You’ve heard less is more. But how little can you live with? Whether you’re fully embracing one of the lifestyle movements that opposes overconsumption — or merely wishing to declutter— we have some ways to take stock and streamline your stuff. Now, let’s be clear, SaltyLama doesn’t recommend taking to your home with a box of trash bags until you’re left with a spoon, a cup, and a patched pair of coveralls. We do though recommend identifying the stuff you have for the sake of having, well, stuff. Fired up? Okay, let’s go!
1. Decide what really matters
The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns gave many of us time to assess aspirations and redefine success. Is it to have a stable career? Is it to live a healthy life? These ideas of success and accomplishment impact how we live, work and ultimately how we consume. In fact, for much of the 20th century, success was characterized by materialism and ownership. But plateauing productivity and a cultural shift toward our inner selves began to redefine our aspirations. As a first step, think about when you are most fulfilled and happiest. Chances are, these times occur when you’re creating something, adding value to society, and spending time with the people you love most — not buying stuff.
2. Start small
Please don’t sit all your things out on the curb. Instead, a great next step is simply becoming aware of your consumption habits. Do you often find yourself mindlessly scrolling through a shopping app when bored? Maybe delete the app. Maybe take a couple hours and comb through your closet, taking account of how much you own that you either didn’t need, have yet to wear, or simply forgot you even owned.
These mindfulness exercises will help you reveal just how much we own that you really don’t need. Whatever you do, make sure that this step is small enough to limit the risk of relapsing into overconsumption, but impactful enough to encourage the journey.
3. Value experiences over excess
Ask yourself this question: If you were no longer purchasing, pursuing, and caring for excess stuff, what would you do with the extra money, time, and energy? We would like to offer a suggestion: whatever you want. According to research, experiences result in longer-lasting happiness than material possessions. This is because the happiness provided by new material possessions is short-lived. Over time, our satisfaction with things decreases, whereas our satisfaction with experiences increases over time.
As you begin to change your consumption habits, you’ll probably notice that you have more resources, space, and time. Reject the tendency to fill this newfound capacity with more things and instead think of how you can fill that capacity with experiences that will make lasting memories.
4. Play hard to get
Many followers of the less-is-more lifestyle use what is known as the 30/30 Rule to stave off impulse purchases. The 30/30 Rule says that if something you want costs more than $30, stop and ask yourself whether you can get by without it for the next 30 hours. Hence, the 30/30 Rule. Some go even further and say if it costs $100 or more, they will wait 30 days. This extra time helps you assess whether this new thing will add value to your life.
Many report that, often after following the 30/30 Rule, they recognize their lives will be the same or even better without the new thing and forgo the purchase. Others reported that when they did decide to acquire the new item, they felt better about the acquisition because they brought it into their lives with intention and not impulse. So, give the 30/30 Rule a try. Make that thing wait. Make it prove that it really deserves a place in your life.
5. Celebrate how far you’ve come
As you begin your journey, it’s important to celebrate milestones and progress. Did you clean out the junk drawer in your kitchen? Is it still clutter free a month later? That calls for celebration! Did you take a vacation with friends and family instead of buying a new 1,000-inch TV? Celebrate yourself. Were you able to pack for said vacation in a single carry-on bag instead of packing and checking two large suitcases? Celebrate! Admit it — it’s not easy. So, it’s important to give yourself a pat on the back for staying the course.
Remember that it will take time to build habits that make the less-is-more lifestyle stick. But remember that these changes not only save you money, time, and energy, but they also have major effects on the planet. As grandma would say “waste not, want not.” Take time to be thoughtful with purchases. And focus on what you truly love.