How to Be a Smart Minimalist
These days minimalism is on trend — people are downsizing houses, tossing out clothes, and composting. But building a simple life can take a ton of work, especially for busy families with working parents.
Some think minimalism is about budgeting and owning as little as possible, but that misses the core of the philosophy.
“Minimalism is not, of course, about starvation or punishment,” Simeon Lindstrom writes in “The Minimalist Budget: A Practical Guide On How To Save Money, Spend Less And Live More With A Minimalist Lifestyle,” adding that it’s not about doing less than you need. “Rather, minimalism is about finding what you need and fulfilling that need exactly, without excess.”
He adds, “to have exactly enough without suffering.”
So, real minimalism isn’t about spending all your time sifting through closets and holding garage sales, but managing all your resources: time, money, self-care, space and emotional wherewithal — and planning for it.
Plan Around Your Values
If you’re one of those people who says, “I’m too busy,” or “I don’t have enough time to do the things I want,” minimalism might work for you. Maybe you want to spend more time with your family or you need more focus at work. Perhaps you yearn for time to pursue a hobby or passion, or more time in nature or working out.
“It’s sad that many people feel like their true passions and values are more of an afterthought, something to indulge in only after they fulfill all their obligations,” Lindstrom writes. This approach can leave you feeling empty.
If you focus on what it is you are lacking in life, you can start to plan ways to fill that lack.
Time: A Precious Resource
We often act like time is endless or expandable. A true minimalist will cherish time, this most valuable resource, and not, say, spend 10 hours holding a garage sale to make $40.
Begin by focusing on how you’d like to spend your time, and what you need to support that time.
For example, Lindstrom cites sleep habits. You should block out however much time to sleep that you need.
“Sleep properly and give your body the best defense against stress,” he writes.
Getting quality sleep gives you the energy you need to pursue whatever matters to you when you’re awake. Quality sleep also helps you better manage stress that comes your way. So if you need a better sleep environment, an adjustable mattress, darker shades, more reading material or even a weighted blanket, invest in yourself.
Being rested provides the basis of the rest of your “life” budget. So will eating well and exercising.
Budget Your Money
Now that you know what you need, and how much time you have to accomplish it, you can make a budget. Budgeting is one component of minimalism — after all, money is often a limited resource.
If you need to save money, consider different solutions — run outside instead of going to the gym, carpool instead of driving to work, pack your lunch instead of eating out. Make sure you’re not running yourself ragged to save a few bucks, because time is as valuable as money, but see if you can find some balance to save a bit in order to do more of what you’d like.
Also, kids tend to be our blind spots. They don’t need to have every toy, attend every extracurricular class and live amid the clutter common to modern American life. Teaching your children to live with just enough might be the best thing you can give them.
Lindstrom writes that the trick to minimalist budgeting is finding what works best for you — what makes you the happiest while spending the least amount of time, money and energy. It’s not about tricks and hacks, “but with a conscious deliberate consideration of what is important.”
Block off 8 hours for sleep each night. 20 minutes before bedtime start your relaxing bedtime routine to unwind. When you wake up with a rested mind, map out what’s important to you. Be a smart minimalist.
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