Beginners Minimalism Guide

Beginners Minimalism Guide

Minimalist Expert Shares Her Story and 6 Steps to Start Living a Simpler, More Intentional Life

Laura and Matt McNamara are minimalists. They have two young kids and are raffling off their profitable sea side cafe in Phillip Island to travel Australia in a caravan. They call themselves The Avocado Tribe and decided to raffle the cafe off rather than sell it to give back to someone else.

Living a minimalistic life wasn't something we'd chosen for ourselves, in fact some people would see it as the result of unfortunate circumstances. But now, we feel we can celebrate and thank the challenging events that have happened for pushing us towards a life we truly want to live.

What is Minimalism?

The key idea of minimalism is this; remove what isn't adding value to your life, to make room for what can. Living minimally is about making conscious choices and living with intension rather than letting the rest of the world determine how we spend our time, energy and money.

While the idea seems incredibly simple, when you've got a family of four you accumulate a lot of stuff! These things do serve a purpose but it's hard to distinguish whether they're "valuable" or just clutter filling our house.

But, once we made the time to understand what we wanted for our family versus what we thought we should want, the changes we needed to make became clearer.

In 2014, we built our dream 4 bedroom seaside home full of all the beautiful possessions that were supposed to make us happy. We were living the modern consumerism idea that "things" are the answer to a life of fulfilment and happiness when in fact we were just putting on a façade to mask the real issues in our life.

In 2015 we were forced to look at our living situation closely when we decided to close the doors to a retail business we'd owned for 8 years, taking on a mountain of debt. It was in this moment we feared we were about to lose everything, a scary thought for a young family who has just built their dream life. But in hindsight we can see it was because of these circumstances that we realised a minimalistic lifestyle was how we were going to gain so much more than material things.

While a simpler lifestyle was somewhat forced upon us, we have taken the idea of minimalism to the next level and we couldn't be happier. Now we're set for a journey of discovery and adventure as we travel around Australia in a caravan with our two children.

Our 6 Step Guide to a Minimal Life

Step 1: Understand What's Important
This is by far the most important step to understanding why you should live a minimalist lifestyle. Think about what your priorities are and make space for the things that truly add value. Once you get clear on this you'll be able to start making changes that add purpose to your life.

Write down 3 – 6 things that are most important to you. For us this was our family, our health, creating memories and capturing these, supporting ethical and sustainable brands and becoming aware of our footprint on the environment, not the flashy lifestyle we'd always thought we'd wanted.

Step 2: Discover What Makes You Happy
Think about the activities that always leave you feeling fresh and re-energised. In contrast, think about the activities that leave you feeling tired, anxious or stressed. By recognising the difference, you'll be able to spend more of your precious time on things that are actually giving your life value and wasting less time on those that detract value.

Write down 5 activities that energise you. For us we love surfing at the beach, spending time with the kids outdoors, cooking nutritious plant-based meals, practicing yoga and meditation and regular alignment treatments with an osteopath.

Step 3: Get Rid of Clutter
While you might not be making the decision to live in the small confines of a caravan like we have, getting rid of physical clutter will help you to understand the value of the things around you. Having too much stuff has a negative impact on your stress levels and promote the toxic desire of always wanting more and never being satisfied with what you have.

Give your living space a good detox by asking yourself "if I never saw this pair of shoes or used that TV again, would it impact my life negatively in any way?" If the answer's no, get rid of it!

Step 4: Sell & Giveaway Your Stuff
You've probably heard the saying before, one man's trash is another man's treasure, well it couldn't be truer when it comes to selling or giving away the stuff you've realised you no longer value.

At the start we decided to sell our possessions, we used Gumtree and Facebook for items we thought would sell really well and eBay for those that were going to take a little longer. We then began to give a lot of possessions away to family and friends as well as local charities which felt liberating.

Choose 10 items to sell and 10 items to give away. Not only will this exercise give you some extra cash to spend on experiences that will add value to your life, but it'll make you feel good about helping others.

Step 5: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Borrow!
Develop a mentality for getting thrifty whenever you feel like you need or want something new. Consider visiting an opp shop to find a new outfit for the weekend, it's amazing what you'll find for under $10. Recycle an old table from verge pick up by sanding it back and adding a new coat of varnish. Borrow things from friends and family that you only think you're going to use once (like that bread maker you've got tucked away in the cupboard somewhere!)

The next time you want to go out and buy something new, think about whether you have something already that you could use instead, purchase it second hand from a thrift-store or borrow it from a friend. You'll save yourself from collecting unnecessary junk, reduce waste and save money at the same time.

Step 6: Do What's Best For You
Just because we've packed up our life to travel around Australia in a caravan doesn't mean you have to. Living in a tiny house or creating a capsule wardrobe might not make you happy and that's ok. Make small changes or big changes in your life but the most important step is to be intentional about what fills up your life both physically and mentally.

Take inspiration from our story, but this is your minimalist journey so make it work for you.

What We've Learnt

1. Minimalism is not about sacrifice, instead it's about developing an appreciation for what you have
2. We've become more conscious about what we buy (and have saved so much money!)
3. Using less, consuming less and wasting less helps our planet
4. The less you have the less you have to clean, put away, think or worry about
5. We're more conscious in understanding what we need versus what we want
6. Giving away our stuff is an opportunity to help people in need
7. It's amazing how much time you have with no TV
8. Possessions don't make you happy, it's life's experiences and memories that make you rich

Laura and Matt McNamara are minimalists. They have two young kids and are raffling off their profitable sea side cafe in Phillip Island to travel Australia in a caravan. They call themselves The Avocado Tribe and decided to raffle the cafe off rather than sell it to give back to someone else.