Why Minimalism Improved Our Lives.

Let's go back to the 8th of August, 2010. We were at the Travelodge hotel for a mini honeymoon celebration. We kicked back with a little "telly" and Hoarders the American television series was on. We were captivated by the episode that was on. The lady seemed normal, she just had a lot of stuff. One quote in particular that stuck us was "How could one person have five garbage bags of yarn in their closet" We looked at each other, there was in fact five garbage bags of yarn at our home. When we got home from our mini holiday, we took to getting rid of stuff we didn't need immediately.

We realised we were beginning to become hoarders. We would buy nonsense stuff just because it was on sale and we loved going to the recycling depot's second hand store and filling a bag with junk for a dollar. The recycling depot would have all sorts of clothes, books, electronics, sporting equipment and furniture for really cheap which was difficult to pass up. One time we got a working Sony PSP there in our $1 bag!


Changing our habits from a Sunday afternoon of digging through someones garbage at a recycling depot, to clearing out our junk and donating it to the recycle depot was a difficult change. We had to fight our urges to fill a bag while we were there. Our apartment building also had a freecycle table for unwanted items which we would take from on a daily basis. Now we were donating what we didn't use or need on a daily basis.

At this point in our lives we didn't know what minimalism was. We were just focusing on not becoming hoarders like the ones we saw on TV. The problem was that by going to the recycling depot we saw the kinds of things that people were getting rid of and it made us want to make use of some of the perfectly good stuff we were finding there. It took time to realise that there is a line between not letting useful stuff going to waste and buying stuff you will never use.

Another thing that pushed us towards minimalism was moving apartments. We both hate moving and somehow we seem to move pretty often. Each time we move it seems that we get rid of more stuff in order to make the move easier. We tried to pare down our stuff to just the things that we like the most.

Fast forward to August 2014. By this point we had started to learn about minimalism. We were watching Youtube videos about people living with 100 things and we were watching videos on how to minimize.  We were very interested in living more, with less. We started going through a room at a time and downsizing our stuff.

So what is minimalism then?

To us it's about focusing on what matters most to us in life, and eliminating anything that stops us from pursuing those dreams. Next we had to figure out what we loved more than anything and apply minimalism to our life to correspond to our dreams.

We wanted to find our passions in life, but as many of you know, it's terribly difficult. We wanted to use minimalism to help us find our passions. Once you get rid of the clutter in your lives, you can begin to see what you actually need in life.

We always knew that we love to travel. We would save our money year round and spend it on a holiday once a year. We love to meet new people and go on new adventures. Minimalism has improved our lives by getting us to focus more on our goals and focus less on acquiring possessions. Less stuff means it is easier to organise, clean, and travel. living more minimally is a space saver, time saver and money saver. That being said we still have a ways to go considering we have quite a bit of stuff stored at our family's houses but it is something that we work towards. It has been 8 months since we stored our stuff, and it is becoming more clear what we will actually keep when we get home.

Learning about minimalism and heading in that direction prepared us for living on a two year working visa since we were used to the idea of living with less.We didn't have much of a choice except to be minimalists, living in England, because we weren't able to bring over much stuff. We can't buy many things either because in all practicality we won't be bringing it back to Canada and also because of financial constraints. We simply can't afford to travel the way we like to, if we buy new stuff. Living in England has demonstrated that it is easier than we thought for us to live more minimally.  It also helps to know that when we leave we have to fit everything back in the two suitcases we brought with us here. We are trying our best and thinking twice about everything we buy and focusing on the goals of seeing new places and meeting new people. So far so good. :)

Minimalism has helped us discover our dreams and help us pursue them. If you would like to hear more about minimalism feel free to pop a message in the comments below.


If you enjoyed this post, you may like our post "What We Learned in Our First Year Living Abroad."

Comments

  1. Great post. I know we probably have too many things that we don't need. Definitely a hard change, but from your story it sounds like such a rewarding outcome!

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    1. Minimalism isnt for everybody, but it worked for us to obtain our travel goals.

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  2. We've always been pretty bad at buying things we don't really need and since having kids our possessions have multiplied drastically! Before we go travelling long term we will have a clean-out (mind you, we've already had a few and it hasn't made a dent)... I dream of living minimally! Well done for making the change and sticking with it!

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    1. Thank you. It is hard to make the change. As you can see we started our journey in 2010! I wish you luck in your journey!

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  3. Great informative post, a lot of people don't realise how much useless/unneeded stuff they have in their home, that they could sell for great money, easily putting it into their travel fund! We try to be minimalists too! Only need the necessities, as we travel a lot there isn't really a need for lots of fancy things!

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    1. It definitely makes things a bit easier. We sold everything from books to furniture for extra cash.

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  4. I've been trying to minimilize a lot more over the past few years as well. Being on my 4th country in the last 4 years, it becomes crucial but many of my friends back home continue to collect and hoard useless junk..so it's great seeing others who are passionate about cutting out the clutter of life.

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    1. Yeah we try but it can be hard sometimes to figure out what you do and don't need.

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  5. Great thought. Glad that step by step you are reaching there. Even I am not a minimalist but somehow I want to be super organized with my stuff and I am never able to be !! I realized it has to start off by cutting clutter in the first place and now I am doing that on almost a monthly basis. There is so much I never use but I bought them all at some point thinking I will be putting them to good use. Slowly I am getting rid of such things and at some point I hope to reach the minimalist boundary

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    1. It can definitely be a challenge to figure out what things are worth keeping for when you might need them. We don't have a hardcore 100 possessions view of minimalism we just want to simplify so sometimes we save stuff that might be useful like spare buttons.

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  6. Nice article. I would say I am not a minimalist, in fact this term is different to me. It was interesting reading this article about different ways to do things. May not be my path but still good on you for doing it.

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    1. Yeah thanks. You don't even have to label yourself as a minimalist to be inspired by some of the minimalist ideas like getting rid of clutter, etc. But it's not for everyone.

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  7. I know I'm definitely guilty of this! It's my wardrobes that are bulging - I definitely need to de clutter!!

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    1. Yeah it's worth going through your wardrobe every once in awhile.

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  8. Until I had a house I used to live very minimally. Now, we seem to accumulate things and it really drives me crazy sometimes. I think its great that you were both on the same page to live minimally as if one person is and the other person isn't, that makes for a hard go of it.

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    1. I'm sure owning a house makes it a bit of a challenge to remain minimalist considering there are so many thing you might need for a house. Minimising clutter is always good though.

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  9. Loved your post. Minimalism is definitely the way to go, especially for someone who is clear on what is important in life. Cos only then will they be able to focus on what is important. I hope everyone who reads this realizes this.

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    1. I think minimalism can really show people what is important in life. You can't think clear with all the clutter, its once you start to let go, that it becomes clear what is important to you.

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  10. The minimalist life is something really worth considering. After all what are our basic needs, they are really not much and we should not waste our time running after frills and froth.

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  11. These are some great insights. Travel has surely made you wiser. I have also become more and more minmalistic, not probably by choice but due to compulsions. Having left the full-tme job, I do not have too many options. But yes, I do not regret it. It makes t easier to travel and shift my ase whenever want to and the experiiences are anythng but minimal.

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    1. Thank you very much. Indeed experiences are the best.

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  12. This was such an awesome read. I know exactly what you are saying. All the things I once held dearly dont mean all that much to me. When i graduated university, I proceeded to sell almost everything and I moved to China. I just simply lived! I am back in the U.S. now, but am still living with only what I need and proceeding to save for my future travels!

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    1. Thank you. Glad to hear minimalism is working for you as well.

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  13. Wow This does offer a new outlook towards life. Do tell us about the biggest challenge you face while going minimalistic? I am sure there would have been quite a few mental ones.

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    1. The biggest challenge is getting rid of sentimental items even though they might useless.

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  14. Your article actually inspired me to declutter my house this weekend. Indeed we tend to keep so many things that we don't need just because... I like a minimalist house too but sometimes things just seem to pile and pile. I guess decluttering can be a great way of raising some extra travel money too, by selling the things we don't use on ebay.

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    1. That's great to hear! We always feel more relaxed when we've got rid of the clutter.

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  15. Reading this article is so timely for me. I just packed boxes of clothes, bags and shoes I no longer use and going to sell them. I want to live a simple and minimalist life and like you, just be surrounded with things that matter. It makes life simpler and happier. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. So good to hear! Good luck on your journey.

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  16. I am in the process of moving from Shanghai back to Toronto and am totally adapting to minimalism. It's amazing how much STUFF we accumulate, and the amount of unneeded things we spend our money on! It feels so good to declutter and sort, plus realizing you actually don't need as much as you think. Travelling light is a concept that should be adapted to life.

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    1. Good for you! It is definitely easier to travel lighter! Plus all the money saved by not spending money on useless items that aren't adding value to your life.

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  17. I too was a hoarder, if I saw something on sale, I would forget whether I needed it, and buy it, for no reason! But, since I started travelling, the need to save up led me to get rid of my habit! Every time I see something now, I ask myself- "Prachi, do you really think it is worth more than an extra night's stay in any place?" Haha! the answer's mostly "NO". :D

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    1. Haha. We do that too. A lot of stuff is not worth more than a flight or hotel room etc.

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  18. I understand you completely. I hate moving between countries and having to choose between storage, donate and taking with. It always ended up that the stuff I didn´t bring at first I didn´t give a second thought to needing it while abroad. Traveling lighter is always better!

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    1. When we moved back from living abroad we had less than what we brought. But to be honest, I don't even remember why we thought that stuff was important enough to bring in the first place.

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