BY KARA I. STEVENS
Over the last month, I've reintroduced myself to the concept of minimalism. Minimalism is a lifestyle where individuals intentionally decide to live with less material items as a way to make room for things that matter most to them (i.e. relationships, experiences, health, wealth, and peace of mind.)
Two of the things that matter the most to me are wealth and freedom. And as I spent the last thirty days sifting through the excess of clothes, shoes, bags, and electronics that took over my small apartment, I realized that the presence of these unneeded, underused, or unused items would be keeping me from accessing wealth and freedom if I didn't regain control over the situation.
The challenge to be mindful about what I brought into my life made me very grateful and appreciative of the things that I decided to keep in my life. Here are some of the lessons learned through my minimalist journey that anyone could apply to their lives if they are seeking to streamline their lives.
Cost-per-Wear is an Internal Calculator: The idea that minimalism is synonymous with austere and miserly living is a misconception. When you adopt elements of minimalism into your life, you are going to think about what value an item will bring to you in the long-term. When you look at the value of something, then price becomes relative.
For example, if you buy a high quality handbag for $500 and use it over 100 times, your cost-per-wear for the handbag is $5 (cost of item divided by how many times used). On the other hand, if you buy a $50 bag and only use it twice, the cost-per-wear is actually more expensive. It's $25.
Moral of the story? Your relationship with buying is likely to change with minimalism. You may opt for a few high-quality items instead of an overabundance of lower quality items.
Wear and Repair Is a Lost Art: As a result of my journey to minimalism, I took four of my favorite pairs of shoes that were in the back of my closet for years because they needed a few repairs to the shoemaker. I paid $52 for like-new shoes, instead of buying new shoes that would have cost me four times the amount to repair.
Free is also a four-letter word. I don't know about you, but my eyes used to just light up when I hear the word "free." Whether it be free food, free clothes, or free advice, you had my attention. Wherever free was, that was where I wanted to be.
Until I had my aha moment.
A lot of the clutter and half-used things in my home that I wound up throwing out were items from free events: swaps, conferences, and family visits. My eyes were bigger than the storage space in my hallways and closets.
They took up space, but didn't add any more value to my world. Not to say that I will never accept a free item, but I will ask myself, "Do I really need or want this or do I want it because it's free?"
Even though there are no strict rules to minimalism, these basic principles promise to bring order and more meaning into your lives.
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