Minimalism For The Masses: Small Change

A few weeks ago I met up with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while. As we hugged and greeted and caught up the subject of this little blog came up. A friend asked for more information and another friend replied,  ‘she’s getting rid of everything she owns’. I laughed it off.

We’re taking our last load of items for donation today. Last load for a while anyways. When I look around I like what I see and what I see is not a bare home. Lots of DVDs on the shelf still after selling about a third of our collection. A small book collection, mostly Chris’s. Framed wedding photos, a few of me in my athlete days, a couple of us traveling in France and Italy. Two, instead of four, wine crates with about 20 bottles of B.C. wine. A china cabinet, couch, love seat, ottoman, side table. A few lamps. We’re still sitting at a table for dinner. I haven’t gone so far as to say all meals will be eaten on the floor.

For the hardcore I’m not minimalist, I’ve just cleaned house. I’m fine with that. The living with 100 things movement is interesting, shocking and news worthy. The deciding to live a life with a lot less stuff isn’t nearly as sexy or easy to define. But I would argue my version of minimalism, minimalism for the masses, is much more accessible, attainable and has the possibility of changing a lot more of lives.

We’re not all going to sell our possessions and live in South America out of a backpack while earning a small income from e-book sales. That is a great dream but the reality is that most First Worlders won’t do that. They don’t want to.

There is a tight knit group of minimalist bloggers out there living their dream of being office free and living with less stuff. Everett Bogue at Beyond the Stars, Tammy Strobel at Rowdy Kittens, Adam Baker at Man vs Debt, Leo Babauta at Zen Habits, Francine at Miss Minimalist and the list goes on. Good for them. Good for the tens of thousands of people that follow them hoping to break out of their day job and/or become location independent with a minimalist business. It’s inspiring.

But it’s not for the millions.

For the rest of us it needs to be more attainable, accessible and understandable. The leap of logic from two cars, a 2500 sq ft home and loads of stuff to leaving it all behind is a huge one. Too huge for most people.

If you want to change the world advocate for change that everyone can get behind.

Instead of encouraging 10,000 people to live with 95% less why not encourage 300 million people to live with 20% less. Don’t tell them to move to San Francisco and hit up the 4 o’clock yoga class while living on $1000 a month from their e-business. Show the masses that with more thought at the register, less shopping as a hobby, more time with family or working on passion projects, fewer rooms to clean and upkeep and collect clutter in a smaller home, they can all live a better life. A more engaged life. A life with less stress, debt, fast food and waste. A better life through small change.

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  • Hi Rachel
    I think 300 million people reducing their stuff by 20% would have more impact than 10,000 reducing by 95%.
    I also think that where you’re different from most of the bloggers you’ve mentioned is that you’re probably mostly happpy with your life. The reason these blogs have taken off is because they offer a way out for the multitudes of people who aren’t.

    • Thanks, Deb. You’re right, a lot of the bloggers I mentioned write for people that are hating their 9-5 jobs and mired in stuff and mortgages and car payments. And I love what those bloggers are telling/showing people: there is a way out.
      But a lot of what they espouse – bare homes, living with a set number of things, being location independant – is a turn off for the masses. Is there a way to make minimalism more appealing for everyone, not just those looking for an extreme way out? I hope so. That’s what I’m searching for.

      • That’s what I am searching for – a deliberate life, but one in which I can also nurture my children. Location independent is hard to do (not impossible because it is being done) when you have little ones – at least it is for me – but what I do want to do is show my children they have a choice and that they can live differently to the masses. For me it’s a work in progress, I’ll just have to see how far I can get… but it’s what you do everyday that counts not what you do once in a while, so each small step for me and my family is key.

        • It will always be a work in progress for us but that is part of the challenge/fun, right? I’ll always be editing my wardrobe and Henry’s toys and passing on things we aren’t using to those that will use them. Now that we are through the massive declutter phase I am enjoying the every day staying on top of it maintenance phase. Hopefully it all just becomes a habit =)
          Love the term deliberate life.

  • Great post! I’m done collecting books. Other than a few that I may reread, the other 80% are just occupying a wall without purpose.
    I’m also debating this location independence. Just because I live in a city and call it home, does that make me dependent on it? It’s a mutual relationship.

    • Thanks, Dave. You only need location independence if you don’t love where you live. I love Vancouver! Of course, we would be happy and excited to try out other cities temporarily. Home exchange is really appealing to me.

  • What a great perspective! This is how I feel as well. I didn’t even realize I was “minimalist” until a friend made a comment. We just don’t need any extraneous stuff.

  • Great post and I totally agree! I’ve gotten publically slammed for my perspective on minimalism not being extreme enough and I just think it’s a shame. So many people are searching for a reason why they’re unhappy these days and I think it’s because we have forgotten that enough really IS enough!

    • Thanks, Faith. It’s so true, enough is enough. We can warp ourselves back to the 50’s and live a life based on quality, not quantity and savings, not credit. We can do it in the here and now in small ways that make a big impact. Luckily there are sites like yours that show us how =)

  • The real battle you are fighting is that extremism/conflict is what sells. Telling someone a five minute a day tip that will make their life 10% better/easier/more fun isn’t as sexy as telling someone they need to lose their friends, pick up the flag and march in a growing revolution. For the people you describe it has been much easier to define their niche by being extreme. And by creating that tension between the lovers and the haters they create the buzz that is necessary to grow their followings. The wow factor is big if you have less than 100 things. So you have your work cut out for you in defining your online presence and growing your audience. But I totally agree that what you are doing is accessible for a lot of people and hopefully you are riding the rising tide of deconsumerism. And who knows, maybe you are in league with the extremists. Maybe you are the stepping stone or the jumping off point for people on their journey to eventually living with 100 things. Still loving your work.

  • Wow I didn’t know miss minimalist was location-independent too :)

    I travel and live out of a hotel myself, but I don’t consider myself extreme at all.

    To David’s point — I don’t have less than 100 items, but I can fit everything I own into 3 suitcases… is that considered extreme? Where do we draw the line?

    • I need to correct that – Miss Minimalist isn’t location independent but I bet she could be.
      Your versions of minimalism may be extreme to others but is comfortable and works for you – and I like that. Can’t it be about finding the balance that’s best for you instead of counting things? I think more people would get the message, that they can lead a full life and even do more if they own less, if the message was about small change and finding balance.

  • Insightful post.

    I have a couple thoughts to add. :-)

    First, you assume that inspiring or motivating 300 million people to remove 20% is as easy to do as 10,000 to remove 95%. That’s simply not true. In fact, it’s often easier to motivate people at 95%, because it’s easier for a unique message to scale and spread. In fact, I’d argue that helping 300 million people remove 80% is easier then helping 300 million people remove 20%. I believe the options you present here to be less effective because of this.

    In other words, this isn’t a choice (between your options) – so it’s a hard argument to present.

    Secondly, all of the people you mentioned – personal friends – almost exclusively blog about their experiences and their lives. Everett as you reference in the yoga/SF part, is passionate and extreme because that’s what he lives. I’m a bit more toned down as I understand the additional element of having a wife and family. :-) Joshua Becker – even more so – as his family chooses to stay in a single location.

    We all affect people in different ways – we all call our own specific tribe to rally.

    I passionately believe that each person is best when they are most genuinely relating minimalism to their own lives. I don’t want Everett or Tammy toning down their message – and I don’t think that would be a good thing for the “masses”. And I personally don’t think preaching about something I don’t live would help me reach the masses.

    Ultimately, we all want the same thing. It’s just how to best spread the message. My belief this is best achieved by having passionate, interesting people pushing the envelope in ways that are authentic to their own story and actions – not watering it down. That’s what I love most about this online community – especially the minimalist niche.

    • Thanks, Adam. I value your point of view. And all of the bloggers mentioned – your CPFs – are amazing and inspiring. You are all the reason I’ve been able to toss half my stuff and lower bills by $1000/month. And it feels amazing.
      Will there be a domino effect from the more extreme minimalists stories and call to action? Will we see a trickle down to the rest of us? I’m not sure. Anecdotally I find people are either intrigued or completely disinterested in the more extreme versions of minimalism.
      I want to find a middle ground. I want people to know that they have a choice and it’s not all or nothing. I’m looking for my tribe and this post has made a few of them come out of the woodwork. It’s also given me more to think about with some great responses – like yours.

      • I really did think it was a great post. It’s almost always good to have these discussions. :-) I think the more honestly you speak what you feel (like this) the more closely you’ll define the people that are your “right” people – as some would call it!

        This is the great part – like you’ve outlined – people at all points of the extreme scale need a voice and a community. :-)

        Thanks for the kind words on UYF, too. 😉

  • Rachel, This is crazy but I literally dreamed about writing a post similar to this last night. (Is it bad that I dream in blog posts?!)

    I would really like to connect with you but can’t find your email address. Will you please email me?

  • Great Post Rachel!
    Not everyone can or is willing to go the extreme that some others do. But what I would say is that it is usually the extreme that starts most movements. Ghandi was pretty extreme in comparison to the people who followed him. The extreme people just gave the rest of us a base idea to go from.
    Also I think it would be nice if we got rid of the comparison of how many things we own. It’s starting to turn into a status symbol for the minimalist movement.

    • Thanks, Rob.
      I agree, the extremists have inspired a lot of people. I am one of them.
      Ditto on the comparison thing on number of things owned. I understand the attraction because it is easier to compare or have an idea of how minimalist some have gone if there is a number attached to it. My home has things in it but I couldn’t give you a number. What I can say is that it’s working for us, it’s easier to keep clean and I feel a new serenity just being in my home. And if we ever move again it will be so much easier than last time =)

      • I suppose it’s the old adage – ‘if you can measure it you can manage it’, but I don’t count my possessions either. I just know everytime I do another declutter it takes less time and less energy because there’s less stuff!

    • Thanks! I really appreciate the positive feedback. Just checked out your blog and it looks really interesting. We’re on a debt reduction plan and have had big success in the last ten months. Will post about it here some time.
      Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Thanks, Ali. It’s encouraging to hear that others feel the same way. Hopefully those of us on the less extreme minimalist path can help spread the word that it’s possible to make great changes in your life and be very happy living with less.

  • This is exactly why I have this blog listed on my page! I did a lot of searching when looking into the vast definitions people have of minimalism. I realize that not only are there differences, but it’s also a market that people are using to make money! I had no idea of this. However, it does speak to the point that folks are desperate enough to buy a book with tips of living a minimal lifestyle. I bought one myself, but even after reading this particular author, I know that there is no guideline for the furniture I should own, the # of books on my shelf, the foods I eat. As a person striving, genuinely, to streamline the physical surroundings in order to make way for the spirit and mind to be more free — the gem is within transitioning into minimalism from RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE…Donating/throwing away what you no longer need; recognizing/reconsidering what aesthetics are and how all of the senses should be used. I’ll never own less than 100 things, but I know that there is room for simplicity in everyone’s life if they desire it.

  • I am rather new to minimalism as a movement… and I have been wondering how much of extreme minimalism is actually owning less versus using less. I find cooking for a family–leftovers intentional–and packing lunches either takes a fair amount of single-use products (foil, plastic baggies, etc.) or reusable containers that take up space and definitely ups the “things” count.

    Yes, it would be great to have 1 skillet, 1 pot, and 4 sets of plate, fork, spoon, knife, but what do you with the leftover spaghetti? for lunch the next day? about having people over? Do you toss it, go out for lunch, and buy disposable? not have friends over? There is definitely false economy in saving too much stuff but there may also be some in saving too little.

    I also think that the local independence/dependence is something of a paradox. I think the consumption lifestyle tends to make us location dependent only as far as it is more difficult to move. However, I think it really has the effective of divorcing us from the location. A friend from Europe was visiting, we were visiting a family member in a McMansion subdivision and she noted “all the beautiful homes with no one in them” because they were all at work — they were pretty much all dual income families, had to be in order to be able to afford to live there. They were about as anchored yet location-independent as possible: leave home in the dark to go work for a multinational corporation in a generic office park to come home in the dark so you can pay for the weekends at the mall shopping for stuff to put in that lovely but generic house in the generic subdivision. No time left over to be politically engaged, spend time getting to know your neighbors or community, etc.

    Contrast: investing in community takes time (away from working, shopping?). Plus, when you know your neighbor, you can borrow that apple corer or an extra bread pan as opposed to buy it. Maybe I am misunderstanding location independence but I would argue putting down the right kind of roots and committing to a place can encourage, not discourage, minimalism, though maybe not radical minimalism.

    • Thanks for your comments. There has to be some balance out there, where we have enough to be comfortable and enjoy our days but aren’t overwhelmed. That’s what I’m striving for. We certainly have a well equipped kitchen but I have donated about a 1/4 of our things that were not used often.
      Living in a McMansion in a subdivision and commuting sounds like my worst nightmare. We love our walkable lifestyle and all its benefits: exercise, no need for a car and more time.

    • Suburban lifestyles are not necessarily bad, and I don’t understand the bad rap they get.

      I live in a lovely bedroom community. There’s lots of room for our kids to safely run and play, plus a neighborhood park is part of our subdivision. Are people gone most of the day? Yes, but isn’t that the case in most homes? Except for people with very small kids, people who homeschool and the elderly, I don’t know many people who are tied to their homes.

      In my case, I work from home. I spend plenty of time here. We know all of our neighbors. We’re politically active. Our city has a vibrant, walkable downtown with cute shops and eateries.

      Yes, we drive a lot. But that doesn’t make us generic, stupid people portrayed in a sitcom.

      • Leslie, I live in a suburban community as well and the vary greatly according to how they were constructed, the socioeconomic profile, and just who happens to live there. That is why I specified McMansion — homogenized, synthetic neighborhoods… there are non-McMansion ‘burbs.

        The ‘burb we live in was built connected with neighborhood schools, churches, grocery in walking distance, and parks and we have some active neighbors that range from childless individuals and couples (gone all day), to young families (some home all day), to the elderly (home during the day). It is a friendly environment that offers a lot in the way of community and access.

        The type of subdivision I was referring to are the entirely newer construction and upscale (though not wealthy) subdivisions. These usually don’t have a mixture of types of families — the price and size of homes narrows the potential residents considerably so almost everyone is the same age group and dual income. During the week, they are virtually deserted — spooky. **There is little or poorly designed public space that no one uses and isolation is intensified by having to drive to get anywhere, including the schools because they aren’t connected to schools, shopping, or downtowns.** The one I was recounting was a series of “loops and lollipops” off of a county highway with one entrance/exit and nothing but single-family residential all built by the same builder at the same time. You couldn’t even walk to get an quart of milk. There are a lot of those out there.

        Even so, everyone who lives there is not generic or stupid. It just helps to drive the consumption and disconnection from locale — it isn’t inevitable, it just makes it harder.

  • Fantastic post!

    I’m one of those “masses” you’re talking about. I can’t relate to the whole live-out-of-a-backpack scenario, but I can certainly embrace the idea of questioning every purchase and doing away with unneeded items that clutter our lives.

    The true minimalists out there would scoff at me. My family lives in a very large house. But rather than packing each room with furniture, we’ve carefully chosen a minimal amount of pieces for each room, leaving plenty of space to relax and play. We have tons of some stuff (dishes for entertaining family), but have dramatically pared down other things (books and other media).

    Like you said, it’s all about having a better focus on those things that matter. Is my home minimalist? Definitely not. But am I living a cleaner, crisper lifestyle? Day by day, yes I am.

  • I enjoyed your post and your points. My husband and I chose jobs and moved to be more location-dependent, in order to be closer to our extended families and live “in the country” so our kids can have a lifestyle with access to undeveloped outdoor spaces. And we love it, although we do drive more because of it.
    I am one of those turned off by the extreme minimalists. I read those blogs and think “That’s not for me” and then don’t do anything because I can’t “do it right”. I don’t even want to identify myself as a minimalist because I would feel inauthentic, not good enough.
    Even so, I try to live more simply, with less stuff (and in fact spend Black Friday going through and getting rid of more than 1/2 of my kids’ toys and books and clothes rather than shopping for more stuff). I no longer shop for entertainment and I consider every purchase more carefully. We do have a mortgage on one home but own two other homes (rental properties) outright so that the rents help pay our mortgage. Other than that we have no debt.
    Am I a minimalist, then? I would still say no because I still have a lot of stuff in comparison to most who go by that moniker (I have a collection of autographed first edition books I cannot yet bear to part with, as well as some locally made pottery that are really just pretty to me).
    Anyway, I guess what I’m rambling to say is that I appreciate your moderate message.

    • Thank you for the kind words. I really believe there is no “right” level of minimalism, just what is right for you. Sounds like you have a good start with living simply. Good luck!

  • Hi Rachel!
    This is my first or maybe second time here, and I have to say, I love this post. You have said what a lot of people have thought. On the other hand, I am a regular reader of most of the minimalists you mentioned. Do I live like they do? No way. Am I planning to in the near future? Absolutely not. Do I call myself a minimalist? I am a minimalist in the making, but, and this is the key, that making will be of my own choosing. I will never own less that 100 items. I will probably never own less than 1000! However, I am reducing my possessions, geting rid of at least 25-30% of what I own. My immediate goal is to create more space. Space in my house, in my schedule, in my budget, in my mind. I feel as if I spent hours a week just moving stuff around, I am tired of that!
    As far as location independent goes, we have lived in the same house for 21 years. Our youngest will go off to college next year and our plan is within 2-3 years, to have a truck and slide in camper to travel around the country in. We may or may not sell our house, it depends on the economy and our kids at the time. We plan to live around the country, staying in places as long as we want, taking short term work as needed, seeing the country we live in.
    Reading the minimalism blogs inspire me to find my own sweet spot, not theirs.
    A quick aside, just think how much better life would be in America if we all cut back 20%. We would all have space in our lives, to live to breathe, to love!
    Thanks for bringing up the subject!

    • Thanks, Bernice. The minimalist bloggers I wrote about inspire me too. They’ve inspired me to find a new balance in my life between what I need and what I use and what I want. I’m interested in continuing this conversation via this blog: can you apply minimalism to a 9-5 working and location dependent life and still reap the benefits? So far I say yes.

  • Rachel, I loved this post. It has been really timely and has effectively grounded me. I have been exploring many blogs about minimalism since August and have read all of the most popular ones out there. This post really resonates with me because I feel like many of the others are a bit too radical for my liking. That’s not to say that I haven’t been inspired by the many that I have read. The teachings have gotten me on the right path to reducing my clutter but I am not ready to reduce my 2300 sq ft house down to what can be fit into a suitcase. I am at a different stage in my life then some with two teenage boys and one about to enter college. Now is not the time for me to quit my job and live location independent. Your post really hits home and suits my current situation.I am looking forward to reading more from you. Thanks!

    • Thanks, Tim. There is a place and degree of minimalism for everyone. Good luck with reducing your clutter. It’s taken us over two months. My initial guess was that it would be a week. I was very wrong.

  • I love percentages so I really felt like I bonded with your post. (Isn’t it funny, having people “bond” with your posts?) You said, “Why not encourage 300 million people to live with 20% less?”

    I say, “Yes!” There are so many shades to the movement for a simpler lifestyle and there aren’t adequate words in the English language to even discuss it. We’re stuck with the word minimalist which has such stark connotations.

    All I know is my story. When I started on this journey it’s because I was a packrat drowning in stuff. I just needed some “breathing room”. It took me 3 years to get that breathing room. Towards the end of that journey a flip switched in my head and I started veering towards a stronger form of minimalism rather than a “decluttering kick”.

    So now I’m a little more extreme about my personal version of minimalism but I always say everyone needs to do what feels right for them! If that means 20%, well 20% less is awesome, life-changing and delightful!

    Thank you for posting this. It’s awesome!

  • I think that people often times need a warning “shout” to keep them out of danger. I would scream “get away” if I saw someone unknowingly walking into a pit of snakes or in front of a speeding train. That’s not the moment for a “gentle reminder” or a quiet lesson. Danger! Danger! Danger! It needs to be loud, bold, shocking to stop the momentum in the wrong direction.

    I love Leo and Francine and read them every day, but I know I will never be at that level of minimalism. Quite frankly, I don’t want to be at that level, but I also know that their words “shouted” danger to the massive amounts of stuff and clutter with which I was poisoning my life. I abhor the sensationalism of shows like “Hoarders” but I will grant that they have awoken many to the very real dangers of too much stuff.

    Now that my eyes have been opened by great minimalists like Leo, Francine, Adam et al, I see the danger and know that I must take steps to avoid it. But what steps are the right ones for me? Blog posts like this one resonate more strongly with me, because I know this is a more realistic way for me to guarantee that I don’t become consumed with the “stuff” lifestyle. This was a long-winded way of saying I believe society needs both those who want to radically transform the 5% and those who want to gently encourage the 95%. Neither is intrinsically more valuable than the other.

  • I don’t want to be location independent either. I want to have a home and see my family regularly. I want to have a child (children) and not drag them around the world.
    I have reduced my personal possessions to under 100, but we as a family obviously have way more than that. I’ve been inspired by the radical minimalists to reduce, but I don’t associate freedom with traveling all the time. For me it’s about not being tied up in the society’s pressure to work, consume, buy, get ahead, strive, work, buy, want, make money…. It’s freedom to be me, freedom to have time to spend with my family, take care of my daughter.. be happy.

  • Thank you for this post. This rings so true to me! I, too, have a husband and a small child (she’s almost 2), so I can relate to your story. In the grand scheme of things, I like my job in higher education – but if I had a chance to work from home, I would definitely take it. My husband, on the other hand, works in a family business – an auto repair shop – so that’s not exactly a work-from-home type job! But, we have seriously cut our spending this year, and I’ve been cleaning out all of our closets (most notably my own!) and just trying to simplify the items in our home. As much as I’ve gotten rid of, I have to keep some things that take up space, like my maternity clothes (since we expect to have more children in the future) and my daughter’s baby clothes and toys (again, because we expect to have more children in the future). It’s nice to be reminded that everyone’s interpretation of minimalism is different, and it’s OK to own more than 100 things, and live in more than 100 sq ft (although, the tiny house movement is so intriguing to me). Thanks for sharing your point of view!

    • Thanks, Clara. Nice to find another family inspired by minimalism and finding a balance for it in their life.
      We are still considering if we will have another child but I’ve donated or sold a lot of baby stuff and maternity items. Just kept the stuff I really liked and we used a lot. If we have another I am now way more open to buying second hand so anything we need I could pick up off Craigslist. We also don’t have a lot of storage so if we wanted to keep everything that would mean renting a storage locker. This revelation was one of the reasons I jumped into minimalism. My stuff was requiring so much upkeep and was about to start costing us a monthly storage fee.

  • I really enjoyed this post. I thought I’d go ahead and comment, because it seems like I’m one of the few who love the idea of being location-independent. Here’s what I mean by that though: I’m 25, a couple years away from becoming licensed to teach secondary English, and I LOVE the idea of moving to another country to teach. My husband and I love to travel and we’ve seen many places we think we’d love to live, so we really don’t want to limit ourselves to choosing just one or two for the rest of our lives. On the other hand, eventually I do think I’ll want to settle down somewhere close to my family one day.

    I’m also attracted to a more middle ground type of minimalism. I am really enjoying the weight that lifts off of me every time I choose things to donate/sell and create more space and a sense of peace in my home. On the other hand, blank walls drive me crazy. I don’t want an empty wall with one picture. I want pictures of my family and places we’ve travelled everywhere. It sure would be nice to have clear surfaces for once though. What I like best about most of the minimalists blogs that I read is that no matter how ‘extreme’ their own version of minimalism is, they clearly and frequently say its about finding the right minimalism for you. After all, its not really about stuff, is it? Its about embracing and loving life.

    • That’s great that you and your partner are excite for a travel heavy and location independent lifestyle. We also love to travel and could even be location independent (my husband can do most of his work from anywhere) but at the moment are really enjoying life in our home town. We have a young son and it’s great to have family nearby.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting =)

    • That is great that you have embraced minimalism or life simplifying so young. You and your husband will have some great years traveling together! My husband and I got in a few bigger trips before having our son and I am so thankful. Great memories from it.
      Being location independent is fantastic if that is what you want. At the moment my husband and I could be home exchanging or traveling a lot more than we are (most of what my husband does for work can be done anywhere and I am currently not working). We might do some of that next year but so far we are enjoying life in the city with a toddler.

  • Thanks for a great Globe and Mail article on Minimalism! At last a reasonable voice and a practical approach for living a fulfilling life with less “stuff” and clutter. We need the tools to “re-frame” our 21st century lifestyle to make it sustainable!
    Having the experiece of selling and cleaning out the long-time family home caused us to look at our possessions and lifestyle and ask what is “enough.” One generation accumulates “stuff” and then the next one has to get rid of it. With a short real estate closing we didn’t have the luxury of selling it on-line. We gave a lot away to charities and relatives, some went to auction. But a lot of things went into the dumpster. Some of it was just “junk”and some of it wasn’t. The time pressure kept us motivated. We cleaned out the family home of 30 years accumulation in 30 days! I can’t believe we did it. It’s been a real eye-opener. So congratulations on raising our consciousness on the minimalist lifestyle! All future executors will thank you one day!

    • Thanks for commenting. I too have heard very sad stories of families spending months cleaning out the homes of their parents. Sounds a bit macabre but I do use it for inspiration – if I were gone what would my family be cleaning up while grieving?

  • hey, i know this is late, but re the dvd collection–what we did was buy a cd zippered binder, and then stuffed all the dvds in there–and voila, no more dvds cluttering up the shelves! also, we bought a nice digital picture frame, which freed up a lot of shelf type space (and makes for easier dusting) and let us load the elevnty billion pics of our boy onto one frame that we turn on when company is over or when we feel like it (our son likes looking at the pics, too :)

  • Have been searching for a minimalist blog that really connects with what I want minimalism to be for my family life. Great stuff! Thank you for your insight, and I can’t wait to dig in to your other articles. Cheers!

  • You make an interesting point with your numbers. Definitely speaks to a large audience I’m sure. However, there are many “all or nothing” type personalities out there: Myself included. While some may choose your “just put your toes in” approach, others may want to “dive in” willingly for action. As you know, minimalism has no rigid guide lines or specific possession numbers to it. It is up to each of us to decide how, why, or if we will define our path to simplicity. Yours is a respectable approach but please do not lose sight of the fact that different things work for others. I’m a firm believer in doing what you’re passionate about to earn a living and minimalism can help anyone get there. Our society is programmed and brain washed into believing that we must follow the model passed from generation to generation: Go to school, Go to college, get a job, earn credit, buy a home, buy a car, work, work, work, work, work, chase the illusion from now until…… You get the idea, it’s total BS. Life doesn’t have to be so hard and rushed.

    If someone is passionate about something, they should find a way to make a living at it. To spend ones life doing a job that does not make them happy is completely foolish. Whatever works for you and makes you happy is what you should do. It would be great if millions tried your approach along with thousands doing the “extreme” approach.

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