I recently asked a question on social media I thought would be fun, “If you had the chance, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self about minimalism?”
The responses were brilliant! So much so, I decided to collect the highlights here.
The wisdom contained in these responses goes beyond 18-year-olds. There is wonderful truth contained here for all of us to hear—whether for the first time or the hundredth time.
100 Things I’d Say to My 18-Year Old Self About Minimalism
1. Don’t be in such a hurry to furnish your home.
2. I promise Starbucks isn’t worth it. You’re going to need the money, trust me.
3. Marry someone that’s on the same page you are.
4. Don’t promise anyone you will keep or treasure their possessions. It results in too much guilt.
5. There are no “Joneses.”
6. It’s okay to have a lot of kids and not a lot of stuff.
7. Don’t buy the crystal. You’ll never use it.
8. You won’t remember the things you bought at 18, but you will remember the trip you took with your friend who later died of cancer.
9. You can enjoy a book without buying it.
10. Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you need it.
11. You don’t need to buy an outfit every time you go out.
12. Don’t let anyone (even mom and grandma) convince you that buying a house and filling it full of family heirlooms is normal and what everyone does.
13. Experiences with loved ones will be what you cherish throughout life, not the stuff you accumulate.
14. Save for a house or a trip or a concert, not a pair of shoes.
15. Under no circumstances should you ever rent a storage space.
16. Don’t feel embarrassed by the hand-me-down 1977 Oldsmobile Omega. It’s a wonderful gift.
17. Don’t buy clothes to make yourself feel happy, it just doesn’t work.
18. Don’t use credit cards to buy more junk you don’t need.
19. She who travels lightest travels fastest.
20. Filling your new apartment with all the pretty things from Target doesn’t give you worth or your life meaning.
21. “Retail therapy” doesn’t work.
22. Start minimalism young and invest your money instead.
23. Everything you buy is an anchor. Someday when you want to pull up that anchor, you’ll find you’re stuck and can’t go anywhere.
24. Advertising cons us into buying stuff we don’t need.
25. Patience, not instant gratification, is the gateway to a more joyful life.
26. You don’t have to do what your family does.
27. That outfit won’t hide the fact that you’re unhappy and need to make big changes.
28. Don’t start collecting Precious Moments figurines.
29. Sell your used college textbooks. You’re never going to look at them again.
30. Don’t get busy “keeping up with trends.” Buy what you like, but keep it simple and classy.
31. Buy less, donate your time and money to those less fortunate.
32. All those VHS tapes and CDs are going to be obsolete in a short period of time.
33. Having more doesn’t equal happiness and stuff can actual be a cause of stress.
34. I know right now you really want to fit in. But your friends will love you and appreciate you for who you are.
35. Try extreme minimalism (for the thrill of it) while you’re still single and free.
36. A house becomes a home when you add love, not stuff.
37. Most people are buying things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t like.
38. It might be in style today, but give it a few months and no one will want it. Not even Goodwill.
39. Regarding clothes: By the time you lose enough weight to fit into it, it will be out of style.
40. It may have been a gift to you, but you don’t have to keep it for the rest of your life.
41. You’re going to get everything you ever wanted, and it still won’t be enough.
42. Don’t register for those special occasion dishes, glassware, and other fancy items when you get married.
43. Stop spending travel money on souvenirs.
44. Appreciate the little things. They are the big things, and more valuable than any material thing you’ll ever own.
45. If you can’t use it now, give it a new home to someone who will.
46. Don’t build a huge house, you don’t need it and it costs more than you think to maintain.
47. The $10.00 wallet holds money as well as the $300.00 one, with an extra $290.00 inside!
48. Be happy you’re poor. Nothing helps you be a minimalist better than just not being able to afford things.
49. Learn some budgeting skills! Your paycheck doesn’t have to be all spent before the next one arrives.
50. There would be a lot less cleaning to do if you got rid of stuff!
51. Forget the materialistic stuff and focus on nurturing the relationships around you instead.
52. Your self-worth has nothing to do with what you have or how clean your house is.
53. Stuff does not increase your quality of life.
54. Never take into account the salary you might make tomorrow to justify an expenditure today.
55. Do not buy a house early until you’re 100% about living in an area.
56. You do not need all this crap—your credit is way more important!
57. Instead of making Christmas lists of stuff you want, ask for adventures like tickets and passes to shows, concerts, state parks, museums, zoos, and theme parks.
58. You will never need any Longaberger baskets.
59. You don’t need as much as you think you need. You can retire in your 50’s if you don’t waste so much.
60. You are never going to make a scrapbook. Stop hoarding junk.
61. Shopping is not a hobby.
62. Stop going to TJ Maxx every Friday after work.
63. The opinions of others cost you money. So learn to not care and save a fortune.
64. Do everything you can to save now for a down payment on your house.
65. Don’t believe the magazines.
66. Just because your mother hung onto things doesn’t mean you have to.
67. It’s much easier to never start with bad habits than to end them.
68. Scarcity mindset is generational trauma in disguise. Do the work.
69. It is possible to get through life without buying every issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.
70. Things won’t fill the holes in your life and heart.
71. You’re 18. Turn off the TV and go live life!
72. Pay more for quality, not quantity.
73. The world is deceitful and very, very temporary.
74. Get rid of it all. And live generously.
75. Stop shopping at Goodwill. Even 99¢ adds up.
76. Life is more peaceful with less stuff.
77. Don’t be afraid to be different.
78. Don’t buy anything on impulse. Write down what you want, walk away, and give it a couple of days.
79. Your dreams should include something better than a really big house.
80. Understand the difference between your real self and your fantasy self.
81. Spend more time outside.
82. Minimalism is not about denying yourself pleasure, it’s about removing dead weight.
83. Don’t buy that $40k truck. Please, don’t.
84. The bigger the wedding does not mean it’s better.
85. Don’t bother with jewelry. No one bothers to tell you that when you get older, you can’t stand having it on.
86. Clothes are not the answer to career success.
87. We don’t buy things with money, but with hours of our lives.
88. When Beanie Babies become a thing, just don’t.
89. You don’t need to buy the biggest house the bank says you can afford.
90. Develop the habit of living on less money than you make.
91. It’s not how much you acquire, it’s what you do with what you have.
92. Don’t waste your money on high-end brands.
93. Nobody really cares what you have.
94. Most people spend half their life acquiring things, and the other half getting rid of those things. Just skip the acquiring part.
95. You don’t need to upgrade your phone every year.
96. Find Dave Ramsey sooner.
97. Don’t go shopping just because you’re bored.
98. You don’t need one in every color.
99. Buying things won’t fix your depression.
100. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you need it.
What would you add to the list? If you had the chance, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self about minimalism?
Tiffany N. says
I just re-read this article for the second time. Good stuff and sometimes we just need to be reminded so we don’t fall back into old ways of doing things. Thank you for sharing good doses of reality with us.
Kathleen Walker says
Find a financial person/advisor to follow, who doesn’t profit from your financial decisions. Clark Howard is very good.
Moving is unbelievably expensive. Owning little makes that move much more affordable.
Bill Hulsey says
During college, I paid my expenses by working as the “Repo Man” at a large Sears store. Every evening after classes I had to drive the Sears truck and pick up all the appliances, TV’s, furniture, tools, etc, that people could not make the payments on. That was 1970-74. After witnessing all the heartaches credit cards and debt were causing people, I made the decision to never get in that fix. Now I’m 70, and have a good retirement cushion for my wife and myself, plus a legacy to leave. Debt sucks!
Mary Carol says
You can go broke ‘saving’ money (sales that lure you in)
In a few years, you will move 8 times in 7 years. You will save yourself a whole lot of trouble and back breaking labor, if you declutter all that useless garbage NOW, not AFTER 8 moves. Also, acknowledge the pitfalls of your mother’s hoarding; don’t use it as an example for your life.
this guy’s advise is nonsense. writing a 100 of them is a waste of time and resources.
David Parham says
Totally disagree. GREAT advice that I wish someone gave me at 18. Especially # 96.
Doesn’t worrying about being minimilist by creating a cluttered and unnecessary 100 point list about being minimilist negate the whole idea of minimilism? Is this article ironic?
Ignore big mind small
It is said. “Love is blind”. On the contrary. I say it is lust that is blind, deaf, and supped. Just wait the REAL right one will come around.
enjoy plenty outdoors activities
Christopher T says
If you haven’t “moved it,” “used it,” or “blew the dust off of it” after two years, get rid of it…of course there are exceptions.
If enough won’t do, nothing ever will.
It doesn’t need to be printed and stored in a folder.
Start with what you alredy have
Yes absolutely !
Yes, I have taken items from one room to decorate another room in my house. It saves money while still making me feel like my room looks new.
I really like what you wrote and in your way you made me think about what I also do at home. I don’t mind changing the way I decorate my rooms and I do it very easily. I just have to bring out the decorations, reposition the furniture, vary the colors, and often that’s enough to create a new excitement without having to spend a penny more!