Real Life Minimalists: Erin

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, I’m pleased to feature Erin. She and her family transformed their lives by decluttering, paying off their debt, and pursuing a minimalist path. Surf on over to her blog to learn more about their journey.

Erin writes:

Our journey to minimalism began in January of 2011. I got very sick with migraines and seizures and needed a change! I had too much stuff cluttering up our life. I was working the night shift in law enforcement, trying to keep up with our life, family and stuff! We needed to get healthy and get our life organized. I began blogging at on our journey to be healthy and have less clutter. We wanted to enjoy life and not a life filled with stuff.

We began decluttering, blogging about each step and getting organized. I had several yard sales and sold everything we possibly could on craigslist. During this journey we did a program called War on Debt and we were able to pay off over $39,000 worth of debt in just 13 months! We learned to live with so much less and enjoy life so much more!

We also achieved a life long dream of moving to another state to be closer to family. Since we had already de-cluttered so much and sold everything that we could, this move was streamlined, efficient, and easy! We are now debt free except for our mortgage but we have a plan to pay that off in 5 years. I was also able to quit my job in law enforcement and become a work at home Mom. I love being at home with my kids in a great environment that isn’t cluttered. It makes it so much easier to work and be more efficient with our time. I went from working 40+ hours a week outside the home to 15 hours of work inside the home and making MORE money! This is what a clutter free and organized life can get you. Working harder and in less time.

Before we became minimalists, we wanted to buy a big 3,000-4,000 square foot home. That was our dream, to have a great big home to raise our kids in. We were previously living in a 1300 square foot home for a family of five and a big dog. And it was a GREAT home with an awesome layout. We just needed one more bedroom. So when we moved and were house hunting we KNEW that was not a goal of ours anymore. We looked at tons of foreclosure homes and some were 4,000 square feet. We quickly realized that we wouldn’t have even half the furniture to furnish these houses and we had no desire to maintain a home that big. So we quickly narrowed our search down to smaller homes and we found an 1,800 square foot home that was everything we wanted! And it is still kind of empty because we don’t have a lot of clutter but we love it! We love the open space.

Being a minimalist is just a way of life for us now. We don’t really know anything different. We don’t like “stuff” or clutter all over our home. We just love streamlined spaces. Our kids are so much happier too. People ask me all of the time how they can be like us. I always say start small. One idea I head of that is pure genius is filling forty trash bags in 40 days. Fill a bag daily and either trash it, recycle it, or take it to your local goodwill. After 40 days you KNOW your home will feel so much better. Then do it again until you get your home to where you want it. Everybody can take 20-30 minutes a day to fill up one bag. I probably couldn’t now because we don’t have much stuff but before we started living like this, we could have easily filled up several a day!

I heard on the radio recently that if you declutter your house by 40%, you decrease your household chores by 40%. Who doesn’t want to do less household chores? I can’t even begin to tell you how much Miss Minimalist’s book and blog has helped our family to be organized and live minimally. I also love Minimalist Mom’s blog as well and her books are awesome too. I love reading books and blogs on minimalism. It keeps you on the right track to avoid spending on useless things and to focus on what is really important.

{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.}

26 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Erin

  • Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m always amazed at how there are as many ways to come to minimalism as there are people. No right or wrong way, just your way and my way… Congratulations on getting to stay home with your children. It’s my favorite place to be too.

  • Laura Gail

    Lovely post! I love the fact that you were able to get to stay at home with your children. I have been in the process of becoming a minimalist over the past year. I love how easy it is to pick out my clothes in the morning because of the streamlined closet that I maintain. But I’m one of those nerdy people who makes a flow chart for her wardrobe just for fun. I love to organize and I love to have empty spaces. My DH is slowly getting on board with the “less is more” idea and we are in the process of trying to build a small home of about 1500 sq. feet for us and our two little boys. We have talked about minimal furniture and stuff hanging on the walls. Gone are the days of purchasing Hobby Lobby knick knacks and fake wall art just to try to tie all the decor together. I told DH that I want one stand out original piece of art hanging in our Great Room and that is it. I love not being tied down to stuff!

  • What an inspiring post! I was curious about the “War on Debt” program you did, as it seems to have worked so well for you. Do you have any links or an author name for it? Thank you and congratulations on your happier, simpler life!

  • Thank you so much, Erin, for sharing your great story with us! You and your family are truly inspirational. Also, if 40% less stuff will lead to 40% less time spent on household chores, I’m SOLD! :)

    Thanks again for sharing, and for the great ideas you’ve presented to all of us here.

  • Kristy

    Wow Erin! That’s FANTASTIC!!! I’m so PROUD of you for taking ACTION to make a stand against STUFF & CLUTTER! It is amazing at how stuff really does clutter our minds, which leads to unnecessary stress! Keep up the great work! :-)

  • Less chores is definitely a key benefit of minimalism. Who wants to spend their life dusting? Also, great tip on filling 40 bags in 40 days. Way to go Erin!

  • I love your story Erin and I am so blessed to be able to know you and work with you. You are a great leader and I have learned so much from you. Hugs!!

  • Kathleen Casey

    Thanks, Erin, for your upbeat and inspiring post. I have been feeling a little stuck at the place where I am in decluttering, and the 40% less chores idea really helped me today! I also appreciate your vivid picture of being able to buy a smaller family home which nevertheless remains spacious–fantastic!

  • Honestly, the less stuff = less chores is the reason we came to minimalism! We are still quite a ways off from my ideal level of stuff, but we are getting there. We have also sold a lot of things on ebay and Craigslist, and yes, that monetary compensation is awesome!

  • Congratulations on cutting down on debt so quick! That is awesome!

    I became minimalist to cut down on chores too… I have other things I want to do with my life than clean, pickup, sort, …then do it all again :)

  • Erin, such an great story! You are an inspiration to the many of us on this minimalist path! I got goosebumps reading your post. Oh-I’d also be interested in how you specifically reduced your debt.

  • Angie Hall

    Wonderful post! Congratulations on being able to be home with your children. Enjoy them! I, too, had always thought I wanted a big house for my kids to grow up in. Well, I got that big house and quickly filled it up with stuff! Neither my husband, my children, nor I were happy because we had so much stuff to maintain, store, clean, catalogue and otherwise keep track of. It was/is exhausting. We are on our way to becoming card-carrying minimalist, and we’re able to enjoy each other so much more.

  • Nice post! Yes, the lack of chores is my favorite thing about minimalism too!

  • viridine

    Loved your post :)
    Nice to hear about minimalist families in family-size homes who can enjoy the space filled with togetherness and good times instead of stressful junk!

    speaking of blogs that inspire… anyone know what happened to simplicitybysunny???
    (Sunny was featured as “real life minimalist” #2) It disappeared, and I’m heartbroken…

  • Lindsey UK

    Great post! I want to stop buying cleaning products and make my own so I’m bookmarking your blog to have a proper read later!

  • Maria (from Norway)

    I love reading about these real life minimalists! Less chores is my main motivation for minimizing (and wanting to minimize more) aswell. My boyfriend and I live on 462 square feet. I still absolutely hate cleaning the place, and Boyfriend isn’t too keen on it either. Our last place, which we lived in for 6 months, was 279 sf. That felt too small for us though, but it sure was faster to clean. :)

    Viridine: Is this the blog you’re looking for?

  • Viridine

    @maria: no…sadly that is some internet archived reblogged knock-off version that only has a few posts on it… was the real blog… I just hope she is ok…

  • Maria (from Norway)

    @Viridine: Oh, that’s too bad. :( Yes, let’s hope she’s ok.

  • […] are numerous blogs about living like a minimalist, such as Miss Minimalist, and Apartment Therapy. One woman began a “War on Debt” and sold enough things in her house to pay off $39,000 worth of debt in […]

  • […] I was featured at Miss Minimalist today!! I am so excited! You can read about it HERE.  […]

  • […] wanted to improve her health and make life less stressful for her family, (Read Erin’s story here). Gigi, from The Ramble, wanted to travel throughout Europe. (Here is her […]

  • Tina

    We are recycling everything we can. Taking electronics to be recycled. Now we don’t have a laptop just pads. Bags of papers and plastics go every other day. My house is not empty by any means just not cluttered and full. I come from a family of hoarders so nearly empty looks good to me. There is still a bag a week to Goodwill.

  • Tina

    Still giving a bag every week to Goodwill. Sold some jewelry I never wore. Gave away a big bag of craft material for children’s crafts. There is still more to give away and sell. I am trying to get down to what I need and use all the time and eliminate the rest. My husband even found some things to give away and he is no minimalist.

  • Tina

    Every week we donate a big bag or two to Goodwill. And every week we find another bag to give away. My daughter has been bringing things over here for me to wash and give away. My son passed on some sweaters and I found one to wear. I have another basket to go through. Eventually, I will give away some of the plastic baskets I use to organize my closet.

  • I am giving away more bags of art supplies and keeping only crochet books, crochet hooks and coloring supplies. I also have beads that need to be sorted and more paper to give away. We need to go recycle batteries, light bulbs, and electronics. I gave away a lot of cuttings from my plants and there are more to give away.

  • I fill shoeboxes with plant cuttings potted in yogurt containers and give them away. I am still giving craft materials away. I met a woman who does art in the Chicago Public Schools. I have more art books to pass on. We took another bag to Goodwill and we are filling bags with recycling. There are also fabric strips to crochet and quilt if they aren’t nice enough for Goodwill.

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