Why We Chose to Be Minimalists: The Long Answer

Mar 28, 2019

[posted by: Hannah]    

Oh boy . . . LONG POST ALERT.

As I’ve become more and more vocal about our journey to become minimalists, I’ve received a lot of questions and even some push back. The biggest question: Why?

Why pursue Minimalism? What’s the benefit? Why do you want less stuff? Why deprive yourself? Why not just cut back a little bit, why do you have to go all the way?

I think my mom is probably the one that’s given be the biggest pushback (as she’s recently declared herself a “maximalist” LOL), but maybe you have some of the same questions. Do you think we’re totally crazy? Or stupid? Or annoyingly millennial? Or all of the above? Hopefully the following explanation of my journey will help it all make more sense (and you’ll like me again?!). Maybe you’ll even want to join us!

My journey started before I had ever heard the term “minimalist.” I was living and paying for my first post-college place, and my room was practically in a basement. I had a walk-in closet, which should have been really fab but it was a small walk-in (haha) so my stuff really didn’t fit. The shelving was also built really poorly, and it was like weirdly humid all the time, so it was always a flaming hot mess in there. And it really stressed me out. I got to a point where I was SO sick of all the STUFF and wished that I could just somehow start from scratch – with nothing – and replenish my new closet with the bare essentials. But:

  1. I did not have tons of money to be spending on an entirely new wardrobe and
  2. Wouldn’t it be wasteful to get rid of everything?!

I felt kind of stuck and unsure where to begin. It seemed like each time I donated of a bag of clothing to the Salv Army, I somehow ended up with more in my closet! It was then that I realized what I needed to change: my shopping pattern. (duh)

We’ve all had thoughts like that cross our mind before when we’re overwhelmed with an overflowing closet, right? Wouldn’t it be nice to just start fresh with a brand new wardrobe?! I thought about why I wanted that, and it was because I didn’t love most of my clothes. Why didn’t I love most of them? Because I shopped on sale racks and bought stuff that I kind of liked (because it’s a good deal!), never saved for super-nice clothing (spending $100 on one thing? What a waste!), and made tons of impulse purchases (because it’s a good deal!). So, I decided to do the only thing I thought would actually work: I was going to steal the Declaration of Independence.


I was going to QUIT shopping.

At this point, my wedding was 6 months away, so I made a pact that I wouldn’t buy any new clothing for myself until after the wedding. A CLOTHING FAST. How poetic! How noble! Exceptions? I could receive clothing as gifts, but that’s it!

I stuck to my pact for the whole 6 months, and then realized – why stop here?! I was receiving a few special clothing items at birthdays and Christmas – the few things I really wanted (that also were splurge-y) –  and I truly didn’t need anything! If my running shoes wore thin or I needed a new winter coat, I could make an exception. But in the first year of marriage, we budgeted $0 for clothing.

Flash forward a year or two. We’re still living at clothing budget zero, and I saw The Minimalists documentary on Netflix. I immediately thought “YES! THESE ARE MY PEOPLE!” and felt like someone had finally put words and a philosophy to what I had been feeling. It was at this point that I started my official journey to minimalism (and quickly got Evan on board, too!).

Minimalism started as a goal to stop wasteful clothing spending, because that’s the area where I saw the most waste in my life. I loved that the Minimalists had only a few articles of clothing, and every single garment was their “favorite” of that category. However, I knew that before I could start building that dream minimalist wardrobe, I needed to sort through and wear my current wardrobe. I needed to wait it out.

This was the biggest challenge: wearing only my current clothing without buying anything new – not for months, but years. Because it honestly wasn’t that hard for 6 months, but for an indefinite amount of time? I wanted to stay fashionable and look good! Even with hesitations, I decided the best way to truly become a minimalist was to stick to my QUIT SHOPPING plan and slowly get rid of clothing a little bit at a time.

So how has this worked for me? Generally: amazing, and hard.

First, let’s talk about why it’s hard. If you’re like me and care about looking nice, then wanting to buy new clothes is going to be a constant temptation. I have found that it is vastly more difficult if you go to the places where clothing is being sold (LOL, shouldn’t this be obvious? But I still do it!). About a year after I quit shopping, I realized that I didn’t miss it anymore (like, at all) UNLESS I went to the stores I loved. Then I had major FOMO of all the new styles and honestly felt bad about myself after the trip ended (ummm that’s how stores WANT you to feel when you don’t buy!). The good news is that I truly had reprogramed my brain to not get that dopamine high when buying something new. But if I got too close? I’d go all clothing-junkie and be way more tempted to make an impulse buy.

Now, let’s talk about why this experience has been AMAZING. First of all, I’ve kicked a bad habit and, dare I say, addiction. Everyone is different, so this is no way a condemnation of anyone but myself. However, it was not adding to my life to have more clothes. It was actually unhealthy and wasteful. “Fast fashion” and cheap brands were not making my life better, they were making it more full of crap and wasting my money. My life had been filled with “stuff” that I had to find a place for, deal with, and feel guilty about when I realized I really didn’t like it that much. With less stuff, my home is cleaner, I think less about what I’m going to wear, and I have more time for what’s important. I’ve also learned more about my personal style and what I really love, which has helped me know those “favorites” when I’m actually ready to buy!

So really, it’s been a million times more amazing than it has been hard. I feel so good about my personal style and we save tons of money every year. Our home has enough space for all of our clothing without bursting drawers and a constantly overflowing laundry basket. I don’t spend tons of time thinking about what to wear – I have go-to favorites, and I don’t mind wearing the same things over and over again. It’s the best!

The 6 month “clothing fast,” as I sometimes call it, was in 2014. It’s now 2019, and we still don’t budget for clothing. Yes, of course there are some things we’ve needed to buy – a new winter coat, outfits for me to wear when shooting weddings, replacements for some old favorites that have completely worn out. But generally speaking, we can count our clothing purchases on one hand each year. I’d consider my wardrobe in the “dwindling” category, which I love, because it means I’m basically down to my bare essentials! I’m certainly not fully a minimalist – I still have some excess clothing and we started more recently on the rest of our house. However, I see this as an exciting journey. It absolutely can’t happen overnight. It’s a slow, deliberate process, and I think doing it together is way better than doing it alone!

I’m excited for our Bjorndal Blog community to be a place where we can discuss minimalism, share ideas, hold each other accountable, and remind each other of why it is totally worth it! It truly has made our lives WAY better in every way, guys!

And next, we can talk about why I love to shop ETHICALLY-SOURCED & SUSTAINABLE!

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  1. Kari Bjorndal Bullamore

    March 30th, 2019 at 2:52 am

    Although quite a bit older than you two, we also have been narrowing our “stuff” focus. We are downsizing and enjoying it. I look forward to getting new, fresh ideas from you!!

  2. Hannah Bjorndal

    April 22nd, 2019 at 12:45 am

    Love it!!! Thank you so much for reading and following along!!

  3. Denise

    April 1st, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    for the kid clothes we focus on minimalism. They are constantly growing and we do laundry twice a week so our goal is to only keep 2 weeks of clothes per season. That adds a lot of variety in daily outfit choices and they are more willing to help fold and put away laundry when there is less. (that was the main motivation)

    Im excited to downsize and update my closet this year. I have been storing different size clothes over the past 5 years (maternity, pre pregnancy, post pregnancy, poor quality transitional pieces)

  4. Hannah Bjorndal

    April 22nd, 2019 at 12:47 am

    We love hearing your ideas and thoughts about minimalism with kids! We’re curious how this will work in our future and it’s so helpful to hear from others how they’re doing it!!! 🙂

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