Minimalism tips

Make a supply list and stick to it

This one requires you to be tough with yourself. Do you really need three flashlights and a camping lantern? Will you use all of the cooking supplies you’re planning to bring? Make a list of basic camping supplies you actually need and use on a regular basis. You can also do a test run: Bring it all and take note of the items you actually use. When you get back, create a master minimalist camping list of must-haves to follow in the future. This will cut down on so many extras that you won’t even miss. Plus, it’ll make traveling, packing, and unpacking a breeze.

Shop with a grocery list

Now it’s time to be even tougher. Shopping for campground meals is where lots of temptations and last minute items can slip into our load for the weekend. We’re not suggesting you forgo camping favorites like s’mores (never!), but stick to the amount of food you’ll actually eat. We’re all guilty of packing way too many snacks, which may end up going to waste, getting stale, or spoiling. Focus on simple camp food, without throwing those extra items in your cart ‘just in case’ or ‘because it’s on sale.’

Scale back on clothes and shoes

It’s so easy to overpack clothes and shoes because it seems like you never quite know what you need most. But it can quickly get out of hand. Keep it to two practical pairs of shoes, like hiking boots and flip flops. Then throw in a jacket or sweatshirt for sitting by the fire, some extra socks and undies, and, weather permitting, a swimsuit and towel. After all, you’re camping—it’s okay to rough it! Wear the same clothes two days in a row. No one will tell.

Bring items that can do double duty

When minimalist camping, every piece of gear counts. If your packing list includes items that can perform multiple functions, you’re ahead of the game! You probably already have some versatility in your collection. For example, a waterproof jacket that can keep you warm and protect you from the rain. Or a multi tool that can cut twigs, light fires, and open your bottles, all in one handy gadget. Or a simple mug that can serve as a coffee cup, soup bowl, and whiskey tumbler—you get the idea!

Keep the entertainment to a minimum

As tempting as it is to pile up books, electronics, chargers, and games to keep your family entertained, avoid it. After all, unplugging is one of the great benefits of minimalist camping. Take reading material and a deck of cards, but don’t feel bad about leaving the iPad behind. You’ll save space and will likely have a much more meaningful experience overall. Remember why you love camping in the first place. Chances are, it doesn’t have much to do with all the stuff that can come along with it. So try to minimize your camping footprint this season and focus on what matters—getting outdoors and having a blast.

Rent equipment instead of buying it

If you love kayaking, paddle boarding, or any other water sport, then you know just how much space these large items occupy in your home. When minimalist camping, rent, borrow, or share with friends. You’ll cut down on packing time and save space, too. You can even rent fishing equipment and camping equipment! Check Airbnb, Craigslist, and local campgrounds to ask about camping rentals.

Do the spending vs. value test.

Minimalist living is not just about getting rid of stuff. It’s also about getting the most value from life and focusing on what’s important. Do a spending vs. value test to figure out what matters the most. Make a list of the ten most expensive items that you own. This can include your house, car, jewelry, TV, etc. Then make another list with the things that add the most value to your life. This could include playing with your kids at the park, traveling, or enjoying new cuisines. When you’re done, compare the two lists and see where there’s overlap. If there isn’t any, think if you can get rid of some items from the “stuff” list to pay for or make room for the “value” list. This list may also show what you should stop buying to make more room in your budget for your values.

Simplify your finances.

Deciding to try living with less can not only lead to having more money in the bank, but it’s a chance to consolidate and simplify your finances, making it easier to manage your money. There are a few ways you can do this:

  • Consolidate accounts. If you have multiple checking and saving accounts with different banks, try consolidating them. Having all of your money at one bank makes it easier to do transfers and institute overdraft protection. You may even save on fees. If you have multiple 401(k)s or IRAs, consider consolidating those as well.
  • Use one credit card. Rather than having multiple credit cards with varying rewards programs to track, pick the card that has the best interest rate and rewards program for you. Not only is it easier to track expenses and make paying the bill quicker (and you’ll have less due dates to remember), it eliminates the potential for underutilizing your earned rewards. If you’re concerned about your credit score, don’t close the cards you’re not using. Simply take them out of your wallet and put them in a drawer so you’re not tempted to use them. To prevent the unused cards from being canceled, set up a small, recurring bill like your Netflix subscription to be paid automatically with that card. Just don’t forget to set a reminder to pay it off each month.
  • Eliminate paperwork. When possible, opt for paperless options or autopay for your bills. It’s more environmentally-friendly and reduces the amount of paper clutter in your home. If you’re mailed important paperwork, like contracts or tax forms, create a filing system to hold all of the documents. You can do this with a manilla folder you keep on your desk. If you’re worried about losing the documents, you can scan them with your phone, and upload it into the Cloud.
  • Pay down debt. One of the best ways to simplify your finances is to pay down your debt. Unlike some of the other strategies, paying down debt helps more with your mental and emotional clutter. Debt is time-consuming and stressful. When you no longer have to worry about it, it frees up that energy for other things. Paying off debt can take years, even if you embrace frugality. This is not a quick-fix, but the long-term benefits make it worth pursuing.

Turn decluttering into a challenge.

Chores and responsibilities become more fun when they become a game. And minimalist living is no different. Break the process down into smaller chunks and make it enjoyable by turning it into a challenge. Let’s say you want to get rid of items in your house but you don’t know where to start. An easy place to begin is by getting rid of the number of items that correspond to the day of the month. So on May 1, you’ll get rid of one item, May 2, you’ll get rid of two, and so on. In one month, you’ll have removed 496 items from your home while doing it in a way that’s manageable. It’s easier to pick two items to remove than 100. You can get your friends to do this challenge, share it on social media, or hold a yard sale when you’re done to make extra money from your clutter. Related: 26 Best Selling Apps to Sell Stuff Online (and Locally)

Do a social media detox.

Studies have shown that the average person spends three hours per day just on social media.[2] If you choose to share your progress on social media, consider how social media impacts your mood and mental health. When you open up a platform like Facebook or Instagram, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Is it to alleviate boredom or check for likes on your latest picture? Do you find yourself falling into a comparison trap the longer you spend on the platform? If so, consider taking a break from social media. Delete any unnecessary apps for a period of time, whether it’s a weekend, week, or month, and when the time frame is over, assess how you feel without them. Ask yourself:

  • Has your mood improved?
  • How much time did you get back in your day?
  • Did you miss using the apps?
  • Can you be more intentional with your usage? How you answer those questions should govern your social media usage going forward. You don’t have to give up social media entirely, but incorporating digital minimalism is an effective way to use it intentionally. If you struggle with limiting yourself or permanently deleting your social media apps isn’t an option, consider using external controls like setting time limits through the screen time feature on iPhones or apps like Offtime or BreakFree.
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