Minimalism has grown in popularity over the last decade as more people adopt this lifestyle of focusing on essential possessions that add value while decluttering and avoiding consumerism and excess. As a minimalist for the past few years, I have intentionally avoided acquiring many items that are commonplace or considered necessities in mainstream culture.
The core tenet of minimalism is surrounding yourself with only helpful and enjoyable possessions. Minimalists aim to remove clutter and distractions to find more fulfillment, improve focus, reduce stress, and have the freedom to live. It allows you to spend money on experiences instead of material items.
While friends and family may initially find this outlook quite strange, you’d be surprised at the number of possessions you can live without once you adopt a minimalist perspective. I’ve learned firsthand that few material goods are must-haves for a happy life. In this article, I’ll outline ten popular products and items I intentionally don’t own or buy as part of my minimalist lifestyle.
1. Cable TV subscription
In the era of streaming television, cable TV feels antiquated. Minimalists avoid cable subscriptions since we don’t want to pay for hundreds of channels that will never get watched. I use two affordable streaming services which contain all the shows and movies I’m interested in accessing. No need to spend over $100 a month on channels I won’t even tune into. I save significantly by skipping traditional cable.
2. An extensive wardrobe
Fashion and magazines try to sell you the idea that you need endless outfits for every occasion. But most of us wear the same few staple pieces repeatedly. As a minimalist, I stick to a small capsule wardrobe of versatile, neutral clothing that coordinates together. I can create multiple outfits from about two weeks’ worth of clothing with creative mixing and matching. I don’t need to maintain a vast wardrobe that takes up space and money.
3. Luxury or high-end vehicles
Cars have become more about flashy status symbols rather than basic transportation. As minimalists, we buy used vehicles for their utility and reliability, not to show off. I drive a 5-year-old Toyota, which runs beautifully. I don’t care about having the most expensive luxury automobile. Fancy add-ons like leather seats and excessive horsepower do nothing for my daily commute. As long as it’s safe and functional, I’m happy. The car salesmen still look confused when I inform them I have no interest in all the premium upgrades.
4. Video game consoles
Game consoles like Xbox and Playstation are expensive when you factor in the accessories and games. While gaming may be entertaining, having the console clutters your space and encourages wasting time on the couch. As a minimalist seeking fulfillment, I avoid this distraction and instead spend my time on free hobbies like hiking, reading, and learning new skills. But occasionally, I play simple games on my phone or laptop for a quick break. Overall, purchasing a gaming console goes against the goals of mindfulness and living purposefully.
5. More than 1 or 2 purses/bags
Many people build up an enormous collection of purses in various styles. But realistically, how many bags does someone need? As a minimalist, I use one versatile, neutral-colored purse or backpack. I don’t own purses for every occasion or color scheme. Specialty bags like evening clutches take up unnecessary room in your closet and are rarely used. I always take a functional backpack to work, outings, travels, and events. Owning a vast purse wardrobe feels excessive. One or two bags that work with everything is sufficient.
Purchases can quickly add up from earrings to bracelets and more. But minimalists know most jewelry clutters up space. I only own a few cherished heirloom pieces with sentimental value. Costume jewelry is inexpensive but feels like a waste since I never wear it. And I’d instead save up for experiences than spend on expensive fine jewelry. If gifting jewelry, most minimalists would prefer a heartfelt, handmade piece over anything store-bought. Ultimately, jewelry does not align with the minimalist focus of owning functional, worthwhile possessions instead of arbitrary trinkets and accessories.
7. Trendy home gadgets
Stores are full of single-use kitchen tools and trendy home gadgets that promise to make your life easier. These hot home items clutter cabinets, from soda makers and egg cookers to the latest air fryer or Instant Pot. While one or two helpful kitchen appliances are okay, most gadgets go unused after the initial novelty disappears. As a minimalist trying to pare down possessions, I stick to essential cookware and utensils. And I get creative using multipurpose tools instead of specialized gadgets. Fewer items lead to a less crowded, more productive kitchen.
8. Extensive collections of books/DVDs
Amassing entertainment collections like books, DVDs, and video games are commonplace. But collections take up considerable space that minimalists avoid dedicating to entertainment possessions. Large libraries feel overwhelming. Instead, I use digital media to freely check out books, shows, and movies from the local library. This provides endless content without the clutter of owning it. If I love a book, I’ll pass it on to others to enjoy after reading instead of letting it gather dust on a shelf. Entertainment can be accessed and shared without building up personal collections.
9. The latest smartphone every year
Phone companies want you to crave the latest smartphone upgrade and features. But as a minimalist trying to live, I keep my phone until it must be replaced, usually every 3-4 years. I buy an affordable phone with the necessary apps and camera quality I need—no need for constant flashy upgrades. Resist the temptation of having the flashiest new smartphone yearly simply for social status. Avoid falling into the constant phone purchase cycle. Wait until your current phone is entirely outdated before thinking about a replacement. You’ll save money and reduce wasted electronics.
10. an extensive tool collection
It’s easy for the average person to accumulate a garage full of tools for various projects and repairs. But as a minimalist, I own only a few essential, versatile tools – a hammer, screwdriver set, wrench, pliers, and basic power drill. This covers my occasional DIY needs. For specialized tools needed infrequently, I borrow from friends or rent. Or hire professional repairs as needed. There is no need to own niche tools that won’t get regular use. It only adds clutter to your home. Stick to a few go-to tools and avoid accumulating a crowded garage of equipment collecting dust until the next rare project arises.
The minimalist lifestyle provides freedom from being tied down by possessions and clutter. It encourages focusing on worthwhile hobbies and experiences that provide fulfillment. You realize that very few material goods are must-have items. Next time you’re tempted by marketing hype or peer pressure, think twice if you need those hot new consumer goods filling the shelves. Live simply by sticking to the essentials that serve a purpose in your life. You’ll have more money, time, and energy for the things and people most matter. The pillars of minimalism are simplicity, utility, and purpose – remember these before every purchase.