Simply Push Pause

Minimalism can be intimidating, I admit.

But it doesn’t always have to be.

There are different varieties of minimalism out there. What works for one individual or family may or may not work for another.

I’ve adopted a frugal version of minimalism, out of a desire to spend less and give more. Not only have we saved money, but we also drive less, eat healthier, and take better care of our bodies.

Minimalism is only as difficult as we make it.

I know how easy it is to get caught up in the end result and overcomplicate things.

But minimalism is not as hard as it sounds.

The problem is that we’ve got it backwards: we think we need to purge everything, buy sleeker things, organize, and redecorate.

The truth is, that while the purging and organizing might come eventually, the first step is easy:

Do nothing.

Simply push pause.

That’s right. Pause your consumption. That’s all it takes to start your minimal lifestyle. 

There’s no need to purge a lot of items right away….even though I love purging my home!

Simply stop the intake.

Find creative ways to not buy things and use what you have instead.

This tip is doubly awesome – not only is it a fairly effortless way to start, but it’s one of the most important steps of staying minimalist.

Many people forget this vital step on their minimalist journey.

Rather than push pause, they consume more. 

They buy organizing tools. They are drawn to new, minimalist-looking decor. They get caught up in the idea of “minimalism” that has been marketed a lot recently.

This isn’t my idea of minimalism.

This is consumerism disguised as minimalism.

It’s easy to be drawn to minimalist-looking things, buy them, and forget about the purging. Forget about the pausing.

But it’s about less, not more.

The other common pitfall of forgetting to pause consumption is that you start with purging, but the purge never lasts. In about six months your home is cluttered again and you need to re-purge.

This purge, consume, purge, consume cycle will wear you out quickly.

It may feel good to get rid of things, but unless you pause the intake into your home, you will never get anywhere….and you’ll spend money in the process!

This is how my closet used to be. It wasn’t that my size was changing, it was that I was always hunting for new clothing and always sorting through it when my closet got too stuffed.

I was buying “fast fashion” that was specifically designed to be trendy and go out of style quickly. 

I took the bait the marketers fed me.

In, out, in, out. Spend, purge, spend, purge.

You get the idea….

If you’re overwhelmed by minimalism but want to try it, you don’t have to do anything.

Just push pause.

Stop the intake of things into your home.

Stop shopping – except for groceries.

See what happens.

How much lighter do you feel?

Notice how much less trash your home generates – simply from bags and packaging!

Josh and I have essentially eliminated the “household goods” and “spending money” from our budget since we did this.

We get by just fine without a lot of the things that we thought were necessities.

Vinegar and baking soda supply almost all our household needs.

We use washcloths and towels rather than disposables.

We do use toilet paper and some disposable diapers to supplement our cloth ones – but we get them at the grocery store. This keeps us from setting foot in a Walmart or Target and subjecting ourselves to impulse purchases.

I don’t wear makeup.

We use plain, multi-purpose soap.

This is an invitation to rethink those “necessities” and gain that freedom from routine.

“This is how we’ve always done it” is not a reason to keep doing something.

Push pause on consumption.

When I was younger, I shopped for fun. I went thrifting almost everyday weekend. I killed time at the mall. I enjoyed Target.

I never questioned it all, but I’m sure it resulted in extra spending and extra stuff.

Then I decided to quit buying clothes.

I didn’t overhaul my whole wardrobe and buy a sleek, expensive capsule wardrobe.

I just pushed pause on my closet and stopped bringing new things in.

I did a year-long clothes shopping ban, and during that year I purged some things from my closet that I decided I didn’t need.

But that’s not where I started.

I started by stopping. 

This is about more than simply saving money.

Saving money is a really nice incentive, but even better is all the saved time, saved space, and saved resources.

Purging isn’t something you have to keep doing, month after month.

If you started by pushing pause, then you can start going through your home and purging room by room.

You will eventually get to a point where all that “stuff” is pointless and you can let it go.

Then you won’t have to deal with it again. That’ll be it.

With the exception of getting rid of outgrown baby / kid stuff (like I am currently), you will overall have a home that doesn’t need constant purging.

Everything you own will either add function or beauty to your life.

Occasionally, you may remove something and on very rare occasions you may add something, but overall you’re able to just stop and enjoy what you have without adding or removing.

It’s no secret that businesses are built on the discontent of consumers.

I’ve finally opted out of that game.

Practicing gratitude and contentment is a surefire way to save money and resources…and jump off of the consumer carousel.

I can appreciate something without feeling the need to own it. 

I can compliment someone else’s outfit or home without needing to run to the store and replicate it myself.

I’m confident enough in who I am as a person to know that material things do not make me any more or any less important than anyone else.

In all honesty, I’m lazy about shopping now and don’t even like doing it. Josh has started doing pretty much all of the grocery shopping so I hardly have to set foot in a store anymore! (And no, we don’t make up for it with a lot of online shopping.)

It’s amazing to discover that a lot of the things I was buying are optional.

Just try it and see.

How many of your shopping trips are actually necessary?

I know you can’t push pause on everything…there are some things we actually do need to buy. 

But I want to challenge you to change your thinking. To evaluate all your options.

When it is time to buy something, how much can you eliminate by making one simple change – like switching to cloth diapers or a multi-purpose soap?

I’ve found that going to the store less often has made a big difference in how we buy.

We now wait until we absolutely need something (we usually put it off a long time) and  we make a trip down the street to Dollar General (because we can walk there) and we buy only that one item.

Maybe this sounds extreme. Maybe it sounds reasonable.

However it sounds to you, I hope you’ll take the time to try this little experiment.

Push pause for a little while. Stop buying things for a week and see what happens.

I promise the world won’t stop spinning.

Chances are you’ll be fine. You’ll get creative and find out that a lot of those little “necessities” were actually luxuries.

Chances are, you’ll discover the freedom and joy that come from making due with less.

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5 Comments

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  1. Love this commonsense advice! Since minimalism is now a big trend, companies are jumping on the bandwagon and trying to market it, and I also often get frustrated at the high-middle-class elitism I’ve seen in the movement. But at its heart, minimalism works for someone of almost any income level, and I like the way you sum it up here.

  2. Inspiring post! Great points you brought up. I think that with minimalism there is pressure to have the PERFECT capsule wardrobe & that every piece should match every other piece you have in your capsule. I found myself always searching for the PERFECT dress, jeans, sweater, etc..you get the idea. Hence, my clothing shopping ban. Great commonsense advice.

    • I can relate to that! Now that my shopping ban is over I’m looking for ways to streamline what I have – one perfect shoe that can be worn everywhere, etc. Truth is, there is no perfect shoe. So I might as well save my money and time by being content in the imperfection.

  3. I couldn’t agree more–this is something I started to realize myself when I began the minimalism/zero waste journey. While my own perfectionism certainly came into play, I now focus on generally consuming less and find that it brings me more peace and joy in the journey. Thanks for sharing!

  4. The “minimalist” idea of finding the perfect clothing items–that are durable, quality, timeless, match everything, etc.–stresses me out to no end. And if the price tag is high and I’m going to wear it around my kids, what’s the point? I love the idea of pausing consumption instead and only buying what you really, truly need. I think there’s a lot to be learned from that.

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