Just the other day we received an email from Nick Cesare expressing his interest in writing an article for The Minimalist Vegan. Nick is a 20-something who discovered the power of minimalism when moving around in college. He had been reading a whole bunch of articles on the topic of simplicity and decided to test some of the strategies he was learning about to declutter both physically and mentally.
Below Nick shares his story as well as some actionable tips to help you get started on a journey towards living a simpler life, from a millennial’s perspective (although applicable to any generation).
Take it away Nick.
When I was in school I was moving around quite a bit. I commuted to class from my parent’s home during my first semester before moving closer to school. Then I moved across states to go to grad school in Colorado, subletting in three different apartments before finding a place to spend my first year… until I moved again before my second year, to an on-campus apartment that I’d had to apply for the year prior.
I think in at least one respect my experience was like that of many recent college grads in my generation: we didn’t really stay in one place for long until after we’d graduated. If that, even, given the difficulty that many of us are having in acquiring reliable long-term employment.
By the time I left grad school and moved back to my home town in search of a place to settle down and get to work repaying my student loans I had accumulated more than my share of junk. And I’m not just talking about the psychological baggage that comes with grad school or the stress that accumulates with years of debt and less than encouraging job prospects. I literally had boxes full of junk, so heavy that I need to wheel them around.
Most of it was old papers, strangely enough. I had somehow become obsessed with the idea that I might someday need to reference some old paper that I wrote for some intro class six years ago. I’ve since dropped that habit, fortunately.
Besides papers I’d also accumulated a large bundle of old clothes, several redundant kitchen gadgets, half of an old desktop computer.
By the time I finished grad school it was clear that I needed a change.
For 20-somethings especially there are some additional benefits:
- It’s easier to move. No one likes moving and it’s getting harder and harder with more cities becoming prohibitively expensive for emerging adults, but for those of us who find ourselves doing a lot of it decluttering can be a tremendous load off our backs. I cannot tell you how many time’s I’ve been packing or unpacking for a move only to come across an item that I didn’t even remember owning. It had just sat there in a dusty closet or (God forbid) in that part of my bedroom that my eyes habitually slid past gathering dust. What’s more, there’s less to carry from car to apartment, letting you spend less time moving and more time settling in.
- We can save precious, precious money. It’s no secret that 20-somethings are a little starved for cash these days. By realizing how little you really need, you can alleviate quite a lot of financial stress and make those rare big purchases a lot more guilt-free.
How to minimalize
There’s no one-step easy way to declutter your life, but here are some things that have worked well for me and demonstrate a certain level of environmental savvy, which intersects really well with the philosophy behind efficient living.
- Donate old clothes. Pick a day on one of these weekends when the weather isn’t so great and spend some time going through your closet. Make a pile of items that you haven’t worn in the past year and donate them! Avoid the temptation to bring them down to the dumpster. Even though the trip may be shorter, there are people who can greatly benefit from your unused clothes. Donating is a win-win scenario.
- Get help for big items. One of the most intimidating parts of decluttering involves getting rid of your big items. I’m talking things like old couches, appliances, and broken down electronics. Don’t be afraid to get some help if you’re not sure what to do with some of your scarier clutter.
- Slow down on impulse buys. Oh boy. I am super guilty of this one. When I was first getting into cooking I was sure that I needed every specialized gadget out there. Thankfully I’ve since learned that people got by and made good food before they had food processors with 18 buttons. Instead of buying something for each new task that you want to perform, try sitting on purchases (especially online buys) and think about whether or not you can do whatever it is your new gadget will with the materials that you already have.
Minimalist living for millennials
So there you have it. Minimal living is good for you and attainable. Let me know how your minimalizing projects went in the comments!