How Frugality and Minimalism Go Hand in Hand

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Minimalism frees you to live a life free of excess junk. If the minimalist movement isn't for you, here's how your frugality can help get you there.

As the type of person who always strives to live a frugal life, lately I’ve also been delving into the world of minimalism. Don’t get me wrong– no one would walk into my house today and accuse me of being a minimalist, but it is definitely something I’m trying to embrace. I’ve gone from knowing nothing about the topic to reading everything about it that I can get my hands on (and there is a lot of information on the internet about minimalism!)

As it turns out, the more I learn about living a minimalist lifestyle, the more I realize that frugality and minimalism have a lot of basic principles in common– living with less, being happy with less, and spending less money as a result. 

What Is Minimalism?


If you’ve never heard of minimalism, its basic idea is to only live with what you need now and let go of the rest. The idea is that once you reduce your clutter, you will enjoy the benefits of it so much that you won’t continue to buy more unneeded stuff to add to your newly decluttered home.

The freedom that comes with the release of all of your extra clutter allows you to focus on more important things, such as spending time with those you love or working on your favorite hobbies, so it’s good for your spirit and for your wallet.

Minimalism is Addictive


When I first began to hear about it, I dove in head first and got addicted to reducing our household clutter. I started going through every drawer, cabinet, and closet until I got my decluttering fix and felt satisfied.

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Endless streams of boxes, trash bags, and random heaps of junk started flying out of my house, and as soon as I thought I was finished and hauled off my last box of goods to charity, another pile started to form. I’d go through all of the same drawers, cabinets, and closets again to find more stuff that we could do without and repeat the cycle.

Minimalism is Invigorating


Instead of feeling regret or panic about getting rid of our stuff, I felt invigorated. I’ve never been close to being a hoarder, but I never realized how much my clutter (like debt) mentally weighed me down until I started taking care of it.

I still have a long way to go, but I really love walking into each room and enjoying its openness, and I get excited about the empty drawer we now have in our kitchen. Yes, empty.

Minimalism Saves You Money


Much like frugality, minimalism helps you realize that spending money and surrounding yourself with a bunch of extra things don’t ultimately bring us happiness. Paring down your belongings and assessing what you truly need helps remove the temptation to purchase more goods to bring into your home.

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By removing the excess from your life and living with less, you learn to be satisfied with what you already have. You finally have enough. You spend less money. There’s less clutter and less maintenance. You decide you don’t need the latest and greatest (but ultimately disposable) i-gadgets. You aren’t wasteful because there’s no excess. You free up your time, money, and your mind and become a more satisfied person in the process.

Minimalism frees you to live a life free of excess junk. If the minimalist movement isn't for you, here's how your frugality can help get you there.

Don’t Knock It Until You Try It


But don’t take it from me. If you’ve never tried it before, start small and declutter a closet, cabinet, drawer, or small room, and then decide how you feel about it once you’re done. If you get the same buzz that I do from it, if you feel better afterwards and don’t miss the things you’ve gotten rid of, you may just find yourself with a new (and healthy) addiction.


Have you ever tried minimalism? Do you feel good about getting rid of clutter, or does it stress you out just thinking about it? What is one area of your house that you just feel like you can’t free from stuff? 

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Robin McDaniel

Robin is a freelance writer who chronicles her financial missteps and victories on her blog


  • Thomas @ i need cash ASAP! says:

    Hi Robin. I too love the minimalism and simple living movement. It does fit very well with frugality. It gives people another reason to make frugal choices. I do find it much harder to do however. We’ve also gotten rid of a lot of clutter but things tend to build up again. For my wife and I the next challenge is how to prevent clutter from building up in the first place.

    • Robin McDaniel says:

      I think you end up having to be very choosy about what you do bring into your house in the future. I took a picture of the huge mound of junk I got rid of, and I try to ask myself when I purchase something new if that item will be in that pile a year from now.

  • Holly@ClubThrifty says:

    Growing up in a cluttered house turned me into a natural minimalist as I got older. I didn’t want to live cluttered anymore, and I didn’t want my kids to have to deal with it like I did. It saves money when you don’t feel the need to buy things all the time, but it also keeps me sane.

    • Robin McDaniel says:

      It is so stressful living in a cluttered home! Glad you aren’t letting your kids live with it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Rebecca@TheFamilyFinder.Net says:

    Sometimes it is hard to tell what came first the minimalist tenancies or the frugal living. One kind of lends itself to the other.
    Sell something to make money to put in savings and enjoy the benefit of a clear space along with some extra cash!
    Sell something to clear a space and enjoy the benefit of the extra cash along with the clear space!

  • Kayla @ Kat Script says:

    I don’t know that I’ll ever truly be a minimalist, but I do think I can get more minimalistic than I am now. Progress is progress ๐Ÿ™‚ I love the idea of minimalism, but it’s pretty radically different than I’ve been so far in my life.

  • Chad says:

    I agree. I agree with your sentiment that minimalism frees the spirit. I think it’s why folks who live in tiny homes enjoy more satisfaction with life. They spend more time enjoying life than cleaning the house and worrying how to fill a home with knick-knacks.

    I live in a 950 sq ft home and I still think it’s a bit large.


    • Robin McDaniel says:

      I love that you live in 950 square feet. My husband and I want to downsize eventually as well. We are currently in 1500 square feet for our family of 3, which is still small compared to today’s standards, but I know we would be comfortable with even less square footage.

  • Abigail @ipickuppennies says:

    We definitely have clutter that could be cleared, but we’ll always have plenty of “stuff” because we each collect items.

    Another benefit of minimalism you forgot: You don’t have to buy organizers for the clutter. Those things are costly!

  • Jessica says:

    Dealing with clutter is something I’ve struggled with. I know it’s something I need to handle because clutter itself can be very stressful, but it’s not really a job that I’ve been motivated to tackle. I totally agree with you that it’s liberating to get junk out of the house. I’ll try to remind myself of that feeling and get to work!

  • kay ~ the barefoot minimalist says:

    I think I realized I had gone into Extreme Minimalist mode when I went through the whole house and wasn’t able to get rid of anything. Everything we have now is used except for photographs. Plus, everything we have would fit in our minivan and take less than an hour to put into it. It is totally freeing and I knew I could get this far, but it does take a bit longer when your spouse is a bit of a nest filler. Time and patience is the key. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Kim@Eyesonthedollar says:

    I love getting rid of clutter, but I don’t think there is any way to be a minimalist when you live with an 8 year old who wants to keep every art project and rock she can find. Someday, we plan to hit the road and live in an RV or a series of rentals around the country, so I imagine life will become much more minimalistic then.

    • Robin McDaniel says:

      I have a three year old that I’m trying to teach how to be clutter free since kids can become such clutter magnets! Sometimes I do resort to pilfering some of her old toys, and I put them into what I’ve called our “purgatory closet” for a couple of weeks until I think I can safely get rid of them. I don’t think it’s mean because she still has tons of toys! But mostly I try to get her to help me declutter her bedroom so she can get into the habit for later in life.

  • Tre says:

    I try to minimize, but I don’t think I could truly embrace minimalism. Maybe when the kids grow up & take their clutter with them!

  • Prudence Debtfree says:

    “I never realized how much my clutter (like debt) mentally weighed me down until I started taking care of it.” I’m becoming more aware of how our clutter is weighing me down. I think I’m due for a new addiction : )

  • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

    Love this! For me, “clean house = clean mind.” I cannot function in clutter! That being said, if it’s out of sight (like in the basement… ) I tend to forget about it and the piles build up. So, I’ve started a whole-house de-cluttering project that I’m aiming to finish before Babywoods is born. It’s equal parts a chance to get rid of stuff and better organize the things we do want to keep. I’m not sure I’ll ever be a minimalist per se, but I do love an organized home. Thank you for this motivation!

    • Robin McDaniel says:

      I’m the same way– clutter makes me anxious and unfocused.
      Good luck on de-cluttering before Babywoods!

  • Jonny Pean says:

    Frugality and minimalism are other sides of the same coin. But still I support frugality not minimalism . We have only one life. We don’t know whether there is a new life after death. So we must fulfill at least some of our wishes within our means.

    • Robin McDaniel says:

      I think the point of minimalism is that we don’t need more things to make us happy, even if we can afford it. More things don’t make us happier people. But minimalism is not for everyone. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Gloria says:

    I want to be a minimalism. I realized that I had way too much stuff when I had to move, and then ended up not living in the house I moved all my stuff into. Due to an unexpected employment opportunity I ended up renting a house in another city and am living with some basic necessities. Now I know I can live with a lot less “stuff”. When my contract ends I am going to focus on getting rid of stuff and start enjoying life by experiences rather than material things.

  • Michelle says:

    I don’t think I could ever be a true minimalist. I like my knick knacks. But I would love it if I could have a place for everything. Seeing piles of stuff on a bed, the floor, or stuck in a corner because I have no spot for it really causes me anxiety. It really does weigh me down! I think that means I need to purge some stuff. I try to do that, but obviously, I need to do it more. It is so hard to decide what to keep and what goes.

    I do periodically purge items. This past week, I got rid of a couple big boxes of stuff. I have gathered a big box Christmas items I never display to take to Goodwill. I could go thru my drawers again and get rid of clothes I will never wear. I have too much jewelry, and alot of it never gets worn. I have ways to go with decluttering, but I don’t think I could fully embrace minimalism. But having a house that looks neat and free of clutter is a goal I would love to reach and try to attain.

  • Carolyn says:

    My mother was a hoarder and when she passed away we had to use a shovel on the floors to clean the house. Ultimately we through out over 1200 pounds of trash! Growing up with a hoarder made me into an extreme minimalist. My family of four which includes two teenage daughters now live in a 700 sq foot cottage and we actually have empty space including a hall closet with nothing in it.

  • sabrina says:

    My parents were hoarders too.
    My sister ended up being a hoarder,other sister not a hoarder but has normal amount of stuff and im an extreme minimalist since my teens(im now 41)

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