Need Less: My Journey to Minimalism

"Minamilism is not a style, it is a way of being" - C. Silverstein

My best friend always had the coolest stuff in elementary school. From the latest backpack, to fancy tinted Clinique lip-gloss, to an endless assortment of the latest clothes. It seemed like she had it all. I had some cute clothes too, but, I basically got new clothes twice a year – in the summer for back to school shopping and in the winter for Christmas. One day, as I was feeling particularly jealous of my bestie’s shopping spree with her mom, I bombarded my mother with questions about why we didn’t shop for clothes more often. My mom’s answer was simple, “Your Dad and I value experiences over things. Would you prefer a new pair of jeans or a trip to Hawaii?” For me, the answer was clearly, Hawaii. In that moment, I embraced the idea of minimalism, I just didn’t know the word yet.  

My definition of minimalism is simple: it is the art of needing less. Less clothes. Less shoes. Less space. And less from the external environment to make you happy. It’s creating a life that isn’t driven by the pursuit of things, but instead is driven by purpose, happiness, and love. Since my divorce, I have been on a journey to living healthy, happy, and free. I first tackled healthy, which meant changing the way that I eat, how often I moved my body, and cutting out harmful chemicals and toxins from my diet and from my household and personal products. Lately, I have begun to focus on being happy, which (for me, at least) is directly linked to needing less. 

After my marriage ended, I stayed in the 3BR/3.5BA townhome that my ex-husband and I had purchased out in the suburbs. I had over 2,000 square feet for me and my small dog Honey. I spent most of my time in 2 rooms - the living room and the bedroom. I never used over 70% of my house. It goes without saying that I just had too much space. And with too much space, comes too much stuff. I was beginning to feel mentally cluttered, overwhelmed, and I was always losing something. It became clear that I needed to focus on creating a new minimalist lifestyle.

My first step was to downsize my living space and move somewhere more urban. I wanted to live in a city where I could walk to yoga and a juice bar, sit outside on a cute local coffee shop (even though I don’t drink coffee), and easily access fantastic restaurants. I rented out my 2,000+ square foot house and moved to a 564 square foot apartment in the city.  So, whether I was going to be a minimalist or not, my new apartment was going to force me to downsize!

My second step was to figure out what I owned that I no longer needed. As an existential side hustler, I focused on getting rid of things that would still have value first. Here are the things that I sold, how I sold them, and how much money I made:

1. Electronics. Generally speaking, electronics have the most resale value. So I scanned my home, and after deciding that I didn’t need two Sonos speakers in my small apartment, I sold one on Amazon for $175. Then I decided to sell my iPad. I have a computer and a cellphone, so why do I realllly need an iPad? It’s basically a large phone that can’t actually be used as a phone. Useless. So I sold it for $220 on the Let Go App. I also found my little brother’s old broken iPhone 5 in the bottom of a drawer, and I sold this on the app DeClutter for $50.

2. DVDs and Books. I sold all of my DVDs for $40 to an old school record store. Whatever they didn’t want, I sold on the app DeClutter. With Netflix, who really watches DVDs anymore? Apparently, no one, because I also tried to sell my DVD player, and I haven’t gotten a single inquiry. I don’t reference or re-read a book after I finish it, so all of my books were quite literally just for decoration. I sold all 200+ of my books (accept the 4 I haven’t finished reading) to a used bookstore for $50 and donated the rest to the library. Since I no longer had books or DVDs, I didn’t need bookshelves. I sold those to a neighbor for $275 by posting an ad on my townhome communities facebook page.

3. Dog Supplies. In the process of uncluttering, I also decided that I am not going to crate my dog anymore. My apartment is tiny, I don’t have space for a dog crate. Also, she is 8 years old; she better be housebroken at this point. So I sold her cage and gate on the Let Go app for $85.

4. Old clothes and housewares. If I hadn’t worn something in a year, I gave it away. If it looked old, I gave it away. If I purchased it in high school, including prom dresses, I gave it away. (Sidenote: I will never buy another formal gown, I am a Rent the Runway loyalist for life.)  I discovered three graduation robes in my closet – High school, Undergrad, and Masters. Like really, what am I going to do with old graduation ropes? Unless I wanted to be a graduate for Halloween, nothing, so they had to go. I took a large trash bag of clothes to a consignment shop, and I got $0. There wasn’t one single thing that they wanted. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed. Were my old clothes really that bad? I don’t think so, because I learned that unless you buy top of the line luxury brands, which I don’t, then clothes do not have the best resale value. In my case, my clothes had no value, so all of them were just donated to Goodwill. I also had tons of old vases, decorating items, and kitchen appliances that I just donated to Goodwill.

5. Old linens. I discovered that I had old towels that I bought back in 2005, which were faded and full of bleach spots. All of my old towels, old sheets, and an old sleeping bag were taken to the animal shelter, because Goodwill does not accept these items but the animal shelter loves this stuff! I also took them some dog toys that Honey refuses to play with (she’s a little bougie).

6. Junk. After clearing out nearly all of my material possessions, the only thing left to do was identify things that had no value – resale or donation – and throw them away. I filled up bags of mismatched socks, old wrapping paper, copies of bills from 5 years ago, broken things I never fixed, almost empty bottles of shampoo, etc., and tossed them with no regrets.

In the end, I made $895 dollars, and I still have a few things listed for sell (a gas grill, an arm chair and ottoman, and some vases) on the app. So who knows, I may actually make a $1,000 from selling stuff that I wasn’t even using. But it wasn’t about the money. It was about releasing my attachment to things that I didn’t need in my life. I started with physical things and I will continue to work on releasing things that do not serve me – fear, guilt, shame. And I must say, I already feel lighter after getting rid of unnecessary things. I feel happy. I feel free.