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Am I Becoming A Minimalist?

Author: Lauren Coleman

Over the last few months I’ve read countless articles from women from all walks of life who have given up spending for a certain period of time. Whether it be a week or a full year, all these ladies have made the decision to give up frivolous (or in some cases, necessary) purchases and reign in their mounting material possessions.

My wonderful Grandmother was convinced she was going to leave us at 93. I actually think she was slightly disappointed she made it to her 94th birthday. When she did pass at the grand old age of 97 she had minimal possessions and had spent the last ten years refining her collections down to the bare minimum. She only bought new clothing to replace worn out attire and kept her fridge stocked with only the essentials.

Now I know Marie Kondo takes a bit of a hammering bless her, but when I read her book a couple of years ago it definitely opened my eyes to the amount of unwanted possessions I was harbouring. However I didn’t realise until recently how much of it I’d taken to heart.

When I looked at my recent wardrobe purchases (or lack of them) it seems I’ve unconsciously been participating in some form of minimalism experiment too. In 2016 I became overwhelmed with excess; whether it be the piles of packaging that came with my online purchases or the unboxing of influencer hauls on instagram. While I was aware I spent a lot of 2017 paring back and refining and bringing a lot less ’stuff’ into my life, I don’t think I made an informed decision to cut back on my wardrobe. However in the last five months I have bought just six new items of clothing. Though Lisa and Becky’s recent posts are tipping me over the edge into doubling that number I have to say!
Some of this may be the result of finding a beauty routine that (almost) works for me and also the prospect of heading into my fourth year of capsule wardrobing. To be honest I only had a couple of gaps in my wardrobe and was short on money and time to fill them. I’ve made do. I am willing to admit I have found this far easier now I don’t have an office job to go to three days a week. So far I haven’t seen much drop in the shops for Spring that has templed me to part with my cash but that might be because it’s too ruddy cold to imagine myself in anything other than a jumper.

Obviously a long term lifestyle of not buying anything isn’t feasible. In a lot of the accounts where ladies ditch their credit cards for a while, find they can go without a premium moisturiser for the duration of the experiment but as soon as they’re reunited with the plastic they’re hotfooting it down to Boots faster than you can say ‘make mine a double’ after Dry January. However their attitude to purchasing does becomes far more considered and it doesn’t mean to say luxury purchases are abandoned, in fact from my own perspective I’m probably more likely to save up and buy one luxe item now rather than loading up my basket with lots of bargains I don’t actually need, hence the Heist tights I mentioned the other day. (Although I’m not going to buy them after the comments from you guys!) Fewer but better suiting my needs.

From my accidental dalliance with minimalism what have I learned?

  • Well I would say my relationship with shopping as a stress-reliever or emotional escape ended a long time ago, however I now see it as a purely functional activity. I no longer go somewhere new and think it’s not a successful day if I don’t buy anything.
  • I’ve become much more focused on giving gifting experiences rather than tangible presents. Some of my friends and I have stopped buying birthday and Christmas presents and instead treat ourselves to a slap-up lunch and a good natter which is far more valuable to me than another necklace.
    However I’ve become an utter pain in the arse to buy for. My in-laws aced the gift giving at Christmas though. My mother-in-law actually bought me an amazing bin for my bathroom (I’m all for practical and pretty) and my sister-in-law gave us a voucher for a chocolate making experience which we’re giddy to use at the weekend.
  • I’m saving money. Just a little bit but as a well known supermarket brand preaches every little helps doesn’t it?
  • Living more minimally means there’s less stuff to tidy but it sadly hasn’t turned me in to a neat freak. I’m still as messy as ever but the house is definitely tidier.
  • Living with fewer items means there’s less decisions to make. It’s merely a case of shall I wear the grey jumper or the pink one?
  • It’s made me want to pare back and purge in other areas of my life too and I really want to reduce the amount of waste I’m throwing away.
  • It becomes far harder to write blog posts when you don’t buy anything!
  • Does anyone else feel overwhelmed by excess? Has anyone else found themselves part of a minimalist experiment?

    Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
    Follow Lauren on instagram @mrslaurencoleman
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    33 thoughts on “Am I Becoming A Minimalist?

    1. Really interesting post. This is something I have always aspired to do as I felt like my spending was getting out of control, especially with clothes. I had no savings but also nothing to show for my spending because I still felt I had nothing to wear, probably as I wasn’t considered with purchases. Unknowingly I slipped into a spending ban (for myself) at Christmas, we were hosting and I couldn’t afford it. Before I know it it’s been two months and I haven’t spent a single penny on myself. I think it takes completely going cold turkey to break the habit and then once you do it becomes pretty easy. And it feels good, I’ve started saving, I’m making considered purchases if I need to, and those purchases I do make will be things I actually need. Instead of loading up my online basket with cheap buys that bring joy for about 5 minutes I will be buying well and buying less! I bought a Boden Jumper in the black Friday sale which was far more expensive than I’d ever normally spend and I have worn it so much and know I’m going to look forward to getting it out next year too!

      1. Totally agree Sarah that it becomes much easier as time goes on.
        I’m so with you on buying things now based on a cost per wear basis. You’re on to a winner with your Boden jumper!

    2. I don’t spend much either. It was only when we were assessing spending for mortgages that I realised I spend barely anything on myself. For me it’s down to lack of time to trawl the shops and I don’t like shopping online either. I’m a stickler for quality and I like to feel stuff. Expensive doesn’t mean decent quality either.

      I’ve also been described as a nightmare to buy for. My mum buys me replacement basics and my MIL buys me vouchers for facials and massages. My friends and I don’t buy for each other anyway, we just do spa days.

      The downside for me is that I feel very frumpy sometimes. My wardrobe is so paired back with work stuff which is near identical (black and white and ooooohhhh charcoal) and my weekend wear is outdoorsy stuff for the kids. I guess it’s about balance but I wish I was more balanced with stuff for me. Age old dilemma of can’t find what I’m looking for (c) Bono

      1. I know the Bono feeling. I feel like I can’t be bothered to hunt anymore and I’ve got sick of the sending stuff back all the time. Too many eye rolls in my post office!

      2. I totally agree with you Rebecca, about not shopping online! I like to look at and feel the quality of anything I buy, plus I hate the inconvenience of returning sub-par items. Has any ‘hassle-free returns’ promise actually been hassle-free?

        I also agree with expensive not = good quality in all cases. I actually have found myself more disappointed with the ‘high-end’ purchases I have made in the past than the mid-range stuff. I don’t know if I’m putting higher expectations on the pricier items or are people just buying for the name and reputation, meaning these brands have gotten a bit lax?

        I’ve been living an accidental minimalist lifestyle for the last 4 years. It started with purging the unnecessary excess ‘stuff’ from my life. Anything that held no value or meaning got donated – books, DVDs, trinkets I had bought myself and clothing was all ruthlessly culled. I was a horror for comfort buying for a number of years. I can’t say for certain what changed – I started this process before I had even heard of the term minimalism, but once I had things that only ‘sparked joy’ (a Kondo-ism I could totally get on board with and relate to) I finally felt that my life had the kind of balance and happiness I had been looking for in mindless consumerism.

        Whilst I can’t get on board with the whole ‘counting items’ and the way some practitioners have a certain air of superiority about how little they live with, I do find being able to pack my life into the back of my Ford KA works to bring a sense of calm and order to my life. It doesn’t work for everyone, nor should it. My SO being a prime example – he owns considerably more clothes, shoes, trinkets, candles and ‘just-in-case’ items than me and that’s okay. If we were both as crazy as me our house would be a pretty empty and soulless place! 😀

        I think the no-spend challenges, however long you impose them on yourself for are a really valuable exercise. I don’t think they should be used as a tool to suddenly see you sending your treasured possessions to the charity shop and living in a bare concrete studio with just a mattress and a zero-waste, organic hand coffee grinder (hey, lower-waste is fabulous and everyone should get on board to do what they can, but I think you get my point here) but as a way of slower, more considered spending and an appreciation of what we already have.

    3. I read ol’ Marie Kondo too thinking it would be a load of twonk (I aren’t going to thank my objects at the end of the day love) however it changed my life! Where she talks about guilt of giving items away and instead holding on to memories. Andrew put some clothes away in my wardrobe the other day and was shocked at the amount of empty hangers. He declared that he felt a hefty walletectomy coming up! There’s been a few spends of things that I need due to 3 stone weight loss and things just wearing out but always with a voucher code!

      1. Loving the use of ‘twonk’ Claire, it’s far too underused in my opinion! And yes, yes, yes to the voucher code.

    4. We’re about to put our house on the market (agents coming tomorrow – eek!) and the last of the clutter to sort out is all mine! When my Grandma died a few years ago I helped my parents clear out her house and it was a big wake up call about how many possessions we have. I got rid of so much of my own stuff and felt better for it, but spending and stuff has crept in everywhere again. I don’t want to take old unwanted things to a new house so I really need to be ruthless in the next couple of weeks.

      I hate that I have the mentally of being annoyed by having so much stuff, but then find it difficult to part with things. In a way I think I need to not sort out what I don’t want, but put aside what I do wear, use and like, and then get rid of everything else – if that makes sense?!

      1. Makes perfect sense Claire and moving house is such a good opportunity to do it. I think if people took the approach of ‘would I take this with me to a new house’ then we’d have far less schizzle cluttering up our lofts and garages.

    5. Claire B I’m with you on being annoyed about how much stuff I have but I also find it difficult to part with stuff. I read Marie kondo too and did a big book and wardrobe cull which felt great but I kinda regret getting rid of some of my clothes. Living on a farm I need old clothes more often than good clothes and so I have stacks of old jeans that now don’t fit very well and I wouldn’t want to wear in public but I need them for muddy dog walks and every day jobs. I’m two months post pregnancy too so I also have whole drawers full of clothes that only fit for a short while post pregnancy before I’m back in my old clothes again. It’s tricky as I want to buy new stuff but I know that clothes I have already will soon fit again. With regard to other possessions I’ve definitely pared back. I no longer buy books, instead getting them from the library or digitally for my kindle. I’ve cut back on cosmetics and I also usually do experience gifts with friends now rather than physical things.

      The trouble we have is storing baby stuff. We kept it all from our first son and now have both toddler toys and baby paraphernalia everywhere! It drives me mad to try and clean round toy cars, duplo, baby rockers, car seats, peaks and all manner of other things abandoned all over the house. We have far more toys than either of the boys need but our lovely friends and family are so generous with gifts that it gets a bit out of hand!

      Interesting post Lauren, I think there is a shift in society as a whole about how much we buy and use, as well as the growing concern for plastics, I think people are realising we don’t need all this “stuff” to be happy, and consumerism is ruining the planet!

      1. Storage for little ones mountains of possessions always seems to be a bugbear. We’ll have to look into doing another post on this at some point.

    6. This is a great post! I’ve been quite anxious about this since we recently moved my parents to Spain and into a one bedroom annexe attached to our house, helping them pack up the house they’ve been in for nearly 40 years was horrid, there was so much stuff and my parents just couldn’t part with anything. The place in Spain already has everything it needs because they’ve had it for a few years, but now it has two of everything, you know, just in case! The annexe is packed to the rafters with stuff & junk, clothes to see them until the end of time, mega kitchen collection including 4 lasagne dishes and 4 pie dishes (i questioned if mom could just have one of each or make rectangle pies, she nearly cried at the thought of throwing them away), they have 22 forks and 22 knives, I kid you not! I stress out going into the annexe because it could easily become an episode of Hoarders.
      It has made me look at the possessions we have and I’ve got rid of so much of our stuff, even books (something I never thought I’d part with), I’ve halved my clothes collection and plan to get rid of more. I want to clear out so much but as other readers have said it’s so difficult. I can definitely feel a difference mentally, by not having all the clutter and streamlining my wardrobe. My bank balance is benefiting too.
      I’m definitely nowhere near minimalist, but its a start.

    7. Oh no Vikki! I actually gave my Marie Kondo book to my Father-in-Law’s partner as they’ve just moved to France and are pooling their possessions. Much the same as your parents they have two, if not four of everything!
      Definitely agree it’s hard to clear out but so liberating when you do!

    8. Really great post Lauren and I can really relate to all of this. I’m a sucker for clever lifestyle marketing but have found leaving Instagram and unsubscribing from email and paper marketing really freeing, wanting less is such a good feeling! I see with my kids that having fewer toys out they play more happily and are more content. Guess it’s the same for adults…

      The plastic free movement is really inspiring I think. I’d recommend looking at surfers against sewage as they have some good starting points on how to cut down on plastics as it does seem really overwhelming to begin with!

    9. I def lean towards minimalism and feel overwhelmed by excess choice. It’s one of the reasons I shop in Aldi or Lidl – I don’t need 10 or more different olive oils to choose from, I don’t need 10 or more dried pasta to choose from. It’s so much easier, I find, when you have limited choice.
      I really enjoy having a purge of possessions and just keeping those that are functional, beautiful or both, so much easier when it comes to cleaning the house too. Recently when cleaning out the kitchen drawer I found we had 3 cheese graters – unless I was going to have some kind of ‘grate off’ 2 were not needed so off they went to the charity shop. I try not to have too many ‘just in case’ items – if you can buy and item easily and cheaply then there’s no need to keep so many ‘just in case’ items. If you need it, you can get it.
      I don’t tend to hang on to sentimental items – my memories are in my mind. My father died almost 2 years ago and all I have of his is a pair of his socks (clean!) – he always wore a particular kind, and a copy of his signature. That’s all I wanted as I luckily have a multitude of happy and funny memories of him.
      We live in a world of excess where we are bombarded by images of ‘must have’ items or ways of being. It feels good to step back from that and purchase mindfully – choosing only what you need and love.

      1. The grate-off made me laugh Siobhan. It’s so easy to accumulate kitchen stuff!
        I think it’s a wonderful memento to have your dad’s signature – there’s nothing more personal.

    10. Great article, we downsized our house last year, but upsized our family with a new baby! So had to get rid of a lot of books and clothes whilst now also suffering the issue described above where we are now surrounded by baby and toddler stuff. However not planning any more babies so as our youngest is growing out of stuff I am loving giving it all away or even making a few pounds selling things. However I know we could do better. Under our beds is stuffed with boxes of things and the garage and attic are full too, so I’ll be looking out the book you mention (on my kindle of course!) and giving it a read.

        1. My library lend digital copies of books. You have to wait for popular ones (as you would for paper copies) but I rarely buy the kindle book. I have a kindle fire and needed to download the library app but it’s great, I can browse and download books so easily and you get to keep them for 2 weeks

    11. Great article! I have a new rule that if something’s not useful or if it doesn’t make me feel something when I look at it then it needs to go, ideally to a charity shop. We just don’t need so much stuff. I find the excess Christmas present buying particularly wrong these days – we could barely get into our living room because of all the presents!! I just need to sort out my amazon habit and then I can become a proper minimalist!

    12. This is really interesting… I’ve been feeling the same the past couple years. Life suddenly changed for our family when my partner suffered a stroke two years ago (he’s mostly fine now thankfully) but finances were hit hard and it made me realise and appreciate a lot of things… I had to find extra work to just pay the bills so all the nice things in life were out of the question. Also during this time I craved peace… some days I just wanted to lay down in a field and look at the sky… Soooo back to now and I’m a much wiser spender, I embrace rather than fight against the budgets and spreadsheets my partner has always run and I really enjoy a much simpler life with less clutter around. Now all I need to do is tackle my loft… I have always found it hard emotionally to let go of stuff when it’s attached to memories of my childhood or late parents. As we say, it’s a work in progress but I’ve been encouraged by your words today. Thanks.

      1. Margaret, I’m so pleased to hear your partner is doing well but what an event to have to go through.
        You definitely shouldn’t feel you have to get rid everything associated to childhood or parents, it’s very cathartic to pare back though and keep the most treasured items.

    13. Very interesting post and discussion following it. I’m definitely not a minimalist but do shop fairly thoughtfully. My desire to move away from ‘more’ has led to a big reduction in the number of blogs I read – so many are about convincing us to buy more and aspire to the latest ‘instagramable’ interior/holiday/clothing/etc that it all feels a bit much. Happily that has also led to more free time which I’m now trying to fill with good stuff rather than mindless scrolling. Keep up the interesting debates!

    14. Great post Lauren – I love the idea of accidental minimalism, and am completely with you on all the packaging that comes with online orders, and the slow accumulation of stuff.

      I mentioned my 12 month spending ban here a few weeks ago (and thanks to everyone who popped over to my blog for a read then). 2 months down it’s going well (despite some major life wobbles last week) and I’m pleased to say that my bank balance is also showing small signs of growth. I have no idea yet what’s going to happen when the ban is lifted, but have started writing a list of the clothing items that I might want to buy. It’s currently very short.

      Gifts wise – it’s really hard isn’t it? I too am a fan of experiences and making memories, and have been trying to communicate that I’d rather have help towards a holiday, or a nice meal out than lots of things. At the same time it’s always nice to receive that one thing that shows someone really gets you.

      1. You’re so right about presents Rebecca. Charlotte is an excellent gift buyer but I know most of my family wait for a list at Christmas as I’m tricky to buy for. Exchanging lists kind of takes the magic out of things

    15. I completely agree – I have actually noticed myself wanting to buy things as a result of watching/reading particular accounts. It’s really not good and so easy to get sucked into!

      1. It’s one of the reasons we don’t accept a huge amount of the free stuff we are offered Jude. We like to make genuine recommendations and don’t want you all to feel bombarded. We wither love it or really want it for ourselves if it gets a mention over here!

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