Before I begin, I am giving all of you a homework assignment.
If you have Netflix, please watch this:
We fell in love with the principal character, Dick. Yes, we fell in love with Dick (insert immature snickering), and I think you will fall in love with Dick too. I was crying like a baby at the end of this documentary.
On to the real post.
When I began my journey as a Minimalist over four years ago, I didn’t even plan on becoming one. We saw a documentary on Netflix one night and thought it would interesting to watch.
But slowly and unintentionally, we* became minimalists over several years.
*I have to admit that the rest of my family wasn’t thrilled at first. I mean, they didn’t leave kicking and screaming, but they also didn’t say, YES! LET’S GET RID OF A LOT OF THINGS! AND GOING FORWARD, NOT BUY A LOT OF THINGS! AND GO OFF INTO THE SUNSET TO LIVE IN A COMPLETELY EMPTY HOUSE!
But now that we’ve been living this way for a few years, they can see the result and appreciate it for how it makes us feel while living inside of this house.
I think Mike really got it when this past summer we went to IKEA for the first time in years this summer to pick up something for Ella’s room and walked out with only four items and spent less than $40.
I’ve written about this lifestyle previously, so I won’t bore you with the details, but I thought I’d highlight what minimalism isn’t because I’ve received some questions about it, and I believe many people think it’s means living with nothing.
That’s not it.
Here is a spoof video from one-half of the creators of The Minimalist documentary.
This is also not it.
It’s also not a trend. Well, at least not for me, anyway.
It also not living in a tiny home. That may be part of it for some people, but that is an extreme form of minimalism.
To put it simply, it is making do with what you have.
It has no bearing on how we decorate our home, but how we determine what we want to do with the items we maintain in our home.
So in a way, I suppose that has accidentally dictated how we have decorated.
The term Minimalism refers to an art movement that emerged in the 1960s.
The minimalist/minimalist lifestyle is about living with less.
The creators of this lifestyle sum up minimalism in this sentence:
Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important – so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.
This summer, I participated in a challenge that helped me in getting rid of many items in our home that were weighing us down physically and mentally. We discovered that the less that we had, the more time we had to spend with each other, and the fewer stuff we had to clean and maintain, the fewer obligations we all had around the house.
It was freeing.
We all were happier and more pleasurable to be around since we weren’t under as much stress, and I don’t think we even considered it was happening while it was occurring. I am sure my family didn’t think to themselves, “Oh yeah, we feel like this because my mom is buying less stuff for the house or because she is dropping things off at Goodwill.”
Less chaos on the inside of your home in a time where there is chaos all around you is sorely underrated. I don’t think we’ve discussed how essential that might be for your mental health.
This isn’t for everyone. I get that some of you are probably rolling your eyes right now.
There are no affiliate links in this post. I am only sharing this because this has brought me so much sanity in such a chaotic time. I have felt so much control over the inside of my home during a time when I felt so out of control of the world outside of my home, and that is huge.
In a time when we need to be in our homes more than ever, seeing the need to take care of our possessions, our bodies, and our families now more than ever? This way of living has been extremely beneficial to me and my family.
I appreciate that now, when I go to a store like Target or HomeGoods (two of my Achilles Heels for shopping), I can rationalize what is a need versus what is a want and I don’t even feel cheated or even sad when I walk out empty-handed.
I am also spending money on quality items instead of spending little on quantity. I used to go to Goodwill and have no problem dropping 30 dollars on several items of non-quality, but spending $30 on one quality item would be very difficult for me.
This is when I appreciate my new minimalistic lifestyle.
Minimalism doesn’t mean going without. It means taking care of what you have, not over-consuming things, but buying quality items that are built to last and taking care of those things.
For example, automobiles and phones.
We just paid my vehicle off for the first time since I was 25 years old. I worded that wrong.
It has been 25 years since I HAVEN’T had a car payment.
Why? Because my husband works in the auto industry and when my car would make noises or get older, we would just trade it in instead of fixing it. We would get great deals, get the newest model blah blah blah.
We bought the schpeel. You know the one. The one they give when you sit in front of them at the dealership? AND HE WORKED AT A DEALERSHIP.
Now? We buy an extended warranty, we take care of our car. Because now we have an older child in college and she needs a car as well, so we can’t afford to trade in cars like we did before.
Before, it would be easy to say “let’s just get a smaller, more affordable car” but we are taking care of things and showing our children it’s important to take care of the things you already have instead of always getting a brand new everything.
Our children don’t ask for a brand new phone anymore. They ask for things like screen protectors and good protective cases. Actually, now that I think about it, they don’t ask for a lot anymore. They ask to “earn” money; Ella by doing chores around the house. Anna by working jobs even in a pandemic and while taking a full course load.
I am so proud of this lifestyle for so many things, but it’s the life lessons that we are teaching our children that I didn’t even think would come out of a documentary on Netflix.
I am not trying to sound all righteous with this post, so I hope that isn’t how it is coming across. We have made huge mistakes with our finances and we are still making them, which is why we began this lifestyle years ago. We were exhausted from making those mistakes repeatedly. We wanted a change for our family.
So here will be a hard rule for some of you that is not a rule for minimalism but has become a rule for mine: I won’t buy anything used going forth.
Old Kari was a garage sale/thrift store maven. Goodwill was a store I used to shop at weekly and in fact, upon searching my blog, I found 78 Goodwill-inspired blog posts.
But I won’t shop at a Goodwill or resale shop or a garage sale ever again.
Now, I am not a snob and I love to save money, and no; we aren’t rich in monetary means, but I don’t want other people’s energy in my space ever again UNLESS it is from someone I know well.
For example, my grandma’s beloved rocking chair.
I do still have a couple of things in my home that are from some resale shops over the years, but I have had them for many, many years and I have saged them over time (yes, I am that person).
But when I was doing the minimalism challenge over summer, I got rid of most of the Goodwill, garage sale, thrift store items we had that had belonged to other people and if they haven’t been purged already, I am still looking to get rid of the rest of those items.
Did I feel a shift in the energy in our home?
You bet I did.
I don’t need to stack the deck against us in our home during the worst year of our lives. Some of you may have superstitions or little things you believe in.
This is what I believe in: I don’t want someone else’s negative energy all over my belongings in our personal space.
I work hard to create a positive, happy nest in our home, especially during this time. I don’t need a cheap coffee table coming from someone’s home who doesn’t believe in being a good human being or who kicks their dogs or who roots for the Chicago Cubs.
Kidding. But you get the idea.
No price tag is worth the bad juju.
If you really need to save money on furniture, go to IKEA. Or go without.
Maybe you don’t need a coffee table or a recliner or an end table. Society tells you that you do, and if we’ve learned anything in this pandemic, it’s that your home is your haven. Make it your space. Do with it what you need to be the soft place you need. Don’t let Apartment Therapy or Real Simple or even my blog tell you how to decorate it.
My minimalist journey is still a work in progress. There are days I go to Target and see things in the Dollar spot and think OOH THAT BLACK $5 JAR IS SO DAMN CUTE I MUST HAVE IT! WHERE IN THE HELL WILL I PUT IT?!
But it makes me stop and think about that five-dollar bill (or debit card because who has cash anymore?) in my wallet more than I ever did before.
Will that cute little black jar make me happier?
Maybe. Or maybe not.
It makes me think about money in such a different way. It makes me think about material things in such a different way.
I don’t care anymore if I have the latest of anything.
Who I am isn’t wrapped up in anything I find on amazon or on Instagram or on a lifestyle blog.
Our home is enough.
For the first time in its existence, it is enough.
I am in love with that.