Stuff. It accumulates so quickly around us that sometimes we don’t even see all of it anymore. We pack it up and stick it in a closet, stuff it in a junk drawer, or just plain gloss over it as we go about everyday life.

Wouldn’t it feel liberating to find hidden money in that stuff? We’re talking selling things, using what you already have, and not buying more of it.

It’s not easy to embrace a minimalist life; consumerism has become part of our culture. But you can buck that tendency by beginning the path to minimalism, and we’re here with a few tips on how to get started.

Get Rid of Stuff You Don’t Need

The first order of business when you’re ready to become a minimalist is go through all your stuff and sort it. You’ll find that there is a lot of junk — just things you haven’t used in years. Put it all in a pile, or perhaps two or three piles if you come across a lot of stuff you don’t need.

Once you’re done with that process, then comes the fun part. Divide the stuff into categories: sell, donate, junk. It will feel amazing to make some cash off stuff you haven’t thought about for years! And you’d be surprised how much you can make — from selling used books, to holding a garage sale to putting stuff up for sale online.

Collect all that cash and use it to start a savings account. It would be fun to have an account that just tracks how much you save in your new minimalist lifestyle, right?

The next two steps are just freeing more than anything — take the gently used items and donate to appropriate places. Then finally throw the rest out with the rubbish (recycling where you can) and feel a huge sense of accomplishment.

Go Through Your Stuff and Use What You Already Own

One of the additional benefits of going through your closets and drawers and taking account of everything in your home is discovering items you forgot you owned. Oh, wait, I do have a large saucepan! Oh, I do have a bunch of extra soaps in the back of my linen closet that I could use up before going out and buying more. Wait, how could I forget that my dentist gives me a free toothbrush every time I come in?

And then proceed to use this stuff you’ve re-discovered. The interesting and best part about it is, if you track how much you save by doing this, then you can (and should!) deposit this extra money into that special account you created to track your minimalism savings.

Another part of this idea is using something until it breaks. That means for large ticket items, like cars, that you continue to fix it until the item breaks down so much that it doesn’t make sense financially to repair it. But it also applies to smaller items, such as a saucepan or jacket, if does the job it is intended for, then keep using it.

Embrace Swapping, Borrowing and Sharing

One of the key components of minimalism is trying not to buy new things or adding to the waste.

There are many ways you can integrate this into your lifestyle:

  • Borrow books from friends or the library.
  • Hold a swap with friends and exchange clothes, accessories, and shoes.
  • Use services like online dress rentals for special occasions rather than buying an outfit that you might only wear once in awhile.
  • Peruse websites like eBay, Etsy, and Ziilch for deals on gently used clothes, including name brand fashion.
  • Do the same for kids clothes if you have children (or visit second hand shops, garage sales, etc. to buy the next size for them).
  • Don’t be afraid to ask friends, family, or neighbours to borrow items you won’t use often. For example, if you want to bake a pie, but don’t have the right pan, borrow it from someone before you run out and purchase it.

Take the Same Approach to Your Finances

It is not just about stuff. You need to apply this minimalist approach to your finances. For everything, from groceries, to monthly subscriptions, you need to assess where your money goes every month:

  • Do you need to have a monthly gym membership? Can you stream exercise videos online or run outside?
  • Do you need that brand name pasta sauce? What about the store brand version that costs less?
  • Can you close the Sky account and just use streaming services?
  • Is there anything being debited from your account that you no longer use?
  • Could you use your car less and consider taking public transportation?
  • What about your cell phone plan (or other monthly expenses like insurance, Internet hook up, etc.)? Could you use a lower data plan (or just plain get a better price)?

Follow your expenses for a whole month and see how many different ways you can cut costs and free yourself from those extra expenses you don’t need in your new minimalist life.

And Don’t Forget to Squirrel Away All That Cash You Save!

The best part about minimalism is getting rid of junk, but a super close second has to be the money you save. By creating a lifestyle of less, you’ll be able to do more — travel, experience local culture, and save for retirement. So start imagining what you can do with the extra money, extra space in your home, and extra time not being distracted by STUFF.

However, if you’re just getting started and haven’t been able to save much yet, it’s OK to get help if something breaks, you find yourself with bills you didn’t anticipate or repairs that still make sense but are expensive.

Consider taking out a cash loan from Swoosh Financial where you’ll know exactly how long it’ll take to pay it off. Plus, it’s an easy online application process that puts money in your hands quickly — a helpful thing when you might need to get your car repaired fast so you can get to work.

But taking on this minimalist lifestyle should help you meet those loan payments and start a savings account you can count on for those emergencies.