How I Became A Minimalist (Accidental Minimalist)
"The more you own, the more that owns you." - Snapple Lid
My husband and I are accidental minimalists. We never made a conscious choice to live with less stuff. I never read a blog about how to be a minimalist. I never looked around my home and thought, "I'm going to get rid of 95% of my belongings". A matter of fact, we started the downsizing processes before minimalism was a fad. It just happened naturally as a result of the life decisions we made. Minimalism was a slow progression that evolved over several years. Currently, we have lived minimally for over seven years, and we will never go back to cupboards and drawers packed to the maximum with stuff.
Our minimalist journey began in 2008 during the recession. We were upside down in our home, and up to our eyeballs in debt. My husband was working in mortgages at the time...YIKES! I was given the book "The Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey by my brother. Dave Ramsey preaches to sell anything that isn't nailed down to help pay off debt. The purging of household items began. We started to liquidate our belongings. At first, it was painful, literally. I was incredibly emotionally attached to my stuff. But, with each yard sale, I started to feel free. Then the momentum of cleansing took hold, and I was excited to get rid of the extra weight of things holding me down. With each empty cabinet, I felt lighter, happier, and freer.
I looked at the bags and boxes of clothes, toys, home decor, decorations, and was amazed at how much extra stuff my family of five had accumulated.
I had an awe-ha moment.
I had spent money to buy each of these items and wasted countless hours cleaning these things. And it was just STUFF, that had no actual value. These items didn't make me happier or my life any better. In reality, all of these unnecessary items hurt me financially. By buying too much stuff, I taught my children that material objects are essential to being happy. I realized that my focus on what brings pure joy was on the wrong things.
The first step to minimalism was selling 50% of our material possessions, which included our four-bedroom home, our new Toyota Sequoia, and most of our high-end furniture. We had no idea that this was just the tip of the iceberg.
The second step to minimalism was when we had chosen to travel the USA in a 45 foot RV.
Downsizing into the RV was the 1st significant liquidation we had done. Moving into the RV was the first time I had to make a conscious choice on what I needed vs. wanted. RV living was a lesson in being intentional with the items I chose to keep around me. I realized that I only needed one spatula (not 4), and just enough dish ware for four people (not 10). Yes, we were traveling in an RV. However, it was a huge RV, plus, we still had a 20' storage unit holding extra household items, for when we decided to buy a home.
Our most dramatic downsize!
Could you live for a year with only ONE carry-on sized luggage?
After traveling in the USA for 18 months, we increased our adventures by choosing to travel the world! We didn't want to be limited by what we could do by the amount of luggage we were hauling. We made the conscious decision to travel with only ONE carry-on bag and a personal backpack per person. Total luggage included everything we needed for remote work and homeschooling.
I get asked all of the time, "How did you do that?" My answer, "It's not easy, but it is possible. Choose your items wisely!"
My husband and I read a ton of travel blogs and books to learn how to pack for 4-seasons of international travel.
What it comes down to is being very aware of what is a NEED.
You would be surprised at how little you NEED to live.
Minimalism may seem extreme too many people. But, before you jump to the automatic response, "I could never do that" conclusion, give it a try. You don't have to sell 90% of all of your possessions. You can introduce minimalism to your lifestyle by going through your closet and getting rid of 50% of the clothes you don't wear. You could empty your hall closet. You know the one, the closet that holds all of those random household items, coats, shoe boxes, and wrapping paper.
Notice how it makes you feel.
Who knows, you may just become an accidental minimalist too.