I hate to admit it, but… sometimes I jump on fads. I mean, you don’t know it’s your thing until you give it a try, right? I remember when I felt minimalism was still new and not many people were discussing it and then during my period of giving it a shot, the entire blogosphere blew up about minimalism and decluttering and overnight, every lifestyle blogger was a subject matter expert.

This isn’t a beginner’s guide on how to declutter your cramped apartment (although, maybe it’s not a bad idea to write one…). This is just my experience with decluttering and my relationship with minimalism. Long story short, decluttering and minimalism helped curb my excessive spending.

It didn’t happen overnight, God no. It didn’t happen in two days. It took months to declutter and slowly transition into a minimalistic lifestyle. But, by no means, am I an expert or follow strict minimalism “rules”.

How I got started

The blogosphere is such a beautiful place. It really is. I didn’t spend a lot of time on some of the well-known, hardcore minimalistic websites out there. Instead, I read a few blog posts from Twitter and Bloglovin to get started.

When I started decluttering, my mindset wasn’t even set on saving or trying to stop my spending habits. I wanted to declutter because I felt that my room was getting too “crowded” and cluttered. I started to get stressed out when I looked around at my surroundings. I held on to little things such as plastic figurines from McDonald’s because I got them when I was hanging out with some friends; the one Harry Potter trading card I kept since 2009 because “I love Harry Potter”; bracelets that I’ve only worn twice but kept “just in case”.

My first decluttering project was my closet. If you knew me in real life, you’d probably chuckle when I tell you that I have had a big closet because what I wear is repetitive and simple. I’m not a fashionista but I owned a lot of clothes from the “just in case” mentality. I bought things I normally wouldn’t wear just because it was dirt cheap and I thought it could come in handy one day. Or, I bought it because it looked very good on the mannequin.

It took months to fully clear out my closet to the point where I am satisfied with it and can wear each item at least once a year. Yes, months. I had heaps of industrial-sized black garbage bags for my dad to pick up and drive over to the local charity.

When I finished my closet, I moved to my surroundings. I reassessed my makeup collection and loved items. This time around, it was easier to detach from items that hold somewhat of a memory since I had a lot of practice detaching my emotions when I was cleaning my closet out. Nothing was significant enough for me to hold on to. I mean, seriously… a Harry Potter trading card?

How it worked for me

Decluttering worked for me because I slowly started to see the things I hoarded for no good reason. It helped put my reckless spending in perspective because the garbage bags represented how much money I wasted. Money that I worked for. Money that was given to me to be used for the greater good and not for a $17 shirt so I qualified for free shipping. Every item that left my closet and left my room, I felt lighter and happier. I didn’t realize how much of my materialistic goods were weighing me down mentally.

In turn, it also started to make me a bit minimalistic. I don’t live in a 5-piece furniture home or own only 10 clothing items, but I feel that not having things clutter my home and mind made me more aware of what I buy and spend my money on. Decluttering worked for me because it made me realize that I only needed two pairs of sweatpants, not four. So, whenever I’m in a store and I see a pair of sweatpants, the old me would jump at buying it but now, if I purchase a pair, I need to get rid of another one. 

Being aware of my space and what I own, made me more reserved with my money, which in turn, curbed my bad spending habits!

Why decluttering worked for me

Essentially, it worked for me because I was forced to face my clutter and spending habits. It put my reckless spending in perspective. I think subconsciously, I was pushing reality away, telling myself that everything is okay and I’ll wear all these clothes soon, and I’ll open my box of memories and reminisce about the day my best friends and I skipped class to catch the Harry Potter movie. But none of that happened.

Instead, I was constantly broke and wasting 10 to 15 minutes of my morning sifting through my clothes to pick what to wear. Instead, I was sitting in a crowded room, unable to focus, despite it being quiet.
It worked for me because I knew I never wanted to go back to a crowded cluttered home. It was not good for me physically and mentally. Slowly adapting to a somewhat minimalistic mindset helps me keep a clean house, reduces my spending, and allows me to focus on other priorities in life, or make me more efficient.

So, I hope decluttering turns out to be more than just a spring cleaning objective. I hope decluttering opens your eyes and changes your life the way it did to me. It’s not to say that you’ll be a minimalist, even I don’t label myself that. But, I do believe there is some sort of minimalism in my lifestyle now. I appreciate open space and value the age-old saying, “less is more.”

With love, Claire

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