The Bare Essentials: Simplifying Your Life


May 11, 2010   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man


Take a look in your closets, garage, junk drawer and even your day planner. Are your valuable spaces uncomplicated and organized or cluttered and cramped? If your answer is the latter, it may be time to simplify your life by getting down to the bare essentials.

For many people, a good number of items which currently clutter up your home are redundant, useless, in need or repair, or just taking up space. We simply do not need all of the possessions we have accumulated. These superfluous items can cost you valuable time and money as you sort through them on a daily basis.

Simplification and getting down to the bare essentials will save time and money while reducing stress as well. Although there are many areas of our lives we could simplify, here are a few examples to give you a good start.

  • Simplify your wardrobe.

    Most people wear less than 20% of the items in their closet on a regular basis. A simplified wardrobe can relieve a great deal of stress. Fewer options will expedite your outfit selection each morning. Stick to mix and match clothing pieces that are classic and timeless. Eliminate items that our outdated, waiting more than 6 months for repair or alterations, or worn less than twice a year. The increased space in your closet will also make it easier to view the remaining clothing you have.

  • Simplify your garage and storage area.

    As the seasons change, swap snow shovels and ice picks for rakes and garden shovels. Store the unused items above in the rafters. If you have multiples of outdoor tools, garden tools, or sporting equipment, select the one in the best condition, and eliminate the others. Most importantly, if you have boxes in your storage area or garage that have been unopened for over two years, consider discarding it. If it’s been stored that long, you likely don’t need it. 

  • Simplify your children’s toys.

    Some toys, such as building blocks, are a staple in a child’s toy repertoire and should be kept. Classic games and toys should be retained so long as they are regularly played with. Others like board games or puzzles which are missing pieces, trendy toys (remember Tickle Me Elmo?) that now sit on the shelf collecting dust, or gifted items that your children never had any real interest in should be discarded or donated. More than likely, your child will never miss those items and their playroom shelves will look considerably less cluttered.

  • Simplify your kitchen.

    Keep your cupboards organized by eliminating dishes and appliances you rarely use. You only need enough dishes to serve your family and a reasonable number of guests. Donate any extras. A single set of mixing bowls and cooking utensils is all that is necessary. While decluttering the kitchen, take a look under the sink and combine or discard multiples of cleaning supplies as well. Then find time to take a look through your pantry and donate any non-perishables you will not eat in the next month to a food bank.

  • Simplify your finances.

    Multiple credit cards make it easy to accumulate debt and easy to miss a payment as well. If you have debt, consolidate it into one loan or credit card. An even better option is to become debt-free. If you are married and still have separate accounts, merge them into one. If you have money in the stock market, buy and hold rather than playing the ups and downs. Package services such as insurance (car, home, life) and technology Internet, cable, phone) whenever possible. One bill is easier to keep track of than three. In addition to simplification, you may find that packaged services at a discounted rate as well.

  • Simplify your schedule.

    Avoid taking on too many social engagements. Carefully consider your availability before joining any groups, committees, or clubs. Limiting your social commitments will allow you do give each its due attention. Additionally, simplify your family obligations by grouping appointments together whenever possible. Take one trip to the dentist instead of 5 separate trips. If your children are involved in after-school activities, find another family that will carpool with you. Life is much simpler when you only need to drive the kids to soccer once a week instead of 3 times.

Getting down to the bare essentials is a straightforward way to simplify your life. By taking the time to whittle things down to the fundamentals, you will save both time and money. You will spend less time making decisions when there are fewer options and save money by reducing unnecessary purchases. In the process, you may find some unexpected
benefits along the way such as reduced stress, increased personal satisfaction, and more free time.


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