MINIMALISM & CHRISTMAS: 5 TIPS TO INCORPORATE MINIMALISM THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

minimalism and Christmas

Minimalism and Christmas may not seem like they belong in the same sentence, but I believe they do. The holidays are stressful enough. Why do we make them even more expensive? You don’t get much more minimal than the first Christmas if you think about it. Save yourself some time, stress, and money with my five tips to keep it minimal this holiday season.

**This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.**

Minimalism & Christmas: Opt for Experiences instead of Items as Gifts

When it comes to gifts, experiences are a wonderful idea! Instead of giving stuff that may go unused in a closet (or just donated if you’re like me) or put a lot of strain on the budget. Avoid all that and give the gift of an experience; this can still be just as if not more thoughtful than a store-bought gift.

Examples of experiences include a gift certificate to a favorite activity such as an indoor sports place (TopGolf, ax throwing) for a more active individual, skating rink or indoor trampoline park for kids, or a certificate for mini-golf or bowling for the entire family. Just keep the recipient in mind. Know someone with a creative flair? What about a gift certificate to paint their own pottery?

Keep the Calendar as Simple as Possible

When (if) the party invitations come rolling in don’t feel the need to RSVP yes to all of them. If the holiday season typically includes a lot of social invitations have a family meeting prior to the deluge of mail and agree upon a set number of social events to attend or discuss which annual gatherings are the highest priority.

Keeping the calendar as clear as possible will save a lot of time, stress, and might even reduce your potential exposure to a few winter bugs. It’s cold and flu season folks and you never know who’s been sick or is coming down with something at large gatherings. Be sure to bring some hand sanitizer.

It’s also worth noting that it is not very minimalist to buy a new outfit for every function you plan to attend; if you have room in the budget for one fancy outfit to wear and most social events you plan to attend include different social circles then guess what? That same outfit will be “new” for all events. Even if you’re seen in the same dress at more than one event does it really matter?

Minimalism & Christmas: Opt for Couple or Family Gifts Instead of Gifts for Each Individual

This is something we’ve chosen to do on my husband’s side of the family and it just makes life easier. There are a lot of kids on his side and they all have a lot of stuff already. Thankfully, nobody truly needs much of anything, and most of us have made efforts to pare down our possessions so adding a lot for everyone in the house seems counterintuitive at this point.

We’ve also all pretty much asked each other exactly what they want or need or if something from a general category would be alright. It helps a lot. Our Christmas savings account check was cut this week and I’m just patiently waiting for it to show up in our mailbox so I can start checking items off our list. Our gift shopping list is about 75% done at this point. I will tally the approximate total against our budget (the amount of the check) once I have it in hand and make adjustments where necessary. Our total Christmas budget this year is $500. I have added about $30 from the monthly budget to round this number out. The goal is obviously to come in under budget. This may feel like a lot to us, but it is below the average of $727.90-$730.70 National Retail Federation predicts American households will spend this year.

See: NRF Forecasts Holiday Sales Will Grow Between 3.8 and 4.2 Percent

minimalism and Christmas

Or Draw Names for a Gift Exchange

In the years past we did this with my dad’s family as it is quite large and it was always so fun; different family members live in different states, so it was always exciting to see something picked out for you that wasn’t necessarily from a store we have here in Northwest Arkansas. Granted, this area has grown significantly, but I remember when it was quite exciting to get gifts in boxes from stores I’d never been to!

This can obviously save a lot of money in larger families but admittedly isn’t for everyone. We considered it last year for my family, but we’re not really big enough. It’s not quite as fun when the odds are high you’ll be drawing the name of someone in your house.

Also with gift exchanges, this is something that the family needs to agree on fairly early as some people like to get shopping done early to save themselves some stress. I actually prevented a gift exchange from happening a few years ago because I had taken on a rather large handmade gift project and started it well in advance of Christmas.

Minimalism & Christmas: Keep it Simple with the Kids

As in years past, we plan to keep it pretty simple with our kids this year. Last year was the first my daughter could read. It was also the first year we forgot to label anything as specifically from Santa. She was so caught up in the excitement she didn’t notice!

We typically buy the kids a few things they need (this usually means there will be socks and underwear in stockings), an experience or larger want (by large I mean around $75- they’re still little and we operate on a budget), and a few smaller things. I will probably opt to skip on the few smaller things this year just because stuff for the sake of stuff isn’t very minimalist.

This year their large gifts are mostly things they need or have wanted for a while; my daughter is a boot girl and she finally outgrew the cowgirl boots we bought her two years ago for Christmas. When it comes to boots we buy quality ones from Cavender’s; they always hold up better and fit longer than tennis shoes or dress shoes. For our son, we will buy a plan rug for his bedroom floor with roads and such. He loves to play cars on the rugs around the house. I can’t say I blame him; tile is cold to sit on!

Related: You can find all Christmas posts published on a Life on a Dime by searching the Christmas category!

minimalism and Christmas

What About You?

Do you plan to incorporate minimalism into your family’s Christmas this year? Do you already keep it pretty simple for the holidays? This is how my family continues to use minimalism and Christmas is much less stressful (and expensive) as a result.

This post was proofread by Grammarly

THE MINIMALIST’S PRE-HOLIDAY TO-DO LIST

minimalist's pre-holiday to-do list

With Halloween this week I am reminded how time seems to speed up this time of year. With the holidays comes lots of company, special meals with family, and if you have kids… usually more stuff. Even if you keep it simple and minimal-ish around the holidays there are a few very minimalist things to put on a minimalist’s pre-holiday to-do list that can make this season much less stressful. Here are tree things I’m doing to prepare my house, and in turn myself for the holiday season.

**This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.**

My Minimalist Pre-Holiday to-do List

1. Declutter

Decluttering seems like a never-ending process, and if you have kids, chances are it is! They grow, tastes change, kids on the bus send them home with random stuff… Then there are birthdays and holidays when people who love your kids shower them with presents.

We have this pretty well under control, with family and friends understanding our minimalist approach to things and offering the kids more experiences than things (and sometimes money, which we deposit in their savings accounts).

By decluttering clothes and toys I can make room for the new. I also rotate out where toys are stored so they get more use. I also sort out artwork in my daughter’s room. Some get scanned or photographed, but eventually, most of it goes to the recycle bin. The really special ones I keep.

2. Deep Clean

I need to get on this. Minimalism isn’t necessarily about cleaning, but it sure makes it easier to clean! There are fewer surfaces to dust and steam mop, but sometimes I forget to do it often enough. I plan to spend a good day or two scrubbing the place for my fall cleaning in order to make any cleaning required for entertaining over the holidays that much easier. This makes it a must on my minimalist’s pre-holiday to-do list.

3. Take Inventory as Part of Your Minimalist’s Pre-Holiday to-do List

I do this for my own shopping needs, but also for when people ask what they can buy the kids. What do I know they want/need that we haven’t gotten? This makes it really easy in general to know what items are needed for season changes and age-appropriate activities, but it is especially handy around Christmas and birthdays. I don’t have to get back with someone when they ask what the kids/need want if I already have a list made.

This also helps to prevent duplication of items with everyday shopping. It helps stay in budget and ensures purchases are necessities and not just things you think you may need.

Related Video: See how I take inventory of our family’s wardrobe to determine clothing needs.

minimalist's pre-holiday to-do list

What’s on Your Pre-Holiday to-do List?

It’s not about the gifts, the lights, or even the food! And I love traditions centered around food! We’ve already been given the greatest gift ever, so let’s focus our time on what really matters; the people we’re blessed to have in our lives. I don’t want to be busy cleaning and prepping and tidying while memories are being made in the next room. Thanksgiving is about focusing on and truly appreciating what you have. I think if we spent more time on that mindset Christmas would look a lot different!

The World’s Best Automated Proofreader

I hope that by doing these three simple things memories of our first Christmas in our new house will be filled with fun, love, and special moments. Mostly I don’t want to look back and have a list of things I wish I had done differently. You’ve seen my list, now what’s on yours? Continue the conversation in the comments or head on over to my Instagram, where I’ll share your answers in stories today!

Related Post: 25 Thoughtful Ideas for Handmade Christmas Gifts

THE MINIMALIST’S GUIDE TO KITCHEN ESSENTIALS: WHAT YOU REALLY NEED

kitchen essentials

If you’re just starting out or looking to revamp the heart of your home be sure to check out this list before you shop for kitchen essentials. Chances are you don’t need the majority of the “must-haves” you would consider essential. Here is my guide on keeping a minimalist kitchen as well as my top Amazon picks for the truly essential items.

*This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links.*

Keep it Simple with Kitchen Essentials

There is nothing more stressful than going to prepare dinner and not being able to find what the tools you need to do the job all the… stuff in the way. I know, I’ve been there. These days I don’t have to second guess where anything is in my kitchen. I got rid of pretty much EVERYTHING I didn’t use. Yes, everything. It took a while, but it is so much easier to navigate my kitchen now. It all starts with knowing what the kitchen essentials are and saying no to everything that doesn’t fit the requirements.

Stocking Your Kitchen

If you’re just moving out on your own, starting over, or jumping into minimalism and want to simplify your kitchen you’re in the right place. Here is a simple guide on what kitchen essentials a minimalist might have.

Kitchen Essentials: Cookware

We keep it pretty basic in our kitchen; we have one stainless steel pots and pans, our Emerilware thoughtfully gifted to us by my best friend when we first married. It has held up well; I also bought a cheap, nonstick set (pre-minimalism of course), and it did not stand the test of time. Our exact set is not available anymore, but I love this set that comes with stainless steel utensils. On a smaller budget, you can get a basic 12-piece set with 4-star reviews on Amazon for under $60.

I have a few glazed stoneware casserole dishes, a pizza stone, muffin tin, small and large sheet pans, a muffin pan, and two loaf pans. That’s about it for bakeware. Oh, and a couple of cooling racks. They get more use when baking bacon!

Gadgets

I do not like one-trick ponies in general, but I would be lying if I said I owned any; I love to use our sandwich maker. For such a simple device it has really held up. My husband also makes waffles in it occasionally! We have a coffee maker, blender, and an electric pressure cooker. The microwave doubles as a vent-hood, so I don’t really lump it in here. I think that’s it for small appliances and gadgets.

kitchen essentials

Kitchen Essentials: Utensils

We are slowly transitioning our utensils from nylon/silicone to stainless steel; it simply holds up better. Over time the edges of scrapers start to burn and peel. Who wants that? Not us! I also have a good stash of several wooden spoons, scrapers for mixing, and a wooden rolling pin. a good set of stainless steel mixing bowls and a couple of good cutting boards are also handy.

There are good deals on huge sets of utensils, but I am not a fan; chances of using all the utensils in the set is slim. I prefer to buy a small set of the basics and then get my measuring cups and spoons separately, and love my Pioneer Woman set. I have also had my eye on this vintage soap dispenser set for a while. It would add a pop of color in my otherwise less-than-decorated kitchen, and still be functional. I have a basic corkscrew, can opener, and knives. My husband has a basket of BBQ utensils above the cabinet.

Tableware

We started using the stoneware set gifted us for our wedding a couple of years ago when I got tired of our Fiesta Ware colors. I was over red and cream. To be honest, the cream was more yellow than I anticipated. We sold all the Fiesta on Craigslist and decided to just use the white stoneware set until after the move. Turns out eight of everything is more than enough for us! I don’t think we’ll be replacing our dinnerware any time soon. I had planned to buy a set but decided we didn’t have a need for more dishes. We have a handful of coffee mugs and travel mugs as well.

I love glazed stoneware because it is dishwasher safe, unlike unglazed. Plain, solid flatware holds up much better than anything with embellishments; we picked a fun set and were gifted both it (fell apart) and the solid set. I’ll pick a no-frills solid set any day now!

We switched to these stainless steel tumblers (purchased with gift cards earned by taste testing, a side hustle of mine)and I plan to switch out the kids’ plastic cups with these stainless steel straw cups.

The World’s Best Automated Proofreader

Linens

One of the 10 things I stopped wasting money on after becoming a minimalist was one-time user paper goods. I have one set of winter placemats, 8 cloth napkins, 4 everyday placemats, oven mitts, and a good-sized collection of kitchen towels, which are a mix of Dollar Tree and gifted Pioneer Woman. I need to get into my scrap material and see if I don’t have anything suitable to use for napkins. Most evenings we share a kitchen towel. My husband built a farmhouse table for me and I do not like hiding it under a tablecloth.

Miscellaneous

I keep a bread box and recipe book holder on the kitchen cabinet as well. It really doesn’t take a whole lot. It turns out you can still cook if you don’t line everything with aluminum foil. I also stopped buying Ziploc bags. We use these reusable sandwich bags and have been very pleased so far. I plan to buy more when the budget allows. We still use plastic containers for leftovers but have a few stainless steel sandwich boxes and snack containers. I love the idea of these containers with bamboo lids. When the budget allows I will continue my efforts to replace plastic as much as possible in the kitchen.

Not as Much is as Essential as I Thought…

When we first stocked our kitchen I thought I needed 3 or 4 of everything and it turned out I had multiples of unused items I had been convinced were kitchen essentials and my kitchen wouldn’t function without them! Don’t you need a specialty tool for every new recipe?! Turns out, no you don’t. I do more cooking now with fewer gadgets, utensils, etc than I ever did when I had a fully stocked kitchen. I mostly used the same things then too, if I could find them.

Now I have fewer items, but I use just about everything! I haven’t broken out the stash of cookie cutters yet, but with the holidays approaching we may do this soon! I have two eager helpers in the kitchen, which is another motivator to keep the clutter down. This is not an exhaustive inventory of what is in my kitchen, simply an outline of the basics I use every day. Yes, I do have to wash dishes more often, but I cook from scratch. I dirty up a lot of dishes and prefer to wash a load a day anyway.

What are your essential, can’t live without items in the kitchen? I’d love to know.

3 UNEXPECTED BENEFITS OF MINIMALISM: MY EXPERIENCE

benefits of minimalism

I decided to go minimalist thinking it was about getting rid of stuff. I leaned that direction for some time, not going overboard with baby stuff or toys after we had our first child, but after the death of my mother, who was a packrat, and you might even say an organized hoarder (is that a thing?). Once I decided to take an even more minimalist approach in my life. I felt overwhelmed by all the stuff in general and wanted less of it in my life. I had no idea there would be numerous unexpected benefits of minimalism.

*This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links.*

Benefits of Minimalism: Saying No Got Easier

I had a hard time saying such a simple word. It wasn’t just with bringing things into my home, I took on tasks I didn’t have time for, it was doing things that didn’t necessarily fit in the budget, putting up with stuff I didn’t have the emotional energy for, sometimes even putting up with people I didn’t have the emotional energy to be around.

I’d ignore a problem as long as possible (an inherited trait apparently) or would double my efforts and try to do more than I should in an effort to prove someone was right to put their faith in me. All because I did not want to let anyone down when it was plain for everyone to see that the expectation could not possibly be met. I exhausted myself and I let myself down.

Once I started purging I analyzed why I held on to things that had little meaning and no purpose. It became very clear that the only way to prevent more things that had little meaning or purpose in my life was to say no to them.

I suffered postpartum depression and crippling indecision after our first child. Walking around treating yourself like a doormat encourages others to do the same. It took a while to figure it out, but once I recognized what was happening I got help. I got better and was able to stop the meds, but anxiety has plagued my adult years. Again, it appears I inherited this trait.

I’ve said no to things recently due to anxiety because I knew I couldn’t handle it. I don’t know that pre-minimalism I’d have recognized the problem and chosen to make a decision for me rather than based on what I felt was expected of me; I feel much more proactive when it comes to my wellbeing.

The Urge to Shop Less Often

I grew up learning to appreciate the joys of bargain hunting and the value of a good deal. Pre-minimalism I spent entire lunch hours scouring stores looking for something I didn’t think we could live without. The better the deal the more you can buy, right?

I shudder to think how many of those good deals were hauled to donation centers in the last few years. In the last two years, I have really only frequented Target for baby supplies. Up and up was my favorite brand for diapers, wipes, and formula. I’d stock up once a month and get the$25 gift card for spending $100 (which I usually used the SAME trip). Something else always managed to find its way in the cart by the time I made it to the checkout.

benefits of minimalism

The World’s Best Automated Proofreader

When we moved a little farther out and I no longer worked I stocked up with online or drive up orders once we no longer used baby food and didn’t meet the free shipping minimum. A funny thing happened – I didn’t miss those Target runs! Lately, if I can’t get it at the grocery store or on Amazon, it’ll take me a good long while before I decide to venture out for it.

I’ve been to Hobby Lobby a grand total of once in the last six months, possibly all year. I spent less than $4 and used the 40% off coupon! We only went in because I couldn’t justify shipping for a $4 stencil that was a 20-minute drive away. My two-year-old kept reminding me why minimalism probably isn’t the only reason I dread shopping these days. We walked out with the item we came for and then headed to the donation dropoff to unload a few boxes.

Benefits of Minimalism: Focus on Quality over Quantity and More Thoughtful Purchases

With this newfound aversion for shopping, it should come as no surprise that I spend less money on frivolous things since embracing minimalism. My purchases tend to be more researched, and when I click the checkout button in my Amazon cart, I’ve found the best value for my budget.

If the value I want isn’t in my budget I DON’T BUY ANYTHING. I also tend to leave items on my wish list for a long time. I go back through every once in a while and delete items I no longer want. In the past, these items would’ve been shipped to my front door, and later made their way into the donation box without much thought.

This is a major shift in perspective; I can’ tell you how many times I walked out of a store with a shopping bag of consolation items. They didn’t have exactly what I wanted, but I bought something else that didn’t really fit the bill to lessen my disappointment in not finding what I wanted.

I’d rather buy fewer items less often and buy quality items. As I said earlier in the week, frugal isn’t cheap. I’m not going for cheap anymore. Lesson learned. Since transitioning to a single income (with no car or student loan, and typically no credit card debt) we’ve actually become better savers. We were always good at saving and cash flowing projects, but just saving to have money in savings? Not so much.

I had no idea when I first started on this journey that the benefits of minimalism would go so far beyond having less stuff. My whole perspective on life has changed since embracing minimalism. I can without a doubt say it has changed my life for the better mentally, emotionally, and financially.

benefits of minimalism

10 THINGS MINIMALISTS DON’T WASTE MONEY ON

don't waste money

… and you shouldn’t either

Becoming a minimalist makes life so much simpler; this can have a substantial effect on your budget too! As a minimalist, I don’t waste money on things I never gave a second thought about before starting my minimalist journey. I knew at the start becoming a minimalist would make my home more peaceful, but I had no idea it would actually help me keep more money in the bank!

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.*

So what are some items minimalists don’t waste money on? I’m glad you asked! Here is my list of the top 10 items I quit wasting my money on after becoming a minimalist. Even if you don’t fully embrace the idea of minimalism you can still save yourself some money and give your budget a little more breathing room if you quit buying some of these items as well.

1. Minimalists Don’t Waste Money on a Lot of One Time Use Products

It just makes no sense to store 50 rolls of paper towels and keep throwing all that money in the trash! Literally! I never really thought about how much money we spent on paper towels, but I realized how quickly we went through a roll. The trash also filled up faster when we used paper towels. Not so long ago we were each using a half size paper towel at every meal AND I was cleaning the kitchen countertops with them as well as spot cleaning the rugs. That’s a lot of trash!

If you remember from 3 Weird Ways to Save Money we don’t pay for trash service. Eliminating the additional paper waste by simply using the abundance of tea towels and our set of previously almost never used cloth napkins we also saved some money by going through fewer trash bags. This is both a frugal and sustainable win!

2. A Different Cleaner for Every Application

Up until the beginning of this year, I bought hand soap, dishwashing soap for handwashing, kitchen countertop cleaner, bathroom cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, furniture polish, glass cleaner, dishwasher detergent pods, and carpet stain remover. Prior to owning a steam mop, there were also the disposable dry dusting and wet mopping floor pads.

That’s a lot of cleaning product under the kitchen sink! And the bathroom sink. And the hall closet… it felt like we had cleaning products everywhere! All that cleaner didn’t just take up a lot of real state in the house; it also took up a considerable amount of real estate in the budget!

Now I find all I really need to handle most household cleaning is Thieves Household Cleaner, unscented Castile soap, baking soda, and lemon and Thieves essential oils. I mix a capful or two of the household cleaner in a spray bottle and use it to clean the kitchen countertops, stainless steel appliances, bathroom counters, mirrors, and to spot clean the rugs.

I mix a capful with some baking soda and lemon oil to make the kitchen sink and showers sparkly white. A combination of the household cleaner, water, and castile soap does a great job hand washing dishes. It also doubles as our hand soap in the kitchen. I currently use the Thieves dishwasher powder but am curious to DIY some pods and see how they do. The fewer things I buy the better! And to think I used to believe I needed nine different cleaning products to accomplish the same tasks!

3. Don’t Waste Money on Multiple or One Trick Pony Kitchen Gadgets & Utensils

I have a healthy collection of wooden spoons, a few scrapers, and spatulas, but nothing overwhelming. In the past this was not so; I pared things down considerably before we moved, but when unpacking still found three ground meat mashers (three!) and other multiples I quickly realized I didn’t even use! I googled the meat masher and Pampered Chef charges $15 for them! And I had three! I usually grab a wooden spoon when cooking ground meat.

As far as appliances go we have a microwave, single-serve coffee maker, blender, sandwich maker, and pressure cooker. The sandwich maker gets the most use in the fall and winter, but it was a wedding gift and 13 years later it is still going strong.

A pressure cooker is an awesome addition to the kitchen! We can cook a tenderloin in 40 minutes or less, can soup salsa, or veggies from the garden (when we have one), and slow cook soups or other “crockpot” recipes all day in the same appliance.

If it only serves one purpose or isn’t used often it doesn’t stick around long at our house. It is much easier to clean a kitchen with fewer appliances cluttering the countertops. Laptops are excluded from this statement; I work at the counter!

The World’s Best Automated Proofreader

4. Lots & Lots of Toys

At our old house, we only had one child when the living room became overrun with her stuff. We resigned ourselves to the fact that this would always be the case. Not so much anymore.

You see, the more toys kids have, the more they think they need. There is also an interesting situation that arises when there are so many toys to play with that the kid feels overwhelmed in trying to make a choice and plays with none of them! We had toys everywhere and yet someone was always bored and wanted something new to play with.

We put a lot of thought into toys we bring into our house now, and we focus on experiences more than things. This mama routinely goes through the kids’ rooms reorganizing, tossing or repairing broken toys, and taking outgrown or unwanted toys to the resale shop or donation center. The best part is that my daughter rarely notices something is missing!

We are also lucky to have friends and family who respect our minimalist wishes and buy our kids gifts of experience rather than unsolicited toys. This helps a lot!

5. Don’t Waste Money on Magazine Subscriptions

Apart from the fact that you can sip on your Starbucks at Barnes and Noble and read all the magazines you want, who wants all that cluttering their mailbox? If you read it and find value in what you read that is great.

I am all about educational literature, but I found decorating magazines and even family-centric subscriptions either made me feel dissatisfied with what I already had or didn’t really align with my personal values. All too often these magazines would set in a stack on the countertop, occasionally get carried off by kids or ripped up, and I would inevitably toss it in the recycling bin without reading the majority of it.

6. Monthly Subscription Boxes

I know these are all the rage and a potential source of income as a blogger, but I do not see the appeal. You spend $50 or more every quarter (or more) for a box of assorted stuff to show up at your door. Yes, it’s expensive stuff and you get it at a supposed discount, but do you really use most of it? Or do you buy it because your favorite Influencer unboxed hers on Instagram stories and it looked so fun? And she gave you a discount! That’s exactly what they want you to think. That $200 or more a year could be put to much better use paying off debt or building up an emergency fund. Better yet, if that’s all taken care of you can invest that $200! Yes, I’m boring. But I’m also right.

7. Don’t Waste Money on Over the Top Seasonal Decor

Now I decorate for Christmas and the kids decorate pumpkins in the fall, but that’s about as far as it goes. In the past, I would head to Hobby Lobby every time the season changed so you would know what season it was by seeing what was on display. I had a pretty candy dish to display on our ottoman tray every season. Some of these are currently packed away in the attic.

I have a beautiful glass decorative glass plate I will display for fall, but the majority of things I used to put out either have to be kept out of the reach of small hands or I simply no longer have the shelf space to display them. This doesn’t bother me. I’ve been hesitant to put up some really nice shelves in the new house because I do not want to fill them with clutter.

8. Duplicates or Bulk Items

While it can be nice to know you have a backup of something, minimalists don’t buy duplicates of things or a lot of items in bulk if they can easily be reordered or picked up at the store any time. I see no need to store or buy in multiples when an item is readily available.

This applies to toiletries, personal care items, even baby stuff. I only buy one case of training pants at a time; the store is 15 minutes away. In three weeks when we’re running low I’ll buy more. No need to take up valuable closet real estate. And not that many of us actually need to buy $50 worth of toilet paper at the big box store. You’re not saving as much money as you think to buy a lot of items in bulk. It makes sense for larger families, but not everyone.

9. Don’t Waste Money on Trendy Fast Fashion

Chances are most minimalists you know aren’t chasing the latest fashion trends. There is more than one good reason for that; apart from the ethical implications of fast fashion, there is the appeal of a smaller or capsule wardrobe of more timeless, quality pieces. I have fewer shoes now than ever before in my life and they’re much better quality now too. If I buy something new chances are three or four years from now it will still be in my closet getting regular use.

10. Impulse Purchases

Most minimalists don’t make impulse purchases; we study, research, and discuss what we plan to buy to make sure we not only get a good deal but buy what we truly need. Make it a point not to buy much at all while in the process of decluttering. If you decide to do some minimizing or decluttering around our house make a point to go on a spending freeze during the duration of the process. Implement a no-spend challenge or join one on social media for motivation.

What don’t you waste money on now that you have discovered minimalism and/or budgeting? What do you have a hard time giving up? I’d love to hear from you!

3 TIPS TO GAIN PEACE OF MIND: BE THE GATEKEEPER

peace of mind

BE THE GATEKEEPER YOUR FAMILY NEEDS AND GAIN THE PEACE OF MIND YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED

Ever feel stressed when you walk in the door at the end of the day? Is home not the peaceful, serene place you hoped it would be? Wonder how all that stuff wound up there? Wonder what is in the stuff that wound up there? Need more peace of mind?

*This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links.*

Lately I’ve noticed on social media and in real life a lot of people being more aware of things; aware of the fact that their home is not a source of peace, their finances are a hot mess, or they’re just fed up with all of the extra stuff they don’t understand listed on the label of the products they use every day in their home.

I also see a lot of people who seem to think that is just how it is. These are common excuses I hear and read.

  • How it is isn’t good enough!
  • They’d like to get more organized, but they have so much stuff and they “need” it all at some point so why get rid of it?
  • Everyone is in debt, so at least they’re not alone in their situation. Non-toxic products cost so much more money, why try.
  • The government should just write off our student loan debt
  • While we’re at it they should ban certain ingredients (no disagreement from me on this one).
  • Besides, with those student loan payments, there’s no way you can afford non-toxic, cleaner products. It’s just not true friends.

What if I told you that I have three simple (notice I didn’t say easy) tips to help you with all three of those problems? Give you peace of mind in your home, your finances, and your health? You have the power to do that yourself.

I’m going to let you in on the big secret. Maybe you already know it or maybe you never thought of it this way, but you are already the gatekeeper of your home. You just need to learn how to be a better one.

The World’s Best Automated Proofreader

1. BE MORE MINIMAL

I’m not saying sell everything and live on a bus, although being a skoolie does look pretty amazing (no plans for that here). I am saying you need to bite the bullet so to speak and start decluttering. Sell it all but the kitchen sink if you have to. We’re after counter space. Breathing room. Find a little of that and you’ll find a little peace of mind.

This can be a daunting task, but you landed in a great spot to find more information on minimalism, decluttering and even organization. It happens to be a passion of mine. Sometimes in order to be a better gatekeeper, we need to kick some stuff out of the gate. A lot more stuff in some cases than others. That’s okay. Start small, see how it feels, and then go from there.

2. READ THE LABEL – DON’T BUY WHAT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND OR DON’T TRUST FOR SOME PEACE OF MIND

Before you put anything in your cart read the label. If you don’t understand what’s in it Google it. If you don’t like what’s in it don’t buy it. It’s as simple as that. It’s your job as the gatekeeper to keep anything you deem harmful, inappropriate, or contradictory to your goals out of your home and budget.

This is one of those times Google is your best friend; google every ingredient, process, or item you don’t understand. Check a product with the Environmental Working Group prior to making the purchase if you’re not sure about the ingredient list. You’ll be amazed at how much you don’t buy when you pay attention to the labels.

If the labels with items you do approve of come attached with a high price tag weigh your priorities. Are you willing to spend more money on products you know will meet your standards or will you spend time to DIY some solutions of your own? Be sure you budget your time and money accordingly. You can also check out my post Keeping a Non-Toxic Home and search the Frugal & Oily category for more info. I also have some frugal and non-toxic DIYs. I mix my own dish soap, hand soap, as well as face and body wash using non-toxic bases and a few drops of essential oil.

3. NO IS A VALID ANSWER. USE IT.

Start saying it more often. It is amazing the freedom that comes with one simple word. Don’t want it in the house? On the kids’ calendar? Don’t want to keep spending money like you’re in congress? Then don’t.

The hard truth is that every, “yes,” is a “no,” to something else. Choose your yeses and nos carefully. You don’t get more time back with your kids when you overload the schedule, you don’t build up your emergency fund when you max out the credit card every month, and you don’t pay off debt unless you quit adding to the total. It’s a hard mindset shift for sure, but it does get easier with time.

Choose what matters most to you and your family. Prioritize around what matters most and say no to things that don’t align. Adjust the budget, clear the schedule, and hold fast as a family. One shift in thinking, one decision made more intentionally, and then the next. Slowly but surely, one step at a time you will feel yourself becoming the gatekeeper your family needs at home and peace of mind won’t be too far behind.

MINIMALIST GIFT IDEAS – 4 GIFTS THAT DON’T REQUIRE A BOX

minimalist gift ideas

MINIMALIST GIFT IDEAS

What do you get a minimalist? You may think the obvious answer would be nothing, but that isn’t necessarily the case. The first rule of thumb? Ask. The second rule of thumb? Read on for four minimalist gift ideas that are sure to please. I’ve got you covered.

If a minimalist in your life is going through a purging phase or maybe a clutter bug in your life is going through a change of heart on the familiar hoarding ways they may not welcome a gift. The idea may stress them out. I know most things would’ve stressed me out when I decided to adopt a More Minimalist Approach in my life.

Another thing to consider is that a move toward minimalism may also come with a style change. Someone who preferred floral patterns or abstracts may now love clean lines or empty space on the wall. A well-intended but misguided gift may just end up in next week’s donate pile.

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This page contains affiliate links*

1. AN AUDIBLE MEMBERSHIP OR OTHER SUBSCRIPTION

Just because you’re a minimalist doesn’t mean you don’t like books. Did you know you can gift an Audible membership? You can choose 3, 6, or 12-month memberships.

You can also gift a Prime membership if your budget allows.

2. A GIFT CARD

Did you know you can email a $25 gift card to stores like Lowe’s or Starbucks from Amazon? There are many other Gift Cards” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>gift cards from popular restaurants and retailers available.

3. A PAMPERING EXPERIENCE

A minimalist would probably prefer the gift of a rare experience such as a rejuvenating facial, mani/pedi, or relaxing massage. Hauling all your unwanted possessions out of the house to donate can be hard work! When giving gifts of this type be sure to check if they have a favorite place to go or that the place you choose is in line with their values. Splurging on a company that uses less than natural products may not sit well with your minimalist.

4. TAKE THEM OUT

I have been known to take friends who do not need/want anything, in particular, out for dinner and to catch up. This is a great way to celebrate the friend and get in some quality time. Time is another thing a typical minimalist appreciates by the way. A lot of minimalists let go of things to gain more time and human connection.

If you understand what motivates the minimalist in your life and adjust your thinking accordingly you may even come up with a few ideas of your own.

HOW TO GET ORGANIZED ON A DIME IN 3 EASY STEPS

get organized

You may be wondering about the title of this post – I just preached to get rid of all your clutter to free up space, so what could I possibly have left to organize and store? Quite a bit actually.

We still live in our house. We still have kids. I couldn’t donate them even if they are the biggest source of clutter in my house. So we organize. On a dime.

I posted in my Instagram stories during Clutter Week about a few purchases. Yes, I bought things while I was decluttering. They were planned purchases and I spent a minimal amount of money. Less than $10 came out of the budget. This may sound petty, but we had our DVDs stored in bins. The bins were chosen for our first place, a duplex, where we had a modern color scheme of red, black, and beige. Now that we are settled into our farmhouse I am decorating mostly in blues. The red and brown bins in my blue and gray living room irked me every time I looked at them. 

Get Organized in 3 Easy Steps

Step One – Declutter

The first step you’ve (hopefully) already done! Declutter your stuff! Get rid of what you don’t use so you can make room for what you do! If you haven’t already done this go back and read the Clutter Week posts to get an idea of how to get started.

Step 2 – Decant Some Categories

This is a fancy way of saying to take bulky stuff out of its packaging when possible. With food, it may mean storing snacks in clear containers that make it easier to look in the cabinet and see what you need. Then you can recycle the original packaging.

With CDs (if you still have or buy those) it will look like taking all the discs and the cover art/tracklist out of the case. Hopefully, you live near a place that recycles them.

Step 3 – Group Items by Use

Group items by use after decluttering/decanting. In the kitchen, it makes sense to put all the decanted snacks together, dry foods together, spices, etc. All CDs and even DVDs can be stored in an organizing binder by category. I actually got rid of most of my CDs. They were already organized, but after spending a year in storage I didn’t miss any of them. I am good streaming.

get organized

I keep our movies organized in simple galvanized tubs that actually drink dispenser stands. They were exactly the right size and on clearance. Double win! All trilogies and sets are in one tin organized by set. Video games and Wii controllers are in the tin below.

get organized

I even got my oily items organized this past week when my handy hubby built me an oily shelf for the master bathroom. Now my oils and lotions aren’t taking up counter space or rolling around in a drawer. The best part was this little project was less than $10 to complete! One specialty router bit to make a groove for the large bottles to nestle in was all that was needed! This was accomplished with a coupon!

get organized

After our son’s accident, we decided not to take any more chances. My husband made a wall shelf out of leftover plywood from other projects to store detergent and other items that need to be kept out of little hands. You don’t have to spend a lot (or sometimes any) money to get organized. Paint supplies are kept on top so I don’t have unexpected art on the walls but don’t need to ask my husband to get in the attic if I feel the urge to get crafty.

Shop Your House First to Save Money

Sometimes I also shop around my house to see if there are storage items that can be used in a different way. We use bins in drawers and closets. Sometimes I borrow between rooms if I’ve decluttered one area and no longer need a bin or box but may need something in another room. For example, I kept eggs in a wire basket that proved too deep and resulted in a few cracked eggs. It made a perfect basket for K-cups in the cabinet.

LET’S TALK MENTAL & EMOTIONAL CLUTTER

Let’s Talk About Mental and Emotional Clutter

Mental and emotional clutter; the type of clutter that doesn’t take up any tangible space. It can be a nuisance. It can also be paralyzing. I know. I’ve experienced both ends of the gamut.

Guilt and regret are two of the most common times of emotional clutter. Feelings from the past can limit your future if you let them. If you experience these feelings it can contribute to physical clutter; holding onto items out of guilt because of who they were from is not healthy.

Chances are if your home is cluttered your thoughts are too; your environment contributes to your emotional state. If your house is cluttered and disorganized it may stress you out and give you feelings of anxiety about going home. I’ve been there. I used to feel so claustrophobic at home and at my parents’ house. I couldn’t change the situation I was in, but I could change my surroundings to bring more calm instead of chaos.

Consult an Expert to Deal with Mental and Emotional Clutter

According to Peter Walsh in Enough Already, “While the clutter you see around you might seem bad, even overwhelming and paralyzing, the physical clutter that fills our homes is nothing to the invisible clutter that fills our heads.” You have to deal with the emotional issues behind the clutter or you will simply accumulate more clutter again and again. I definitely play to read this book in-depth!

There are lots of methods to deal with mental and emotional clutter; you can meditate, diffuse a soothing oil or burn your favorite candle if you prefer (just make sure it’s non-toxic!), talk it out with friends, or see a counselor. There is no shame in the counseling game! I’ve done it before and I will do it again when and if needed.

Take the time to take care of yourself when you declutter and organize your home! Make room in the budget for things that help you feel relaxed and organized; that may look like money for a copay or always having some lavender on hand. Just be sure you deal with the root of your problems or you’ll never truly be free from clutter.

LET’S TALK ABOUT DIGITAL CLUTTER – THEN LET’S DEAL WITH IT!

digital clutter

Digital Clutter Can’t be Ignored

Let’s talk about digital clutter; we know we have it, but how often do we do anything about it? I know I get really frustrated when I try to hop on my laptop or my PC to do one quick thing… and I can’t find what I need for all the digital clutter in the way. It is so frustrating, but thankfully so easy combat.

Monday I talked about Dealing With Physical Clutter. Just like purging and organizing our physical clutter, we have to occasionally purge and organize our digital clutter. It just makes life easier. It may seem easier to deal with our digital clutter when our phone is warning us it is dangerously low on storage space or our computer needs a good scan, but it really isn’t; when I first started this site I would get so frustrated when I wanted to upload a picture to a post. Where was it? Why are these old photos in this folder? Which phone did I take that photo with? What is that? It was so distracting and every little thing took longer than necessary.

Deal With it on Your PC

By not dealing with my clutter I was setting myself up for frustration every time I turned on the computer. It wasn’t going to go away on its own. Clutter by nature only gets worse when we don’t deal with it. I can either get my stuff organized or I can be frustrated every time I opened my laptop; luckily I chose the former.

I got started organizing photos on the laptop by making a new folder for “old photos to organize,” and I put all pictures that didn’t belong in existing folders in that folder and focused on the files I need to access now. Photos and files I needed first took priority and then I worked on the folder of older photos as I had time. Once I got my photos organized and I could sit down and get what I need to do done and move on in much less time. My focus is on the task at hand and not the task I put off causing me more work.

Deal With Digital Clutter on Your Phone

I have a problem with storage space on my phone. It is a problem I couldn’t foresee happening when I got my first smartphone. Why have a camera on a phone? How could I possibly use a computer’s worth of memory on a phone? The answer? Easily.

It wasn’t long before my phone started sending me warnings that I was dangerously low on space. What the danger is exactly other than not saving a picture I do not know, but I decided the status quo probably wasn’t working anymore. The phone wasn’t gonna give up til I gave it some space.

The first thing I did more for ease of changing phones also works great for managing space. I save all my contacts and photos to Google rather than my phone. Now I have access to everything on any device. This way I don’t have to wonder what phone I took a picture with (going forward at least). It’s all in the same cloud; I then made a point from time to time to back up and delete pictures from my phone before I started receiving dire warnings.

Having small children sometimes translates to terrible short term memory, so I tend to save texts I may need to remember. I have 400 plus texts in one conversation and can’t find ANYTHING let alone the time I’m supposed to meet so-and-so tomorrow before I know it. I do mass purges, but need to get in the habit of doing them on the regular.

Deal With it on Your Tablet

My tablet admittedly doesn’t get much use these days; it’s obvious when I see a three-year-old picture as the background. My youngest didn’t even make the cut for pictures! To be fair, I use a Kindle, which is a great reader, but not compatible with my Android phone like it was with my old Fire phone.

I don’t have much clutter on it, but I do need to update and delete apps to make it more useful to me now. I also need to find an app similar to Libby in the Amazon store as opposed to finding it on my phone in Libby and then defaulting it to open in the Kindle app so I can read it on a bigger screen. By making some simple changes I will get a lot more use out of the device and save my eyes the strain of constantly using my smartphone for everything.

Deal With That Digital Clutter for Clutter Week!

I’ve found that when I have my digital life in order I work faster, with more focus, and feel more inspired with the rest of my day. I didn’t spend all my time getting frustrated with not finding a file. That left me with less patience for my kids. A frustrated mommy is not the nicest mommy.

I’ll be over on Instagram today showing my digital decluttering in stories using #clutterweek. Use the same hashtag to show me your digital decluttering this week!