Inside: So many people are curious about the minimalist lifestyle, but often they choose not to jump in to something that could benefit them so much. Why? They’re missing this very important concept.

“I mean, he’s o.k. with the kitchen counters being clear and stuff, but he is NOT o.k. with us giving all this stuff away. Some of it we only use once a year, but we really need it when we need it, you know?”

I nodded with understanding as my friend shared her recent struggles with decluttering. She’s not the first to struggle with getting rid of items that her family only uses occasionally.

I wrestled with the same questions for a long time:

  • What about the things we only use occasionally?
  • Should I get rid of them?
  • What if we end up needing them later?

Thankfully, a book I read this summer gave me the clarity I needed to answer my friend’s question with confidence.

Related: The Top 12 Decluttering Books And How to Choose

woman with finger to forehead, confused about minimalism, with text overlay, "what you might be missing about minimalism, that makes you want to quit"

Balancing Frugality with Minimalism


I interact on this blog with many families trying to balance frugality and minimalism.

They wrestle a long time with getting rid of items they do not need every day, only once or twice a year.

When push comes to shove, they end up donating the item, only to realize a couple of months later that they actually needed to keep it.

I know how they feel because we are in the same position. We don’t have a lot of extra money to replace any items we give away on a whim while riding a decluttering high.

The problem is that after too many experiences of giving away something they actually needed, they get so frustrated, they quit.

And I don’t want them to quit! I want them to succeed in minimalism because of the huge difference it’s made in my life as a mom.

For a long time, I didn’t know how to help them make better decisions about what to keep and what to give away. I had no clear advice to give.

No one can tell another person what they do and don’t need to keep. Decluttering is personal, especially on a low income.

That’s why I was so thankful to finally read a minimalist book that offered a clear answer to their struggles: deep storage.

Related: The Best Books About Minimalism & Simple Living

The Importance of Deep Storage

Here’s what I never realized about minimalism, and what many others miss, especially families on lower incomes.

Minimalists aren’t saying to get rid of everything you don’t use all the time.

They aren’t telling you to get rid of seasonal decorations or the waffle maker you break out for every birthday and holiday or snow pants you only use a handful of times every winter.

That’s not what they’re saying AT ALL.

What minimalist authors are saying is, “Don’t let items you only use occasionally clutter your everyday living space. Put them in deep storage, instead.”

Deep storage is the answer, especially for families who have things like hand-me-downs, and toys they want to rotate, and booster seats and high chairs.

Families Need Deep Storage

If you saw our little storage room, you might question whether I’m a minimalist.

For a long time, I felt a mix of guilt and frustration every time I walked into that little room (which is fairly often, as our laundry is there). Why can’t we just get rid of all this stuff?!

But so much of it we truly do need to keep.

Maternity clothes for a future pregnancy.

Baby items for a future baby.

Hand-me-down clothes for my three boys.

Homeschool curriculum and supplies.

Our Christmas tree and decorations.

As I write this, keep in mind that I’ve already decluttered A TON. The major overhaul decluttering work is done, and what’s left we truly need.

When you have a family (especially a big one) and become a minimalist, you end up keeping more stuff because you need to.

Related: The Best Place to Start Decluttering (when you’re overwhelmed by the chaos)

More people equals more stuff. Period.

I’m not saying use deep storage as an excuse to keep stuff you don’t need.

What I am saying is that when used wisely, deep storage can keep your living areas clutter-free. It can also save you from having to replace things you may not need for a year or two, but that you know with almost one hundred percent certainty that you will need.

While I sometimes wish I could give away every single bin in our storage room, I know with certainty that for now, the wise thing is to keep them.

One day the kids will be gone, and I’ll probably be crying about an empty storage room, not a full one.

Until then, I’m thankful for deep storage. I’m trying to be thankful for every extra thing we need to keep.

But I’m oh so thankful that I don’t have to keep it in my living room.

Read Next: How Minimalism Can Hurt Your Budget

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  1. Hello, it’s me again!
    After reading through 2 of your articles I was wondering what deep storage is, now I know.
    You know what slays me? Rented storage units. Those things cost about $100/month in my area, and every one I’ve looked through was full of stuff that had a total value of less than the yearly rental fees. What a waste!
    I know, I can hear it now, “what about Christmas decorations?” We don’t celebrate Christmas, so that isn’t an issue.
    When the kids were growing up I absolutely kept up with the hand-me-downs, especially for the preschoolers! But they were stored in the attic. If I didn’t have an attic it would have been much more economical to purchase kid clothes (garage sales and thrift stores, of course) rather than pay for storage. Same on homeschool books.
    BTW, that is one beautiful baby in your picture!

    1. Author

      Thanks Cyndy! Yes, storage units are definitely a waste for most people. 🙂 And thanks for taking the time to comment!

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