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Frugal Living: How To Be A Minimalist

Updated on September 28, 2012

The Bare Minimum Doesn't Have To Be Ugly!

Simple frugal living is easy to attain and maintain! Less is more!
Simple frugal living is easy to attain and maintain! Less is more! | Source

Advice On Freeing Yourself From Excess Stuff

We live in a consumer society. The time has come to adopt frugal living as a way of life. In the past 10 years, regardless of dwindling resources and a failing world economy, we Americans have been assailed with the message that we should live large and consume mass quantities. The result has been chaos, and we are finally beginning to realize that we need to pull in the reins and stop galloping to our own destruction.

One of the first and most effective ways to begin frugal living and perhaps raise some much needed cash is to get rid of excess. Have a yard sale or, if you are able to afford to, share your excess stuff with folks less fortunate. Clear your decks, and get a good idea of what you have, what you need, and what you don't need. Sort through your belongings systematically. You may be very surprised to find out just how much you do have and just how much you don’t need.

Once you have cleared out obvious excess, start sorting through your closets and drawers to see what you have duplicates of. Get rid of things that don't fit at all, that you don't use, that you can't remember buying, and so on. Remember, frugal living also involves good planing! Don't get rid of every excess thing. There’s no sense buying common, everyday items again later.

If, for example, you find you have several pairs of black pants (or some other thing that you are sure to always need) and they all fit you, take out a couple of pairs to use in your current wardrobe, and store the rest away in a plastic tote or a trunk. When the ones you are using wear out, open your trunk and pull out another couple of pairs. This will give you good incentive to maintain your level of fitness (to be able to continue fitting in the same size) and it will save you money on replacing clothes in the long run.

Frugal living can simplify your life and your cleaning routine. Look through all your knickknacks and gewgaws. Do you have all kinds of things cluttering your surfaces? Do you want them? Are you like me, do you just end up with lots of stuff that needs dusting and looks anything but pretty and attractive? Get rid of it. Add it to your yard sale or clean it up and wrap it and give it to friends and family for Christmas. You will be surprised at how attractive and easy to care for plain, gleaming surfaces are. Just wipe it off and go with no muss and no fuss.

Share frugal living by reducing, reusing and recycling media! I am a book-lover, but I decided long ago never to keep anything but reference books and those sparingly. Books are wonderful, but they’re tremendous dust-catchers. They take up lots of space, and the fact is, after I have read a book, I rarely revisit it.

There are quite a few stores these days that will trade books or give you cash for them. I use a wonderful privately owned book store in my small town that trades second hand books, CDs and DVDs. By using this resource, I always have something "new" to read, but I don't have a lot of expense and clutter.

Your local library offers great frugal living entertainment! If you have no place to trade your books, you can make a nice donation to your library, and satisfy your shopping urge by walking away with big bags full of books, CDs and DVDs every week. Just remember to bring them back before they are overdue!

Hard as it may seem, you will be surprised to find how freeing frugal living can be! By keeping, storing and caring for only the things you use regularly, you become wealthy in terms of time and space! If you don't use it, haven't seen it in a long time, and it is literally falling apart (like the 75 year old quilt my great grandma made) steel yourself and toss it. If there are some sentimental mementos you just cannot part with, get them under control. Establish a box, trunk, or special display case for the purpose of keeping this sort of thing and keep it organized so that things don't get out of hand.

Frugal living will change your shopping habits. Many of us have gotten into the habit of buying whatever we take a notion to whenever we go to the store. We end up with piles of unnecessary dross cluttering our lives and our thoughts and a depleted pocketbook, a burgeoning debt, or both. If you truly want to get control of your finances while simplifying your life, this has got to stop.

Make a list before you go shopping and stick to it! This old-fashioned frugal living advice is good advice. Heed it. Keep a pad of paper on your refrigerator door, or near your phone or in some other convenient place, and jot down items you need as you need them. Before you go to the store, inventory your shelves and write down the items you need. Don't be swayed by fancy displays once you get to the store. You know what you need. Stick to your guns.

Frugal Living Tip: Remember to eat before you go shopping! It is a lot easier to control your appetite for things on a full stomach.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it or replace it. Smart frugal living makes the most of everything. Take good care of the things you have, and use them until they no longer work. Then fix them if you can. If you can’t, make a conscious decision. Do you need that thing? If you don’t, don’t replace it. Just do without it.

My electric tea kettle recently died. I automatically put it on my list of things to buy, then I realized I could just use a pot on the burner. I don’t need an electric tea kettle, so I didn’t buy another one. That’s $30 I didn’t spend right there!

Keep that thought in mind for transportation. Do you need a new car? Does the one you have get you where you need to go? Keep in mind that a new car with it’s high payment and insurance costs could eat up half your monthly income or more! If the car you have will do what you need it to, keep it and take care of it. If you don’t really need a car, but could use your bicycle or public transportation instead, get rid of your car. I am planning carefully for the day when I will be able to get rid of mine!

These are some of the frugal living steps that have worked for me. It is hard in today’s world of mass consumption to resist the urge to spend, collect, and hoard, but it can be done. When you take control of your shopping and consuming habits, you are sure to be happily surprised by how free and independent you feel.

Copyright:SuzanneBennett: February 19, 2010


Submit a Comment
  • justmesuzanne profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Texas

    Many thanks! Sounds like it will be very hard for you to leave your utopia, but perhaps you can spread the knowledge and set an example for others! :)

  • chef-de-jour profile image

    Andrew Spacey 

    6 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Living in a college community at present (due to leave soon after nine years)and have been spoilt with the resources I've been able to share - from a car to a living room to a huge garden and even the fresh meat from the farm we run. So I feel I've done my bit! Your hub helps point us to a future where more will be happier with less.....

    The simple thought 'I don't need another new kettle' might be considered revolutionary!

    Thanks for the minimalist approach. Maximum applause.

  • justmesuzanne profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Texas

    Many thanks! Yes, it's definitely better to avoid being motivated by outside influences.

  • Stacie L profile image

    Stacie L 

    6 years ago

    Living the simple life is probably healthier all around. "Keeping up with the Joneses" has hurt many financially,emotionally and spiritually.Good advice.

  • justmesuzanne profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Texas

    Yes, I am assembling portable off the grid technology in my current home, and when I have everything I need, I will sell my home, pick up my technology and built a tiny home off the grid. Thanks for your comment! :)

  • Dee aka Nonna profile image

    Dee aka Nonna 

    6 years ago

    I have read about people who have actually done this and have wondered if I would be able to do this. The older I get the less I enjoy cleaning so....yeah, I think maybe it's a possibility...LOL

  • justmesuzanne profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    Thanks! Yes, indeed! Freelance writing is a lean and hungry occupation! :D

  • Robwrite profile image


    7 years ago from Oviedo, FL

    Great advice. I've had to learn to be very frugal, as a freelance writer living in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

    Nicely done,


  • justmesuzanne profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    Thanks! :)

  • Robie Benve profile image

    Robie Benve 

    7 years ago from Ohio

    Very interesting. :)


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