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7 Effective Ways to Consume Less and Live a Minimalist Lifestyle

Since my move to Spain, I’ve realized how freeing it can be to live with few possessions. Before I moved here I lived in Sweden. I did live a simple life in Sweden, but now it’s even simpler, and it feels good.

In Spain I rent a fully furnished apartment, which allows me to basically only own a laptop, clothes and a few other items. My happiness has greatly improved from consuming less and realizing that I do not need a lot of stuff to be happy.

When you consume, ask yourself, why are you consuming? What hole are you artificially trying to fill by purchasing more and more things?

I’ve learned a lot in the last few months in keeping my life simple and consuming less. Here are 7 of the strategies that I use to overcome the urge of consumption:

  1. Pay with cash
    When you pay with cold hard cash, you’ll be more conscious of your spending. Paying with a debit or credit card is easier, because after all, it’s only a plastic card. I’ve talked with a few people who have drastically cut their spending by eliminating the use of any kind of cards.

Why do you think banks and everyone else wants you to use these cards? Because it increases consumption, and that’s good for business. But what’s good for business might not be good for you, in the long-run.

I only take my wallet with me if I really need to. I decide beforehand what I need to buy and if I really need to buy it. I’m mostly spending money on food, rent and other necessities. If I bring my wallet everywhere I go, it’s too easy for me to go into a zombie-like state and start buying.

We’ve been taught to consume and to buy. We’ve been programmed to believe that having a lot of nice stuff automatically equals success. But there’s something that has been left out, and that is the fact that success does not equal happiness. This is assuming that material wealth equals success.

When you’re looking at that new phone, computer or car, do you really need it? If you already have one at home, use that, because there are more important things you can spend your money on.

When you shine the light on your need to purchase, you’re instantly conscious about your choices. You can go ahead and buy something, but you will be doing it consciously, while knowing the consequences.

It’s a never-ending cycle. What is the deeper meaning of your desire to consume? I know I want a nice phone, a car and a house, but I realize that they will not make me happy. They are merely preferences, not necessities.

Minimizing your life will allow you to spend less, work less and have more free time to do what you want. We all work so we can finally realize our dreams. I have a radical thought: why not work less and spend less so you can do it now?

If you want to buy a big house, then of course you have to work, but is that house really necessary for your happiness? Happiness does not come from external things. You might be happy for a moment, but it will pass. True happiness comes from the inside.

Other questions I use are “Do I really need this?” and “How often am I going to use this?”

I’ve noticed that I often want to buy things that I am probably not going to use more than a few times a month or even less. The only reason I want them is because they are pretty and they make me look good.

Increasing Your Happiness
For me, being a minimalist doesn’t mean relinquishing all of your material possessions, it simply means decluttering my life and realizing what truly makes me happy.

I don’t have to consume. I don’t have to look for happiness. I can do what I want to do right now. Most people can go after their dreams and passions, but they choose not to by making excuses and blaming something outside of them.

Don’t give away your power by whining, pointing and blaming. Take control of your life and start going after the things that matter to you. You may not succeed right away, but it’s a start.

Written on 3/3/2010 by Henri Junttila. Henri blogs at, Wake Up Cloud, where he shows you how you can earn money online ethically. You can also get the Passion Blogging Guide, which is free, but really shouldn’t be. Photo Credit: Jayel Aheram
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