Rational Minimalism

Simple. Organized. Minimal.

These words all describe the life my family wants to live. We live a fairly simple life but lately have felt the need to simplify even more and let go of a lot of things.

Recently, my husband and I read through Simplify by Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist and we agreed that we have a desire to live minimally.

Now, we don’t plan to only have five outfits, one pair of shoes and one cup and plate for each member of our family but we are embracing what Joshua terms “rational minimalism,” where you find the style of minimalism that works for you.

For us, rational minimalism is getting rid of the things we don’t use and enjoy as well as not bringing unnecessary items into our home that serve no purpose.

In Simplify there are 10 benefits of a minimal lifestyle listed including:

  • Spend less
  • Less stress
  • Easier to clean {home}
  • Freedom
  • Good for the environment

We want this lifestyle for our family.

We’ve begun taking steps towards a rational minimalist life. Paring down our wardrobes, our sons toys and unused electronics are areas we’re beginning with on this journey.

I’ll be updating our progress as we go through our home and evaluate our belongings on this journey towards rational minimalism.

What are your thoughts on minimalism?

Do the words simple, organized and minimal describe a life you want to live?


28 Replies to “Rational Minimalism”

  1. My husband and I have recently jumped on the minimal living wagon – we too have always lived a simple life, but paring down items to only those we use and enjoy has greatly reduced stress! I love how clean everything is beginning to feel too! Even though we got rid of a lot of stuff when we downsized our apartment last year, I was able to drop off 10 large trashbags full of clutter to goodwill as well as several bags of trash! Even I was amazed! One thing that has made a HUGE difference in my day to day life is paring down the kitchen appliances/utensils. We used to have 12 dinner plates for 2 people! this means we could eat 6 meals without doing dishes – and sometimes we would do just that. Now, we only have 4 dinner plates which means everything gets washed and nothing gets piled up like it used to. I still have my wedding china for when we have guests over though!

    1. Our home is beginning to feel much cleaner too! And like y'all, when we moved back in October we got rid of a lot of stuff but still have too much! I have a growing pile in our garage of stuff that is leaving and it amazes me that we moved that much extra stuff that we should have gotten rid of months ago!

      I find it interesting that you say pairing down the kitchen has been so helpful, the kitchen is the one area that "everything has a place and everything is in its place" in my home! We have quite a few gadgets and appliances {crock pot, grain mill, bread machine, etc.} but we use them so I have a feeling our kitchen will be our "not really minimal" room!! This just shows how different things work for different families!

  2. I want to become a minimalist, like you stated, a rational minimalist. I don't want only a few outfits, shoes, etc, like you said, but reasonable for me and for us as a family.

    I've really cut down on a lot of the "stuff" the past 2 years, but still feel bogged down by said stuff. I can't seem to grasp what I really want to do with our spaces and how much stuff we need. We have limited space and I don't want the closets full of junk we don't use, but they are right now, to an extent. They're not horrible, but not what I want either.

    We love to read and have a ton of books, though we've cut down on that as well. I go to the library now, yay for free! And Hubby has the IPad (a generous gift) so he has the Kindle App, which takes up no space, which is great!

    We don't have too many toys for our daughter, I don't feel the need to have 150 toys and she only plays with 15 of them. We don't spend money on new gadgets and such for her, it's just not necessary. And she receives so much for gifts too, we don't need to buy anything. We don't/didn't have all the gadgets they say babies need now, it's a little out of hand, in my opinion!

    I guess I'm at somewhat of a loss as to what I need to get rid of, what I may need in the future (which I have no idea what the future holds, so why hold onto stuff that may never come to pass), what I have emotional attachments too. I'm not sure where to start. I consider myself really good at going through clothes and books every 3-6 months and purging. I really am one of those people who wears 20% of my wardrobe 80% of the time. Same goes for the books. I have all these books that are collecting dust, and I can go to the library and check them out. Maybe I'll start there!

    Typing all this out really helped me figure out where to start! I'll start with books!

    And before Christmas I purged my closet. I got rid of 42 tops, 12 pairs of pants, a few purses and shoes. That was a relief. Now, when I go to get dressed, I'm not bogged down on what to where today. And really, who am I trying to impress? 🙂

    Thanks for posting. I'll have to look into that book because I think my husband and I do want to live minimalist lives as well, we just need a jumping off point. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

    Twitter: @ginnygafford
    Blog: http://www.ginnyrecipes.blogspot.com and http://www.gaffordfamily08.blogspot.com

    1. Sounds like you're doing a great job on managing your wardrobe! I'm still finding that with my small wardrobe I still end up wearing the same 7-8 tops and pass over others {but I'm just not ready to only have 7-8 tops!} And, start selling your books on half.com or amazon! You'll be earning a little $$ while getting rid of clutter! Getting rid of stuff is not all that easy! We've been working on our guest room/office/electronics for the past days and we're weeding out some stuff but more needs to go…we (especially my husband) also think "what if I need this". We don't want to get rid of something and then have to repurchase it 3 months from now but the reality is most things we don't really need and don't use often! Happy book selling! 🙂

      1. Thanks for the suggestion on selling my books. I never thought about that, I just throw them in a box and haul them to Goodwill. I'll have to try and get them sold and make a little cash. Thanks

    1. I checked out your blog…yes we are on similar journeys! And I loved your green birthday ideas post, our son will be 1 in April and I'm starting to think about his party!

      1. Please let me know what you end up doing for his birthday! I love to hear what ideas other people come up with. They help inspire me to think of more myself.

        Or maybe they will end up being a post on here? 🙂

        1. If it is anything cute/creative/very frugal I'll probably end up sharing! I don't have any direction regarding a theme or even the size of his party at this point! We're not big party/event people but I do want to do something special for his first birthday! I really like your green/eco-friendly party idea so I may see what I can do with that as a starting point!

  3. I try and live my life according to the William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. When I look around my house (or a shop) I think, 'Does this object serve a purpose and, if not, does it give me joy?'. If this answer is no I throw it out or not buy it. Well, I try to throw it out! I am slowly getting there.

  4. Thank you for the book info! This is definitely something I would like to read! As I’ve commented before, I am anxious to get our “stuff” out of storage and purge! I almost giddy with the excitement of moving out of grandpa’s house and doing so and I don’t even have a good idea of when that will be. For all I know it could be a year or more!

    I desire strongly to break free of the materialism that I see around me day in and day out. I work at Target and I get so frustrated when I hear people talking about “needs” and I look over and it is a toy or something that I believe is a “want” for nearly all people! I have been avoiding clearance sections, the dollar section and all other areas of the store that I find things I “need!” It has been so great! While working I find all these things and as soon as I am off I just head for the door. No need to pass by any of it again because I might buy it on impulse! I think impulse purchases are what get me 90% of the time. Any tips on avoiding them?

    1. To avoid the impulses, our family has basically stopped shopping! We try to keeping a running list {sometimes written, sometimes in our heads} of the things that we need or really want. This, coupled with not shopping, has dramatically cut down on the impulses…not to mention saved us time just browsing stores! And the same thing goes for online, don't look at clearances/good deals if you don't need or really want something! And I think you're smart just heading for the door when you get off, I can only imagine that Target is a hard place to work and avoid spending…they do have great clearances! 🙂

      There is a preview of the e-book on the site, you might find that helpful too and help you decide if you really want to purchase it!

      1. Thanks for the feedback! I remembered awhile back you mentioned cutting back on trips to the store and that gave me the idea to try and shop just once a week (or every two weeks if we can manage it!) and focus on getting everything we need that day. It's the little trips for milk or bread that turn into $25 of who knows what!

        And yes, Target is a daily struggle for me. What can I say, I shop in my mind while I work. Sometimes that is all it takes. Often times I will remember something I wanted to get on clearance and lo and behold, they are all gone! Thank goodness!!!

        I will definately be checking into the book, thanks for sharing!

  5. Partly due to reading your blog I have been working towards simplifying several areas of my life. My husband and I are still a work in progress but we are slowly changing our thinking. It is much harder for him than me 🙂 The hardest thing for us is to simplify our time and schedules. Sometimes it's hard to say to no to fun get-togethers and events even though we are already have a busy calendar, but I also know that I thrive when I have time to stay caught up on housework & yard work and can spend quiet evenings at home.
    Hope I didn't ramble to much! I enjoyed your post Rachel, I'm looking forward to hearing more about your journey towards rational minimalism.

    1. We're a work in progress also. It's harder for my husband than me too but he's getting on board because he is beginning to see how much happier I am with a clutter free home and that makes him a happier husband! Schedules are tough too, we keep things very simple and don't do a lot of extras because life gets crazy when the schedule is packed!

  6. We have been practicing rational minimalism in our home for the past 6 mos or so, and it has been a wonderful experience. A lot of hard work, clearing out the clutter, but the house is so easy to clean. I find that I still take a bag to the Goodwill every week. The more we get rid of, the more we want to get rid of, it seems like the natural next step after simple living.

    1. Thanks for these positive words Christa! This makes me excited about what our life could be like in 6 months or so! And we're learning it is a lot of hard work. We've been working on the guest room/office for 2 days now and we're still not done but we're making progress! I also have seen that the more I get rid of, the more I want to get rid of, there is nothing like that freeing feeling of not being bogged down by stuff! And I'm looking forward to a very easy to clean and clutter free home!!

    1. It's so wonderful to be able to let go of stuff and then have absolutely no desire for more stuff since it's not important! So freeing!

  7. We are also doing this "paring down". However, its not easy like you said. Its not that I don't think we will use it, but we have 4 kids very close in age and we do the "hand me down thing". But as soon as the baby grows out of them away they go, either in the Goodwill bag, garage sale pile (if we are having one) , garbage, or giveaway pile. It is very freeing and my husband is also loving it!

    1. Kids come with so much stuff it seems! I've been selling/ giving to friends/ donating a lot of Paxton's outgrown clothes and only holding onto a reasonable amount of clothing for a possible future baby. It's so easy to become bogged down with a ton of stuff!

  8. I've been reading your blog for a few months now and find your thought process so refreshing in this age of materialism. I have found myself looking with a new eye on all of the stuff we've accumulated over the 41 years we've been married. Clothes that have been outgrown or outdated and just accumulation of junk. My biggest source of stuff that needs to be downsized is my crafting supplies. I don't have a clue how to dwindle it all down, but feel a strong need to do so. I recall a story I read years ago about a nun who got rid of most material things she owned and only kept one habit (outfit), her bible, rosary and basic needs. She felt she didn't want distractions. Minimizing the stuff leaves more time for family, friends and God. That is always good! Thank you for your inspiration.

    By the way, we love your recipes, in particular your Mexican casserole and mandarin orange cake. Both are scrumptious!

    1. You are so right when you say that minimizing the stuff leaves more time for family, friends and God! That is what matters the most to us! Crafting supplies are addicting aren't they? I used to be a big scrapbooker and had all kinds of stuff but since I stopped scrapbooking I sold some via Craigslist and gave some to my sister and a friend's daughter who was starting to scrapbook. I also have received a lot of fabric from friends and family and I have dwindled that down to the pieces I really like and have "plans" for! {I say "plans" because I don't have much time at all for sewing with a moving baby!!} I keep all of my crafting supplies in a chest, the chest is my limit…that has helped me!! And I'm glad your family enjoys those recipes!!

  9. Wow…I've just come across your blog, and have been inspired. I need to get organised at home to be able to teach from home. Will definitely look into the book, and continue getting great ideas from you blog. Thanks!

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