13 Years Living as a Minimalist & the 13 Lessons I've Learned

Connie Riet
by Connie Riet

I have been living as a minimalist for 13 years, and in that 13 years, a lot has happened. I've raised three kids; we sold our house, bought an RV, and traveled the US in it, but one thing has remained the same. I'm still a minimalist.

Today I'm going to share with you a few lessons of minimalism that I have learned after living life as a minimalist for over 13 years.

1. Minimalism made me consider my values

It made me think about what was important to me. Minimalism changed how I saw what success meant and what that meant to my family and me. 

2. Living as a minimalist has given me a lightness

I let go of the ideal that I thought I needed to have things and get things in order to be successful or have worth or value. 

3. There is no one, perfect way to be a minimalist

Each person is unique, and there isn't one path that's right and one path that's wrong. Throughout the 13 years, minimalism really changed for us depending on how old my children were, where we were living, and if we were living nomadically or staying put for a while. 

Traveling as a minimalist

4. Minimalism really strengthened my marriage

It created this open dialogue for the first time between my husband and me. As we became more clear on what our values were and what was important to us and our family, where we wanted to spend our money, and the decisions that we were making, we started making decisions in tandem. We became a united team on the same page with the same vision.

5. Minimalism is not for everyone

There have definitely been a lot of times in my life when money, success, big houses, and fancy cars were my priority at the time, and not everyone is going to be a mindful consumer. Many are going to like brand-new vehicles and brand-new phones, and that's okay.

Lessons of minimalism

6. Minimalism stopped my envy

It has made me stop being envious of other people's material items. I used to spend so much time and energy and thought just comparing what other people had. I realized that what other people have is their business, not mine. 

7. My self-worth is not defined by what I own

We became minimalist in 2008 during the Great Recession, and we were forced to sell off all of our things so that we could pay utilities and pay our mortgage. I had no idea how much my identity was wrapped up in the items I owned. Minimalism has taught me that my self-worth and value are not determined by the stuff I own. 

8. Attachment to stuff makes us really uptight

I remember we were cleaning out our garage, and my husband accidentally threw away some beautiful copper sconces. I was furious with him. I realized that attachment to things and stuff made me really uptight and insensitive, and all I did was distance myself from the people that I love over an object. 

9. The "Someday Syndrome"

I used to be frozen by making decisions because of the Someday. I would keep owners manuals in case I needed them someday, the books I would read again someday, or the black tie dress just in case I needed it someday. What it really turned out to be was procrastination. 

A beginner's guide to minimalism

10. Mindfulness and intention

From living as a minimalist, I started really tapping into living more mindfully and intentionally. I don't put as much thought or energy into things that I need or want to buy. Instead, I take simple joy and pleasure in things like nature, baking bread, making cookies, or planting something.

I live in awareness and live mindfully, and this really helps me to live with my value system, which makes choices really simple and easy and makes my life much more peaceful.

11 You don't always need to upgrade

We are continually bombarded by marketing to get the newest model of car or an updated phone, or whatever it is. I choose to use all my devices and appliances until they no longer work.

12. I spend a lot less time cleaning

Cleaning, fixing, and maintaining items is a lot of work. Once I started downsizing, decluttering, and living minimally, the quicker it is for me to clean, and time is such a valuable commodity.

It's also amazing how much money I've saved as a minimalist. Not only am I not purchasing items, but I don't need to pay anyone to clean, fix, or maintain all of my stuff.

The benefits of living life as a minimalist

13. Minimalism is a fluid practice

Throughout the last 13 years, I have gone from raising three small children to becoming almost an empty nester. My life has gone through so many changes, and as a result, living as a minimalist has also gone through many different changes and stages.

Living as a minimalist

Minimalism can flow and grow and move with your lifestyle. By welcoming and adapting to these changes, you can live a happy, minimalist lifestyle. 

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2 of 17 comments
  • BonDiva BonDiva on Oct 12, 2023

    Thank you for your introspective, honest, and non-punishing manner of explaining your philosophy.

    I find many times, that people who stress the subject of living more minimally to be cause more guilt and stress for other people, because they push, promote, or act as if there is only one way to live and anything else is not acceptable.

    The best method I found last year was, " The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning." It appealed to my sense of dry sarcasm and made me laugh and be able to come unfrozen in some ways in order to be able to pass so many things along when i prepared to move last year after being in the same place for over twelve years. ( The only other place I had ever lived in that long was when I grew up in my parent's home.)

    Thank you so much,


  • Steve Johnson Steve Johnson on Oct 13, 2023

    My fiancé just moved in with me and has thirty years of household stuff from her first marriage. Her Ex only left with his clothes. Consequently, we now have the two car garage and an entire storage unit with her stuff in it, plus my own household stuff here already existing. My ex moved to a townhouse and I got all the furniture and most everything else as I had bought it.