Real Life Minimalists: Frugal Babe

Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.

Today, Frugal Babe tells us about her transition from frugality to minimalism, and why she favors a clean, spacious home over one filled with “just in cases.” If you’d like to read more of her thoughts, be sure to visit her blog.

Frugal Babe writes:

I’ve been frugal all my life, but not even close to minimalist. I was a big fan of keeping things “just in case”, even if they had no real value to me. In addition, one of my favorite things has always been shopping at second-hand stores, so I was able to buy all sorts of great stuff for very little money. Easy on the wallet, not so great in terms of how much stuff we accumulated over the years.

Last summer my husband and son and I moved to a new home where we could pursue our dream of growing our own food. Thanks to a snafu at the rental truck company, we ended up with a very small truck instead of the huge moving truck we had reserved. We made four trips to our new home with the small truck and it took us weeks to unpack everything. I knew we had too much stuff, but I was hesitant to start dealing with it all.

A few months ago, I started reading blogs like Becoming Minimalist, Miss Minimalist, and Far Beyond The Stars, and motivation struck. I stopped going to thrift stores unless I was dropping off donations. I used Craigslist to get rid of a dresser and desk that we didn’t need anymore, and the rooms they were in feel big and spacious now instead of cramped. My kitchen cupboards are clean and it’s easy to find everything I need. I realized that although I got killer deals on my saucepans at the thrift store, I only have four burners on my stove, so there was no need to have 15 saucepans. Or six cutting boards.

Once I tackled the easy stuff (extra things that we didn’t need that had no sentimental value), I found that it became a lot easier to deal with the harder stuff… things my mother in law had saved from my husband’s childhood, things from my own childhood, gifts people had given me, etc. Momentum is a powerful thing, and the enjoyment I feel when I fill another box to donate far outweighs any desire I have to hang onto things that are no longer useful to us.

The house feels cleaner and more spacious now, and I don’t have to devote as much time to cleaning as I used to. The closets have lots of empty space in them, which is a far cry from the jumbled mess that they used to be. While we’re not even close to being minimalists when compared with people who only own 100 things, we have a lot less stuff than we used to.

My blog, Frugal Babe, has been my platform for sharing my frugal ideas for the last four years. But I find myself writing more and more about minimalism these days. Getting rid of stuff has become much more fun for me than getting great deals on second-hand stuff.

{If you’d like to read more about minimalist living, please consider buying my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

14 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Frugal Babe

  • Hi Frugal Babe–I love reading about your transition and how you are enjoying the empty spaces! Thank you for sharing your experience! Great blog by the way–I’ll be visiting!

  • Kim

    Hi Frugal Babe,

    I can’t prove it but I feel creating empty space in one’s physical environment also creates space in one’s head – leaving more room for serenity and creativity.

    Looking forward to exploring your blog!

  • Mike

    That sounds alot like me. I’ve always been frugal, and a sucker for a really good deal. Lots of “might need” as well as multiple spares and “just in case” stuff. Couldn’t pass a thrift store or yard sale without stopping. A few years ago I downsized my living space from a 1000 square foot house to a 100 square foot motorhome. That move certainly necessitated eliminating a lot of stuff, but I guess I didn’t really adopt a minimalist philosophy, because I continue to accumulate (and perhaps even started with) much more than I really need. I’ve picked up Francine’s book, The Joy Of Less (on Kindle – one thing I have been fairly successful at is transitioning from physical objects to digital media for books, movies, and music) and hope to make a serious go of minimalism as an ongoing philosophy, so as not to keep re-accumulating stuff. And learning to avoid the thrift stores and yard sales!

  • I feel ya Frugal Babe, and we’ve bee there many times ourselves. You know, my wife and I used to own a moving company in Seattle, WA, and I’ve seen many cases of people moving a ton of stuff they don’t need and may never see again. The customers always let me know they intend to sort out the unnecessary as they unpack. Of course, two years later the cartons are still in the garage, basement, attic, etc. We have a six month rule in our home: If we haven’t used it in six months, it has to go! Of course, I’m sure my wife hide’s her precious mementos, but I don’t care because “out of sight, out of mind”. I’m really proud of you for actually go through all your stuff, and eliminating the unnecessary. Most people don’t have the will power or the percervience, self included. I guess that’s the reason for the six month rule, so we don’t get overwhelmed later. Anyhow, great article, and I’ll be checking out your blog from now on!! – Greg

  • HK

    Frugal Babe,

    I was the same way for a while, keeping things around “just in case.” I soon realized “just in case” never came around, and whatever it was I saved truly had no purpose. It’s such a relief to physically let go of something you’ve held on to for so long.

    And you’re right about momentum being a powerful thing. I recently discovered just how powerful it can be when I got rid of my dresser last Monday. Today, I did away with all my physical photographs. I don’t have a scanner, so I “took a picture of a picture” and it works like a charm! Now all my photos are on my laptop, and I will soon move them to an online storage site.

    I’m sure my parents are wondering what is going on with me, because my room is beginning to look bare. Even if I explain it to them, I don’t think they’ll understand where I’m coming from (and that’s fine by me, I suppose). LOL.

    Keep up the great work!


  • Frugal Babe,
    I enjoyed your story and look forward to checking out your blog. I too started out on the frugal path and then eventually became more and more attracted to minimalism. I think I have always had minimalistic tendencies but got caught up in the culture telling me that I should constantly be buying. I still practice frugality which is even easier now that I don’t have the desire to be buying so much “stuff.”

  • Great post Frugal Babe! I think a lot of people can relate to this.

    It’s hard to let go of stuff when you feel it might be useful someday. I used to do the same. A lot of it just ends up taking up space!

  • Thanks, Frugal Babe, for a great interview! I so agree with you on the shopping at thrift stores–Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should…buy more stuff.

  • Great article Frugal Babe! It’s so amazing how the deal or the sale can accumulate to clutter. I used to shop that way and I am just realizing all of the stores I haven’t gone to in almost eight months. It is a great freedom. I look forward to checking your blog and wish you the best!

  • Tina

    I’m still keeping a lot of my earrings because I still get compliments on them. I could still get rid of a bag or two every week.

  • Tina

    I just donated a box of bracelets to Goodwill and gave a bagful to my niece. I always wear earrings, but seldom wear other jewelry. I have some more art materials to give away today as I am teaching a craft class and will bring the stuff with me. I also have quilt fabric to give to a quilt club. I did a little quilting for a while and didn’t keep up with it. Every time I look I find more to give away. And we don’t have very much.

  • Tina

    A cousin is moving in with her daughter. My kids got furniture, silverware, tropical fish, large houseplants and a lot of other great stuff. I got 4 smaller house plants and a set of dishes. I will give away some dishes that are not so pretty. I sold an old set of silver plate for $50 because none of my kids were interested and we use stainless steel and Corelle. I never got or asked for china for our wedding over 40 years ago.

  • I gave away a big bag of art supplies and a bag of books. Then I went to a sale at the library and spent $3. No fiction because I usually check those out.

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