Sometimes people choose a minimalist lifestyle for social, environmental or moral reasons. And sometimes folks fall into minimalism because they are broke and have no choice. Either way, it’s a lifestyle that can seem miserable for anyone who is used to extravagance. It’s easy to see why some feel that this is the end of their happy, carefree lifestyle.

But the right minimalism can open doors to new and a more fulfilling life.

minimalism can open the door to debt freedom

We all have different reasons why we’re in debt and why now is the time to attack our financial problems. Yet, the process doesn’t have to be horrible or make us feel like our life is over. Joshua Becker, the author of Becoming Minimalist, explains the amazing side effects of a minimalist lifestyle:

“As a result, we discovered more money, more time, more energy, more freedom, less stress, and more opportunity to pursue our greatest passions: faith, family, friends.”

Streamlining our lives may not be easy and figuring out how to get out of debt can be challenging. Yet, it doesn’t mean we have to suffer. With the right perspective and focus, we can even see it as a huge blessing.

Change Our Perspective

It’s very easy to say we simply need a new perspective. But it’s not a switch we can instantly flip. It’s a process that takes time and effort, especially when it involves a major life change. It can be an even bigger challenge when we throw money into the mix.

Yet, it’s easier to change our perspective about money when we understand we’re not the only one facing a financial crisis. Only 39% of Americans have at least $1,000 saved for an emergency and 34% have no savings at all! Those are scary statistics but we’re not alone in our money struggles.

Adopting minimalism isn’t a fringe idea anymore. It’s now a common lifestyle where we’re not focused on the things we don’t have. Instead, we focus on what’s really important in our lives.

We Choose What Minimalism Looks Like

One of the best things about minimalism is that we can all create our own minimalistic life based on what works for our family. Minimalism is a hot topic in forums, Youtube channels, books, and podcasts. And there’s an entire community dedicated to sharing tips and hacks and that helps us see the possibilities.

Perhaps we want to streamline our lives to get out of debt and don’t want to lose what makes life most enjoyable. We plan, create a strategy, and downgrade some things in our lives. But we get to choose what that looks like. Maybe we move to a smaller home, cut up our credit cards or opt for second-hand clothes over designer duds so we still have enough money for a few meals out per week.

The point is that we get to choose what that looks like and we never have to follow anyone’s guidelines to minimalism because there aren’t any.

minimalism means giving up materialism in favor of experiences

Seek Out Experiences, Not Stuff

There are more storage facilities in the United States than McDonalds or Starbucks. In fact, personal storage is a $38 billion industry where one in 11 Americans pay to store their extra stuff! Not only are we spending money on stuff we don’t have room for, we also spend more money on hiding our stuff away in a facility.

With an eye on enjoying life rather than feeling deprived, seek out experiences instead of buying stuff that we don’t need and can’t afford. Joshua Fields Millburn, one of the founders of The Minimalists, explains how experiences are more meaningful than many gifts:

“Some experiences worth gifting might include tickets to a concert or play, a home-cooked meal, breakfast in bed, a foot rub, a vacation together, watching a wintertime sunset sink into the horizon. Don’t you think you’ll find more value in these experiences than in material gifts?”

Again, we get to define our own brand of minimalism and that doesn’t mean we can’t buy stuff we like. It just means we understand that experiences generally have more meaning than nick-knacks.

Streamlining Doesn’t Equal Misery

Debt can be stressful and dealing with a financial crisis is the polar opposite of fun. Yet, life after streamlining and downsizing doesn’t mean years of suffering. We can still have fun and live a full and happy life. It’s just adopting different principles that millions of us have enjoyed for years.

Of course, it will always be easy and we may dream of our old life. It won’t mean we won’t occasionally buy stuff we won’t need or spend money we don’t have. And it will never be about stripping our lives of all fun and enjoyment.

Instead, think of adopting a minimalist lifestyle to have more time, energy and money to truly enjoy what matters most to us.