We all know the old saying, “The best things in life are free.” But for some reason our modern-day society seems to put a lot of emphasis on things you should buy to be happy. There is a constant pressure to get the latest fashion trend, electronic gadget or new model of car. But living minimally isn’t just about having fewer things. A simpler lifestyle can reduce stress, increase your happiness and help you save money for great experiences and goals. If you’ve been considering living a more minimal lifestyle, these tips can help you get started.

    Declutter and Donate

    The first step to minimizing your life is getting rid of everything you don’t need. Most people have boxes and drawers full of possessions that they don’t use for one reason or another; books you don’t (or won’t) read, clothes that don’t fit anymore, gadgets and small appliances you have no need for. All of these things clutter your life and as a result, bog you down and stress you out. Fewer possessions and a decluttered home will give you a freeing feeling, and donating items of use to those in need or giving them to a friend is far more rewarding than storing it in a box where it will never be used. One thing to keep in mind when you are decluttering is to only take it as far as you are comfortable with. Some people want to live with only a bed and a laptop, but you can simplify your life in whatever way works for you.

    2302104436_951c8b905c_b

    Quality Over Quantity

    A common misconception about living a minimal lifestyle is that it means you have to give up all of your nice things and live like a pauper. However, a big part of a simpler lifestyle means owning a few high-quality items so you don’t have to own many mediocre ones or constantly replace things. Think about which of your possessions are your favorite and that you use the most. Chances are, only five of the 50 shirts in your closet make the cut. Same goes for your shoes, kitchen utensils, books, games, etc. When you stop spending money on many things you just kind of like, you have the opportunity to buy high-quality items you love and can use over and over. This is especially true for daily necessities such as your laptop, car or phone. Instead of buying the less expensive, lower-quality item, you have the opportunity to buy the better phone, like LG’s G5 smartphone, and keep if for twice as long, if not more.

    Invest in Experiences

    When you buy a new item or are given a great gift, you probably feel excited and happy. Unfortunately, people think that this means the more stuff they own the happier they will be. Fastcoexist.com explains that money can indeed buy happiness, but only up to a point. We then adapt to our belongings and are no longer happy from them. This is called the Easterlin paradox. Experiences stay with us longer and make us happier overall because they are a part of us. So next time you want to give a gift or do something special, consider going to a museum or a play or taking a vacation instead of buying a new gadget or toy.

    Plan to Unplug

    While cutting down on your material possessions is a big part of simplifying, there are many aspects of your life that are cluttered that you may not realize. Our world today is constantly plugged in and you probably get dozens or more notifications a day on your phone or other devices. Technology is a great thing and it helps us easily connect with friends and family, but it can also take up a lot of your time and distract you from what is going on in your real life. The Observer recommends taking an inventory of all of your email addresses, social media accounts, news subscriptions, etc., and delete all but the few you use most often. Then turn off the notifications so you can take a break from being constantly plugged in.