Why Minimalism Is More Expensive Than You Think

When most people think of minimalism, they envision getting rid of clutter and even downsizing their homes. Tiny house movement anyone?

It makes sense that owning less can help your bottom line, but can minimalism backfire on you? In other words, can minimalism turn out to be an expensive endeavor? Brenda Spandrio, a professional organizer and decluttering expert based in California, says the answer is “yes.” In fact, embracing the minimalism trend can lead you into hot water if you’re not careful.

Want to learn more about what it may actually take to create a minimalist lifestyle and declutter your life? Read on to find out.

You May Spend Money to Get Rid of Your Stuff

The idea of having less stuff sounds great. However, you’ll need to invest time and energy into decluttering your surroundings. And, you may need to invest money too.

“When people are looking for a solution to their clutter problems or are jumping into minimalism for the sake of it, they end up spending more money by purchasing items or services to help them,” says Spandrio. “Many people with some amount of clutter tend to hire people to help them, especially if they get overwhelmed,” she says.

Depending on where you live, professional organizers can charge anywhere from $30 to $80 an hour. Some, like Spandrio, tend to charge per session, which can reach $300 per session. These professionals guide you through your items and help you decide whether they should stay or go.

This means that the more clutter you have, the more time it will take for your personal organizer to clear out your space. One of Spandrio’s clients, a successful stockbroker, had so much clutter in his home office that it turned into 200 hours of work for her. I’ll let you do the math on that one.

Mentally Draining = Right Back to Where You Started

If you still want to hire a professional organizer but can’t stomach paying that much money, there is another option. You could hire someone to come in and clear out – without your help. You give the organizer a list of things that must stay and the rest is fair game. You go out, have coffee (or an equally delicious beverage) and come back and your house is magically sparse and minimalist. The professional organizer clears out any and all items that is deemed excessive and unnecessary. Cool right?

Not really, especially if you’re not emotionally prepared for this type of purge. In fact, you may go through a grieving process over your things – even more so if you’ve attached sentimental value to these items.

“The reality is that these types of organizers, while helpful, also tend to be really harsh and ruthless with their approach,” Spandrio warns. “If you’re not mentally prepared for it all, you could be right back to where you started.”

In fact, you could be so stressed out that someone got rid of all your stuff that you buy more things to cover up the hurt. Or, you may spend time and money trying to recover the items that you just got rid of.

DIY Disaster

Even if you decide to embrace the process of getting rid of things yourself, you’ll first have to mentally prepare yourself. Even then, sneaky emotions will crop up.

For example. I thought I had my head wrapped around getting rid of my entire Pez dispenser collection until I actually started selling them off. I was so angry for weeks and the mental energy it took could have been spent on more productive things.

In Spandrio’s experience, most people can only tolerate the emotional drain of sorting through stuff for up to two hours. If you’re the type who can’t handle this at all, you may end up spending more money on things just to make yourself feel better.

Why Do You Want to Be a Minimalist?

Ultimately, if you want to embrace a minimalist lifestyle, you’ll need to have a clear reason why you have clutter to begin with and why you want to get rid of it.

“People really need to ask themselves: Why is there clutter? If you don’t have a good reason you’ll be right back to where you started. You have to be really conscious of what you’re trying to achieve with minimalism,” says Spandrio.

For example, Spandrio’s stockbroker client wanted to get rid of clutter because he was adamant about not leaving his stuff to his wife to deal with if he should pass away. Plus, the new simpler lifestyle he gained was worth the expense.

Perhaps you should ask yourself: Are you changing who you are by getting rid of your things or are you working towards a better version of yourself? What other reasons do you have for minimizing?

Next up
Sarah Li Cain

Sarah Li Cain is a money storyteller who believes that everyone can have a happy ending to their money story. Her work has appeared in Magnify Money, Huffington Post and Chicago Tribune. Sarah has also appeared on several podcasts and radio shows including Her Money with Jean Chatzky.