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Declutter

Minimalism

10 Minimalist Gift Ideas to Add Value to Your Life, Not Stuff!

With the gift-giving season fast approaching it’s the perfect time to rethink our normal gift-giving practices and adopt new ones. Gifts can help us to show how much we care for a loved one but they don’t have to be things in order to add value to their lives! Even with the best intentions, buying stuff can cause friends and family long-term clutter problems.

There is the guilt associated with receiving an unwanted gift that we have no use for. The worry of where to store or display another gift, that may have been extremely thoughtful but you know that space is severely lacking in your home. There is also the stress associated with buying a large amount of gifts with a limited budget. Not to mention the inner struggle of trying to guess what someone else might need or like when most people probably have everything that they need.

Sometimes the best gifts are not things at all and are just as valuable and useful to us. A donation of time to a family member in need, covering an expense that adds value to our lives or gifting an experience can provide a truly memorable gift that will be remembered long after that new set of tea towels you didn’t even need are forgotten.

If you are looking to simplify your life and holiday gift preparation consider giving a minimalist inspired gift. Here are 10 Minimalist Gift Ideas to add Value to your Life, Not Stuff for your loved one that will hopefully bring a smile to their faces and add value and joy, not more clutter to their lives.

1.  A Gift Card for a consumable
Is there something they need or love? Consider a gift card for a consumable such as a subscription service they love. Examples are Audible, Kindle Unlimited, Netflix, Spotify etc. They can read or listen to their favourite book or have a month of movies and TV shows on you!

2.  A movie gift box.
Let them enjoy a night in or out on you. Include a Netflix gift card or tickets to their local cinema, popcorn, drinks and snacks. Check out this movie gift box for some inspiration.

3.  An experience gift.
Such as ticket to the zoo, aquarium or the observatory. Other options are tickets to a show, game, or to see their favourite band.

4. Offer your time or skills.
Does someone you love need a babysitter, help with doing jobs around the house, someone to teach them to cook? Or simply offer to take them someone special. Sometimes donated time can be the greatest and most helpful gift.

5. Get artsy or crafty.
Put your creative talents to good use. If you are a sewer, writer, singer, painter, photographer, give a personal creative gift to someone special.

6. DIY beauty products.
Unleash your inner beautician with some Pinterest recipes of beauty products for lip balm, bath bombs, facial or hair masks. Some great ones are Vanilla Brown Sugar Body Scrub and DIY Home Made Soap Jellies.

7. Give the gift of food!
Everyone loves dessert, you can’t go wrong with this one! Some ideas are an ice cream box with different ice cream toppings and sauces, a waffle box, home made-brownies or cookies.

8. Their favourite beverage.
Let’s not forget the drink lovers. Cater to your loved ones preference whether that be wine, beer, spirits, cocktails, tea, coffee or hot chocolate!

9. Contribute to their upcoming holiday.
If your friend or family member has plans to go on a holidays in the not to distant future consider giving them money towards their trip to help them saving up for it. Alternatively ask them if there is a tour or attraction they wanted to do on their trip that you could gift them.

10. The gift of no gift giving obligation
Sometimes the best gift of all is simply saying to your family or friends not to worry about a gift. Gifts involve, planning, shopping, wrapping, carting them around on the day not to mention the cost of buying them. Save your loved one the stress associated with hitting the shops, finding a parking spot and managing the chaotic crowds at this busy enough time of year and give them the gift of freedom. Freedom from any obligation to buy you a gift so they can invest their time and money in something more valuable to them. Agree to forgo gifts and just enjoy each others company!

What are your minimalist gift ideas? Have you made any new family traditions around gift giving? Do you and your friends say no to gifts or have you found more creative ways to give at Christmas and other special occasions. Please share your ideas to simplify in the comments below!

 >>Heading off this Christmas season? Check out these 16 Easy Tips To Pack Minimally for Your Next Trip!
Minimalism

The True Cost of Our Stuff

Often when we shop our main decision basis is one of price. We review the price tags as well as asking ourselves questions like; is it on special? Does it come with something free? Can I get two for one or buy one get one half price? We assume that we are frugal or budget savvy by considering these price points before purchasing. The issue is that this often means that the true cost of a purchase is not considered.

When we only consider these price points in the decision making process for new purchases we forget the most important costs. One of the prime and irreplaceable costs being – our time. One of my favourite quotes is from Minimalist blogger Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist. He says “We don’t buy things with money. We buy them with hours from our lives.” A thought I try to be conscious of this each day.

Before we head out to the shops, or to buy something online – or anywhere, we need to consider a few things. Not just the money spent to make that purchase, but the investment of time involved in owning something. This assessment allows us to truly make wiser purchasing decisions and to consider the true cost of our stuff.

There is much more that needs to be considered than just price alone. Here are 7 other things you should consider when making purchasing decisions to assess the true cost:

  1. Lack of mobility

When you consume excessively your rob yourself of future opportunities. What if a new position came up interstate that would be perfect for you but because you have a huge home filled with stuff you can’t move. What if you find the perfect rental property and you need to be out in a week but miss out because you can’t physically pack up all of your stuff that quickly. What if you need to sell your house whilst the market is booming but you take three months to declutter and pack your stuff and during that period the market drops suddenly and you lose thousands in the lost market price? Having too much stuff can hold you back from decisions that make you happy and add to your life and stop you from being mobile when you need to be.

  1. Environmental Cost of Excessive Consumption

When we consume in excess we increase our impact on the environment. Everything you buy comes with packaging – boxes, plastic, tape, tissue paper, foam and other stuff that will quite possibly end up in landfill. Not to mention the cost on our natural resources. Clothing manufacturing uses vast amounts of water and chemicals. The more we buy, the more our valuable resources are depleted and the more waste we create.

This impact is often not seen by the consumers but born by the wildlife and locals who live in the areas of manufacturing. Check out True Cost on Netflix for a great documentary on the environmental and human cost of our fast fashion industry. 

  1. Opportunity Cost

This is the cost of what you could have done with that money had you not spent it on a new outfit or tech gadget. Instead of buying more stuff you could have invested that cash in yourself such as; by starting your own business, signing up for an educational course, contributing to your retirement, going on a holiday, paying off your mortgage or other debt. All these things have the potential to greatly improve your circumstances.

When people reach the end of their lives the common regret is not wishing they bought more things over there life times, but wishing they would have spent more time with family and friends and traveled more. There would be more time to do in our younger years if we stopped working more and more to buy things we don’t need. Rather than spending our hard earned cash on more stuff, we should consider the true cost – the opportunity costs of spending that money on stuff which could have been redirected to save for our future and retire earlier and have more time to spend with the people we love, doing things we truly enjoy!

  1. Less time for your important relationships.

Whilst you are spending all Saturday morning cleaning your large home you’ve missed out on brunch with a friend, going out with the kids on a road trip, a morning walk with your wife.

The more stuff we have the more time we invest in cleaning it, maintaining, repairing not to mention the other stuff we don’t think of – the time we spend unpacking and setting it up, the time we spend reconciling our accounts each month, filing our receipts, finding a place for the item, washing it, moving it to dust or vacuum. The list goes on.

When buying something new ask yourself what is the true cost of this item? Are you prepared to spend the extra time to look after this item, dust it regularly, iron it weekly, pay for maintenance costs, take it for repairs when necessary and so on.

This goes for buying a house. A house is one of the biggest drains on your time. Consider whether you really need a two story mansion for you family of three or if you would rather spend the time you would have spent cleaning each weekend with your family not to mention the extra work hours needed to cover the larger mortgage.

 

If you like this article you may also be interested in reading “10 Benefits of a Minimalist Inspired Life“.

 

  1. The Cost to Our Health.

The more we spend, the more money we need to bring in to stay ahead and on top of our debt. Maybe you are working 80 hours a week to bring in the big bucks to keep up with your spending. As a result of overworking you get home too tired to spend time with your family or do anything for yourself like exercise or read a book. You begin to live for the weekend with Monday to Friday just being a blur of alarm clocks and falling asleep on the couch.

Not only is your health suffering from lack of time to exercise, cook a nutritional meal and relax after work but you will be carrying around a lot more stress if you are living pay-cheque to pay-cheque. This can soon escalate if you are constantly worrying how you will meet your bills and debt repayments each month. Many people are reaching retirement age saddled with large consumer and mortgage debts without considering the consequences if they suddenly have to retire due to health concerns.

  1. Anxiety and Stress Caused by Excess Clutter

Having lots of stuff adds stress and anxiety into our lives even if we are not aware of it. Clutter makes it difficult to relax physically and mentally and can make it an embarrassing time if unexpected guests rock up. Not to mention the added stress of not being able to find things, having to step over things constantly, pick up things endlessly to tidy up, or seeing cluttered spaces every time you open your drawers or wardrobe. The clutter is always there to remind us. This stress can be reduced by minimising your possessions and limiting what new items you bring into your home. Having space in your home, a sanctuary that you love can do wonders to alleviate stress and anxiety.

  1. Missing Out On Valuable Experiences

When we become so obsessed with buying more and more stuff we often miss out on the important things in life like experiences. How many people do you know that have never been on a holiday but easily spend money on other things without much thought – their nails, a daily coffee, an expensive car, new jewellery or outfit for a party. They constantly say I can’t afford to travel and yet don’t realise that if they were just a bit more intentional with their spending that they too could go on an occasional holiday. Whether it be a local one, interstate or overseas.

It doesn’t even have to be a holiday. Maybe they want to go to a fancy restaurant for their anniversary but can’t afford it. Sometimes we place more value in things that we can see and hold and keep and hold onto for years and years and we forget the importance of creating memories with loved ones. If you just saved $20 a week – just 2.5% of a $50000 annual after tax salary, you would have over $1000 saved with interest to invest in an experience that is important to you. It could be a weekend away, spa day and nice dinner and only takes a very small sacrifice each week.

Have you identified the true cost of stuff in your life? What changes have you made since to your purchasing choices? Share you comments below 🙂

Check out How I Discovered Financial Freedom Through Minimalism for more benefits on focusing less on our stuff and more on what is truly important to us.

Organising

How An Organised Space Can Save You Money

I’ve always been a bit of a frugal-er, trying to limit waste and unnecessary spending where I could and had a desire to get more organised. After living out of home for five years, I realised we’d developed some bad habits.

We were binning massive amounts of spoiled food each week. Most of it fresh food we’d bought with good intentions but just hadn’t gotten around to eating. Finding stuff in the pantry was a difficult process with random cans thrown in sporadically and no real organisation system. We’d go shopping list-less and come home with five cans of corn only to realise we already had eight in the pantry.

We were constantly leaving things to the last minute. Often realising we’d forgotten to buy a birthday present, we’d rush around hoping we could find something the day of the party in sheer craziness. Cleaning was an ordeal having to try and vacuum around whatever clothes and furniture items we had on the floor.

I was sick of the disorganisation and having unnecessary stress in our lives. After being overwhelmed by clutter, and the anxiety and stress it caused me I set out to change my home environment. I wanted to have a more calming space – I didn’t want to see mess everywhere and trip over things.

Once starting the decluttering process of my home I realised there was an added benefit to having an organised space. It was aiding our budgeting and helping us to save more money. Here is How an Organised Space Can Save You Money and how it has benefited us.

1. Save on groceries and buying duplicates.

Since organising our home we can now see what we have at a glance. In the pantry, all cans are lined up, long-life milk, snacks are in the one place which makes creating our shopping list that much easier. Our fridge is no longer filled to capacity as we only buy what we will need for the week ahead. This means we can reduce the food we are wasting each week and save on our grocery bill. Having an organised space allows us to avoid bringing home multiples of an item we already have, whether that be groceries or things we misplace or have just forgotten we have.

2. Reduce your clothing budget.

Organising your wardrobe is a huge game changer in terms of spending. Before I discovered the amazement of being organised I used to have my wardrobe and drawers overflowing with clothes. Each wash day I’d shove a new pile in, on top of the stuff that had just become accustomed to staying at the bottom of the drawer. I remember the first time I decided to declutter my wardrobe, I found three pairs of black shorts. I’m not sure how many pairs of black shorts anyone needs, but the fact that I had three that I had not only not worn in years, but didn’t even know I had them was quite eye-opening to me.

From that moment I realised how important it is to keep what you have organised and to regularly assess what you have so you know what items you own. In the past I would just buy new clothes, chuck them in a drawer or in my wardrobe with the intention of wearing them and often completely forgot I had ever bought them. I’d never really taken stock of what clothing I owned. Now when I go shopping I know at least 99% of my wardrobe off the top of my head. I know what shoes I have to mix and match with outfits and can better select what I am bringing into my wardrobe.

3. You’re more content living in a smaller home.

Since organising our home the feeling of claustrophobia has diminished. I no longer feel like our house is too small and that we need more space. I’m rarely tempted to look at larger homes to buy. Even if it springs to mind when I see a nice photo of a home, I remember how much I love cleaning a smaller home and how I would never want the additional hours of work to pay for one and lost hours keeping up with the maintenance that comes with a bigger home. After decluttering all areas of our home we’ve actually managed to free up some storage space and are in no rush to fill them back up.

4. Planning ahead is easier and you can avoid impulse purchases.  

About two years ago I started using a diary to get more organised. After about a year I switched to a Bullet Journal and was instantly impressed by the simplicity it brought to my life. By being more organised and writing in my bullet journal I am able to save money in numerous ways. Whether it be planning ahead for dinner so I can avoid buying take out that night. Making a note to buy a gift for someone a month ahead instead of running around the day before in a rush and blowing the gift budget. Or making a note to compare prices on a new purchase in order to get the best price and save money.  

5. You’ll become more intentional with purchases.

Now that we have decluttered our home we are very keen to keep it from getting out of hand again. This impacts my day-to-day activities and spending. I no longer walk into shops aimlessly to pass time or find some kind of satisfaction from buying something new.

Before I buy anything now, it has to hold up to a range of requirements. I will ask myself questions such as do I really need this? Do I have a place for it? Is it something I will be willing to dust from now until when I get rid of it? Most of the time the answer is no and I walk away from it.

When you start making more conscious decisions with what you are purchasing on a daily basis you develop new habits and soon enough the desire to buy lessens and your desire for a calm, organised space keeps you from reverting back to old habits.

6. Save money not having to replace lost items.

Have you ever gone to look for something and not been able to locate it? I am pretty sure we have all been here. You think to yourself, maybe I never had it or gave it away? You go out to replace the items. Sometimes the original turns up and you feel a little silly but even after turning the house upside down at the time you couldn’t find it! This is another way an organised space can save you money. By having organisational systems in place you can avoid losing things in your home and replacing them. Even more importantly this wastes another important resource, your time. Imagine all the more important things you could be doing with the time wasted looking for lost items.

7. You can sell your unwanted stuff online. 

Another way an organised space can save you money is as you organise you will truly realise how much excess you have in your home. After a while we begin to grow used to seeing our stuff and don’t realise how much of it there is.

Have you ever walked into someones house and felt claustrophobic from all the stuff?! You’ve probably not even noticed your house might be heading in the same direction. It’s not until you start questioning what you do and don’t use that you realise you could live without some of the stuff cluttering up your home.

The great thing about decluttering is that your unwanted items can be useful to other people and that can help you claw back some of the money spent on excess items you have in your home. You will never get all of your money back, and sometimes you won’t get any of it but it is possible to sell your clutter and add to your savings account.

It is truly amazing how much you can get for old electronics, gaming consoles, clothes, camera gear, books or whatever other junk you might have in your to go pile. If you’re reluctant to give something away because you spent a lot of money on it, sometimes knowing that you can get a little bit back from it by selling it makes the letting go process a little easier.

Alternatively, if you don’t need the money or don’t have the time, donate unwanted items to a local charity. Think of all the times you’ve found something you love in an op-shop for a few dollars because someone was generous enough to donate it. Pay it forward! 

8. Being organised saves you time and stress.

When you plan ahead and get organised you can save one of your most precious resources – time! Imagine all the things you could do with your spare time if it wasn’t spent doing mountains of laundry each week! No looking for lost items or spending half an hour clearing out food in your fridge that has gone bad. As they say, time is money and an organised space can save you both! When you no longer have to live with the consequences of an unorganised space, you’ll have more time to spend on more enjoyable things.

How have you found an organised space has saved you money? Comment below with your experience!