Advice For Aspiring Minimalists (from the experts)

It seems we are all on a path of discovery to figure out how we want to live our lives. I love that I live with less and have the opportunity to share this journey with you.

I so value your time and appreciate that you spend a little of your precious time hearing what I have to say, and often, contributing to the conversation. Be More With Less is evolving into a thoughtful, gentle, world changing community because of you. One of the things I love about minimalism are the different degrees to which you can practice this lifestyle art.

The word minimalism can feel threatening some times, but remember, it’s just a word. It’s up to you to decide how to apply it to your life. While we may all practice it differently, the stepping stones are similar.

I asked some of my minimalist friends to offer advice for those of you considering a lifestyle living with less and focusing on the most important things. Each of these bloggers has inspired me on my journey in some way. While you are defining and redefining how you want to live your life, consider their thoughts.

Advice from the Experts – Part One

What is the most important thing people should consider before becoming a minimalist?

  • Why are you doing it? Because it’s popular, or because you genuinely understand why people would want to live with (as an example) less than 100 things? It’s easy to focus on the material side of minimalism, but the real value — the real change — occurs in the new perspective on life that it brings. Matthew Madeiro of Three New Leaves
  • The only important decision that needs to be made is “where to start.” Your unique practice of minimalism and the extent to which you embrace it will always change and evolve over time. The important thing is to stop reading advice, blogs, and e-books and just start removing the non-essentials. Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist
  • Are you happy with a life of consumerism, clutter, stress and waste? If not, minimalism is a way to break free from that life. Leo Babauta of mnmlist.com
  • Becoming a minimalist is not about stuff. If you have 1,000 personal items that each make your life better, then there is no need to get rid of them. To counter that, one must be honest with themselves as to whether the stuff they have really brings meaning & purpose to their life. – David Dameron
  • Is this the right time for life change? It was a few months of reading about people living with less before I decided to take the plunge. Life settled down and  I had the time to invest in myself and donating/selling half of our belongings. I had also talked about it for long enough that my husband was comfortable with the idea. Rachel Jonat of  Minimalist Mom
  • For the married peeps, the most important thing to do before downsizing takes place is to discuss your plans with your spouse. It’s better not to surprise them one day by getting rid of the cars, TVs and cable without their prior knowledge. If you do this, keep the couch, because you’ll need it to sleep on! – Eric LaForest
  • Why are you doing it? Figuring out your values and clarifying your motivation is the bedrock that your whole minimalist experience is built upon. – Sam Spurlin
  • Consider your motivations. It’s easy to jump in and start donating, but unless you know the why behind it, you’ll be less likely to stick with it. Robyn Devine of Minimalist Knitter
  • The minimalist lifestyle comes with a lot of responsibility. For one thing, you’ll have more freedom that you’ve ever experienced in your life. How you choose to use that freedom is the difference between seeking to maximize your life’s purpose or maximizing the amount of cheap thrills you experience. It’s not that much different than a young adult who goes off to college for the first time. – Michael Donghia

 


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Comments

  1. says

    I like the general premise from everyone that if you are not happy, then a simpler life may be right for you.

    Often we all think more makes us happier. Thankfully this community is changing that approach.

    David Damron
    LifeExcursion

  2. says

    Great write up Courtney!

    If I were contemplating a switch to minimalism I would definitely find this of value. Great insights from everyone listed!

    My personal Fav is Robyn Devine’s comment. Know your “why” and everything will fall into place. So true isn’t it?

    Thanks for including me Courtney!

    Eric

    • Courtney Carver says

      Of course Eric! I love your sense of humor and practical approach to minimalism with a family.

  3. says

    The first two answers by Matthew Madeiro and Nina Yau stick out to me the most. The act of removing the unneeded can start as a material pursuit. I believe that process can quickly turn into an emotional one.

    People are attached to their things. Minimalism could be thought of as a shift in priorities. Placing more focus what is truly important to you. Your family, your health, your happiness. The quality of your life.

  4. says

    This has been an interesting Christmas, the first time ever that I did not open a single wrapped package. The grandkids still had presents but no one went overboard on them either. As a family we donated money to a charitable organization and we DO plan on going to Disneyland in spring. I LOVED this Christmas, concentrating on the reason we celebrate,and being surrounded by the people I love.
    Cindy

    • Barb says

      I think it’s my first Christmas to not open a single wrapped gift too. My husband and I gave each other the gift of a dinner theater experience with his brother and wife ( people we really enjoy but don’t see too often.)

      The gifts for our son and his wife were things we already owned but thought they would enjoy – why wait until we are dead to pass on treasures? Sara loved the antique things that have been in the family for several generations.

      We did give the grandsons a few things – only one a piece to unwrap – the others were just there for them to enjoy. But mainly we gave money to buy farm animals for families in under developed countries. We put toy farm animals on the table as a reminder to pray for those families.

      Beat Christmas ever.

      • says

        I agree, “best” Christmas ever for us as well! We gave to India to buy crop seeds. And one of our friends gave us the same thing, I mean in our name, but along with it gave us a little ornament of an ear of corn. Very cool.

        Our grandkids always get something to read, something to wear, and something to play with (they are 2 and 4) for birthdays and Christmas. At Christmas it is always new jammies.

  5. says

    David Damron of Life Excursion’s comment is something that I think about a lot. There are so many minimalists that list their less than 100 things, which is very interesting, but it might be mistaken for a competition. An important thing for aspiring minimalists to know is that it’s not about having as little as possible, but truly enjoying each and every thing.

      • says

        I also agree. So while I have donated seemingly tons of stuff (but not really…) and am enjoying so much less “stuff” around the house, I am also a quilter who loves to donate quilts to friends and charities. So I have NOT stopped buying fabric. (Although I could probably cut down on that a bit. I’ll try really hard in 2011).

        • says

          The focus on that which brings more “life” to life is significant. I used to have LOTS of books. We donated them and now someone else may gain some wisdom from them. Their were not giving my life “life” so we rid them.

          The yarn you weave brings life to you and helps others as well. I think this approach to what we have is going to propel you to reducing more of what doesn’t bring “life” to your life.

          David Damron
          LifeExcursion

    • says

      Val—

      Thanks for the comment!

      I tried “competing” in a way last January with the whole 100 things challenge. When I started ridding my life of clutter because it was clutter, I realized why I hated competition and why I loved collaboration. Supporting everyones reduction of stuff was far more important than trying to have less than them.

      Well wishes—

      David Damron
      LifeExcursion

  6. says

    I love Matthew’s line. It is easy to follow a fad, much more difficult to stop and contemplate the why and think for yourself, rather than follow the herd.

  7. Erin says

    There are two things I love about this post:

    1. Minimalism is different for everyone – I know I personally will probably never live with 100 things, but that doesn’t mean cutting back and living with less won’t make my life better. It’s different for everyone.

    2. Dave Bruno’s comment that it takes time – It is a lot of work to get rid of stuff and it gets frustrating sometimes. I appreciate the reminder that it won’t happen overnight.

  8. Weston says

    I know he posted it in a joking tone but if you were going to post further questions I would love to see some responses along the lines of Eric Laforest’s comment.

    It seems that much (although certainly not all) of what I read about minimalism and simpler living comes from the perspective of people that are either not in a committed relationship, or are in such a relationship with a like minded person.

    I would like to hear some perspectives from people regarding the topic of relationships with others, with a particular emphasis on how to meet the needs of both people in a loving committed relationship when their views on this particular topic diverge. How to approach it? What do you say? How do we walk a path that respects both people’s values?

    • Courtney Carver says

      Weston, I think there are several of us in committed relationships that didn’t dive into minimalism with our spouse or significant other. It is so important to put the relationship ahead of the changes and be flexible. It might mean a slower transition and extra communication.

      Lead by example, gently and when your partner starts to see positive changes, it will feel less threatening to join in.

    • says

      Hello Weston!

      I’m stoked that Courtney’s post has sparked more questions, as it should.

      I had the exact same thoughts as you when I was contemplating a transition to a simpler way of life. It appeared that it was single 20 somethings that were traveling the world with very little possessions. It’s half the reason I started blogging myself was to provide a different view.

      I’m not an extreme minimalist, I’m a 34 year old, new father and loving husband with a mortgage payment that just got fed up with living a life in the fast lane trying to buy happiness.

      When I first approached my wife about downsizing I was nervous as hell, almost like the first time I asked her out. What would she say? Would she think I’m nuts? Would she still love me if I changed? These may seem like silly questions, but they were valid in my mind.

      When I finally told her my plans she was supportive, but in no way did I push this lifestyle on her. I showed her the amount of money we could save by downsizing to a one car family, pay off our only vehicle and have more money to travel (which is something she is passionate about).

      It’s definitely a give and take when you have someone else to consider. I focus on downsizing my possessions and sometimes it motivates my wife to clear stuff out and sometimes it doesn’t. No sweat I think because in the end I’m happier and she’s happy and that’s all that matters.

      This is such an interesting question to me I wanted more insight from other married bloggers if you would like to read that: http://www.elevatedsimplicity.com/2010/11/does-your-marriage-support-your-growth-9-married-influential-bloggers-share-the-keys-to-shared-joy/

      Hope I answered some of your questions- if not let me know!

      Eric

    • says

      Weston –

      I think you hit the nail on the head for a lot of people. To that point, you approach the topic with your spouse like you would any other lifestyle change. Would you just inform her that you are moving to and she is going, or would you discuss the options, the possibilities and changes that would come with this change, BEFORE you make it.

      I recently just started on this journey myself. My wife, she is taking a little time to come around. I started with the conversation about going through our attic and garage, to clean out the stuff we just don’t need anymore. When I brought that up, she was supportive. She was surprised I was gung-ho about it and accomplished majority of it in 3 weeks, but she was supportive. She went through her stuff, kept what she wanted to use again, donated/sold what she didn’t.

      We have had several further discussions on the matter, most of which were met with resistance. My wife is Columbian and they identify wealth with having lots of stuff. For me, it is a culture change, but I have to support it. We discussed things, and she is willing to go through and get rid of stuff, such as in the garage or attic. Just don’t ask her to go through her clothes.

      I started last night on my separation for my involvement in Project 333. She asked me a few times if I was serious about it, after we discussed it. I told her that I wasn’t expecting her to do it, and I was doing it as an experiment, just to see how it would affect my life. I believe it will impact my life for the better.

      So much to my delight, I got 2 picture messages from her this morning (she has the day off), where she was showing that she had gone through her entire side of the bathroom, medicine cabinet, makeup/cosmetic cabinet, etc, and cleaned it all out. Down to the essentials of what she needed.

      This is all a work in progress, but the best thing you can do is have discussions with your spouse, talk about the benefits/etc. and make an informed decision about how to proceed for both of you.

      Best of luck!

    • says

      I also noticed that so many of the minimalist bloggers I read were young and often single. I am in my mid-fifties and have been married to my wife for 26 years. She was the first to discover blog sites on minimalism and she shared them with me. Fortunately, both of us were inspired by blogs like this to start making changes in our lives. We do have disagreements at times, such as she would throw the TV out completely and I’m not to that point yet. So we have compromised and now only have the most basic cable rather than 100s of channels.

      Starting this lifestyle change when 50 does present a few extra challenges. My wife and I have 26 years of experiences in acquiring stuff, but only a few months experience in trying to get rid of the clutter. I also have spent over 25 years working in retail management and I am finding that breaking away from the traditional view of work is hard for me.

      My blog is just a baby, but I have addressed the issues of mid-life minimalism and plan to focus more of my writing on the struggles associated with changing you whole life and way of thinking when you are middle-aged.

      Thanks for the great post Courtney!

    • Weston says

      Leaving the office and heading out to the cluttered McMansion. Just wanted to thank everybody who has posted such thoughtful responses to my comment. Hope to hear more, and thanks again.

  9. says

    Fantastically insightful stuff here – thanks for asking the questions, aggregating and sharing – allow me to pimp my own little project doing something similar (which you have already contributed to Courtney – thanks) : just click on my name/link for my attempt to find 100 minimalists to share in a 100 words (max) anything they want (an idea, a story, a practice, a lyric, a quote, anything…) on the subject of minimalism.

    Thanks again.

  10. says

    Thanks for putting this together, Courtney.
    Re: Bruno’s comment — It’s been about 10 years for me.
    And re: relationships — found him along the way. no convincing needed.

  11. Chandra says

    I really liked Matthew’s, Nina’s, and Leo’s advice. Each of them touched on very important parts of minimalism.

    I must say, though, that I never realized minimalism was that popular. It seems to really be catching on (THANKFULLY!) and there are many places to read about it now, but nobody I know has ever heard of it. I exposed my mom to it and she loves it. However, most people (family, friends, fellow students…) still don’t get how/why I’m living my life the way I do now. I still feel very much in the minority and it isn’t easy. It is SO worth it though. :D

    Reading about different people’s take on this one idea is very inspiring. I also love seeing how everyone learns, grows, and changes a bit over time. So, a big thank you to everyone for allowing us into your lives to witness your transformations and taking the time to help the rest of us on your way. :)

    • Courtney Carver says

      Chandra, Stick around and you won’t feel like you are in the minority anymore. It’s not easy, but if it’s right, it’s right. Let me know if I can ever be helpful.

  12. says

    Thank you for featuring us, Courtney, and kudos for the brilliant idea. It’s exciting to see so many perspectives and insights brought together on one page!

    I’m looking forward to the next part in the series. And kudos to David, by the way, for his brilliant point — it *doesn’t matter* how much stuff you have, really, so long as it’s stuff that you need. It’s easy to forget that when a quick look at the minimalist movement reveals a fair share of people living with so few things.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Matt, Part two is coming up next week. The responses to the questions were so great but would have been overwhelming to include them all in one post. Thanks so much for participating.

  13. bev smith says

    I downsized my clothes closet, i got rid of the tv, i spent all this year not buying books and found that we have a more then adequate city library – in fact its great. Besides there are still several books i havent yet read and some i would gladly read over on my own shelves. My problem isn’t me but my grown up children, who either still live at home or just appear and expect room and board which i dont mind but what i do mind is all their stuff. So my question is – How do i become a minimalist when my children wont let me?

    • says

      Hiya Bev!

      Quick question for ya- if your children do come back, couldn’t they be required to respect the shared spaces, thus leaving their crap strictly in their room. Maybe if they leave their crap out, you can box it up and donate it to show them that if it’s important to them, don’t leave it out or it will get tossed or donated?

      Also, simplifying is a choice you make for yourself and yourself only. No one should stop you from doing anything that you feel would improve your life, so I’m just being honest here- I’m not buying the “my children wont let me”. You have more power than you know Bev… You just have to believe it now!

      Eric

      • bev smith says

        Hi Eric,
        I’m not blaming my children for my stuff just for their own, which starts off nicely in their own rooms but then migrates slowly around the house. And i can tell you now somethings do leave without them knowing but everytime i turn round there is more stuff — argh :) and when they leave not all their stuff does. Im just a bad mother haha ok maybe not but they have to take responsibilty for their own stuff??

        • says

          Haha- you’re not a bad mother and good for you for taking a stand. I made that suggestion because that’s what my mom used to do and say to me… “if it’s important to you then you better pick it up because it’s going to be gone!”

          And yes- they do have to take responsibility for the things they own!

          You’ll find what works best for you Bev I have faith!

  14. says

    Something I have realized from minimalist blogs I have just started reading is that I actually don’t have as much personal stuff as many people have. I don’t wear make-up, have a lot of clothes, or own a lot of gadgets. My only downfall is my spinning hobby but I am getting there with that. I sort of feel like I am halfway there compared to a lot of people. My problem isn’t so much myself as it is the stuff given to my kids. I have so many issues with getting rid of things sent to my kids that are brand new. I come from a large family and because I live in a semi-remote area as a single mom on a low income people feel the need to send me vast quantities of stuff for my kids. I have had repeated discussions with people about this but they are fine with my choice of “deprivation” for myself but not for my kids. I don’t see a lot out there on that but I am getting through it in my own meandering way.

    • says

      Hi Rachel- I hear what you’re sayin’!

      Although I’m not a single mother… well, I’m not a mother at all, I’m am however a father who just had their first son celebrate his 1st Christmas and DAMN, the amount of stuff people gave to him is crazy!! I don’t think he’ll use half the stuff he was given, but it made the people who gave it very happy.

      We’re still trying to convey to everyone that if they want to gift something to him, try a CD, or money for his piggy bank he can use when he’s older. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, because others still feel a simplistic lifestyle is forced deprivation (like you stated). We just roll with it and donate toys we feel he’ll never use, hopefully to families that truly need it.

      Sounds like you’re doing awesome though for being a single mother!

      Eric

      • says

        The main problem I have is that because of where I live I pretty much have to throw the stuff out which really rubs me the wrong way. At this time of the year I drive 5 to 6 hours one way to get to a normal sized grocery store (which is also the nearest hospital, clothing store, dentist, hair stylist, drug store and anything else except basic groceries and a nursing station). No one in my town of 400 people wants the stuff either. Really it is best if it isn’t purchased in the first place. However, living where I do is also helpful in that I am not near stores. A lot of people have started buying clothes which is better. I hardly ever buy my kids clothes now.

        I also liked the comment above about how minimalism is different for everyone. I have a lot of food in my house and realized once I took out the stuff that I need to buy in bulk because of where I live I actually am doing well. This is just a recent realization but a bit of a relief.

  15. says

    I’m new to the world of minimalism and I’m taking on Project 333 along with the 100 Thing Challenge. I figured I’d dive right in! I’m married and I’m not sure just yet if hubby will follow my lead. It’s wonderful to see the community rallying behind this lifestyle -it’s contagious and uplifting. Anyway, I’m off to minimizing – grab the dumpster because it’s about to go down! Thanks Courtney for the wonderful list of resources!

    • Courtney Carver says

      Wow Jenny, You are diving right in. Keep me posted on the challenges you face attempting both projects at once. Way to go!

  16. says

    Minimalism is definitely goin to come out now with so many recent publications about it popping up. This is good, because it will broaden the knowledge of the masses, and people who will truly benefit from it will indeed be inspired. Unfortunately this will also result in the “trendiness” of it. This article gives good examples and reasons to help people understand the basic purpose of minimalism and what to consider when choosing this lifestyle. Good job, Courtney!

    • Courtney Carver says

      Thanks Nada! Of course some will join because it’s trendy but so what? Maybe some will stick with it or tell others. Even if it’s only temporary for some, it will make a difference in the big picture.

  17. Brett says

    I wish someone would have said, “Cause nothing works like it’s supposed to, customer service sucks and I’m tired of fixing shit.” At least, that’s why it interests me.

  18. says

    I love Christiaan’s comment – “If you have no idea what your essentials are, you better not start with minimalism because you’d have no idea what to actually cut away” – because it very honestly gets to the heart of simplifying and minimalism, the core reasons why people embrace these kind of lifestyles.

    It’s so important to take the time you need to find out what IS most important to you, and then slowly, bravely, strip back everything that gets in the way of you fully enjoying and appreciating those most important elements. Then you can REALLY get focused.

    Great post for minimalists new and more experienced…

  19. says

    Great read Courtney! It’s brilliant to hear about minimalist approach methods being used a lot more frequently in today’s society; more people are accepting it for its true value.

    I wonder if the many Christmas gifts that people have traded will be put to good use? Perhaps a minimalist approach for Christmas 2011 would pay off in modern society? ;-)

  20. bev smith says

    This year for Christmas i asked for things and recieved things that i would normally use and i had used up. Such as my favourite hand cream, a book (not been buying any this year) a book token, a plant which flowers from a bulb so i can watch it
    grow, a yankee candle and my daughters bought me a shade and a plate to go with it and its very beautiful, another daughter made me glass art work, she is an art student, lush bath bombs, chocolate, some ear rings, measuring jugs that will actually measure tsp and tbsp, i like to cook and those spoons that i buy always end up with one missing.

    I tried to do the same for the people i bought for, either things that they would normally use or something they could use up and retain the memory such as theatre tickets.

  21. says

    My question would be on the definition of minimalism – but I’m not sure there is an absolute answer to this. I recently posted ‘Why I am a little bit shy of minimalism’ on my blog, because the question had been asked of me what is different about leading a simple life to being a minimalist. After looking in my store cupboard and counting 36 herbs, spices, salts etc (and I do use everyone) I just knew minimalist wasn’t a apt description for myself. However had I not found ‘minimalism’ I would be back where I was almost two-years ago overwhelmed not just by stuff, but by commitments and life in general. There were even some blogs I couldn’t read (but wanted to) as I felt unworthy :-)in my endeavours – I read them now, I’ve come a long way! Courtney can I finally add a huge thank you for encouraging this great dialogue. I’m going to click through to everyone as I am sure there is some great stuff behind the comments!

    • Courtney Carver says

      Jo, you are worthy for anything you want and always welcome here. Thanks for your thoughtful contribution.

  22. says

    Some very solid answers here. The “Advice from the experts” really got to me. To be in the presence of such big names in this small corner of the bloggosphere. Thanks :)

    I’d like to echo David’s answer “one must be honest with themselves as to whether the stuff they have really brings meaning & purpose to their life.” but with the sidenote that honesty is an overall theme, not just with the stuff we own.

    Being honest about what you want, where you want to be, and what you actually really need is a powerful investigation. Be careful, you might just find your path in life ;)

  23. says

    Minimalism rules. Since I started with it and it takes more and more place in my world, I enjoy it and love the room, the air it is creating. It becomes more and more important what I really need, instead of all the crap that is useless. It has a lot to do with overcoming the feer of silence, empty space, but if you start to realize, that in this emptyness there is place for your real self, your creativity, you will love it and go further.
    Thanks Courtney for your inspirational thoughts sharing with the world.

    Tobias

    • Courtney Carver says

      There absolutely is a fear of silence in our everyday conversations and in our lives in general. Once you get a taste of it though and find that real meaning and truth comes from those silences and spaces, you’re hooked!

  24. says

    courtney! i’m really loving this and will continue to stay tuned in! we’re traveling through the end of january, so i’m thinking i can’t start the challenge this time, but it’s something i’d really love to be involved in next time around.

    my heart is excited about how you’re inspiring SO many!!!

    • Courtney Carver says

      Thanks Tracie, You have been such an inspiration to me and I am so glad we are staying connected. xoxo

  25. says

    I’m honoured to be included in this round up of writers. Thanks, Courtney.
    And thank you for inspiring such a lively and positive discussion through the comments section. I’m also in the not single and not in my 20’s section of life. My choice to live with less impacts not only me but my husband and son. While my husband wouldn’t call himself a minimalist he is certainly excited about the changes it is producing in our life together. Positive changes and that are tangible and have huge impact for us.
    While he’s no minimalist, my husband is the biggest reason I could make this change in my/our life. I married a man that was open to living the less conventional life. Best choice I ever made.

  26. Layla says

    The last quote you have, says that minimalism requires sacrifice. So far it hasn’t really for me – a few little leaps of faith, but they usually turned out to make my life better.

    I think I’ve succeeded at how far I want to go in minimalism: The smoke alarm went off and I realized that I wouldn’t miss anything for its sentimental value. I’ve also stopped wasting my time and money going to parties (the same party copied and pasted over and over and over again at different houses with different crappy keg beer).

  27. Susan says

    My husband and I recently retired early (56 and 51) and sold the car, but gave away most all of our other possessions and moved to Mazatlan, Mexico. The process was a bit scary at first, but after my first anxiety attack at giving away all my work clothes, it felt so good. We knew everything we gave away would be of use to another person or family and enrich their lives. It’s amazing how much you can accumulate in 20 years. Now before we buy something we are more intentional. Is it something we really need or just want. Life is more simple and moving to a different country made it a bit easier. I think doing the same thing in the U.S.A. would be more difficult. Here we are surrounded by people who are living a more simple lifestyle.

  28. Karen says

    I’d like to see some minimalist advice specifically for those in debt please….I am trying to break free of debt, but I’m a student and it’s hard. Also I have endless books, papers etc that I need for study but take up so much space, so any tips there please? Many thanks x

    • says

      Hi Karen,

      Let me say this how i see it, whilst you are a student you are not going to get rid of your debt. Now please keep reading. There is some debt that when you are a student, unless you are very rich or know someone who is rich, that you cant avoid. However there is some debt that you can and should avoid. I dont know where you are in the world but hopefully the following will help.

      – own the debt, accept that you created it
      – decide what is necessary debt and what isnt
      – decide what debt has to be paid now, ongoing or can wait until you have finished your course and get a job
      – get your debt out, put it in front of you, so you can see all of it
      – forget about the debt you dont have to start repaying until after your course finishes and concentrate on the other stuff
      – cut up and throw away credit cards, store cards and the like. If you have more then one bank account decide which one you will use and stick with that one and get rid of the bank card that comes with any other banks. Dont get any more.
      – stop living in your overdraft, changed banks, dont get another overdraft. your overdaft is now part of your debt.
      – decide how much money you have coming in, where it will be coming from and when you will be getting it
      – if you dont have a job, get one. Even 5 hours at minimal pay is survival money.
      – there are some bills that are essential and there are some that are not –
      – essentail; rent, utilities – gas, electric, water? – if you dont pay these they will cut you off and throw you out
      – you need to decide what other things you either have to pay – travel fares, mobile phone, internet, etc – or want to pay and can you afford them.
      – find out what 8% of your total income is, that’s your play money, clothes, hair cuts, going out, etc
      – if you cant afford to pay your debtors, tell them before they come chasing you
      – you also need food money
      – divide up the money you have left between your debt/ors and offer them that amount but dont break your promise. Try and get them to stop adding interest too.

      This is a budget. This is called survival. If you dont stick to the budget then you have to accept that you didnt. I am the proud mother of 4 children, 2 have been through university and debt, 1 is in the middle of everything and the last one goes in the autumn. I live in the uk and i know things are different here then the usa, but debt is debt wherever you are and it weighs you down and that’s not good.

  29. Jaidah says

    I used to crave having stuff growing up. We had things but we were poor. I got into debt buying things I thought I should have or bought things I felt entitled to as I waited yrs to own. Then, lost my job and needed to make a plan. I had a lot of stuff. Packed 2lrg suitcases, 1 carry one, my cat, and 5 boxes. Everything else I literally gave away. Now, downsized to renting a med sized room in a home. Everything I own is here. Just about everything I have I enjoy and use. I get pitty looks because I don’t have much. I just respond, how much stuff does one person really need? I’m happy. Sure I would like more room but honestly, I pay less here and I don’t feel the need to just buy things. I don’t have a void to fill any longer. I do like this :)

  30. Jaidah says

    I not only downsized my stuff, I traded in my SUV for a subcompact car and got rid of a lot of people from my life that sucked the life out of me or were just not healthy relationships. I am trying to grow the ones I actually need. It was all hard to do but it can be done