The "tiny house" craze is sweeping the nation, and to go right along with it, the concept of minimalism is growing more and more popular by the day.

Although the idea of living life minimally may not seem very appealing for some, there is something to be said for the simplicity of a tiny home and owning very few possessions. For one thing, living this simpler kind of life makes cleaning house a breeze. It also takes the focus off of owning the most things and puts it on having the best experiences instead. This mindset saves money, encourages a greener lifestyle, and actually leads to happier people who are able to see beyond materialism to what really matters most.

If you are interested in learning more about living minimally, we encourage you to read on as we explore the five simple steps to living a simpler, happier life.

#1: Live Small

The first step to simplicity is a smaller living space. This could mean converting a shed to a tiny home, living in an RV, or even creatively maximizing your current space. No matter which way you decide to go, downsizing your home will force you to really think about what you own and why you own it.

As you are packing for your move, pick up each item in your home and ask yourself questions like, “Do I need this item?” and “Will I use it at least once a year?” If the answer to either of these questions is “No” for any given item, then you can probably donate or toss it.

Parting with sentimental items might be a bit trickier. After all, many of these types of things can never be replaced. Therefore, you will need to very carefully consider the reasons you are keeping each sentimental item, and whether or not you can live without it.

If you are having trouble parting with certain sentimental items, try these tricks:

  • Take pictures of children's artwork and store the photos in a digital scrapbook. Toss the original pieces.
  • Give sentimental items to family members who will appreciate them as much as you do.
  • Make sentimental items useful and use them in place of another item. For instance, those t-shirts from past ballet recitals could be turned into a cozy quilt, and the seashell your mother brought you from the beach could be used to hold your jewelry in place of your current jewelry box.

#2: Care for Your Things

If you want minimalism to save you money and help you lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle, you will want to make sure the few things you do buy are of high quality, and proceed to take care of them and make them last. This will require you to do research before every purchase in order to ensure you are getting an item that will last for quite some time.

There are many things you can do to help your most-used items last for years to come. Here are a few of our favorite ideas:

  • Put your smartphone in a durable case that will protect it from harm.
  • Hang your clothes to dry, wash delicate items by hand, and wash jeans less often.
  • Purchase wooden toys for children and add a fresh coat of paint when they begin to look worn.
  • Wash pots and pans by hand instead of placing them in the dishwasher.
  • Buy high-quality shoes and take them to be repaired when the soles wear down, rather than buying a new pair.
  • Learn how to perform basic maintenance on your vehicle and always do so at the recommended time.

#3: Work Less

A simpler lifestyle means a smaller budget, and a smaller budget means less income is required in order to sustain your lifestyle. Because your required income is smaller, you will likely be able to work much less while still paying the bills and keeping your family fed and dry.

Of course, if you work a full-time job, cutting back on your hours may not be an option. In this case, depending on how you feel about your current employment situation, you might consider looking for a new job that requires less of your time and offers you more freedom to live your life to the fullest. (Be sure to keep putting money in savings though!)

#4: Do What You Love

With less work to do, you will have more time on your hands to do what you love. Whether this means traveling more often, learning to knit, or taking up hula dancing, there is a whole world out there just waiting to be explored.

Even with limited funds, there are plenty of things you and your family can see and do. Consider getting a reciprocal museum membership; take up hiking as a family or with a group of friends; or, find a hobby (such as kite-flying) that doesn't require a huge investment upfront.

Whatever you decide to do, have fun with it, and make sure you are living your life your way.

#5: Care for Others

Of course, with more time on your hands and a smaller income threshold to meet, helping others can be put much further up on your list of priorities.  There are plenty of volunteer opportunities to be found in every community. So whether you are interested in tutoring children, visiting with seniors, feeding the homeless, or planting a tree, you are sure to find the volunteer opportunity that is right for you.