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Many people hear the word “minimalism” and immediately think of an interior design style. But that’s not all it’s about–in fact, minimalist decor isn’t even necessary when it comes to frugal minimalism and sustainability!
In this post, we’ll take a look at what minimalism really is.
Then, we’ll go over 5 great benefits of adopting a minimalist lifestyle.
Finally, we’ll talk about how to get started on your minimalist journey, if you decide that minimalism is right for you.
What is Minimalism?
Minimalist Philosophy vs Minimalist Design
There is the mindset, or philosophy of minimalism, and then there’s the aesthetic of minimalist design.
Minimalist design has become very trendy in the past decade or so.
Social media is full of inspiration for minimalist home decor.
You’ve probably seen various versions of the stereotypical white-walled room, with a solitary plant in the corner, and perhaps one or two framed photos on the wall.
It’s a very neat, organized aesthetic! I definitely admire it.
But minimalism in design is not for everyone.
For some, there is a comfort in being surrounded by various things that we love.
As a person with ADHD who tends to hyperfixate on a TV series for years at a time, it brings me a lot of joy to have fandom-related things in my home.
I’ve adorned my walls with fanart I’ve purchased from fellow fans. I have a growing collection of Star Trek novels, and Neil Gaiman books.
You can find evidence of my special interest in Wales and the Welsh language all over my home, with the multiple Welsh dictionaries, history books, and things with Y Ddraig Goch (the famous Welsh Dragon) on them that I have lying around. (At one point, I even had a giant Welsh flag pinned to my ceiling above my bed–decidedly not aligned with the minimalist aesthetic.)
As much as I can appreciate the beauty and simplicity of the minimalist aesthetic, it just isn’t going to create the environment that I personally thrive in.
Some people are more in their element with a maximalist design style!
Whether or not minimalist design is for you, anyone can benefit from the philosophy of frugal minimalism.
What is Frugal Minimalism?
Frugal minimalism is an approach to life that emphasizes mindful consumption. It’s about evaluating your needs and applying your resources in order to fill your life with value.
That’s going to look different for everyone!
For me, one of my primary life goals is to enjoy the fictional worlds and fandoms I engage with. This means that supporting fanartists by buying their work and displaying it on my walls is something that does, indeed, add value to my life.
Thus, allotting some of my resources to obtaining fandom-related merchandise is a priority for me!
Minimalism and Priorities
Above all, minimalism is about identifying and honoring your true priorities.
You can have primary and secondary priorities.
In my case, housing and food will of course always be more important than buying that super cute drawing of my two favorite characters in a tender embrace.
But minimalism doesn’t mean that you have to forgo all “non-essentials” and live in a near-empty home with only a bed, food, hygiene products, and half a closet of clothes.
I try to maintain a budget that ensures that my basic needs are being met, and that any disposable income isn’t just mindlessly being, well, disposed.
To me, minimalism isn’t about living with as little as possible. It’s about being mindful of how we choose to live, particularly when it comes to our spending habits.
Rather than buying plastic water bottles every time I end up thirsty when I go out, for instance, frugal minimalism encouraged me to invest in a reusable water bottle. This saves me money in the long run (it’s frugal), and reduces unnecessary consumption (it’s minimalist).
The Privilege of Choosing Minimalism
I want to take a moment here to recognize the privilege that comes with being able to choose a minimalist lifestyle.
Many people are forced into frugal minimalism because they can’t afford to spend money on anything other than the basic essentials.
Not everyone has the means to look at their finances and say, “Hmm, I’ve got rent taken care of, now what kind of stores do I want to shop at? Where will I get my groceries and other essentials, and what am I going to do with the rest of my money this month?”
As we’ll see later, one of the benefits of adopting a minimalist lifestyle is that it can increase your mindfulness and appreciation for what you have.
Let’s keep that reminder of financial privilege with us as we consider the choice of frugal minimalism.
So… is minimalism for you?
To help you decide, here are 5 benefits of frugal minimalism.
Frugal Minimalism Benefit #1: It’s Better for Your Wallet
The amount of money you’ll save when you stop buying things you don’t really need can really add up!
My biggest save with frugal minimalism is probably my decision to swap pads for period underwear.
Now, rather than stocking up on disposable period products month after month, I have a set of period undies that I can wash and reuse every cycle!
When compared to the estimated annual cost of over $150 a year for pads or tampons, my $50 one-time purchase of period underwear has saved me $100 for this year, and the next year, and the next year…
But it’s not just switching to better long-term investments that can save you money.
Frugal minimalism also encourages us not to buy things we don’t really need.
Consumerism teaches us to buy, buy, buy. If it makes us even slightly happy to look at it, we oughta buy it.
Mindful minimalism says, “Hold up–do we really need this?”
Again, I still file “things I really really want because they enrich my experience of life” under “needs”. Lesser needs, perhaps, but I do prioritize things that I personally feel add value to my life. I think life would be a bit dull, otherwise.
But with mindful spending, comes a bit more consideration over what truly makes me happy.
I used to collect Funko POP! dolls, because they were cute and they honored my love for fandom.
But, over the years, I realized they didn’t do much for me past that initial thrill of buying them. They sit on my dresser, collecting dust. I hardly even notice they’re there.
So, I’ve resisted the urge to add to my collection, since I’ve realized that they don’t actually add the value I once thought they did. That alone has probably saved me hundreds of dollars in the past few years!
Frugal Minimalism Benefit #2: It’s Better for the Environment
Frugal minimalism and sustainability go hand in hand, hence the title of this post.
Being minimalist encourages you to not only make choices that are sustainable for you and your lifestyle, but for the world at large.
When you adopt a minimalist approach to life, the resulting shift in purchasing habits can greatly reduce your carbon footprint!
Frugal minimalism is all about making the most of what you already have, and being mindful of the new things you add to your life.
Many frugal minimalists take to shopping at secondhand stores, trading things with others on sites like Freecycle, or “upcycling” what they already have. Some even go dumpster diving to rescue things that have been needlessly thrown away.
The more we recycle, upcycle, reuse, or simply avoid purchasing new things we don’t need, the less waste we contribute to the planet!
Frugal Minimalism Benefit #3: It Teaches You Mindfulness & Gratitude
Minimalism requires mindfulness.
It takes introspection to consider what you really need, what you truly want, and what you really wouldn’t benefit from at all.
The beauty of frugal minimalism is that it not only encourages you to be more mindful in your daily life, it also breeds gratefulness.
As you evaluate what it truly is that makes you happy and fulfilled, you’ll likely find yourself better appreciating what you already have.
The more mindful we are in discerning where our joy truly comes from, the better we’ll be able to engage with that joy, and adopt an attitude of gratefulness as we continue on our journeys through life.
Frugal Minimalism Benefit #4: It Can Help Combat the Worst of Capitalism
Whether or not you believe capitalism has a bright side, it’s without a doubt that there is a dark side.
Capitalism seems to encourage consumerism, whatever the cost.
In America, the average consumer throws away over 80 pounds of clothing each year. That’s just one person! Globally, an estimated 184 billion pounds of textiles goes to waste annually.
And that’s just the fashion industry.
As the demand for more products rises, so does the demand for those products to be made quickly and cheaply. This often results in shady (if not outright unethical) business practices.
By being more mindful about how you’re engaging with our economic system, you can be part of a movement that emphasizes more ethical means of production and consumption.
To be clear, there is no ethical consumption under capitalism. And sourcing everything from The Most Ethical Businesses In The World isn’t accessible to everyone.
As long as we operate under an economy that creates a “lower class”, there will be people who have no choice but to shop at dollar stores and places like Amazon or Walmart.
But if we’re mindful about what we need, and how we can get it, we can at least reduce our participation in some of the ugliest parts of capitalism.
Frugal Minimalism Benefit #5: It Strengthens Your Creativity
It takes some real creative thinking (and sometimes creative crafting) to be frugal!
How can you save money on household products? Can you make an all-purpose cleaner from ingredients around the house?
What can you do to upcycle those baby socks that don’t fit your kid anymore? Could you use some new coin purses, maybe?
With frugal minimalism and sustainability practices, your life can become full of opportunities for creativity.
An example from my own life would be my love of cosplay; I really like to dress like my favorite fictional characters.
But, instead of filling my wardrobe with elaborate costumes I know I’ll rarely wear, I try to be creative about how I “cosplay”.
I’ll find pieces I know I’ll wear on their own, and do a more “inspired by” look, rather than a full-on cosplay.
This fulfills my desire to dress like my blorbos, which is a priority for me (however silly it may be to others). It also encourages me to be creative–thinking of ways to copy someone’s look while being a frugal minimalist.
How to Start Your Journey With Frugal Minimalism and Sustainability
So, we’ve covered some of the benefits of frugal minimalism and sustainability.
If you’ve decided you’d like to adopt the minimalism philosophy, here are a few tips to get you going.
Look to the Future, Not the Past
A lot of people, when getting into minimalism, assume they’ve got to throw everything out that they don’t need.
Sure, it may be a good idea to take some time to declutter your life, and get that Fresh Start feeling.
But remember: minimalism doesn’t mean living with the absolute least amount of things possible.
It’s about being mindful of what you prioritize in your life.
Start Making Lists
A big contributor to mindless consumerism is a lack of planning.
Budgets, shopping lists, and other ways of taking note of your priorities can help you be a more mindful minimalist.
Try giving yourself only a certain amount of money per month to spend on non-essentials. You’ll be thinking like a minimalist in no time as you determine how to get the most value out of your spending money!
You can also make lists of resources available to you, and keep those in mind as you shift your spending habits.
For example, are there thrift stores in your area that you can remember to check first before searching for what you need at more expensive, less sustainable places?
Use the Wait-A-Month Method
The next time you’re considering buying something you don’t absolutely need, try waiting a month.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost bought something, then waited a month or two and realized I don’t even want it anymore!
Sometimes, I’ll straight up forget it exists!
What I’ll do if I find something I want online, is I’ll add it to a bookmark folder in my web browser titled “Wish List”.
Every now and then, I’ll revisit my wish list, and delete anything that no longer has a pull on me.
If, after a month or two, I’m still itching for whatever I’ve put in my wish list, I’ll treat myself!
Try finding inspiration and motivation for your own minimalist journey by searching minimalism hashtags on Instagram or Pinterest.
Here are some popular minimalism hashtags to get you started:
- #MinimalistLiving (Search Instagram) (Search Pinterest)
- #MinimalistLifestyle (Search Instagram) (Search Pinterest)
- #ConsciousLiving (Search Instagram) (Search Pinterest)
And, if minimalist design is your thing, here are some minimalism hashtags specifically about decor:
- #MinimalistDecor (Search Instagram) (Search Pinterest)
- #MinimalistInterior (Search Instagram) (Search Pinterest)
- #MinimalistDesign (Search Instagram) (Search Pinterest)
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Minimalism is not a pass/fail concept.
There’s no need to be religious about it!
If you give in to temptation and buy something you later realize you didn’t need, that’s alright!
Forgive yourself, if you feel the need to, and take the moment as a learning opportunity.
This is about mindfully bettering your life, not aggressively following a set of rules.
However you decide to use the philosophy of frugal minimalism and sustainability, I wish you a life of happiness and fulfillment! ❤️
If you’re drawn toward being a minimalist, eco friendly living may be for you! Here are some easy swaps you can make to create a more sustainable home. 🌍💚
Minimalist living can be part of your lifestyle design. Check out this post on how to design your life according to your needs, wants, and values.
Can you think of any other benefits of frugal minimalism? Drop ’em in the comments below! ⬇️⬇️⬇️