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In 2004, I rented my first one-bedroom apartment in Miami for $800 a month in a fairly decent neighborhood. Fast forward 14 years and I’d be shocked if I saw a studio apartment for that much. In order to afford the basic necessities of life, i.e. rent, car payments, utilities and groceries, you almost need to have a side hustle along with your full-time job.
Even if I were to completely cut out spending on things I didn’t need, I’d still be living above my means.
As a single professional living and working in the city who grossed nearly $45k a year, I wasn’t able to save money and couldn’t afford to go anywhere or do anything. I was living from paycheck to paycheck – and it was miserable. This made me reevaluate my spending habits.
So, I downsized to a studio apartment and got rid of most of my furniture (and eventually my car). Without even knowing it was a thing, I had become a “minimalist”.
My new lifestyle helped me save money and travel more. By downsizing, I realized that there is actually plenty of room in my small living space, and most of the things I owned weren’t being used so getting rid of them was a no-brainer.
Becoming a minimalist even helped me quit my regular 9-to-5 and start my own business. It is a lot less scary to take a plunge like that when you’ve been able to save money and reduce your living expenses significantly.
While more and more people are becoming minimalists or simplifying their lives in some way, there are still plenty of people who don’t get it. Which is fine, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Except when it comes to buying gifts for minimalists.
(If gift-giving is your love language, definitely keep reading.)
While I’m grateful that others like me enough to want to buy me gifts, I just simply don’t want them. And the hardest part is telling people I don’t want their gifts. So I don’t.
For example, when a friend goes out of town and brings me back a tiny porcelain souvenir plate or when my mom picks me up a pepper grinder while shopping because she thinks I’d like it, those things drive me a little nuts. And I always feel obligated to keep them, because I would feel bad if they found out that I got rid of them.
Let’s face it, there’s no easy way to say, “Aww. That was nice of you. But that’s okay, you keep it.”
So, what are the appropriate gifts for minimalists?
To avoid wasted money and hurt feelings, I came up with a list of ideas.
Memberships or Subscriptions
Depending on what kind of activities the minimalist in your life enjoys, you are sure to find something that they would like.
For example, if the minimalist is an entrepreneur, gift them a chamber of commerce membership. Someone who is into fitness would be grateful to have their fitness class or gym membership taken care of for a couple of months.
A wine club membership for those who consider themselves aficionados would be appealing. If you know the minimalist is looking for love then you might consider setting them up with a matchmaking service or a dating site.
Entertainment is always a great gift because everyone enjoys some form of it. Whether it’s listening to music, watching movies or reading books, there are membership options with Amazon, YouTube Red, Netflix, Pandora, Spotify and countless others.
Food & Drink
Everyone has to eat. If you don’t know already, find out what kind of food and drinks your minimalist enjoys and invite them over for a home-cooked meal or send over a dish.
If you aren’t much of a cook, buy them dinner out or give them a voucher for their favorite restaurant. For special occasions, you can have edible arrangements or food baskets full of the best wine, meats, cheeses, chocolate and tea delivered right to their door.
Gift Cards and Services
Consider where the minimalist prefers to shop or what services they find useful. If they drive, consider buying gas cards or car cleaning services.
If they don’t drive, they may be interested in ride-sharing services such as Uber or Lyft, takeout food delivery services or grocery delivery services. Home maintenance services for lawn care, house cleaning or handy work for much-needed repairs would surely be appreciated.
Physical Items That Expire
When buying physical gifts, the key is to consider if the gift would actually be used. You don’t want to get something that is too big or bulky, or anything that will take up too much space and add clutter to their environment.
Flowers are nice because they are pretty and smell good. For the home, you can get them candles or essential oils and for body care, items such as soap, lotions and fragrances are always nice.
Think about doing something new and out of the ordinary. If the minimalist has never taken a pottery or cooking class, for example, that would surely break the monotony.
For nature lovers, outdoor activities like horseback riding, camping, biking, hiking or kayaking will be prized. If your minimalist appreciates art, give them tickets to performances or passes to museums.
If it is within your means, you could plan a nice trip for the minimalist. Look into Airbnb weekend getaways. Even a simple day retreat to a nice spa would be valued.
Gifts of Your Personal Time
There is nothing better than the gift of you. Spending your personal time in a useful or helpful way is often the best gift you can give someone.
If the minimalist has children, and you have pretty good tolerance, you may want to consider babysitting — if they have pets, try pet sitting. Give them some quality time by taking them to lunch, catching a movie, hanging out at the beach or having a picnic.
If the minimalist is a humanitarian, volunteering together for a noteworthy cause, like helping out in a local soup kitchen or volunteering your pets for pet therapy, will be very special to them.
Coming up with gift ideas for minimalists doesn’t have to be difficult. Just be thoughtful and considerate of the minimalist lifestyle and you’ll be fine.
Geneva Bell (@BizCoachGeneva) is a minimalist and digital nomad who enjoys blogging and traveling. By day, she is a digital marketer and business coach who helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses online.
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