self-imposed fashion challenge led Courtney Carver to
become something of a minimalist guru. In 2010, the
simplicity blogger behind Be More With Less downsized
her overflowing wardrobe to a mere 33 pieces.
saved money, experienced less decision fatigue and
stopped worrying about what other people might
think," she said.
then, millions around the world have taken her
minimalist fashion challenge, known as Project 333, to
dress with no more than 33 items for three months.
might seem out of reach and intimidating, Carver said,
"but it looks different to everyone."
asked experts how to take small steps toward a more
small to avoid getting overwhelmed.
a bin, and pack up everything you don’t really use,
suggests Joshua Becker, founder and editor of Becoming
Minimalist. If tackling an entire room feels daunting,
start with a drawer or cabinet. Carver said look for
duplicates. Does your family of three need 10 coffee
the initial sweep, give yourself time to adjust before
moving onto the next level.
Carver, that meant donating all the extras such as
towels, books and even rarely used appliances like a
rice cooker. Bookshelves, dressers and chairs were the
last to go.
furniture and artwork to a handful of essentials might
seem too austere for most people.
more doable approach is to hold onto those pieces that
showcase your passions, recommends Lucy Harris, a New
York City-based interior designer whose work is inspired
by modernism and minimalism. Are you a film connoisseur?
Look on Etsy and eBay for a minimalist designed 1970s
vintage poster from a film.
you’re just getting started with decorating, Harris
suggests picking clean-lined furniture with a mostly
way to keep junk from creeping back is to turn down
freebies, advises Bea Johnson, founder of the Zero Waste
whose family manages to produce just one pint jar’s
worth of trash per year, swears by recycling and
swapping disposables for reusables — handkerchiefs,
refillable bottles, cloth napkins, etc.
principles of minimalism apply to your kitchen and diet
Shern, the registered dietitian behind Minimal Wellness,
cooks healthy meals using wholesome foods and a few
basic kitchen tools: a cutting board, knives, pots,
pans, spoons and spatulas. "When you stick with
quality ingredients and simple preparation methods, the
results are almost always fantastic," she said.
and children aren’t mutually exclusive. When packaged
right and age-adapted, the concept of owning less will
appeal even to those "collector" children, as
Becker likes to call his 10-year-old daughter. "She’s
probably the least minimalist of all of us."
strategy Becker found helpful is setting physical
boundaries. Toys should fit into her closet. All artwork
goes into a single bin.
his son, who was introduced to this lifestyle at 6,
those parameters had to be slightly tweaked:
"Picking a closet would have been too drastic, so
we said the toys should fit along a wall."
possible to cut expenses without watching every penny or
O’Connell, a millennial money expert and author of
"The Broke and Beautiful Life," suggests
avoiding shopping triggers such as aimlessly wandering
around the mall.
ward off an impulsive purchase, she said, "imagine
the item buried in the clearance bin at a thrift
apps, such as Level Money, can help you stick to your
financial goals. So do visual reminders. Saving up for a
down payment for your dream house? Set its picture as
your desktop background, O’Connell advises.
of houses, downsizing to a smaller place can enable you
to spend more on things you always dreamed of. After
taking this leap, Carver was able to fund her daughter’s
college education. And Becker used the cash surplus to
start The Hope Effect, a nonprofit that builds houses
for orphans around the world.
as long as they’re small, have their place. For
example, going on a weekend getaway instead of your
usual weeklong vacation at a beach resort will still
feel like recreation without breaking the bank.
light to stretch your vacation budget. You can save up
to $50 per round-trip flight by carrying on your luggage
instead of checking it, said Fred Perrotta, co-founder
and CEO of Tortuga Backpacks. His tips include wearing
the bulkier clothes and packing the lighter ones, as
well as simplifying your color palette so you can mix
and match easily.
ways with toxic people is just as important as getting
rid of excessive possessions.
difficult family members, most breakups can be avoided
by having an honest discussion, said Vienna Pharaon,
marriage and family therapist in New York City. To a
hypercritical mother, for instance, Pharaon suggests
saying something like, "I love you so much, but
when we’re around each other I often feel criticized.
Can you please pay closer attention to your
you decide to cleanse your life of things or people, don’t
expect overnight miracles. "If you’ve been
accumulating things for decades, how can you expect to
let go in two days? It took me years," Carver said.