This post was originally published on The Homestead McCoy (our former blog) on March 27, 2015. It is by far my most popular post. The content is completely unchanged, and it was certainly interesting! We’re back in Indiana for now, but it was worth every minute we spent in Montana. I still implement all of these ideas, as we are going to be going back in a couple of short years and we are striving to live a more simple life. Besides… who really needs all that junk anyway?
We’re moving!!! Yep, you heard right our homesteading dreams are going to be one step closer to a reality. With that dream, unfortunately, comes the reality of renting… an apartment. Just for a while, we hope, and it will all be worth the sacrifice in the end.
So, the apartment. It’s small, much much smaller than our sprawling 2800 square foot cape cod. Just 1050 square feet to be exact. Three bedrooms, five people, and two dogs, it should be interesting. So, as we prepare for this journey, I’ve realized we have way too much stuff.
We are clearing out, selling, and donating anything we don’t need or use. I’ve decided in this process of trying to downsize, this minimalist lifestyle is actually kinda cool! None of us need all of this stuff. I mean look at Laura Ingalls, she didn’t have every toy under the sun and Ma sure didn’t have every kitchen gadget, cleaning implement, and article of clothing that the great west offered.
If Ma can do it, anyone can do it. We’re taking this leap and trying to figure out how to live with less. I mean homesteading is all about being more self sufficient and less dependent, right?? That includes doing away with all of this materialistic stuff we all seem to mindlessly accumulate. With less stuff, means less dependency, and less desire to collect more stuff. Plus, if you’re anything like me, when you start tossing out, you go hog wild and it is so liberating.
I thought I’d give you some helpful tips on how to live with less, become a minimalist, if you will. And what better time than right around the time the birds are chirping and the weather starts breaking?? Spring cleaning is in the air! Lets go through and get rid of that stuff and learn to live with less!!
32 Tips on Becoming a Minimalist
- Toss anything that is torn up. If it has huge gaping holes, it isn’t doing anyone any good, get rid of it.
- Pick out anything you haven’t worn in a year and donate it or sell it on a local garage sale group (or eBay).
- Sell or donate anything that doesn’t fit. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t belong in your closet!
- Decide how many clothes you really need. How many shirts do you really need? Pants?
- After you decide, keep only enough hangers to accommodate the amount of clothes you need. If you think 5 shirts and 3 pairs of pants is enough, then you need 8 hangers. Maybe 13… because you could keep 5 short sleeve and 5 long sleeve, colder weather type shirts.
- Go through and pick the clothes you can’t live without. Keeping in mind that you limited yourself to x amount of shirts and pants.
- Shoes!!!!! Shoes are insane. Decide what you really need and donate or sell the rest. You honestly don’t need 25 pairs of shoes…. Think 1 pair of boots, 1 pair of yard shoes, 1 pair of workout shoes, 1 pair of dress shoes. IF that.
- Keep enough undergarments to last one week. Socks with holes, underwear that should have been thrown out with last weeks trash… yeah, toss those. Any more than a weeks worth, get rid of that too.
- Throw out any chipped or cracked dishes. Honestly, I’m ready to go metal. They don’t break and they last forever. For now, we have glass.
- Keep 1 mug per person and an extra. You really don’t need 100 coffee mugs. One will do the trick. It will wash, after all.
- Sell or donate any appliances you don’t use. This is hard for the homestead kitchen. I don’t use my pressure canner year round, but it gets a hefty use in the fall! I may not use my food processor every day, but it’s nice to have a few times a month. Look at it like this… if you’re going to use it enough for it to take up space, fine.
- Throw out duplicates. I had three sets of measuring cups and spoons! That’s insane. I had crummy plastic ones. I recently invested in a nice stainless steel set
and tossed the plastic out! Less is more! They’ll wash! I can’t stand plastic anyway!
- Invest in heavy duty cast iron skillets and stainless pots. Throw out those chemically coated teflon things. This is the only time I’ll tell you to buy something in this post. Try some yard sales or flea markets and get you a couple of sturdy pots and pans! These things will last you a lifetime and you don’t need 100 different sizes. About 3 pots, 3 skillets (including a deep skillet), and a dutch oven will do you fine.
- Toss expired food. I’m always amazed when people start going through their cupboards and find expired canned goods and such. Go through, toss out what is expired. Donate anything that your family won’t eat. We all have this stuff, even if we eat real food.
- Toss out any broken stuff. This doesn’t apply just to the dishes listed above. Have a broken appliance, a bent knife, whatever it may be, get rid of it!
- Get rid of anything your kids don’t play with weekly. If they’re old enough, let them in on this. Just go through and make it fun. Say “oh, we don’t hardly ever play with this, lets make another little girl or boy happy!”
- Toss anything that is broken. Anything. I know my kids have this attachment to anything broken. Don’t matter, I’ll be the “mean mom” if it’s broken, it’s gone
- Donate or sell any toys that aren’t age appropriate. If your kids have outgrown it, it goes. At the very least put it in storage if you really think you need it for the next child. Remember, though. You can always buy a similar item at a garage sale.
- Pick toys that don’t take a lot of space. Blocks, legos, manipulative like that. A couple of dolls and viola.
- When you purchase, buy quality, not quantity. Something that will outlast your child and bless another child once yours has outgrown it.
- Stuffed animals. I should put this in a category all its own, because my kids struggle with this. We have so many stuffed animals. They drive me crazy. I don’t have a lot of room to talk on this subject, but make a limit and stick with it.
- Toiletries. Donate any extras. Keep only what you use. Don’t keep a bunch of extras. If you don’t use it and love it, give it to someone who will.
- Medicines. I’m not much for conventional medicines, but make sure you go through and check all of your bottles. If they’re expired, call your county government office to see what regulations your area has, if there is a local med disposal program, take them there. Otherwise, this article explains how to properly dispose of them.
- Towels. Keep a few, of course. Just don’t go overboard. Honestly we use extras as shop rags/outdoor rags. Anything beyond that, donate.
- Appliances. Hair dryers, curling irons, straightening irons. If you don’t use them, donate them. If you do, one will suffice.
- Makeup. If you don’t use it, toss it. If it’s ancient, probably time to replace it.
- Get rid of your movie and music cases. We have a decent collection of movies and music. We ditched all of the cases and put them in some cases like these
. What a huge space saver! Just recycle the plastic things they came in.
- Go one step further and digitize your music and movies! If you put it all on your computer, it will take up even less actual space. You might need an external hard drive, if you’re anything like us!
- Donate books you don’t love. I’m not going to tell you to digitize these. A lot of books aren’t available digitally and if you’re like me, you’d rather hold it in your hands.
- Use your library. My kids love going to the library. I think it is an incredibly underused resource! You can just borrow books you want to read and let your kids pick out their stories. Keep a few tried and true books at home, ditch the rest.
- Decrease your knick knacks. I have a few collectibles that I won’t get rid of because they are sentimental to me. The rest of it, sell it or donate it.
- Ditch cable. Cable wastes not only your money every month, but your time, and even more money than just your cable bill! You, or your kids, are bombarded with all these advertisements and you wind up buying into the consumerism. Dump it, watch movies you have or use a service like Netflix.
These are just a few tips on how we are decreasing our possessions. It’s a work in progress, but I feel confident about it! Every time I donate something or sell it, it’s such a liberating feeling. The best tip I can give any of you on how to minimize your life, is take it slow. We don’t have a lot of time to get used to the idea, but we’re making it work.