Real Life Minimalists: Jana

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, Jana tells us how a new pair of shoes ultimately led her down a simpler path. I think many of us can relate to this kind of “light bulb moment!”

Jana writes:

Hi there! I’m so inspired by the amazing transformations reported on by such a number of brilliant people on this site; it’s incredible to me that so many people have radically changed their thinking in order to free up their lives.

My own journey toward a more minimalist lifestyle began about four months ago. For a long time, I’ve been one to spend the last few dollars in my account on something pretty and shiny, to give myself a ‘treat’ and prove to myself that I was worthy of lovely new things. From the reading I’ve done in the last couple of months, it turns out that I was by no means alone in this kind of attitude. While there were a thousand better ways to use the money, or even (imagine this!) leave it in the account (you’re kidding, right?), I had myself fooled into thinking that having something new was the answer to my feelings of lack. I know, Filling-A-Void 101, right? But, it was what it was.

The moment of revelation came when I spent money on a beautiful pair of shoes that I most definitely did not need. My partner commented, “Really? More? You don’t wear the ones you have!”

And there it was: light bulb moment. He was right. He is right. I don’t wear the ones I have. And, I have too many to store so some are in boxes under the bed…in our house, which was full to the brim with stuff.  So, there began the quest to simplify. I decided to get myself to a point where I love everything I own, and I have enough space around each item (figuratively and literally) to see it and appreciate it in my world.

I started with the areas over which I had autonomy: my clothes and my shoes. I sold several pairs of shoes and some clothes online, and began to donate things to charity. Suddenly, when my wardrobe contained only things I loved, I found that choosing outfits was easy. I have not suffered with “I have nothing to wear” for a few months now; in fact, I find myself looking forward to ‘shopping my wardrobe’ because I’m encouraged to try new combinations. I’m confident in what I wear and I love the chance to dress up, rather than worrying about it somewhat, as I had before.

On the finances front, I must have made the decision to simplify just in time, as a windfall arrived that dramatically improved things for me and I didn’t want to go and spend it on things! There’s more to it than that, too: I now venture into shopping malls with specific lists, or not at all. I find myself almost repelled by shops, until I have a specific mission to go into them. I’m not distracted from my shopping aims and am not tempted to impulse buy, because I don’t want things to clutter up my home and I’m focused on financial simplicity. My switch in thinking has meant that buying a home will be possible within the next year, which is incredibly exciting for us.

I’m working on simplifying in our home too, although my life is a team event and I don’t get to make all of the decisions by myself; my partner understands what I’m trying to do and he is very supportive, so we’re making excellent progress. Our relationship is better;  we don’t argue over my mess any more because I don’t make any!! So, that’s a win-win!

Anyway, the purpose of this post is really to say thanks so much for all of the brilliant sharing that happens on this site: you’ve inspired me enormously and my life is better for it.

{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.}

18 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Jana

  • Congratulations on discovering the joy of living a simple, uncluttered, less lifestyle. It truly changes everything. Like you, I find myself repelled by malls, shops and stores. The unlimited mass materialism makes me feel claustrophobic. It is amazing. Welcome to the minimal side!

  • Carol C

    What a great example you are, Jana! Thanks for sharing your timely “aha” moment.

  • Hi Jana,

    It’s interesting, isn’t it, that you were drawn to this site (and likely others like it) that focus on a different way of living. You must have been building up to that ah ha moment in a way that would let you hear and have it.

    I don’t know how old you are, but whatever your age you will be far better off in the long run because you found a way to change your behaviors. I was very much like you and now, nearly 25 years later, I can tell you it is far better on the other side!

    What’s wonderful about getting a grip on your space and money is that you will have enough of both to buy the shiny new stuff that you REALLY want. In my opinion, it’s fine to buy yourself non-necessities from time-to-time as long as you do it consciously and don’t make a dent in your wealth.

    Happy house hunting!
    Ree ~ I blog at

  • Hey Jane! I remember back in my pre-minimalist days counting my tops and realizing I could wear a different one each day for more than a month. But I didn’t actually like most of them that much. I have way less clothes now and I like all of them. I wish more people had the light bulb moment and realized that none of us minimalists are really sacrificing – we’re actually maximizing our lives! Now your story can inspire others too!

  • Well done Jana! Sounds like life is better for both of you :)

  • Beautiful writing, and I can completely sympathize with that! Best of luck.

  • Thank you so much for sharing your lightbulb moment which changed the course of your life, and the subsequent journey since then. It is so wonderful to hear :-)

    It is also fantastic that you and your partner are supporting one another through this process. It makes it so much easier, and rewarding, when you work on simplifying your lives together.

    I hope your life continues in this positive fashion. I really enjoyed reading your words.

  • Helen

    “almost repelled by shops” !! I love it…that’s exactly how I feel too now!

    Helen x

  • Gabriel Hanson

    So happy for you! Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Diane

    Ditto on the “almost repelled by shops”. I too make a list of what I need then shop just for those items. Whenever I spend money, I always ask myself “Who am I making rich with this purchase?” My travel friend feels the same way and has also become a minimalist. Our savings means we’ll be spending a month in Australia next summer with a few days in Vancouver on the way. So much fun can be had when you stop spending money on “stuff”. Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Gants

    Since living a minimalist lifestyle, I actually feel nauseous when I walk into shops. Not food shops, but those shops just bursting with ‘stuff’. So-called “lifestyle” shops have the worst effect on me, you know the type: the one where the bed on display has so much bed linen, runners, pillows and cushions on it that you can’t actually see the bed itself! My partner calls that stuff “pretty clutter” – ha ha ha! I love having money left in our checking account at the end of the month, rather than having it staring at me across my lounge in the shape of “pretty clutter”!!!!!!

  • I am also in the process of embracing minimalism, through and through.. I can totally relate to this! Just like you, I thought that the way to fill in that certain void is through pampering myself with stuff… I also dreamed of owning less and less clutter .. good job because you are on your way to a simpler life! thanks for sharing your story!

  • Tina

    I hadn’t bought anything for myself in quite a while. I got 4 pairs of earrings for $2. I can wear mostly old T shirts and jeans except when I get dressed up and then I have black pants and plain colored tops and some nice sweaters. No patterns. I find solid colors last for years and years, through all seasons with changing accessories.

  • Tina

    I really wanted to mourn the death of my cousin, a life- long hoarder who died in his hoard. I started throwing out some old samples of toiletries and then looked into the bottoms of drawers for more bits and bobs that had escaped previous tossing spells.

  • Tina

    I cleaned my brother’s basement and his linen closet. I like decluttering. My next project is helping my daughter’s friend empty her storage locker. Even if we do it 6 or 8 boxes at a time it will be progress.

  • My brother finally moved out of his huge house and into a 1200 sq ft apartment. I found so much stuff to give away and throw out. He wanted to send me a big box of unopened toiletries but I told him to give them to a shelter for battered women. I had picked a painting and a couple of silver necklaces when he asked if there was anything I wanted. I am so glad that I am always filling bags for Goodwill or a friend’s rummage sale.

  • I throw things out, recycle and give things away all the time. I bought a silver pendant years ago at a rummage sale. I was wearing it yesterday when a friend told me it was unakite. It was a green and pink stone I hadn’t seen before. Then I was talking to my neighbor who also watches the tiny house shows and we remembered the lady with 90 pairs of shoes who wanted a tiny house.

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