You ditched the plastic. You’ve donated unused or unwanted items. You up-cycle whenever possible. You feel free from clutter and good about making changes that help the environment and your wallet. So what’s next?
How can you maintain this lifestyle? How can you continue to live big by living with less?
Here’s some tips and trips that have worked for my family.
Set a Budget and Stick to It
Budgeting is a great way to keep you accountable not only in your spending habits but in your accumulation habits. You’ll be less likely to buy “stuff” if you do not have those items set in your budget.
Check Your Accumulation
Even if you have a budget there will be times where you have the opportunity to get free items. At the end of every month my husband and I go over our budget and make adjustments if needed but we also look at the “things” we bought or were given. If those items are things that we’ll use or do not have great value to us then we donate them. Those free cup cozies given out at events or those items your family members just have to give you can add up. And before you know it you’ll be back where you started. Having a monthly check-in with your consumption habits will help you recognize areas you need to improve in and will help you continue to live a minimalist lifestyle.
Say No to Unwanted Given Items
It’s easy for anyone to get attached to items that really don’t have significant to them. We (United States) live in a culture of consumption that has been passed down by generations for decades. I’m not denying the benefits of consumption. Consumption is necessary and stimulates the economy. However, our (United States) method of consumption tends to strip the earth of natural resource and weighs on the wasteful side. It was common for me to buy things just because they were a good deal and not because I actually wanted or needed them. This is because I felt a weird unnecessary connection to items that really held no value to me. With that said, it’s taken a long time to break that connection to possessions. We (United States) as a society tend to feel self-worth through things making it hard to get rid of stuff. Before we know it years pass by and our homes become cluttered with items that have no personal meaning to us. Storage units are rented to house more items, and we spend thousands of dollars that could have been wisely invested. When we do get rid of stuff it’s easier for us to give them to someone we love than to actually throw away or donate things we do not use, want, or need. So when someone gives you something you don’t want or need because they are on this journey I recommend either one 1.) having a conversation about your own journey and politely saying no or 2.) accept the item and donate it to someone who needs it.
Set Shopping Days
One major change I made that helps me maintain my lifestyle is setting shopping day. I only grocery shop on set shopping days. This helps me only buy what I need and prevents me from over-buying groceries. This is also goes for cloth shopping an online shopping. I meal plan twice a month and buy groceries twice a month. I spend $60 each trip and this helps me stay on budget with my $120 a month grocery budget.
Only shop on set shopping day or when you absolutely need something. Write a list of things you need and stick to it. Bring only enough money for what you need so you are not tempted to buy something you don’t really want or need. Always remember, just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you have to buy it. That item is still costing you money you would not have otherwise spend so it’s not really a deal if you don’t really need it.
Instead of shopping days with the girl friends try something new like hot yogo, brunch, hiking, or facials. Try something that won’t accumulate stuff but will still create a platform for making memories and having a good time.
Shop Quality over Quantity
To eliminate the need for shopping buy quality over quantity. Yes, you may spend $100 for a pair of jeans but those jeans will last you years if you buy the right brand. Look at this way. You can buy lower quality cheaper jeans for about $10-$20 at many different retailers. However, those jeans often rip or wear easily so you might have to buy about 4 pairs a year which would cost you about $80 a year. You could just invest in a higher quality pair of jeans and save a ton of money in the long run. This is a change my husband and I made when we first got married and especially with my husband’s clothes have saved so much money, time, and natural resources buying high quality clothes that also align with our ethics.
The holiday’s can be tricky for minimalists because family and friends who live differently than you can feel overwhelmed with what to buy you. My suggestion is 1) always be polite and grateful for any gift, 2) make a list of things you would like or organizations your family or friends can make a donation in your name to, 3) donate those little nic-nacks people buy you that you simply won’t ever use like that plastic back stretcher or those dollar store nail polishes.
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