By Sarah Wall

Every new year is its own new beginning, and with 2021 barely blossoming, it’s a natural opportunity to reflect:

1. What do I want to carry into the new year, and what would I rather leave behind?

2. What things do I have in my house that I don’t need and take up space I could better utilize?

3. How can I be a better steward of what I already own so I’m not spending my paycheck on stuff I don’t need?

With these questions in mind, let’s look at ways to adopt minimalist principles – and set ourselves up for good things to come in 2021.


Intentionality is foundational to developing a minimalist mindset. Ask yourself, “What things do I have that I value and that make me happy? What things do I own that are distracting me from what I need?”

Pick a single room in your house to tackle first and ask yourself these questions about the stuff you have there, both functional and decorative. Take a look at the bathroom’s cosmetics, shoes in your closet, and pots and pans in the kitchen. For some things, you might find you really do need them, or they bring you happiness. In that case, keep them!

When you decide something is superfluous or just taking up space, you don’t necessarily need to pull out the trash bin yet. Chances are, many of the things in your discard pile would be a blessing to someone else. Separate the unused items or those in good shape, and donate them to a thrift store, homeless shelter, or consignment shop.

Decluttering can be a difficult process, so if you’re anxious about ridding yourself of something you’ll miss later, try enlisting the help of a trusted friend or significant other. Because that person is not emotionally involved in the process, he or she will be able to give you a fuller perspective on what you really need. What you can donate, think about it as giving a gift to someone else who will value it more than you do.

Minimize Online Shopping

Online shopping boomed in 2020: by the second quarter, e-commerce was up 45% over 2019! There are pros and cons to shopping online, but the benefit of “convenience” can also quickly become a disadvantage when it comes to minimalism. Too much coffee break browsing might mean a lot more impulse purchases of stuff you don’t need. Storing credit card information removes even the smallest barrier: to buy something, you don’t even worry about pulling out your wallet!

Before purchasing something on an online platform, ask yourself, “Does this item fulfill a different function than things I already own? Would owning this item improve my life?” If not, remove it from your cart. Asking yourself these questions will develop a reflective mindset on your purchases, one that will ensure your hard-earned paycheck goes to good use.

If extraneous online shopping is a particular pattern for you, consider removing stored credit cards from search engines and online stores. Taking the extra few moments to fill out payment information will give you time to consider your needs and values intentionally.

Use What You Have

Set aside time to take stock of what you already own. Go through your closet: what clothes, shoes, and handbags are waiting for you to fall in love with again? Check your kitchen cabinets: which non-perishables did you buy, put away, and forget? Take an honest evaluation of the things you own, and commit to using and appreciating them before heading to the store. Not only will that open up more space in your home, but it’ll also limit what you need to buy – thus, saving you money!

Minimalist principles are not only about clearing your physical space and refreshing your mindset, though these aspects are essential. Minimalism, at its core, is also about developing a gratitude perspective. By intentionally focusing on what you value and appreciating what you have, you can put your time and money towards things you need and make you happy – things that truly matter.

Sarah Wall is the newest contributing writer for Smart Women Smart Money Magazine. For questions or comments email [email protected].