Tuesday, October 15, 2019

6 Ways Minimalism Changed My Life

I’m passionate about minimalism. It makes my life much better. Everything is easier being a minimalist! Here are the 6 ways minimalism changed my life.
More Freedom
Saving Money
Putting People First
Losing Weight
Knowing Myself

1. Minimalism gives me freedom

Giving up most of my stuff has given me WAY more freedom. Being minimalist allowed us to move from a house into an RV long before it was cool for people to do that. I didn’t care how it looked to the outside world, either. That’s part of my freedom--indifference to outside opinions about my life choices.
Being RVers means we can move whenever we want to. We can take trips and not have to worry about pet sitting, house sitting or even taking vacation days. I often work while Ryan drives, and we spend the hours I’m not working exploring wherever we’re staying.
Because we have less stuff, there’s less to clean and maintain. Having fewer clothes means getting dressed each day is easy.
Related post: My Minimalist Closet
A small kitchen means trips to the grocery store are shorter and cheaper. Less food is wasted or forgotten about in a small refrigerator.
Related post: My Minimalist Kitchen
Although we recently switched to a towable RV, for 2.5 years we lived in a motorhome and did not own a separate car. We rented a car when needed, but most of the time we walked, biked or took public transportation if our RV could not go where we needed to go. The rest of the time, a car would have been an unnecessary burden.
Even before we started traveling full-time, we had only one car between the two of us for over four years.

2. Minimalism allows me to travel

Since May 2016, we’ve been from the west coast to the east coast and back--twice. We’ve gone the southern route and the northern route. We saw most of the east coast and most of the west. We spent a couple months in Las Vegas, taking in shows and eating good food. We’ve also stayed for a few months at a hot springs spa in southern California. It has private mineral baths and spring-fed hot tubs and pools. We were literally living at a resort.
We’ve spent time in the mountains, the deserts, and the forests. We’ve stayed next to beaches, rivers, and lakes. We visited small towns, large cities and places that are in the middle of nothing.
Some of the funniest, quirkiest things we see are when we’re traveling from one destination to the other. There are tons of sights we’d never know about if we didn’t drive down a back road. One-of-a-kind vehicles, buildings, and people that we drive past are just the icing on the cake when it comes to traveling.
And those places that you have to drive down a bumpy dirt road at 5 miles per hour to see, but are totally worth it when you end up on top of a mountain in a free campsite, overlooking a silent, beautiful valley in all directions.
I also got to spend time with family in many different states, some of whom I hadn’t seen in decades and several that I’d never met before. We also went to a friend’s wedding that I hadn’t seen since college and met up with friends that moved away.
There is absolutely no substitute for the travel we’ve done these past years, and how it’s helped us change and grow as people. There would be no way to have the experiences we’ve had if we just took a vacation or two every year.

3. Minimalism saves me money

When I finished college, I had close to $32,000 in student loans. Years later, that number grew to about $36,000, even though I was paying exactly what they told me to pay, plus a little extra whenever I could.
I decided I was going to get rid of that loan. I’d recently gotten a large increase in salary, but our expenses didn’t go up. We were only using 50% of our income to pay our bills, so we had plenty of money to put toward the loan. Within one year, we paid off those student loans and became completely debt-free.
With that extra money in our pockets, we decided to create even more flexibility in our lives. We downsized even further into a smaller RV. We added solar, so we didn’t have to live at a campground all the time. We lost over 10 feet in overall length, which means we could fit into parking spots more easily. Living smaller meant we had slightly better gas mileage, too.

4. Minimalism allows me to put the people I love first

Between May 2017 and August 2018, I spent a total of 8 months at my mom’s house in New York, taking care of her when her medical issues became worse. Each visit was 4 months long. In between, we made it back to California and stayed for a few months before we had to turn around and come back again.
Mom had a large piece of property, and there was plenty of room for us to park our motorhome. The first time we stayed with her, she was still fairly independent. So we lived in our RV, which meant we all had privacy but we were right there when she needed us.
But the second time, it was still winter. Below freezing and a lot of snow. Most RVs can’t handle those types of temperatures without some additional measures, which we didn’t have the time to take. Plus, my mom was in bad shape and needed someone with her 24/7.
But her house only had one bedroom. So we moved our mattress inside and slept on her living room floor. All our clothes and other stuff we needed easily fit in her entertainment cabinet.
I was not only able to help her, but I didn’t have to leave anything important behind to do it. My husband and pets came with me. My job was in California, but I worked remotely. So my income came with me too. My husband runs an online business, so his income also came with us. Everything we own is inside our RV, so we didn’t have to worry about leaving behind a house or apartment for an unknown amount of time.
Then it was time to take her back to the west coast where we could better care for her. We wanted to give mom a vacation (she hadn’t had one in years), so we offered to take her on a month-long trip across the country in the RV.
We had to sell or give away a lot of our stuff to make room for her. We won’t ever get that stuff back, and that’s fine. We didn’t need it anymore. And even if we did, you can’t calculate the cost against what it was worth to give mom the vacation of a lifetime.
After returning to California, we hovered around for several months so we could be there to help mom. Having that flexibility to help her once a week or so was key, considering we didn’t live in the area any longer. If I had a home somewhere else, mom would probably have to be shuffled between my place and my brother’s, which would not be good for her well-being. People with memory problems need stability and routine.
Related post: Reversing Minimalism

5. Minimalism helped me lose weight

In about 2008, I started having all these crazy health problems and as a result, I went from a stable weight in the normal range to very quickly gaining about 40 pounds.
Finally, doctors figured out what was wrong with me and my weight started dropping back to normal on its own. But those last 10 pounds were pretty stubborn. I realized that I could apply the principles of minimalism to my eating habits.
After a lot of research and working with health care professionals, I pinpointed foods that were not agreeing with my digestion. Through trial and error, I weeded them out of my diet. I also made my meals minimalist: eating smaller portions and limiting the number of ingredients in each meal.
Those 10 pounds are gone now, and I’m back to a healthy weight. I didn’t have to implement any fad diets or strenuous workouts to do it. I just removed foods that were not serving my body in a positive way and focused on foods that improve my body’s health.

6. Minimalism helps me know myself better

By cutting out a lot of time-sucking activities from my life, I created more time to relax and self-reflect. I use this space in my schedule to work on my self-growth and make sure my vision for my future life is crystal clear. This has been extremely helpful, because each time I come to a crossroads, I ask myself one simple question: Will this choice bring me closer to my most important goal(s) or take me farther away?
It suddenly became very easy to make choices and not second-guess my decisions later. I’m in the process of making some huge life changes, but there’s very little anxiety associated with it. I’m confident I’m on the right path, and I can adjust as needed to get where I want to go.
I say this a lot, but my favorite thing about minimalism is how accessible it is to everyone. I helped my mom be more minimalist, which gave her the freedom to move back to the west coast and receive the help she needed. She’s 77 years old. If she can implement changes to make her life better, anyone can.
How do you think minimalism could benefit you?