How to Live With Less in a World of Excess

How to Live With Less in a World of Excess


Living simply and with less in today’s consumer culture can be challenging, but it has many benefits. In a world that constantly tells us we need to buy the latest and greatest, reducing consumption takes intention and effort. This article will explore practical ways to live with less, the mindset shifts that support a minimalist lifestyle, and the personal and global benefits of consuming less.

Reduce and Declutter Your Possessions

The first step to living with less is to take stock of what you already own. Go through each area of your home and get rid of items you have not used in over a year. Ask yourself if each possession is functional, beautiful or meaningful. Donate, recycle or sell the excess.

Some categories to declutter:

  • Clothing and shoes: Only keep items that fit, flatter and make you feel good. Donate the rest.
  • Books and media: Keep only your favorites and classics you’ll re-read. Donate or re-sell the rest.
  • Kitchen items and gadgets: Toss duplicates, broken items and gadgets you never use.
  • Furniture and decor: Remove items that are worn, damaged or don’t suit your taste.

Stick to the essentials in categories like linens, cleaning supplies and toiletries. When you shop, avoid impulse purchases and carefully consider each new item.

Adopt a Capsule Wardrobe

Build a minimal, coordinating wardrobe of versatile basics like jeans, t-shirts, blouses, sweaters and jackets in neutral colors. Choose high-quality, well-fitting pieces that mix and match easily. Limit yourself to clothes that fit your lifestyle and climate.

A capsule wardrobe reduces decision fatigue in the mornings and cuts down on wasted spending. You’ll also wear each item more frequently, increasing cost per wear.

Decline Gifts and Freebies

Politely say “no thank you” to gifts that will add clutter. Regift or donate unused gifts right away. Avoid claiming free promotions and swag just because it’s free. Each free item takes up physical and mental space.

Buy Experiences, Not Things

Spend disposable income on shared experiences like classes, trips and entertainment rather than more possessions. Memories and skills last longer than physical things. Set a yearly budget for learning and adventure.

Borrow and Share Instead of Buying

Before purchasing infrequently used items (like camping gear or formalwear), consider borrowing from a friend, family member or rental company. Some communities have “libraries” to lend tools, kitchen items and more.

Maintain a Shopping List

When you need to buy something new, add it to an ongoing list. Revisit the list periodically to prevent impulse buying. Before purchasing an item, wait several days or weeks to ensure you really need it.

Shop Secondhand First

Check thrift stores, consignment shops, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist before purchasing new items. You’ll save money and keep perfectly usable goods out of landfills.

Live Minimally

Choose smaller living quarters with less storage space. This will prevent accumulation and force you to regularly declutter.

Opt for multi-functional furniture like storage ottomans and Murphy beds. Seek out furniture and decor that serves a purpose beyond aesthetics.

Adopt a Minimalist Mindset

Living simply is about more than just decluttering your home. Making this lifestyle stick requires shifting your mindset.

Focus on Needs vs. Wants

Before each purchase, distinguish true needs from momentary wants. Stick to buying only absolute needs.

Value Experiences Over Possessions

Derive more happiness from activities, people and places than physical objects. Spend money on creating memories.

Reject Consumer Culture

Tune out marketing, advertising and peer pressure urging you to buy. Avoid shopping for entertainment.

Embrace DIY

Make, grow and repair things yourself instead of buying new. Learn to cook, sew, build furniture, grow food and more.

Appreciate Quality Over Quantity

Cherish a few high-quality possessions rather than accumulating large quantities.

Find Fulfillment Outside Shopping

Shopping often serves as a quick dopamine hit. Seek lasting fulfillment through self-care, hobbies, time in nature and connecting with others.

Benefits of Living With Less

Living simply with fewer possessions provides many benefits:

  • Financial freedom from reduced spending

  • Time affluence since less cleaning and shopping

  • Reduced stress and decision fatigue

  • Improved focus and clarity

  • More space with less clutter

  • Deeper connections spending time with people, not things

  • Smaller environmental impact through less consumption

  • Appreciation for belongings from selective owning

  • Sense of accomplishment from mastering minimalism


Living simply with fewer possessions takes effort, but decluttering your home and life has tremendous benefits. Focus on your needs, savor experiences over stuff, and thoughtfully limit each acquisition. Discover the joy and freedom of having just enough in a world urging excess.