Real Life Minimalists: Jensen, The Teenage Minimalist

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.

This week, it’s my pleasure to share this contribution from Jensen. I’m so impressed that she’s embracing a minimalist lifestyle as a teenager. Had we all been this mindful so early in life, we’d have a lot less decluttering to do!

Jensen writes:


I came across the idea of minimalism a couple of years ago. I’m a 16-year-old girl to whom the prospect of living free of all clutter is insanely inviting.

It’s hard with all the temptations of being a teen girl. I constantly want the newest clothes, bags, and gadgets that many of my friends have. We have enough money, but not enough to really spare. I think this has helped me in my journey because I’ve learned how to budget my money and figure out what I truly want.

My family fully supports me in wanting to be a minimalist, but they don’t always share the same passion I have in wanting to downsize our family possessions. I’m slowly getting rid of most of my “things.” Last spring I cleaned my closet completely and it looks a lot better. I also re-decorated my room last year to show how relaxing and inspiring a simple room can be. Some of my friends joke about me wanting to get rid of so much, but it feels so relieving every time I toss an old memoir away. While deciding whether to get rid of something or not, I ask myself, “Does this thing actually bring back a memory or do I use it often?” Usually the answer is no, so into the trash it goes!

I try to focus on one area of my room every week. Sometimes it’s my desk or my bookshelf or under my bed. Slowly but surely I’m getting rid of things I thought would bring back memories but in reality just bring dust. I can’t wait until I go to college and can truly weed out what is unnecessary! I often find myself planning my future house and how simple it will be.

I hope minimalism becomes a larger-known philosophy because the more people embracing it, the happier our society will be! As for now, I’ll just have to keep clearing away the excess and focusing on the happiness simplicity is bringing me.

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

38 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Jensen, The Teenage Minimalist

  • I just love reading these everyday minimalist stories. Thanks again x

  • Karen (scotland)

    Loved reading this, Jensen, particularly about tossing old memoirs away. I have a small storage box in the attic that contains all the notes/letters/cards/small pressies that passed from my friends to me (and even back and forth – you know, write a line, pass to friend in class, they write back and so on) throughout my six years in high school.
    I know when I boxed all this stuff back when I was 17 and leaving home, it meant a LOT to me. The memories still do mean a lot to me, even if the friendships have moved on or dissolved over the years.
    I’ve been contemplating ditching the box without even re-reading the contents. Because a lot of those friends have gone from my life now, I suspect it will actually make me sad to remember the closeness and intimacy of those years in detail.

    You’ve given me food for thought. If you have the strength to let go of “things” when the memories are still so fresh for you, I should have the strength to let go of “things” that will, in all honestly, probably make me feel a bit nostalgic and even maybe sad.

    Karen (Scotland)

    PS On a practical note, not sure I want my daughters ever getting hold of that box and reading, in much detail, about my teenage boy-crazy self. ;-)

  • Rae

    Wow. If I can turn back time, I’d be a minimalist as young as I could.

  • How great that a teenage girl is embracing minimalism while recognizing her wants and really being considerate of true needs. Lovely story :)

  • Q

    At last a “real life minimalist” that didn’t start a blog to tell the world about it! ;)

    Way to go, Jensen! I would love for my little girls to be inspired by out decluttering efforts, but for now, they are both your typical maximalist. As long as they see through modern society’s temptations before they get an income to waste on buying things they don’t need, I’ll be happy.

  • This girl is a real jem in the teenage world!

  • mrs Brady Old Lady

    Impressive post, Jensen. You are a shining example to me!

  • Heather

    I like that you say you struggle with wanting the latest coolest thing. I do too, and it’s been a while since I was a teen. I need to remember to focus on what I like and want, and not what’s popular or cool.

  • crunchycon

    The money line:

    “Slowly but surely I’m getting rid of things I thought would bring back memories but in reality just bring dust.”

    Just awesome.

  • I only wish I had the foresight to start minimising at such an early age. Inspiring post, Jensen :)

  • Lulu

    Your story makes me wonder how much money I could have saved myself and my parents had I been more like you. Much respect to you for starting early.

  • Jensen,

    Wow! It is so refreshing to hear a modern teenager talking about choosing to be a minimalist.

    The media and advertising worlds put enormous pressure on your age group (both through regular commercials and stealthy paid advertising in popular television shows, movies, and hot songs on the radio)and it’s so impressive that you can recognize that you are tempted by things but actively choose to budget your money for what you really want.

    Thanks for such an inspiring post! And may I compliment you on your articulate and lovely writing style?


    PS – Great nail polish!

  • WOW !! I am so inspired by this wonderful article ! And Jensen your writing style is spectacular! Hoping you will continue to write & inspire others throughout your life! I am also LOVING this line & will be using it within our Circles of Healing! Thank You & Many Blessinsg for your continued success !

    “Slowly but surely I’m getting rid of things I thought would bring back memories but in reality just bring dust.”


  • A

    Brilliant, Jensen! Thanks for sharing your story, and keep up the fight against “keeping up with the [others]”!

  • Lauren

    Karen: I’m with you on the memory box. Most of my possessions are very minimal. A while back I went through all my old notes (lots of which were the same type you were talking about) and actually ended up feeling comfortable throwing most of them out. Once rereading them I realized how little substance was actually there, and a lot of the time barely remembered who the person was I was writing to!I’m actually only 20 now and if I can’t remember who those people are now, I’m definitely not going to later down the road. So I ended up throwing most of them out but keeping probably 5 of them, because they were the only one’s actually worth it. However, I still have many tiny keepsakes that I’m debating on what to do with. Definitely tough!

    • Karen (scotland)

      Well, I’ve stuck it on my To Do list for the next five weeks (while my husband is at sea. My To do lists work in 5 week cycles. :-))
      I WILL get into the attic and gut that box. I’m 36 now (or 35 – can’t recall right now) so I guess I will have forgotten many of the writers of those little notes!

      It’s only one box BUT that will be one box less…

  • What a brilliant, insightful young woman! I couldn’t have imagined making these same choices at your age. I’m going to have my boys read your post — I’m working with them now to de-clutter their spaces and to focus on what really matters in life. I’m sure that reading about someone who did this on their own at an age close to theirs will inspire them. Thank you, and best of luck. You have a very bright, light future ahead of you.

  • Jensen, you write beautifully, and are very wise for your age. Well done for resisting the pull of consumerism and making your own decision to live with only what you love and need. All the best for college! How much easier it will be for you to pack up and move to college, and to even come home for the holidays, because you won’t have mountains of stuff to cart around.

  • Katy m

    Thanks Jensen! What a refreshing attitude! I am sure you make your parents proud!

  • Melody

    This story is so beautiful. Youth is usually wasted on the young, but not so with this one. I spent so much time trying out new things, products, clothes, makeup, etc, when I should have been conserving for college. When the time for college came, I was broke and had a boatload of stuff to ship to the mainland (I lived in Hawaii). I really regret it. I wish there were more stories such as these; I wish I had a friend like her when I was young. Kudos to her. Beautiful writing, nice and concise, even better than the adult excerpts. Her life will be a lot easier because of her insight. A bright young lady. Very wise.

  • Grace

    Jensen, thanks for sharing. I really related to your story. I too was a teen minimalist, and I can tell you even 35+ years later, I still do not regret having given or thrown away memorabilia. I have given up trying to convince family to follow suit. Your modeling minimalism will eventually have an impact. Additionally, you’ll be in a much better financial positon than most of your peers allowing you to persue your dreams. I’m also impressed with your writing talents. Keep up the good work. Your friends and family are very fortunate to have a thoughtful young woman like you in there midst.

  • Grace

    oops! pursue and their. I really must reread before I submit.

  • Wow, it’s truly rare for a 16 year old to not only discover, but embrace the concept of minimalism. She has a smart strategy…starting with one part of her room at a time.

    During this age range, it’s especially difficult to go against peer pressure and step out like this!

  • Jensen- It sounds like you’ve got it down! Way to go!!

    I too was into minimalism as a teen, so I completely understand how hard it can be, especially in terms of keeping up with your peers. I did succumb a bit towards the end of high school. However, I also know that had I not experienced the other side, I would not be where I’m at today! Just remember that if you do falter, it will only end up as a learning experience! Keep up the amazing work :)

  • I am slowly, slowly working towards a minimalist goal. I love Jensen’s story. I wish we could see pictures of what her progress in a teenage bedroom looks like. Might inspire my children. Good for you, to be so young and already “get it”. The rest of us are playing catch-up.

  • Mrs.M

    I have been reading this blog for about 2 weeks now, and I just think it is great that people are embracing the minimalist lifestyle. I cleaned out my closet and drawers and donated what I could and tossed the rest. I finally convinced my hubby to do the same so that is the plan for this weekend!

  • My youngest, who is 18, used to be such a packrat, but she became very interested in downsizing her stuff when we redecorated her room 1.5 years ago. She got rid of SO MUCH stuff, from boxes of rocks to clothes and books! She has now moved into an apartment to go to school, and while she is not “minimalist” per se, she definitely has much less stuff than I did at her age!
    Congrats to you Jensen!
    Living and thriving with depression

  • Heathear

    Lovely!!! Refreshing to hear from a younger perspective as well as a great reminder to my older self. : )

  • April

    It is wonderful that you’re embracing minimalism at such a young age. You will save so much time and money and have so much freedom because of your choices!

  • Michael

    I appreciate reading these personal stories. Is there a place on your site where they are *all* listed? I’ve attempted to find a master list, but so far have only found them listed in groups of three.

    Keep ’em coming, and thanks!

  • I am so proud of you! I am showing my daughter about minimalism, how owning less (but better quality) is better than having a ton of stuff. She is learning at her own pace. Keep up the good work!
    Annie at

  • Tina

    So nice that you can resist pressure while you are young. What a useful skill you have. It will serve you all your life.

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