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9 Small Changes That Have Radically Simplified My Life

I think I may be an Accidental Minimalist.

I’ve never sought out to be a minimalist, but recently, I’ve realized that I may have been an unassuming minimalist this entire time. Over the years, I’ve naturally developed a system for making small, everyday decisions that simplify my life AND help out my wallet. Decisions that reduce the number of things I buy or help free up time, so I focus on the stuff I really care about. Here are nine of them, in more detail.

1. I Stopped Buying Holiday Gifts

Before you assume that I’m a total scrooge, this one isn’t about the money. It’s about the stress. For Christmas, I used to spend an ungodly number of hours scouring stores for gifts I thought people would love. I hated the pressure and obligations I felt to find the perfect gift on a deadline. And, of course, 9 times out of 10 I’d second-guess the gift I bought, thinking it wasn’t good enough. Then I thought, Why am I doing this to myself? Now, the adults in my life know that they aren’t getting anything from me for Christmas, Valentine’s Day or anniversaries, and I don’t expect anything from them. For kids, I’ll buy one small thing that’s less than $20.

However, I do buy some gifts — but when I feel inspired, on my own timeline. Like when I bought my husband a surprise gift for our wedding day. I did it because I felt like it.

Also, receiving gifts has also never been a major happiness trigger for me. When you have a money system on lock, you basically can buy whatever you want for yourself. Have you ever bought yourself anything from Matchesfashion? It’s like Christmas in a box.

2. I Don’t Subscribe to Fashion Magazines

Glossy fashion magazines are filled with pictures of models who look great in anything and gorgeous clothes to match, so it’s hard not to get sucked into wanting it all. I used to buy magazines when I wanted something light to read at the airport. Well, lo and behold, after I was done flipping through them, I’d end up with a mental list of all kinds of things I wanted to shop for. Things I never knew I “needed” before. Nowadays, with magazines content being available digitally, I’m still exposed — but it’s so much easier to ignore.

3. I Streamline My Beauty Routine

I do the same face every day with the same tried-and-true products:

For my everyday look, I won’t use any products I can’t apply with my fingers. If I need to use a brush to apply a product, it’s not practical, and I won’t use it. For that reason, I use a tinted moisturizer instead of foundation, and I don’t wear eyeshadow or powder blush.

After looking around and getting stressed out by how many products I had, I now have a policy where I won’t let myself buy multiples of the same kind of product. For example, I have two tinted lip balms already, so I try not to buy any more until the first two run out. Who needs more clutter around the house?

4. I Stopped Feeling Pressured by Sephora Sales

For those of you who are part of Sephora’s loyalty program, how many of you look forward to the annual 15% off sale? That used to be me. For years I’d get sucked into the sale, afraid of missing out on a deal. I usually only needed one item, but I’d just add on more stuff to spend the $50 to get the free shipping. Then I’d have to deal with the hassle of returning the other items, or just using them when I never needed them. It was hard, but I’m not obsessed with that sale anymore. Now, I buy the items when I need them. If the timing lines up when there’s the sale, great, but I don’t stress about saving a couple bucks anymore.

5. I Buy Household Supplies in Bulk

Living in the city with no car, the most efficient way to buy things like toilet paper and paper towels was by walking to the store in my neighborhood. But there was a limit to how much I could carry, which meant that not only did I have to do more frequent trips to re-up, I also paid more in unit price. Until I discovered Amazon. Now, I order bigger packs online and have never looked back.

6. I Spend One Day a Week Making Lunches

I don’t bring my lunch every single week, but when I do, I batch prep everything in one weekend day. Because I’m LAZY about making food. Sometimes you just have to know yourself and your habits, and then find a system to work around them.

7. I Stopped Buying Dresses to Wear to Weddings

So, I’m not a dress person. This means that I used to get stressed out when I’d get invited to a wedding. I’d have “nothing” to wear, and then I’d panic-shop and end up with a sub-par dress I stopped liking right away. Then the next wedding, I’d have to buy a new dress. It was a bad cycle. Then I thought, Why don’t I just wear the same few dresses to every wedding? So I bought two versatile, go-to dresses that I love: one for spring/summer weddings, and one for fall/winter weddings. I don’t need variety, and if I did, I’d just do Rent the Runway.

8. I Have a System for How Many Clothes I Buy

I retrofit my shopping habits to fit the size of my closet and my one bureau. If I find that both spaces are getting too full, it means I have too many clothes. So then I institute the “one in, one out” policy where I have to sell something to make room for the new item. I find capsule wardrobes to be too arbitrary, but limiting shopping based on space works best for me.

9. I Wear My Clothes Multiple Times Before Washing Them

In my husband’s last guest post on my blog, he mused about how I produce a tiny amount of laundry. When I was single, I used to do laundry twice a month. For work, all I do is sit at a desk all day in an air-conditioned office, so how dirty do my clothes really get? At the risk of sounding grungy, I wear my tops two or three times before washing and pants/jeans get washed every few months or so. I always felt like doing laundry was such a time suck. Since the wash cycle is only 30 minutes, you can’t really be that productive in that time frame. Plus, the other benefit of washing your clothes less is they will last longer. The washer, and especially the dryer, are hard on your clothes. If you really want them to last, you’ll wash them less.

What about you? What are some things you do to simplify your life?

The Luxe Strategist is a New Yorker saving half of her income. She chronicles her money-saving strategies on her blog.

Image via Unsplash

  • Jess

    No longer buying holiday gifts has changed my life. There’s a few staple people I’ll shop for (Parents, Boyfriend, & Best Friend) but that’s it. I love buying people gifts but the financial and emotional weight of it all stressed me out. By limiting who I buy for it allows me to spend the time finding and wrapping the perfect gift for them (which I really enjoy doing!)

  • Lexie

    I have tried SO HARD to get my family to stop buying gifts but they will not budge .. it’s their “love language.” It’s so frustrating. I’d rather do spontaneous (or more like after tax refund…) gifts instead.

    • lazuliz

      I have too! I also have to fly across the country to visit my family for the holidays. A $300 plane ticket plus trying to cleverly think of gifts for 10 people. Can we just spend a few days together without the additional stress, money, and 30 minutes of unwrapping gifts? sigh

    • Taryn

      Our family switched to the White Elephant party for Christmas. Everyone brings 1 fun item (Usually a gift card and chocolate/gloves/something to open) and then we play the game. It’s cheaper, easier, and a lot more fun for everyone since we’re all adults anyways.

      • Lexie

        Yep, we do that for our holiday party with our extended family, but traditional gifts on Christmas morning.

  • Wolf

    Re-wearing tops that look and smell clean is completely normal. Not gross at all.

    • Dana Ernest

      Right? I’ve had people look at me like I’m nuts when I don’t wash my pants/shirts every time. But if they aren’t legitimately dirty and aren’t stained or smelly, why waste a wash? I have roommates that must do 2-3 loads per week. Not only does it waste detergent, it racks up the water bill.

  • Katie Gutt

    I love the Luxe Strategist’s posts! Keep them coming 🙂

  • Taryn

    The laundry one is why I have undershirts! I buy quite a few black and white tank tops frm H&M at $4 a piece, think they’re quite comfortable, and those get washed alongside underwear and bras. For a lot of things I spray them down with a 50/50 mixture of vodka and water to get rid of bacteria. Works amazing.