased with cash). He’s very much a “Millionaire Next Door” kind of guy, if you’ve read that book. Sounds like your parents are the same way. My dad loves his large home and wouldn’t trade it for anything, I’m sure. But if he had to actually had take care of it himself, he’d be outta there really fast! I’ve lived in everything from the trailer to a 3000 sq. ft. house to my dad’s 5000 sq. ft. house, and I am most comfortable in our current 2000 sq. ft. house. I love that we can take care of it ourselves…I always felt so weird growing up watching people clean my house while I just sat there. I can totally understand wanting an attic and a basement, though. However, I wish my house didn’t have any stairs…I hate to vacuum them! 🙂

  • Kortney Picker says:

    We are looking for a home right now, we have looked at so many houses (about 100). I see how much “excess” space so many people have, but in America people look at that space as “necessity”. I am very content with having my small family in a small home so we can be closer together. Instead of everyone having their own space we learn together how to share space and be creative with what we are given (which is still more than so many other people around the world)
    When we get caught up in our “stuff” it starts to control us. You might not think so but when you give away things you don’t need it sets you free and you aren’t as greedy. We try and teach our children to share and give to others, yet we as a society teach them by example to hold on to excess and get as much as you can.

  • grace says:

    we just had the closing on our first house today 🙂 and i do agree with #6…our house is slightly bigger than our apartment (but in all fairness we are really squished here 🙂 ) i would hate to have a bigger house because its more to clean! 🙂

  • Laurie says:

    We live in a 1200sq foot home. There are 3 of us. It fits us perfectly. We only have 1 full bath and my family jokes that the bathroom is so small. I tell them it is perfect for us. Cleaning our small 3 bedroom house still is daunting at times to a single mom of 2 littles,but thankful it is ours. We live simply and bring little in to our space. I love it this way.
    Laurie

  • Patti says:

    I have lived in four houses and learned the hard way what is important. The first was tiny and we loved it! I could stand in the kitchen and cook without moving a foot… ha! Our second home, a typical ranch, had a huge kitchen – too big. It made me super tired to cook in it. We sold it and moved into a home that fit us better but we ended up adding onto it, thinking we needed more space. We tore out the kitchen, breezeway, and garage and made it into an open kitchen, eating area, den, and laundry room. Guess what? We never went in the rest of the house at all! Our living room, dining room, and sun porch sat empty from then on. We moved to another town and I made sure our home “fit” us and it does – we use every inch of space and love it. I knew we must be on to something when my son came home from a playmate’s huge new home and said, “It is just a bunch of wasted space!!!” LOL!!! I hope he didn’t say it there because it was a bunch of empty space – they couldn’t afford any furniture for their new 5000+ square foot house.

  • Good tips! I agree that minimalizing can make life easy. Having too much stuff can make life hard when you are always having to organize it!

  • Connie Lynn says:

    OH I love these tips too. I have gotten so much good info here on many subjects that help me! I grew up with a pack rat mom. I remember years ago going over and helping my mom declutter. She had calendars that were 10 years old! I am not that bad but my house is not the way I want it. And the clutter drives my husband nuts. I can’t say as I blame him.

    I will be reading the other posts later.

  • Kristin says:

    This is wonderful and encouraging to read. Sometimes, I get tempted to covet the bigger homes of my friends with same-sized families. I am happy with our small home, but lately the neighborhood has been getting worse. We have a drug-dealer living next door and this past week there was a home-invasion down the street. I don’t know if wanting a safer neighborhood is covetous, but right now this is all we can afford anyway. 🙂

  • LP says:

    That’s funny. I was thinking the other day of how much I like being able to vacuum the whole house without changing plugs. Stairs are the enemy!

  • Sarah says:

    My husband and i just purchased our first home thats a whopping 954 square feet (L.A. Area) on a decent sized lot. Our intention wasnt minimalism, but after so many friends and family tried to pursuade us to either buy a larger home in a less desirable neighborhood or significantly go up in price to buy a larger home in the neighborhood were in, we realized these are the same people whos houses are filled to the brim of stuff. Were learning that if you dont control the clutter, it will control you no matter what size home youre in.

    Anyways, like i mentioned above, although we’re not minimalists by any means, these are some goods tips to manage the clutter.

  • Melissa M says:

    This would have been more helpful a year ago before we built this huge house that I have no idea how I’m going to keep it clean or when we will ever be able to pay it off.. We needed more space but there is a thing as too much. 🙂

  • Stefanie says:

    I struggle with this bc I’m naturally a big shopper. I’m the type that will buy something bc it’s “cute” or a good deal, even if I don’t need it. On the other hand, I’m also the type that hates clutter. If a space is cluttered, my mind feels cluttered. I like open space. So, I’m constantly getting rid of things. I’m really working on not buying what I don’t need, though, bc that’s where my problem lies. Sometimes I look at the things I’m getting rid of and think of how much money I could have added to savings if I had taken what the items cost and put it in the bank. That really puts things into perspective! What I’ve found is that the more stuff you have, the more work it takes to keep it organized and to maintain it. We recently had a new home built. It’s a little over 1700 sq.feet and one story, so it’s a decent size, but not too big. We almost went larger, but now I’m glad we didn’t. I love the idea of “make getting rid of stuff fun”. I’ve been doing the 7 items a day and it’s always fun to see what I can come up with. It also makes me realize how much I buy and own that I don’t need!

  • Stefanie says:

    I agree with what you’re saying. While a minimalist look is great for some, some enjoy knickknacks and full closets. And if that’s what they like, good for them! As long as it doesn’t get out of control (Hoarders style, lol), there’s nothing wrong with plenty of decor and some extra stuff. It all has to do with personal preference, I think.

    I also agree with you on the completely clean surfaces, etc. I don’t like clutter, but I also want my home to be “homey”. People live here, one being a toddler (and another baby on the way), and I want it to look like it to an extent.

  • Lisa says:

    We have been forced to learn that less is more, I decided to stay home after our twins were born and we moved to a smaller house to help financially. More people/stuff and less house. I realize how much we have and it makes me feel ill and like a hoarder at times. It was my new years resolution to get organized and simplify/clean out/get rid of everything we don’t need. Everytime I want to buy something I look around and see if I can make something I have work and honestly I have saved a ton being creative, using what I have and it has really helped with the clutter and our super tight budget. It feels so freeing to have closets you can find stuff in that aren’t stuffed. I have gotten rid of so many kids clothes, toys, books etc. They played with it but didn’t love everything and honestly they haven’t missed one thing! I plan to keep up with this and get rid of more, more, more! I was sad to move to a smaller house because it was some sort of pride thing, but I love it, so much easier to clean and feels more homey. It has really made us ask what is a need or want and not just fill space. (hence all the stuff I am still going thru and getting rid of from a bigger house that was full of stuff from over the years-even before young kids)

  • Danielle B says:

    I was raised by two hoarders, even if they were “neat and tidy” hoarders. Why did they hold on to so much stuff? Because both my mother’s and my father’s parents lived through Horrific Depression. My grandparents on both sides grew up during the Depression, and that changed them forever. They never forgot what it was to be completely without. Once you have lived through that, you can never unchange yourself. Those grandparents raised my parents to appreciate, cherish, and tuck away every little thing, because you never know when you may need it.

    I know this is fear based, and our lives are not meant to be lived in fear, so I’ve tried very hard to manage the clutter (especially over this last month through Crystal’s challenge each weekday). I’m amazed at some of the things I’ve been holding on to out of fear that I’ll need it one day and won’t have the money or ability to get that item back.

    I just want to offer this comment as an explanation as to why so many people struggle to get rid of things. Many times it isn’t because we just want more and more. Instead, we were raised by people who lived through a horrific time of starvation, exposure and poverty, and that breeds a sense of fear in just getting rid of everything.

  • southernminimalist says:

    Please remember that minimalist don’t expect anyone else to do what we are doing. Minimalism is very personal. 🙂

    • Rachel says:

      I so agree with this! My husband and I consider ourselves to be minimal and none of our family/close friends ‘get it’ and that’s just fine, we are choosing the lifestyle that works for us but are not trying to impose it on anyone!

  • Sarah says:

    Just read this post and couldn’t agree with #6 more! We built a large home when we got married and I remember getting frustrated that everyone’s first comment upon seeing it was, “This sure is going to be a lot to keep up with!” but now I see what they meant 🙂 While I am very thankful for our home, it would not disappoint me one bit if someone told me I was going to have to downsize. I really don’t see that in our future, though, since we built our home on property that connects to my husband’s business. Oh well, I guess I’ll just count all the work it’s taking to Spring Clean this place as a substitute to going to the gym 😉

  • Melissa C says:

    Completely agree with all of these! I am currently in the midst of getting my house ready for a new baby and am very thankful it’s small and cozy. And I’ve been “unsubscribing” to Facebook friends daily – it’s crazy what people say in a public form anymore! I’m definitely changing the way I think about finances and priorities since preparing for a baby. Thanks for the great post!

  • Sarah says:

    I am currently feeling God speak to me about #6. My hubby and I originally had a goal to save enough money to pay off our townhome and move into a house….but during the (in)rl conferences this weekend I felt him speak to me about maybe refocusing my efforts on what he has given me now rather than what he may give us later.

    thank you for the encouragement and reinforcement!

  • These are some really great ideas. I personally love #3, because that is “wasted” time for me anyway. I really don’t accomplish anything while waiting for water to boil, or something to thaw in the microwave. I simply wait for it to be done. I don’t get any sense of peace because of the 3 minutes of nothing, because it’s not intentional time. It’s just waiting time.

    And #6…wish I’d thought about this one 3 years ago! Or even 5. My husband and I went from a 1 bedroom tiny apartment with a small balcony, to a slightly larger 1 story home on a huge lot…to a larger 2 story home (I thought the big 2 story home was the coolest thing ever!)…and I have to say, I hate it. I wish we had a smaller home. We have 3 bathrooms, but I would love to just have 1 (as long as it had a shower/bath combo), we quickly filled the spare room with..well, everything. Our cabinets are so cluttered I have to do the throw and close fast method to make sure nothing falls out when I’m putting things away…

    Another good tip I wish I had followed is if you have kids, figure out what kinds of toys you want them to have, don’t let family and friends dictate what they have. We have so many toys that I put away, because I would rather the kids build stuff with legos than play with an electronic fake steering wheel. And I love to see my son play with the vintage metal trucks that used to belong to my husband, but my MIL still insists on sending us plastic pick-ups, trucks and accessories because “a boy can never have too many trucks”… I am very slowly weeding out all the junk toys, but it is an overwhelming task. So to new parents, when someone asks what your kids want, think of something that you would like to see them playing with 2 or 3 years from now.

  • Lisa says:

    You are right on! I lived the big house, big stuff life for a few years when my husband was climbing the career ladder. The three car garage was packed full with even more toys, motorcycles etc.
    When life took a turn and his job was cut back, we had to cut back! I went back to work to help out and suddenly realized how much time, energy and resources were being sucked up by the big house and all the stuff! I needed to hire help for kid running and cleaning. The house was starting to need some major work, and that cost a ton more in a big house.
    Long story short, my husband ended up being part of a big lay off, and we decided to downsize everything! Sold the house, and almost all of our stuff in it (sadly the cycles had to go too). We only kept what we felt we would not pay to have stored. We had to rent for a while, and that helped us decide what we really needed.
    Our children were very upset about moving form their childhood home, but now we live in a modest three bedroom home with much less space. The time it takes to clean and maintain has been slashed, along with the mortgage, taxes, utilities, and all the rest that goes into home-ownership.
    We end up talking much more, and spending more quality time together because we are just plain closer together.
    We’ve landed on our feet again, but after the past few years of cut backs, we’ve learned that what really matters is quality time with our loved ones, and a simpler lifestyle!

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