How to Live With Less: 5 Ways to Start Today
What happens when you live with less? A whole lot of good.
In the past, people sought to buy and collect as many things as they could afford. Houses became showcases of nick-knacks, artifacts, and well–stuff. Often, these assemblages served as a status symbol. They were physical representations of how hard a person worked and how diligently they took care of themselves and their possessions.
Simply put, more was more.
But sometime in the last decade, people started to rethink that way of life.
Stagnant wages and rising prices, growing eco-consciousness, increasing personal debt, and increased value in experiences over possessions have led to a rise in minimalist living.
You may have heard of minimalism. Minimalism is a lifestyle in which people intentionally live with only the things they deem essential. Minimalists make decisions based on clearing their lives of distractions and focusing on the things they value most.
And while minimalism is about more than just getting rid of the material things that you don’t need, purging your excess stuff is a key component of minimalism—and one that can help you cleanse other aspects of your life as well.
Facts About Minimalism: What to Expect
Minimalists report that after identifying and eliminating excess material items from their lives, they’re easily able to eliminate excesses in how they spend their time, how they spend their money, how they eat, and who they associate with.
Furthermore, a 2009 Harvard Business School study found that money and material possessions do not lead to happiness if basic needs are not met. Minimalists are able to focus on what is really important and necessary to them (their basic needs) and rid themselves of all other things that get in the way of maintaining those things.
But even if you don’t intend to go full minimalist, decreasing your clutter and/or employing some other basic minimalist changes come with great benefits that you can take advantage of now and in the future!
Here are 5 of them.
1. Keep a Cleaner Home
While cleaning can be therapeutic for some people, most of us do not want to spend hours of our time in obligatory cleaning activities. And, at the same time, people generally don’t want to live in filth. So—we clean.
On average, Australians spend about 2 hours and 15 minutes cleaning each day. That’s nearly 16 hours each week! What would you do with an additional 16 hours a week? Unless you value cleaning more than spending time with friends and family, relaxing, or doing anything other than cleaning; then there is room for improvement.
Owning fewer things creates open space in your home; it provides less room for dirt and grime to hide, and gives you and your company fewer things to mess up or make dirty.
2. Decrease Your Stress
Clutter causes stress. Even well organised clutter can be stressful. A home that is crowded with stuff blasts our minds with excessive stimuli. It’s too much to see, too much to smell, too much to touch–and our minds can’t take it! Our brains start to work overtime to process all the unnecessary things—sounds stressful… Because it is!
And when you are stressed out and your house is cluttered, you can’t think. We need open space and clarity to promote creativity and productivity. Unfortunately, your extra stuff works counter to this as it only serves to cloud your brain and occupy your thoughts.
And heaven forbid you lose something amongst all those possessions! Trying to find things in a cluttered house can be mildly frustrating at best and infuriatingly futile in the worst-case scenarios.
A house is supposed to be a refuge from the world and your destination for relaxation.
But, a house with too much stuff? That’s a cesspool for stress.
3. Regain Your Freedom
At some point, it’s important to ask yourself a key question: Do I own my things, or do my things own me?
If you are so concerned with keeping your things in a certain condition that you refuse to use them, or are so overwhelmed with debt because you own things that you couldn’t buy in cash; your things might own you.
They own your decision making, as you base your actions on how your things will be affected. They own your time, as you have to work tirelessly to keep up with installment or insurance payments in order to keep and protect your things.
Downsizing and living with less could mean regaining freedom back from your stuff.
4. Keep More of Your Money
How much money could you make if you sold all of the things you don’t need? Online marketplaces, like Twice, Carousell, and lego, give people the opportunity to get rid of their extra things and make a few bucks.
It’s a win – win!
You get the benefits of getting rid of your clutter (cleaner home, less stress, more freedom), and you get some extra cash!
Beat the urge to buy things that you don’t need. They only serve to clutter up your life.
Plus, saving the extra money will:
- Help increase your financial security by promoting financial solvency
- Help you save for retirement
- Allow you to spend money on things you actually value
5. Save the Environment
When you consider the growing global population is expected to be around 12.3 billion in 2100, you must think, “How are we going to sustain all of those people?”
Of course, it’s unlikely that we will be here to see that 2100, but we are already starting to see the effects of population increases without usage decreases. In order to do your part to save the planet and equip the future, consider employing some minimalism.
Eat Less Meat
Humans eat twice as much meat as we did 30 years ago–equating to about 230 million tons of meat every year! And before that meat gets to your plate, it requires lots of land, fuel, and water usage; contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
While the exact effect that raising animals for food has on the environment is disputed (estimates range between 10 – 50% of global emissions), livestock is still considered one of the top contributors to environmental deterioration worldwide.
So how do we fix this problem?
Eat less meat!
Eating less meat doesn’t mean going vegetarian, but it does mean employing some minimalistic strategies into your food consumption.
Ask yourself–do I need to eat meat as frequently as I do? Is it really that important to my life and overall wellbeing and happiness?
If the answers are “no,” you are likely eating meat out of habit.
Try cutting back. If you eat meat every day, try to eat it only two or three times a week. Odds are, not only will the environment thank you, but your body will also appreciate your diet upgrade. Note that plant-based protein is abundant in richly coloured veggies such as spinach, beans and broccoli.
Get Rid of Your Car
For those who live in urban areas with efficient mass transit options, consider getting rid of your car.
Most people already know that automobile emissions are a major contributor to global warming, but fewer realise that choosing to take public transportation will also help you save money.
According to a study commissioned by the Australian Railway Association, it costs at least $7,000 to commute to work by driving each day. Conversely, it only costs about $4,000 to take public transportation.
Keep a Small Wardrobe
The average person bought 60% more clothes in 2014 than they did in 2000. That’s a huge increase over a relatively short period of time.
And we get it—cheap clothing, fast fashion cycles, the thrill of shopping… Giving up a shopping addiction can be tough. But, consider the impact that the clothing industry has on the environment.
Cotton is the most common natural fibre used for clothing. However, in order to make one cotton shirt, it requires about 2,700 litres of water! That’s the same amount a person drinks over 2.5 years!
And the result of this very thirsty fabric is obvious water depletion in certain areas of the world, like Central Asia.
So, after you’ve purged the clothes you no longer need, do not replace them. Or, if you can’t bring yourself to let go of your clothes, try upcycling them and using them to create other clothing items or DIY projects around your home.
Things have changed since your parents were your age, so there is no need to continue living like it’s the 20th Century. Living with less can significantly enhance your life and has benefits that extend further than just your living space.
Give it a try and discover how living with less is actually living with more.