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How much is enough? 7 lessons from a real-life minimalist

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I recently sat down with Carmela, one of my rockstar Minimalism is Fun Facebook group members, to talk about her minimalism journey. 

She shared 7 lessons with me that will help you adopt a less-is-more lifestyle!

You can read them below or, if you’d like to hear the tips directly from Carmela herself, watch our entire 30-minute interview here.

Lesson 1: Mental Prep Matters

Carmela started thinking about minimalism back in 2012, when she stumbled across some YouTube videos. She said she remembers thinking, “Minimalism is for free!” She was excited to find a way to change her life that literally cost nothing. Even though she didn’t take action on these ideas for several more years, the simplicity gears were turning. 

This is so key. We often think we need to “take action” immediately after learning about a new idea, but truly, it’s better to give our minds time to absorb it. Then, when you’re ready to take action, you’re really ready!

Lesson 2: Controlling Our Belongings Creates Clarity

Carmela’s  minimalism journey picked up speed when she moved in with her mother and grandmother (who had dementia) to help provide care. “Our stuff holds a lot of stress,” she said.  Carmela realized she literally had nowhere to put her belongings in her new living arrangement and many of her boxes sat in the garage. The stress of this situation catapulted Carmela into minimalist action. 

Lesson 3: No One is Going to Value Your Items Like You Do

This is my FAVORITE quote Carmela said during our interview. She told the story of gathering up over 50 items of clothing, many with tags still on, and taking them to a consignment shop to sell. Out of all the items, guess how many the shop was interested in selling? ONE. And guess how much they wanted to pay her? $1.24

Carmela started crying as she drove home from that shop, but then an a-ha hit her… the stuff we buy loses value once we buy it. She describes this as the “turning point” in her minimalism journey. 

Lesson 4: Break your Consumerism Addiction in 3 Easy Steps

After her emotional ride home from the consignment shop, Carmela changed the way she shopped. She practices minimalist thought patterns before, during, and after purchasing. These 3 steps are simplicity gold!

Step 1: BEFORE — Before buying, think about your purchase for 24 hours to one week. 

Step 2: DURING —  Before checking out (either at the store or online) look at your cart and re-evaluate every single item. Put back what doesn’t suit you. 

Step 3: AFTER — Keep your receipts and packaging so you can return items that don’t fit into your life.

Lesson 5: Do you really need “Unlimited”?

Carmela and I talked about the concept of “unlimited” and how this makes us believe that we don’t have enough. We specifically talked about cell phone plans and how big providers often make us think we “need” unlimited data, when really, many of us are using 2 gigs or less per month. 

I told Carmela that I recently switched to Republic Wireless for this exact reason. Republic is a carrier that allows you to CHOOSE how much data you want each month and they are super affordable! You can get unlimited talk/text with 1G data for $20/month. (Yes, you read that right!) 

And because the folks at Republic Wireless are amazing, they’re offering all my readers one free month of 1G service! Click here to learn more about Republic Wireless and get a free month of cell service. 

Lesson 6: You can be Sentimental and a Minimalist

I often have people tell me that they can’t adopt minimalism because they’re “too sentimental.” Minimalism is actually perfect for sentimental people because it elevates the value of the items you truly care about by letting go of the excess! Carmela is also a sentimental person and she said she often struggles to let go of books because of the fond memories she associates with them, like her childhood copy of “Goodnight Moon.” (By the way, I told her in no uncertain terms that she needs to keep that book!)

Lesson 7: It’s Okay to Cry

This is Carmela’s #1 piece of advice to aspiring minimalists, “It’s okay to cry.” Carmela recognizes that when we’re dealing with our stuff, we’re actually dealing with our feelings about our stuff. And when we’re dealing with feelings, well, tears might happen. I think of her car ride home from that consignment store and how, if she hadn’t allowed herself that moment of grief, she wouldn’t be where she is today. 

I hope those 7 tips help you move closer to your own version of a less-is-more life! Thank you to Carmela for sharing her wisdom with us!

Cheers to less stuff and more you…

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PS Ready to start our own simplicity journey? Grab my FREE simplicity starter guide and let’s get going!

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