Nine Things I Do That Have Radically Simplified My Life

10 Things I Do That Have Radically Simplified My Life

I think I may be an Accidental Minimalist.

I’ve never sought out to be a minimalist, but over the weekend I’ve realized that I may have been an unassuming minimalist this entire time. Over the years, I’ve naturally developed a system for making small, everyday decisions that simplify my life AND help out my wallet. Decisions that reduce the number of things I buy or help free up time so I focus on the stuff I really care about. Here are nine of them, in more detail.

1. I Stopped Buying Holiday Gifts

Before you assume that I’m a total scrooge, this one isn’t about the money. It’s about the stress. For Christmas I used to spend an ungodly amount of hours scouring stores for gifts I thought people would love. I hated the pressure and obligations I felt to find the perfect gift on a deadline. And of course 9 times out of 10 I’d second-guess the gift I bought like wasn’t good enough. Then I thought, why am I doing this to myself? So, now the adults in my life know that they aren’t getting anything from me for Christmas, Valentine’s Day or anniversaries, and I don’t expect anything from them. For kids, I’ll buy one small thing that’s less than $20.

However, I do buy gifts, but when I feel inspired, on my own timeline. Like when I bought my husband a surprise gift for our wedding day. I did it because I felt like it.

Also, receiving gifts has also never been a major happiness trigger for me. When you have a money system on lock, you basically can buy whatever you want for yourself. Have you ever bought yourself anything from Matchesfashion? It’s like Christmas in a box.

Matches Fashion Marble Box Packaging

2. I Don’t Subscribe to Fashion Magazines

Glossy fashion magazines are filled with pictures of models who look great in anything and gorgeous clothes to match, so it’s hard not to get sucked into wanting it all. I used to buy magazines when I wanted something light to read at the airport. Well, lo and behold, after I was done flipping through them I’d end up with a mental list of all kinds of things I wanted to shop for. Things I never knew I “needed” before. Nowadays, with magazines content being digital, I’m still exposed, but it’s so much easier to ignore.

3. I Streamline My Beauty Routine

I do the same face every day with the same tried-and-true products:
Nars Velvet Matte Skin Tint
Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Concealer
Sania’s Brow Bar Eyebrow Pencil
Anastasia Clear Brow Gel
Almay Bright Eyes Liner and Highlighter Duo
Lancome Hypnose Star Mascara
Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Berry

For my everyday look I won’t use any products I can’t apply with my fingers. If I need to use a brush to apply a product, it’s not practical and I won’t use it. For that reason, I use a tinted moisturizer instead of foundation, and I don’t wear eyeshadow or powder blush.

After looking around and getting stressed out by how many products I had, I now have a policy where I won’t let myself buy multiples of the same kind of product. For example, I have two tinted lip balms already, so I try not to buy any more until the first two run out. Who needs more clutter around the house?

4. I Stopped Feeling Pressured by Sephora Sales

For those of you who are part of Sephora’s loyalty program, how many of you look forward to the annual 15% off sale? That used to be me. For years I’d get sucked into the sale, afraid of missing out on a deal. I usually only needed one item, but I’d just add on more stuff to spend the $50 to get the free shipping. Then I’d have to deal with the hassle of returning the other items or just using them when I never needed them anyway. It was hard, but I’m not a slave to that sale anymore. Now I buy the items when I need them. If the timing lines up when there’s the sale, great, but I don’t stress about saving a couple bucks anymore.

5. I Buy Household Supplies in Bulk

Living in the city with no car, the most efficient way to buy things like toilet paper and paper towels was by walking to the store in my neighborhood. But there was a limit to how much I could carry, which meant that not only did I have to do more frequent trips to re-up, but I also paid more in unit price. Until I discovered Amazon. Now I order bigger packs online and have never looked back.

6. I Spend One Day a Week Making Lunches

I don’t bring my lunch every single week, but when I do, I batch prep everything in one weekend day. Because I’m LAZY about making food. Sometimes you just have to know yourself and your habits, and then find a system to work around them.

7. I Stopped Buying Dresses to Wear to Weddings

So, I’m not a dress person. This means that I used to get stressed out when I’d get invited to a wedding. I’d have “nothing” to wear, and then I’d panic-shop and end up with a sub-par dress I stopped liking right away. Then the next wedding I’d have to buy a new dress. It was a bad cycle. Then I thought, why don’t I just wear the same dresses to every wedding? So I bought two versatile, go-to dresses that I love: one for spring/summer weddings and one for fall/winter weddings. I don’t need variety, but if I did I’d just do Rent the Runway.

What to Wear to a Spring Wedding
My go-to spring/summer dress I wear to weddings.

8. I Have a System for How Many Clothes I Buy

I retrofit my shopping habits to fit the size of my closet and my one bureau. If I find that both spaces are getting too full, it means I have too many clothes. So then I institute the ‘One in, One out’ policy where I have to sell something to make room for the new item. I find capsule wardrobes to be too arbitrary, but limiting shopping based on space works best for me.

9. I Wear My Clothes Multiple Times Before Washing Them

In my husband’s last guest post, he mused about how I produce a tiny amount of laundry. When I was single I used to do laundry twice a month. For work, all I do is sit at a desk all day in an air-conditioned office, so how dirty do my clothes really get? At the risk of sounding grungy, I wear my tops 2-3 times before washing and pants/jeans get washed every few months or so. I always felt like doing laundry was such a time suck. Since the wash cycle is only 30 minutes, you can’t really be that productive in that time frame. Plus, the other benefit of washing your clothes less is they will last longer. The washer and especially the dryer are hard on your clothes. If you really want them to last, you’ll wash them less.

What about you? What are some things you do to simplify your life?

Images: The Luxe Strategist

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  • Welcome to the Minimalist club! I’ll teach you the secret handshake later! I think people get wrapped up in what minimalism is, in the big sense of the word. Like it’s supposed to be this huge thing that makes you get rid of everything you own. But it’s really just what you’ve described, small habits to simplify your life so you can focus on what’s actually important to you. (P.S. I’m with you when it comes to Christmas presents- they got the axe a couple of years ago and I’m never going back).

    • Oh, I’m glad the Minimalism Queen has approved my lifestyle. Maybe I’ve even been an early adopter then!

      Yeah, sometimes people react like you’re evil if you don’t do Christmas, but seriously, it was a such a stress-fest. No thanks.

  • Yes! I’m also a delayed launderer, and not afraid to hide it.
    One thing that really helped for me was unsubscribing from newsletters. I still get Sephora emails and it can be hard for me to resist, but I also have a very simple morning face routine that only requires a few products. Not receiving notifications of sales from all the other stores I like has made a huge difference.

    • Yeah, I’m always doing the sniff test so I can check if something is safe to wear. Oh yeah, I remember going through a period of unsubscribes, and it really helped a lot as well. And the stores I thought were “essential” I never even re-subscribed again, so goes to show how important they were to me.

  • Yes! I re-wear clothes too because I have the exact same reasoning! It’s not like I’m sweating profusely in any of my clothes and I get straight into PJs at home anyway.

    I usually only get my boyfriend gifts for his birthday and Christmas, anything else is too stressful. I already feel stressed enough buying that one gift and I start shopping 2 months in advance to make sure I feel confident with whatever I end up with. Unfortunately I always have that minute of self doubt right when I’m giving it to him too. I love the idea of randomly gifting, it makes way more sense, and I know none of the people I know are entitled-ly awaiting a gift from me.

    • Seeing my husband’s laundry compared to mine is always a funny sight! It’s usually just the tank tops I wear underneath my outer shirts, too.

      Yeah, I’m so over getting stressed out about people not liking my gift. Because I’m also the type who will obsess about it so I can get it perfect. It’s too much pressure. So nowadays, my husband and I just do little tokens of appreciation, like buying wine for dinner or getting each other a surprise dessert. The smaller, random moments I’d argue are more special. I mean, everyone’s expected to buy stuff for Christmas. But deciding to buy a gift on your own is something else.

  • The wedding struggle is real. It’s not a negative for me because I LOVE dresses, but I gained a bunch of weight so I had to restock my wardrobe with my “fat” wedding clothes. Annoying!

    • Hey Heather,

      I even observed the wedding struggle from guests at my own wedding! I think every single one of my friends was stressing about what to wear, and I’m like, “Just wear whatever!” But having to buy new clothes due to weight fluctuations is a legit problem. I honestly don’t know what people do in that scenario except be forced to have twice as many clothes.

  • Adventure Rich

    I’m a big fan of re-using outfits, but I look forward to trying Rent a Runway sometime! I also outsource my grocery shopping. As a full-time working mom, I don’t want to spend my precious weekend time with my son running around a store and battling stressed out people in the long weekend grocery lines! It has been such a relief to be able to focus my weekends on meaningful activities or adventures with our son 🙂

    • I would love to outsource our grocery shopping! With us, there isn’t one source where you can get everything so that’s a deterrent, but otherwise, the idea is just brilliant. So glad you found a way to spend more time with your son.

  • I couldn’t help but nod along to everything you were saying. The whole minimalism thing is something I admire but it’s just not realistic in its pure form to me. I also think I’m an accidental minimalist. I like keeping everything as simple as possible. For clothes, if I feel like I can’t make a choice then it means that I have too much in my closet and not enough of what I actually want to wear. For my makeup-I literally have the same routine that I count on-no matter if it’s for everyday or something fancier. I like your idea of having a wedding/party dress for both fall/winter and spring/summer-I honestly think that is genius. I love Rent the Runway-I used it to rent a red dress for my Chinese wedding that my parents hosted for us and honestly it saved me the pain of buying a red dress I would never wear again. I need to reread this post for when I pack up my things to move next week. Thanks for the great post as per usual 🙂

    • Sometimes I feel like ‘minimalism’ is as much a marketing campaign as it is an actual philosophy. And it’s like, wait, isn’t that how I’ve always lived? I never really had too much stuff to actual purge, you know? So the whole Marie Kondo thing has never resonated with me, honestly. I think you’re an accidental minimalist, too! It’s about removing the stuff that doesn’t matter, and focusing on the stuff that does. The wedding dress thing was such a game changer. I mean, I get it if you don’t want to be seen in the same outfit, but being a wedding guest is about the bride, not the guest. And if someone wants to snark on your outfit, then it’s their problem. Rent the Runway is perfect for one-time use! I rented a Proenza Schouler dress for a celebratory dinner with my then-boyfriend (now husband), and it was such a fun, luxurious experience.

      Good luck with the move!

      • I agree about the whole marketing thing-I tried doing the 30+ pieces only for a season or whatever it was and I just didn’t like the stress and pressure of finding “perfect” pieces. It all felt so limiting. I think having a better system for deciding whether to buy or not to buy is something I’m more likely to follow and make a habit.

        I love looking at Rent the Runway-it’s honestly such a genius business idea.

        Thanks, I’ll need all the luck!

  • Kate @ making it rain

    Yes to no holiday gifts! I have a big family and we instituted this last year for Christmas – absolutely life changing. I feel like we all enjoyed the holidays SO much more and we will not be going back! I need to work on #7 and #8 – clothes are still tough for me. I am such a dress wearer, so weddings are a perfect excuse to grab a new dress. Sigh now I have 15 dresses that get worn almost never…Going to try instituting the one in, one out rule!

    • I’m so glad your family was on board with the no gifts thing! I feel like that would be the hardest part, especially if gift-giving has been a big tradition. Yay to having a super cool fam and de-stressing at least one part of the holidays.

      I feel like clothes are tough for everyone because they’re such emotional purchases. I hope to write more about shopping because I know it’s something a lot of people struggle with. With that said, there’s nothing wrong with having tons of dresses…if you wear them.

  • Pia

    I’ve somehow ended up on the no holiday gifts train too. It just seems so mindless to be rushing out with the crowds to buy somebody a gift just because of Christmas. I do the same for birthdays, and even anniversaries now. Of course, that means also not expecting any gifts in return, and that’s fine by me. I don’t want more well-meaning clutter in my house!!

    • I totally hear you. I don’t like advertisers having such a strong hold on me and dictating when I buy stuff. And the obligations are the worst. Like, when someone buys you something and then you feel like you have to reciprocate with some crappy knick knack. My husband and I don’t celebrate our anniversary at all (unromantic much?), but we usually do a small thing for birthdays. For my husband’s birthday this year, he asked that I hire someone to clean the house, haha! So we’re definitely moving into experiences instead of things.

  • Erin @ Reaching for FI

    I’ve never understood the thing where people toss all their clothes in the hamper right away. Socks and underwear and workout clothes? Absolutely. But for everything else if I haven’t been walking around outside sweating and it passes the sniff test, back into the closet it goes! I also love the tip about the wedding/event dresses. I need to start looking for one or two that I love that I can use for everything, although I am intrigued by Rent the Runway. As for gifts, YES on the stress and then second-guessing yourself that it’s not good enough. I’d love to get to a point where that’s not a thing in my life.

    • Not doing gifts has been a huge stress reliever and I have no regrets whatsoever. I’d definitely try it and see what happens!

      Re: washing clothes, I noticed early on my husband made a lot of laundry. I asked him why, and he said he sweats a lot in the summer. So in that case, I can understand why you need to wash your clothes often. Otherwise I don’t see any benefit to washing your clothes so often.

      My friends use Rent the Runway quite a lot for events. The selection may be limited depending on what you’re looking for, but you could rent a dress for $40 or less, and then just return it after. My friend also used it for her wedding. So, all of us bridesmaids rented the same dress from there. It’s a smart idea!

  • Yes to all of these! I wear a tank top under most of my work blouses to reduce how much laundry I have to do for tops. The exception of course is white tops- I hand wash those suckers quickly after every wear.

    Another thing that really helps with meal prep is I’ll make a large quantity of meat in a crockpot and freeze half about once a month. Makes meal prep a breeze when you already have your protein cooked!

    • I treat my white tops like they’re delicate little butterflies, hehe. I’ve also discovered that immediate pre-treatment is how to keep whites white.

      The meat freezing is a great hack! I gotta get my husband on board with that.

  • Your Average Dough

    I’m jealous of your ability to rewear the same dresses to weddings and not have the desire to change things up. This is one area that causes me to spend the most amount of money. I hate wearing the same outfits to weddings, events or vacations where I know I’ll be taking a lot of photographs. It is actually so anxiety-producing for me, so I tend to buy a new outfit for all of these things (a different one for every night of vacation included, daytime I can deal with repeat outfits). The only thing that makes me spend less is I don’t mind rewearing a dress from prior years or using a dress I wore on vacation for a wedding and vice versa. I just wore the dress from my high school senior ball (2008) to a wedding last year (2016).

    I’m definitely far from a minimalist =O

    • I definitely don’t expect everyone to be minimalist. There are some people that truly love variety and fashion, and it’s all good if they are able to wear it all. And with how good you are with your money, in your case, I’m sure the amount you spend is peanuts compared to how much you’re saving.

      What is it about vacations that makes you want to go buy new outfits? I remember buying some face-sized sunnies for a trip last year. Meanwhile, the sunnies were useless at home. Maybe it’s something about temporarily changing out identities once we go to a new place. But I do only use a carry on so I HAVE to have repeat outfits, otherwise I’d be forced to check my stuff. I’m so paranoid about that stuff.

      At least you’re still rocking a dress from 8 years ago! I still have some clothes from high school, too.

  • Melanie at Mindfully Spent

    I agree with all these things, but I have a little different strategy for the special occasion dress situation. My bff of many years and I are lucky to be close in size, and we have a “dress collective” that we share. That means, we have a shared history of pieces that usually work well for daytime, evening, modest, sexy, formal, winter, summer… most any situation really. Any time we get tired the options we have at our own house, we call up the other person to be reminded of which dresses they have on hand. I also have a couple winter/summer dresses into my work wardrobe as I find them easy to toss a jacket over and be done, so I’m a bit heavily stocked in the area of dresses for a gal who has ambitions to pare down to a capsule wardrobe. I make up for this by being okay with having one pair of jeans. 😉

    Hair and makeup are areas where I’ve been running experiments this year to see what is really necessary. With makeup, I’ve recently changed to a CC that includes moisture, tint, and a beefier spf to make it more all-purpose. A gold highlighter stick has come to be my best friend for SO many reasons. I also experimented with at-home eyebrow tint. I was using it once a month to cut down on morning prep time (and I’ll start back up again in winter). I really love it! And it’s about $4 per use.

    Thank you for admitting #9. I was so self-conscious about this when my husband and I moved in together. 😀

    • A dress collective–what a nice idea! I think all of my friends and I are very possessive about our stuff, so we’re out of luck, but a cool idea to basically DOUBLE your wardrobe. And having a lot of dresses is cool if they’re your workhorses.

      Oh yeah, re: brow tint. My friend recommends a Korean one from Etude House. She says it’s on Amazon and the tint lasts for a few days. Could be a timesaver, but it’s more temporary than your one-a-month version.

      Haha, re: #9, yeah I’ve gotten self conscious about it a few times at work, but in those cases I just try not to raise my arms…

  • I completely agree with you about gifts! I would rather buy for your first round of drinks to celebrate your birthday or split a plane ticket to visit one another. I also keep a minimal number of products. I hate having a ton of clutter that will collect dust and expire anyway. My first college roommate had a toolbox full of make up and all I could think was you will never use all of that before it expires. Also how much money did you waste on that? Less is more and Rent the Runway has an amazing selection.
    Keri Elaine

    • Hear, hear. Drinks are so much more fun than candles.

      I’m trying to pare down my products. I have a lot of free samples that I need to use up, and then not accumulate again! And man, I don’t even wear much makeup at all. So I do wonder how many products those who love makeup actually have. Yes, I think Rent the Runway is such a problem solver. If only they got more wedding dresses then no one would have to buy a one-time dress again!

  • Molly

    How long does a tube of the Nars Skin Tint last you? I want to minimize my own makeup routine to a handful of high-quality products, but the $45 price tag is a little hard to swallow…although I guess it is 1.7 ounces, which is almost twice as much as many cheaper products.

    Also, have you tried the Nars Tinted Moisturizer? Curious whether there’s a meaningful difference between the two.

    • Hey Molly,

      I just checked and I bought my current tube in May 2016, so I expect it to last for a year and a half, with almost daily use. I don’t think that seems so bad!

      I did try the Nars TM, too, but since my skin is oily I wanted something that was a little drier. If your skin is normal or dry I think the TM might be a better fit for you. For reference, I pick my face products based on color first, and Nars had a lot of yellow-based ones. I also like Bobbi Brown (less coverage) and Laura Mercier (more coverage) in terms of color range and performance.

      I would recommend going to Sephora and asking for a bunch of samples, then seeing how they perform at home. That’s what I did and it helped me rule out a lot of them.

      I know what you mean about price tags. I bought Anastasia brow wiz for $21. It lasted for 2 weeks. I thought it was defective, but nope, it was just a ripoff.

      • Molly

        I didn’t know you could just ask Sephora for samples! That is a game-changing tip, thank you!

        • McKenzie Rainey

          Psst… Makeup Forever is another lightweight foundation that goes pretty far and they’ve got a good range of colors – I think my last bottle lasted me 11 months!

  • I’m gonna need your thoughts on that Re/Done tee, please!!!

    • Hey! It’s the 1970’s Boyfriend T in size XS. I knew it would be a liiiiittle big, but you know, that’s what’s to be expected. The fabric is thicker than a regular T-shirt (no tissue fabric here), so it feels a lot more durable. I like it so far, although it’s not the perfect shade of army green I was looking for. I’m really curious about the fit of the 1960s tees, and to see how those compare to Rag & Bone.

  • GYM

    Great list, I love the layout of your make up and your picture taking skills! I also don’t buy a new dress just for a wedding 🙂 I do buy dresses that I like and then save it for the next wedding though I have worn a dress recently to a wedding that I wore about 7 years ago too lol. I don’t wash my clothes after every wash either, and I wear the same makeup every day. We are practically twinsies!! Except you are much more stylish than me, lol.

    • You know, I have to take, like 15 photos before I get one that’s good! All the extra work I do to avoid stock photos…

      Yay for twinsies!

  • Gina Carpellotti

    I have simplified my skin care and makeup routines over the course of a few years, and it really helps me to stay focused on using what I buy. I like multi-use products — I use a peachy lipstick as a blush and I use it to lighten a darker lipstick. I struggle with cosmetics because I love the look of bold eye makeup, but I never have the time or the energy for creative makeup.

    My goal is to be able to carry ALL of my makeup and my (facial) sunscreen in a small bag.

    • Being able to carry all your makeup in a small bag is a great goal! I’m slowly whittling down and using all the free samples I’ve acquired over the years. I can’t wait until I’m left with just my few staples.

      I’d love to have a go-to multi-use product. I have a dual-ended highlighter and eyeliner, but that’s about it. NARS has a multi-stick you can use on your lips, cheeks and eyes, but I was always wary that a blush product might be too drying on the lips. If you’re going for full-on minimalism, though, I could definitely see how that’s a good option.