8 Subcategories of Minimalism For a Less Cluttered Life
Over the past ten years, the concept of minimalism has exploded in popularity. While previous decades seemed to value collecting and owning more, also known as “maximalism”, the idea of living with only a minimal amount of material possessions has proven itself to be more than just a trend by today’s standards. It’s everywhere, and it’s growing.
So, what exactly is minimalism?
The short answer: Minimalism is the philosophy that “less is more”. It’s owning fewer material possessions. It’s making every purchase with mindful intention. It’s the desire for less.
That said, minimalism is an entirely personal journey, and it can look different for everyone. What works for one person might not work for the next, and each minimalist can choose their own intentions and values within the practice.
I’ve been on a minimalism journey for my entire adulthood. What started off as nomad-minimalism morphed into eco-minimalism and essentialism. But we’ll dive into those definitions below.
Ready to learn all about 8 different types of minimalism? Let’s dive in!
Minimalism Type #1 – Aesthetic Minimalism
For aesthetic minimalists, how their spaces look is the name of the game. Owning fewer possessions isn’t necessarily the de facto goal, but rather having clean spaces with less clutter.
In an aesthetic minimalist home, you’ll find clean lines, nearly bare shelves, no-fuss furniture, and all extraneous items stashed away.
While it’s all about visual representation, aesthetic minimalism is often rooted in the idea that a clean, no-fuss environment makes for an orderly mind. And this concept isn’t exactly new. We all know that our environments affect our mental health, and the aesthetic minimalist takes this idea to heart.
Wondering what exactly those benefits are? Then check out our article on decluttering your home for self-care!
Minimalism Type #2 – Experiential Minimalism
As the name suggests, experiential minimalism is all about collecting experiences rather than things. This group doesn’t necessarily practice financial minimalism (more on that later), but they like to spend their money on things that will make memories and provide spiritual value.
While not always the case, experiential minimalists often have simple houses or no homes at all, preferring to live out of a suitcase.
Basically, for an experiential minimalist, activities take priority over collecting material items.
Minimalism Type #3 – Nomadic Minimalism
While nomad minimalism is very much like experiential minimalism, the two aren’t entirely the same. While both nomads and experientialists tend to value the creation of memories over having possessions, nomad minimalists take the game a step further and seek to travel for long periods.
Rather than settling down anywhere, nomad minimalists live out of a suitcase and embrace staying in vans, short-term rentals, campsites, hostels, etc.
Minimalism Type #4 – Financial Minimalism
Financial minimalists are those who practice the pursuit of fewer possessions by means of saving money.
This group sees the value in fixing their possessions instead of buying new, re-using and re-purposing items they already own, growing their own food, and shunning trends and fads.
Financial minimalists exist in every tax bracket and are less defined by their income and more so by their mindset.
The financial minimalist sees long-term financial growth and stability by sacrificing non-essentials.
That said, what financial minimalists are not is bad with money. “Financial Minimalism” does not mean taking a minimalist approach to finances themselves, and those who practice this could very well have a robust financial plan.
It’s all about keeping expenditures to the necessities.
For more ideas on how to implement financial minimalism, check out these practical budgeting tips.
Minimalism Type #5 – Essentialism
In Essentialism, the practitioner is deeply dialed into “wants” vs “needs.” An all-encompassing lifestyle choice, Essentialism means paring down their life so that they only say yes to possessions and experiences necessary and beneficial to their lifestyle in the long run.
More than just a material possessions mentality, essentialists are people who aren’t afraid to say “no” to experiences that will ultimately work against them, even for perceived short-term gain. They are obsessed with quality over quantity in almost every area of their lives, and they want to make sure that everything they say “yes” to, whether it be making a purchase or attending a meeting, is something that will be truly beneficial.
On a materialism front, essentialists want to make sure that possessions they do have last a long time, and that they don’t collect anything they could live without. Often, essential minimalists could very well grow their own food, have no-fuss wardrobes, and aren’t concerned with having items for “just in case”.
Minimalism Type #6 – Eco-Minimalism
Also known as the sustainable minimalist, the eco-minimalist’s focus is on living as green as possible. They want to reduce their environmental footprint in every way they can and take it upon themselves to reduce their dependence on consumerism.
The eco-minimalist doesn’t necessarily own the fewest amount of possessions possible, but they are focused on re-using what they have, recycling, living off the land, and purchasing from companies that care about the environment.
Sometimes, eco-minimalists are focused on reducing waste as much as possible. These are the people that make youtube videos about how they only produce one bag of garbage in a year. Or that obsessively shop in wholesale food stores that don’t use plastic packaging.
The Reduce Reuse Renew Blog is an excellent resource for learning more about eco-minimalism/sustainable living.
Minimalism Type #7 – Mindful Minimalism
The mindful minimalist is all about finding spiritual abundance in the pursuit of less. Making every purchase with intention, these minimalists fill their souls by ridding themselves of the possessions they don’t need and living simply. Their goal is not to live with the fewest things possible but to make every purchase mindfully.
For these people, the goal is not to buy less for aesthetic, financial, or environmental reasons, but rather to be able to focus less on “stuff” and more on their community, mental health, growth, and intellect.
You may have got a taste of the mindful minimalist way of life when the Marie Kondo Method (KonMari) became popular a few years ago. If it doesn’t “spark joy” for the mindful minimalist, then it’s gotta go.
Minimalism Type #8 – Digital Minimalism
Less to do with material possessions and more about mental clarity, the goal of the digital minimalist is to simplify life online and use screentime mindfully and with intention. It’s deciding which online tools genuinely add to your life, and which ones systematically take away from your happiness and wellbeing.
Often, digital minimalists will forego social media, time-block their screen time so they are as productive as possible, clear their home screens so they’re free of clutter, delete unnecessary apps and old files, and clear notifications from their phone.
Check out this great article on digital minimalism for more tips and tricks.
That’s it for my eight types of minimalism to help you live a less cluttered life! Whatever stage of the journey you’re on, I hope this gave you a ton of insight and inspiration for living more minimally. Let me know any thoughts or questions in the comments section!