Real Life Minimalists Update: Claire

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, we have an update from Claire, who was originally featured in January 2016. I love hearing how my Real Life Minimalists have progressed on their journeys! Stop by Claire’s blog if you’d like to connect with her or read more.

Claire writes:



I wrote a post for Miss Minimalist about 18 months ago, and I wanted to send a quick update. I recently went on my honeymoon and took carry-on luggage only – hooray! It felt like a milestone for me – this is one of my aims in life. My husband and I felt so free coming off the plane with just a backpack and heading straight out of the airport :)

I thought I’d share some of the top tips I’ve learnt over the past few years about minimalism:

– When I come back from a vacation, I note down what I didn’t use on the trip. (Chances are, you wear the clothes you love and the rest end up at the bottom of the suitcase!) Next time you go away, try not taking those items. I bet you don’t miss them!

– We have a “donate” box in our apartment, where we put things we’re not sure we want to turn out or not. If we haven’t missed it after 6 months, we donate it. (Obviously we don’t do this for seasonal stuff.) This works for us because it’s not final – we can always take something out the box if we’re not sure, but it keeps everything in one place as well.

Take a picture of something if you love or want the memory, but not the item. That way you still have the memory, but you don’t have a closet full of things you have good associations with but never use.

– I didn’t get my husband involved at the start or force anything on him; I just started living my life a certain way. He quickly followed suit when he saw my tiny closet and tidy cupboards! It’s a personal journey so I don’t believe it’s something you can push on other people (however you can certainly demonstrate the benefits, haha).

– And one that is sometimes hard to deal with: most of our possessions are linked to something deeper. For example, I realized that I kept books because I wanted them to say something about me: (“Look how well read I am! Look at my Russian novels!) :) It takes courage, but sometimes looking at your life and beliefs can help answer questions about your possessions. My friends know me and who I am – so why do I need to show off what I’ve read?!

The main thing I appreciate so much from my minimalist journey is how freeing it is. Putting things in our donate box feels so good! I would recommend it to everyone :)

I hope these tips help other people and remember – minimalism is such a personal thing. Do whatever feels right for you :)

And good luck on your minimalist journey!

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

12 comments to Real Life Minimalists Update: Claire


    Fantastic tips. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Barbara

    Great post! I’ve been on my minimalism journey for a while now, still have a lot to clear out. Your tips will certainly help me. I was wondering, where do you keep your donate box?

    • Hi Barbara, I am so sorry for my slow reply… I genuinely wasn’t expecting any responses to my post lol! We keep our donate box in our closet by our front door… but you could keep it anywhere it fits! If it’s easy to get to, it makes it easier to use… ours is a pull out box (with no lid) that we keep on a waist-height shelf in the closet. Good luck on your minimalist journey! :)

  • The best part of this post is that Claire’s husband wanted to join in my watching her example. Simple living works the very best when the whole house is on board. We have a donate bag…we only let it sit for a week but same principal.-Laurel Bledsoe

    • Laurel, you are right. It’s great when the rest of the family is on board. My gray hair just about popped out of my skull one day when my decidedly maximalist husband (“I might need that someday”) gathered up stack after stack of his old magazines to take to the recycle center. Soon after, he tackled a portion of the garage. I agree with Claire that it’s a personal journey and not something you can push on other people. Whether or not my husband becomes a minimalist is to be determined, but I know at this point he understands and supports my choices.

  • Mike

    My sig other and I have a “donate area” simply because of the large number of often physically large things that we mark for donation. Right now, we have some electric hedge trimmers, a leaf rake, and a tall plastic box for storing Christmas paper. None of them would fit in an average box, but still, out they must go. We tend to think of this area as a “staging area” where we keep stuff until the next trip to the thrift store. Putting something in the donate area really does feel good. I feel so much lighter for having de-owned a lot of my stuff!

  • Great post! I think I am a minimalist too :)

  • MChicago

    I participate in an annual flea market and designate my laundry room as a collection area for all the things we want to get rid of in the year. On the day of the flea market, everything is emptied out and whatever isn’t sold by the end of the day gets donated before returning home. This has been a great method of decluttering for our family without the guilt. The unfortunate part has been the fact that I’ve been able to scrounge up enough stuff to participate in the flea market for the past three years! I’m hoping this time will be my last major purge and I can just transition to normally don’t sting items if/when they show up!

  • I get a lot of items free or second hand. For everything that comes in, something has to go. When I put my plants on the balcony, I put the trays they were on in the closet and gave away 2 more bags of books. Our recycling bin has been closed off so I took some junk mail to the library to recycle. I gave away a lot of coupons I had but would never use and more are going away next week. I grew up with a hoarder so there is never a pile of anything here.

  • We give a big bag to Goodwill every week or two. I have some fabric from my brief trial run at quilting which I am passing on to an arts program. I have another bag of small soaps from hotels to give to the homeless. I don’t bring home shampoo, lotion, or conditioner. I see people buying huge bottles of shampoo, shower gel, etc. that would last me two years and I don’t understand it.

    • Hi Tina, thanks for your reply (and apologies for my majorly slow message – I didn’t think anyone would reply to my post lol!) Can I ask how you don’t bring home shampoo or lotions etc – do you mean you don’t bring them home from hotels, or you don’t buy them? I was intrigued! And am always looking for new tips and tricks :) Thanks!

  • V

    Love the tips!
    I try to live minimalist life style, and I can feel the way I see the life is changing little by little :)
    Very excited for my next journey!

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