Real Life Minimalists: Denise

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 happy to share this story from Denise. She and her daughter Aly (who was featured as a Real Life Minimalist last year) blog about their challenges and discoveries at

Denise writes:

Just over a year ago my daughter, Aly, introduced me to minimalism. Immediately I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. As I continue to make my way down the minimalist path now, I find myself thinking that I wish that I had found this path 30 years ago and how drastically different my life would have been.  Back then I found myself tangled up in the typical American dream – good job, family, big house, new cars, and so on.

At 18 I began working for an oil company and found myself quickly making my way up the ladder to bigger and better positions.  With the increase in income, I decided my old Mercury Comet wasn’t suited to my new position and went out and bought my very first new car – a Mercury Capri. I quickly accrued all of this debt and I hadn’t even moved out of my mother’s house yet.

By the age of 35 I had married the love of my life, had two beautiful daughters, and found myself wanting the luxuries that came with having the American dream, including a new house, new car, higher paying job, etc. And we got it, plus the expenses that came with it.

Now, at the age of 52, I have experienced a wealth of debt and big splurge purchases, including our oversized house we now live in. All is okay though, but we are not in the debt free position I imagined we would be at this time in our lives.  My husband and I now run our own home based business and found that country living was ideal for us. Our business is doing well and we have built a warehouse on the land we live for our inventory, which has drastically reduced our bills each month, and we continue to make small changes daily towards our end goal.

Since embracing minimalism alongside my daughter I have found a new lease on life. I have significantly reduced the amount of possessions we have, and I love the benefits I have found by embracing my new minimalist lifestyle, including more money in our pockets and time to spend with my daughters and husband. The biggest benefit I found? I’ve lost weight and am overall HAPPIER! Can you imagine my surprise when I realized that not only is my journey helping me to downsize and have more time, it’s also helping me to be healthier and more fit than I have ever been in my life – all because I’m looking at everything that I bring into my house, including food, in a different light.

Overall, I’m grateful for all of my past experiences and for my family who stood beside me during the ups and downs, but now I am excited to see where my new minimalist life takes us. We have goals to have our property paid in full within the next 5 years, spend more time with one another than working, and continue to reduce our consumption so we CAN fully live the minimalist life we dream of (maybe even in a tiny house). We’ll just have to wait and see where our journey takes us!

{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.}

Related posts:

  1. Real Life Minimalists: Victoria
  2. Real Life Minimalists: simple in france
  3. Real Life Minimalists: Janet

9 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Denise

  • Helen

    What a lovely story Denise especially at this consumeristic time of year.

    I love your comment “we continue to make small changes daily towards our end goal”. I often fall into the trap of wanting to tackle the big challenges when really chipping away gradually often yields more lasting and fulfilling results.

    Happy New Year to you and your family!

    Helen x

  • Helen

    I’m not even sure if “consumeristic” is a real word?!!

  • Denise ~ I’ll turn 55 in January. While I never had kids, I did experience life much like you did with respect to jobs, income, buying “stuff” and accruing debt. I had a financial burn out around age 30 and made a stupid decision but it changed my life for the better. I started applying what I learned from my mentor and can truly say that being debt free is a beautiful way to live.

    My entry into “minimalism” came from trying to keep my expenses to a minimum. If you buy a bigger house, your taxes, insurance and maintenance costs go up so I kept my small house. When you have a small house, less fits in it so you buy fewer objects and let old ones go when you do buy new, etc.

    Two of the best strategies I employed to become debt-free and build wealth include keeping a “Future Capital Expense” account and creating a 10-year plan. Both of these are described in detail with free worksheets on my blog. You’ll easily find them on the Start Here tab. I’d love to hear what you think of them since I believe you represent the segment of the population that would resonate with what I write.

    Congratulations on your new adventure and I wish you all the happiness a life well lived can bring.

  • Denise…what a sweet spot to be in…healthier and happier and having more time to spend with family and friends! Looking forward to checking out your website.

  • Happy New Year Denise! I’m constantly evaluating what the “American Dream” means to me. Just starting out in my own home based business, I’ve realized that the American Dream I want does not involve mountains of debt simply to own things I don’t care about like the new car you mentioned or huge house so I can store a bunch of stuff I’ll never use. I think the American Dream is shifting to this mindset, even if slowly. Minimalists unite!

  • Alix

    Thanks for sharing your story, Denise! I, too, wish I’d heard about minimalism years ago, but better late than never! Sounds like you are well on your way to achieving your goals. Best of luck to you, and Happy New Year!

  • Mitch

    The American Dream is, in fact, The American Nightmare! The sooner we all wake up to this – both from a domestic and an international perspective – the happier we will all be!

  • Diane

    Great story Denise! One tremendous benefit in minimalizing is that you spend less and get to save more. Most people don’t think about the saving part until it’s too late. My parents live in a retirement residence costing approx $7K a month, so saving is important because it is getting more and more expensive to be old. Keep up the good work at clearing your debts and being able to keep what you save for your retirement years. Happy New Year everyone!

  • Awesome story Denise! Keep up the good work.

    Happy New Year,
    Anders Hasselstrøm

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