minimalism

Millennials and Minimalism: Why My Generation Is Clinging to Less

When millennials speak, they speak LOUD.

It's mostly to do with the fact that we outnumber our baby boomer parents and make up a quarter of the US workforce. (I'm a millennial myself and up until now, I've been severely underestimating my demographic's footprint.)

One of the movements that marketers, economists and psychologists can't deny is how millennials are clinging to minimalism. And when there's a group that big flocking to something, it's hard not to notice.

Joshua Becker, founder and blogger of Becoming Minimalist, describes minimalism as an intentional way of living where a person tries to only live with what they need. His article, here, goes on to explain minimalism in more depth. 

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So, why are so many millennials interested in living with only what they need?

According to a Forbes article from last year, 

"Millennials have a unique set of values around how they choose to spend their money. They grew up during the recession, entered a struggling job market and must now pay off record amounts of student debt." 

I know plenty of people who are in this same boat. Still trying to pay off debt and working their tails off to eventually buy a house and create the life they've always imagined.

Minimalism means financial freedom.

I'm not a finance professional but I do feel strongly about it. 

Millennial minimalists like myself are thinking twice about how we make money and where we spend it. We're after jobs that we enjoy and we're buying less and choosing the items we do buy well.

Quality. Over. Quantity.

According to MillennialMoney.com, there are three main financial challenges that me and my millennial friends around the world face.

  • Massive Student Loan Debt
  • Historically Low Wages
  • Future Financial Security is Not Guaranteed

Living in cities like Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area has shown me that the world is an expensive place. In order for me to enjoy it, I've come to embrace and love a life where shopping is curbed so that I can work on things like paying off debt, padding my savings account and investing in things that matter like my health, retirement and experiences.

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Queue the tiny house movement!

Tiny Houses are a somewhat recent way of living that has caught the attention of broadcast networks and turned tiny-house dwellers into people of interest. It's not only a cool way of living, it's actually quite smart for those who choose to do it.

What better way to save money and focus on the things that matter most than making sure you're not anchored down by a 30-year mortgage? 

There's the curb appeal.

Many of my fellow millennials saw our parents struggle during the recession. If it wasn't our parents who were hit by the housing and job crisis, many of us were praying we'd find jobs when we graduated college.

We had to be scrappy and resourceful.

And I think many of us were.

Millennial blogger Britt from Tiny Ambitions shared with me the reasons that she's saving for a tiny house and choosing to live small. 

"Around the time when I started researching tiny houses in 2012, I realized there was no way I could ever afford to buy a regular house. Just thinking about being tied to a mortgage of $300,000 or more (the going rate in my area at the time) for my entire life made me feel ill."

When it comes to what a tiny house can do for her financially, Britt explaines that she thinks it will allow more financial freedom.

"... it's definitely a part of why I wanted to go tiny in the first place. Once my living expenses are reduced significantly, a huge chunk of my income will be free to be spend on other things, like travel or retirement. Alternatively, I wouldn't need to make the same amount of money anymore, so I could be more choosy with the kinds of projects and work I take on. I could also volunteer more in causes that are important to me, like local food and agriculture."

Not all millennials are going to live tiny but Britt represents a movement of mindful Gen Y'ers who are choosing to live more minimally so they have less financial burdens and more opportunity to enjoy whatever it is that they want to enjoy.

Freedom to live how we want is a beautiful thing.

Freedom to enjoy what we want is a a beautiful thing.

In a nutshell, minimalism means millennials get to feel more like this little guy:

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Minimalism creates flexibility and opens our lives to more opportunity.

According to an Entrepreneur.com article, 

"Millennials want to know their work is making some impact and helping to make the world a better place."

With the recession behind us, I'm seeing more friends taking risks in new ways. Many of my personal BFFs are starting businesses that are changing the way things are done. I know a handful of millennials, who have started companies that are revolutionizing their respective markets.

Many of the Gen Y entrepreneurs I know don't have time or money to worry about stuff weighing them down. If they were maximalists, they would have battled increased distraction when it came to creating products that matter and launching companies that are making a difference. 

Ben and Leslie Parfitt of Pacifica, California are an example of minimal millennial entrepreneurs. As new parents, they spent time and money looking for well-designed, practical safety products for their home but were always disappointed. They spent nearly two years creating and testing products to meet performance and material standards and in 2017, they launched Bink - their line of aesthetically beautiful baby-proofing products. The Parfitts are smart, creative minimalists. 

Leslie explained that their desire for less over more comes from both her and her husband's preference for a simpler lifestyle. She adds that her minimalist approach to living was impacted by what she saw growing up in a suburban community in Southern California.

"I grew up in Orange County, where shopping was really just what you do on the weekends. And I can just remember that feeling of never-enough-ness all the time." 

Leslie goes on to explain how they've incorporated simple living into their everyday lives.

"As a family, my husband and I don't acquire many things. I've learned to really only buy the things that I love, and I end up keeping them forever. My husband, Ben, and I have two little girls, ages 1 and 3, and we make a point to keep our home-environment really simple. With kids, its so easy for things to accumulate and feel cluttered, without meaning for it to happen. I found that I just keep a small basket of toys and a weeks worth of clothes. It helps so much with my sanity. We make a point to buy our girls that much. We spend a lot of our free time outside doing things."

And that simplicity spilled over into their business venture, too.

"Having a simple lifestyle gave us the freedom and inspiration to start a business. We put a lot of thought into the things we have in our home. We appreciate good design, and understand that truly good design is often the simplest solution. When we had our first daughter, we quickly learned that safety products were important in our home, but that there weren't any well-designed, quality products out there. It became very obvious that there was an opportunity for simple, minimal, designed products that people would actually enjoy putting in their homes." 

Ben and Leslie understand that it's less about creating stuff for the sake of creating stuff and it's more about creating products that will make a difference for people. In their case, a difference for parents. Their dedication is already paying off as they've been nominated for the Babylist Fresh Find Award, which is an award designated to new products that make parents lives easier and more beautiful.

Leslie and Ben Parfitt of Bink with their daughters, Penelope and Mae.

Leslie and Ben Parfitt of Bink with their daughters, Penelope and Mae.

Minimalism means possibilities. 

So why do millennials want less instead of more? 

We don't want houses so big that we owe a debt we can't ever pay back. We don't want heaps of clothes filling our closets. What we want is to do amazing things and change the world in amazing ways. We want to create things that matter that won't be tossed into landfills. We want to find and create solutions. We want to live minimally because it frees us up to accomplish things that go beyond ourselves.

Interested in the whole less is more idea? Subscribe to my free email list below and you'll be sent monthly tips and insights related to all things simple living including invites to future webinars.

What is Minimalism Anyway?

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So what's the big deal about minimalism? What does it mean and how exactly can it make life noticeably sweeter? I've discovered that minimalism isn't necessarily about the bare minimum. It's definitely about streamlining and paring back but it doesn't have to be about living with nothing at all. Face it, we need things. We should be using things that are useful to us! Those things will be different for everyone. Minimalism is about choosing your material possessions wisely and simplifying your life so you have time for your loved ones and the things that are most important to you. That alone makes life sweeter! In most cases, this will mean saying no to things that you really don't have time for. This may also mean cleaning out areas of your house. It could also mean that you refrain from shopping as much and make fewer purchases consisting of higher quality items. In fact, I recommend all of those things. :)

I gave the internet's definition of minimalism my own spin because I think it's a [life]style. It's not just about one area of your life having less and being organized while the rest is bursting at the seams with stuff. It's about simplifying all aspects of your life - home, work, personal time, etc. 

Not sure where to start? I've included a brief questionnaire below to help you think about a few different areas that could be the most congested for you right now. My suggestion is to start on one that is most bothersome and then go from there. Once you take a stab at it, I think you'll come to understand and even love the power of minimalism.

  • How are you spending your time when you're not at work? Are you bombarded by the demands of others or is your schedule full of appointments? Think about what exactly is taking up your time.
  • How often do you wear the articles in your own closet? Could you take 15 min and sort out a few items to open up some space?
  • Think about the paperwork in your home. Is the mail piling up in a kitchen cubby or cabinet? Is your home office becoming a dumping ground for miscellaneous, loose paper that you can never seem to stay on top of? 
  • Open your kitchen cabinets and take inventory of what's really in them. Are they full of outdated food or ingredients that you forgot you had (make sure you look behind things and in the far back of your cabinets). Do you have appliances that you no longer use or never used at all?

These questions should help jumpstart how you start thinking about the areas of your life that can be simplified. You can get a lot more detailed and a lot more thorough but don't try to bite off more than you can chew. Like I always say, start small first. 

Looking for more minimal-inspired content? Submit your name and email below to join my free email list and you'll be sent simple living tips, insights and invites to future webinars.

RELATED POST: How to Organize Your House One Room at a Time and Keep Your Sanity

Mental Shift: Focus on What You Don't Need Instead of What You Don't Have

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I am re-listening to Brene Brown's Power of Vulnerability lecture on Audible. (This is my third time listening to it because she is... amazing. I soak up her data and research like water in a sponge every time I hear it.) One of the first points she makes is about how we live in a society of scarcity. We can't get enough and we never have enough. So many of us can't stop worrying about not getting enough sleep or not getting enough done in the day and the list goes on. I imagine you're thinking about what you feel scarce about right now. Am I right?

This had me thinking. We really don't need more. We shouldn't feel these feelings of scarcity even though we do. In fact, I'd argue that it would help the majority of us if we felt less burdened by what we can't seem to get enough of and instead shifted our thinking to focus on what we can do without.

Have you ever decluttered a storage closet? It's like taking an eraser to the marks of chaos. It's not that the world sees these places (many are hidden by doors) but you know when they're neat and tidy. You know the feeling you get when everything has a place. If it's been a while since you've had this feeling (or maybe you've never felt this feeling) I encourage you to start trimming. Bit by bit you'll see what you really don't need.

Most of the time, we really don't need the new clothes, shoes, endless toys for the kids in our lives, [insert whatever it is that you buy here]. Now, you might be saying, Britnee it's easy for you to write about it rather than do it. You haven't seen my house. It's crazy! It'll never be where I want it. To that I say, it takes time and patience and practice. I'm still practicing it. That's another reason I started this blog! To chat about what works for me as I practice simple living.

If you're willing, then you can tackle it. 

Let's talk about some of the pitfalls - the things that deter us from this idea of having less and not needing it all. Once we identify those, we'll be more equipped to properly handle them and say BYEE to the excess. 

Pitfall #1: Shopping. Whether it's online or in-person, shopping is fun. For some people, it's so fun it's become an addiction. Bored? Go shopping. Happy? Go shopping. Reunited with family for an afternoon? Go shopping. This is a very real pitfall that's working against you. Good news is, it doesn't have to win! 

Pitfall #2: Significant other who may not see eye-to-eye with you on your simple vision. I've heard it more than once. Many people wish to do away with the excess but their significant others aren't on board. This can be a toughy. In those cases, I recommend taking it SLOW. Start a real conversation about why you want to trim and let them know why you want to do it. You might consider sharing a Pinterest or Houzz board of what you want your house to ultimately look like. Sharing examples can show someone with hesitation what exactly your end goal is. Show them that it doesn't have to be scary and the end-goal will be well worth it.

Pitfall #3: Feeling overwhelmed. I think we can all agree that this type of feeling is a natural response when we see a pile of anything staring back at us. My suggestion is to start small. You don't need to organize your entire garage this weekend. Think about cleaning out a few shelves first. The idea is for you to experience a few small wins to help motivate you to continue on to the big stuff. And once you have a few small wins under your belt, you won't want to stop because it really does feel good.

How cool would it be to simplify our homes and focus solely on streamlining them? Make them more peaceful. Make them more aligned with a feeling of calm instead of worrying about buying or accumulating whatever we thought we needed before. For me, that's living. 

If we're honest with ourselves, we know that there is so much that we really don't need. My challenge for you is to consider what you can do without this week when you're at the store debating that impulse buy. You went to Target for sunscreen and a card for your mom but you're debating whether or not to snag the mini-chalkboard easel, the blouse that screams spring and a few other non-essentials. 

If nothing else, have a little internal convo with yourself. You'll recognize your real needs if you know that 1) you're going to use those additional items and/or 2) you really won't and your impulse purchase is really just a whim to satisfy a fleeting craving.

RELATED POST: Decluttering: How to Organize Your House One Room at a Time & Keep Your Sanity

Mental Shift: How to Move Past the Honeymoon Phase of Minimalism

Let's face it. The idea of being a minimalist oftentimes dies quickly once the actual act of being one is put into practice. It's easy to sit back and watch documentaries like Minimalism or read books like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and feel a sense of overwhelming motivation to throw everything away and keep our closets and rooms and lives simple until a few months roll by and... we lose the motivation. It's just a lot easier to talk about it than to do it.

Oftentimes, the motivation isn't strong enough to withstand the pressures to buy new things. It's especially difficult to say "betah not" when faced with the excitement of new seasons, sales and styles. Those home decor isles at Target are some of the worst culprits. It's so hard to say no to that mid-century mirror but it can be done. Promise.

So what to do? How do you get past the honeymoon phase of being a minimalist and make it a life-long pursuit? Here are three tips that I've put into practice over the past year. Now, I only buy something if I REALLY want it - meaning I know I'm going to wear it out or use it out until I can't anymore.

  1. Try to keep your emotions in check when your favorite store has a sale. Ask yourself, if I buy this new swimsuit because it's a smoking deal -- will I actually wear it more than once or twice? If your answer is yes, and it seems to be made to last then consider it an investment piece. If your not going to wear it out, leave it on the rack! Chances are you're going to forget about it by the time you get home if you were purchasing on a whim.
  2. Another way to withstand retail pressures is to leave the store. Look around, try things on and then leave without buying them if you're luke-warm. If you REALLY want it then you'll go back and buy. If you didn't love it, then odds are you'll keep walking. Walking away from the so-called deal because you know it will only take up space in your closet. Truly, I believe this could be one of the most freeing things you try this year. The more you do it, the more you'll keep doing it and by the time you know it, leaving stores without buying a thing will become a habit. The only way you'll end up buying something is if it's too amazing to pass up and then that thing will become one of your favorite pieces. This works for jewelry, clothing, home decor, you-name-it. Don't go into a retail store with the same attitude anymore!
  3. When it comes to shopping online, things get a little trickier. It's hard to say no when it's available with the touch of a button. Literally, one touch or swipe once you put in your checkout credentials once. They make it TOO easy on us. So here's what you can do. Leverage step one from above. If you think you'll get use out of the product (be honest with yourself) then consider it an investment. If you find yourself ordering things because you love the feeling of receiving packages at your desk at work then you're buying stuff for the wrong reason.

I've been practicing these three tips for the past year and I've had a much easier time finding things that I love and that I wear out - completely.

Leave a comment below and let me know how you're seeking out minimalism as a life-long pursuit. I'd love to hear what's working well for you!

RELATED POST: Minimal Mindset: Living Within Our Means

Living with Less: How to Declutter Your Knick-Knacks Like a True Minimalist

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At one time or another, we've all received something that ended up sitting on a shelf collecting dust or was put in a box that we'd keep for later. It's common that we end up keeping things that we've either collected over the years or that reminds us of the time and place where we got it. The yellow car (pictured) was given to me on my first trip to Italy. I channeled my inner Julia Roberts when I decided to visit the country solo and tour the country. During the month spent there, I had the opportunity to be part of a photo shoot with a classic, fully restored Fiat 500. The yellow car was a gift I received after the shoot and an exact replica of the car in the photos. The car and the horn are one of about four things that Dayne and I have kept that fall into the 'knick knack category.' At the end of the day, I think you can be a minimalist AND have a few things. It's all about saving the things that actually mean something and getting rid of the rest.

Are you a collector? Or are you naturally inclined to purge what's in your living space? I've always been a purger. I remember at a young age donating my Barbie collection because I was done playing with them and wanted to package them up and clean out my room. No tears. No regrets. I was just done with them! (For years, I wondered if that was something I should've been worried about. Ha. Now I'm grateful.)

For those of you who are holding onto something or a bunch of somethings - be it a large or small collection, I've listed a few different ways to declutter your knick-knacks like a true minimalist.

  1. You'll never be able to get rid of the things that are taking up space if you haven't identified what and where they are. Did your parents gift you Beanie Babies or porcelain dolls? Maybe you're into plants and you've got dozens in pots that are overtaking the backyard? Locate what and where first to get started.
  2. Which of the items make you the happiest or in other words, which ones do you really want to keep? Pull those out and put them in a separate area. Then focus on what's left. Identify the condition of the items you're getting rid of and create a donate pile for anything that is still in good condition.
  3. Discard. When I say discard, I don't necessarily trash. I mean, find ways to actually move the items out of your home! You can create a post on Facebook (to your own friends or groups) and let others know you're selling or donating the collectibles. You'll find there are many people out there who will enjoy your items just as much if not more than you did. The idea is to donate what's in great shape and share with others. 
  4. If the items aren't in great shape then consider recycling what you can. For items that can't be recycled then you'll need to toss. If it's hard to do alone, ask someone who can help you with your purge! Moral support is key if you are having a harder time saying goodbye.

Want more minimally inspired content to help you streamline your house? Submit your name and email address below to receive free emails with insights, tips and invites to future webinars about all things simple living.

RELATED POST: Mental Shift: Focus on What You Don't Need Instead of What You Don't Have

 

 

Spring Cleaning

The late iconic actor and performer, Jerry Lewis, was known for his love of clothes- specifically a love for his suits. It was said that he would give suits away rather than have them cleaned.

Some of us are living like Lewis. Don't get me wrong, I love me a pair of some cute shoes but there has to be a line drawn somewhere to separate needs from wants from what makes sense and what doesn't.

I have a close friend who is the exact opposite. She buys only the highest quality goods and each time she purchases something new, she gets rid of something old. She is the most minimally minded individuals I have ever met. 

A rule of thumb is if you haven't worn something in 6 months, then you probably don't need it. So check your closet. Is your collection of shoes so large that you can't find all of the matching pairs or do they sit and collect dust? That's a sign. A blinking one that says you have too much.

Embrace the spring cleaning.

 

Minimal Mindset: Living Within Our Means

Part of being a minimalist, or in my case, starting to live like one is becoming aware of comparison. I know a handful of people (and have been guilty of it myself) who compare their small houses to their neighbors' big ones. Their old, yet paid off car, to someone's new leased one. Having lived in LA I've observed people who love, love to drive fancy cars. Have you seen where many of them live? The house doesn't align with the car parked in front of it.

I had the pleasure of meeting Tony Hsieh a few years ago. In case you don't know he's the one who started that little brand called Zappos. After meeting him I was completely shocked and really surprised to see how humble and unassuming he is. According to reports, Hsieh is worth almost $1 billion. He lives in a normal, yet nice apartment and wears the same t-shirts as you and I. If Tony, one of the most successful businessmen and pioneers of company culture ever, can live under his means then I've got something to shoot for because it's working out for him. He's got a bigger picture in mind. He keeps what's most important as his focus and disregards what would be relatively frivolous for anyone at his level.

We may not all be business masterminds but I think we can apply his minimal approach to our own lives. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating we all drive junky cars and eat ramen. Talk to my husband about this and he'll tell you how I really want a Volvo XC 90 as our future family car. What I am saying is let's not compare our "lack" of stuff to someone else's abundance and maybe we can aim to live slightly below our means instead of spending money we don't have on stuff we don't need to impress people we don't know or shouldn't care about impressing in the first place.

The Beginning

I've created this space to document my journey as I look for ways to kick the endless pursuit of consumerism to the curb and make a path out of less instead of more. The way I see it, we've got nice stuff in front of us all the time- fine dining, clothes, fancy houses and the compelling notion that we need it all. That's made up pressure, people. We actually don't.

I'm on a journey to share what I find while living a more minimal life. I've always found joy in the essentials but now it's time I try for something more- or rather less- for myself and my family.