Gift Experiences, Not Things. Plus 4 Ways to Keep Life Simple but Meaningful

Learn about the benefits of minimalism and possible strategies for jump-starting and maintaining this lifestyle.

When you think of the word minimalism, what comes to mind? Maybe you think of Marie Kondo’s hit Netflix show. Maybe you think of a millennial who doesn’t have time, space, or money for a lot of material items. Or maybe you think of a plain home lacking character. There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to minimalism, but the reality is that it can be great for your family, your personal life, and your budget.

One of our transition coaches, Sonya Rodriquez Ph.D., has implemented minimalism into her life and has seen a drastic change in her family and home for the better. Dr. Thayne sat down with Sonya and discussed the benefits of this lifestyle and possible strategies for jump-starting and maintaining this change.

Materialism requires more and more while minimalism reinforces the message that less is more. Sonya describes minimalism as clearing clutter in every way—email inboxes, kitchen cabinets, closets, clothes, home decor—she points out that clutter requires maintenance, so it’s better to reduce that clutter to make more time for what really matters. If you’re spending all of your time managing the clutter in your life, you don’t have time left for your valued relationships.

Years ago, Sonya saw photos from a photographer who asked individuals from different cultures to bring all of their possessions out into the front yard. He photographed the items then published them. Sonya’s eyes were opened to how little other cultures lived with, and she realized that the American photos had exponentially more items than any other photos. With four kids, many toys, and an abundance of things, Sonya decided to simplify her family’s life by adopting a minimalist lifestyle.

One out of 10 American households have a storage unit, while one in four Americans with a two-car garage can’t even park one car inside because of the clutter. If you are in this situation and want to change, Sonya offers five tips that can help you or your teen simplify life and cut back on clutter.

1. When You Bring Something In, Take Something Out

The first rule of minimalism is to evaluate what you are buying and bringing into your home. A good rule of thumb is: when you bring something in, get rid of something else. You can donate it to someone in need or to your local Goodwill store so you know it will be appreciated. This is a great way to keep your clutter to a minimum and give to those in need.

2. Try Wearing 33 Items in 3 Months

At the beginning of Sonya’s minimalism journey, she took a long trip with her husband where she only wore 33 items in the entire three months (excluding workout clothes and pajamas). This helped her realize how little she truly needed and jump-started her journey to simplifying her life. If you’re looking for a good place to start, try doing something like this. You will be surprised by how much you can do with a few great pieces of clothing.

3. Get Out of the “Just in Case” Mindset

We all fall into the scarcity mindset from time to time—it’s inevitable, especially during times of uncertainty and difficulty. However, it’s important to get out of that mindset and not to keep things “just in case.” If you haven’t used something in the past year, you most likely won’t need it in the near future. Sonya recommends the 20/20 rule to help you decide when to let things go: if you can get it for $20 or travel 20 miles or less to get it, it’s best to donate that item or get rid of it.

4. Gift Experiences Rather Than Items

Over the past decade or so, people (especially younger generations) have started to see the value of experiences rather than things. If you want to give someone a thoughtful gift, Sonya suggests “gifting” them an experience. You could give flight vouchers, Airbnb gift cards, a National Parks pass, or even tickets to see the latest movie. There are endless possibilities that come with gifting experiences, and people will most likely remember and appreciate it more than another material item.

5. Use Others’ Things

Borrowing or renting items from others is a great way to build community, help people out, and experience everything you want without having to clutter your home with more material items. Sonya did this by renting an RV to go on a camping trip with her family—they were able to rent the RV, have a great trip, use the items inside the RV, and give it back when they were done. This helped the hosting family out by providing some extra money for the rental, and Sonya’s family got to experience the camping trip without purchasing an RV and everything inside. You can also return the favor by letting others borrow things only you have. It helps you, helps them, and creates more connections in your community.

If you would like to learn more from Sonya Rodriguez and Tim Thayne about how a minimalist lifestyle can help your family, check out this episode:

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Dr. Tim Thayne Presents:

How Parents Can Put A Stop To Their Teen's Self Destructive Behaviors WITHOUT Conflict Or Walking On Eggshells

Mike Christian

Back-End Developer & DevOps​

Mike is one of those brilliant, self-taught, back end developers that you always hear about. As a youth he could trust that “My mother would love me no matter what . . .” When he isn’t cranking out new code, Mike keeps up on the newest technologies and every Tuesday and Thursday nights he trains SpeedSoft with his team.

Rafael Pampoch

Web Developer

Rafael has his degree in Marketing and Advertising and years of experience with our dev team. As a teen he could trust that “The most important thing in life is love, and the most valuable things are our family and friends.” When he isn’t working on making the website and mobile versions of Trustyy seamless and functional, he unwinds by exploring nature. His favorite activities are climbing mountains, camping, going to the beach, swimming, playing the harmonica and always learning new things.

Afton Wilde


Afton’s experience is in marketing and bookkeeping.  As a teen she could trust that with her parents “Feeding the horses and milking the cow each day before school–not after–was a must.”  When she isn’t busy with keeping Trustyy’s lights on, you’ll usually find her baking up a new treat or working on a sewing project.

Nicoli Cristini

Marketing Assistant

Nicoli has a degree in Multimedia Production.  She has worked with our team of developers for three years.  She learned to trust her own parents when they taught her “Things won’t come easy and that working hard will bring me great blessings!”  When she isn’t putting together beautiful marketing pieces for the Trustyy App she likes to take pictures, play the guitar, piano, and drums, and meet up with her family to laugh over the silly things they did as kids.

Adriano Rodrigues

Mobile Developer

Adriano is certified in Analysis and Systems Development.  In his family he could trust the fact that “One difficult experience teaches me that failure is not the end, but rather an opportunity for growth and learning.”  When he is away from his work in making sure the Trustyy App buttons and bells and whistles are working properly, he likes to go to the gym, to the beach to surf, on walks with his dog, or go out with his girlfriend.

Lucas Baumgart

Product Designer

Lucas’s work experience is in User Experience, Interface Design and Product Management. As a teen he could trust that “In my home honesty was highly valued and lying was not tolerated.”  When he isn’t at work making sure the Trustyy App is easy on the eyes, Lucas likes hiking, gaming, going out for dinner, and spending time with family.

Cadu Olivera

Front End Developer

Cadu has his education in Analysis and System Development.  While growing up he could always trust that “My parents would be there to support from playing soccer at the park to learning to ride a bike.”   When he isn’t making sure things are easily navigated for our Trustyy App users, he likes to play beach soccer and enjoy music of any type, but specifically rock, country, R&B, and pop.

Mike Curi

Back End Developer

Mike is one of those brilliant, self-taught, back-end developers that you always hear about. As a youth he could trust that “My mother would love me no matter what.” When he isn’t cranking out new code, Mike keeps up on the newest technologies and every Tuesday and Thursday nights he trains SpeedSoft with his team. 

Roxanne Thayne

Co-Founder/Chief Marketing Officer

Roxanne received her bachelor’s degree in history and secondary education.  She has worked in publishing and marketing for the past 14 years.  In her family Roxanne says she could trust that “Her grammar and posture would be consistently corrected, to help her to become a lady.”  When she isn’t busy writing and beautifying things for the Trustyy App, you can find her reading biographies, practicing yoga, or gathering the family to talk business, celebrate wins or just plain hang out.

Sidney Rodrigues

Co-Founder/Chief Technology Officer

Sidney has a bachelor’s degree in Web Development and has worked in technology for 16 years, building apps for the last 10 years. Growing up he could trust that “It was always expected that I would fix anything related to technology.”  When he isn’t managing the development of the Trustyy App, you will find him spending time with his wife and kids. He loves to make Brazillian BBQ with his family.

Jim Lee

Co-Founder/Chief Product Officer

Jim has a degree in Design and over 25 years of experience creating SaaS products and managing talented product and development teams.  In his years at home as the oldest of five he could trust that “Each child got a weekly ‘night-up’ where we got to stay up late with a parent and do anything we wanted with them.”  When he isn’t looking 10 miles down the road for what will come next on the Trustyy App, you will find Jim canyoneering, doing photography, watercolor painting, or keeping up on the latest gadgets and technologies.

Eric Turner

Co-Founder/Chief Operations Officer

Eric earned his degree in Communications, Public Relations and Advertising, then added on an MBA.  He says he could trust that “His parents were honest people who kept their commitments–especially to their kids.”  When Eric isn’t keeping everyone at Trustyy on task, he is an outdoor enthusiast, year around, rain or shine, cold or hot, with biking in the summer and skiing in the winter.

Tim Thayne

Founder | Chief Executive Officer

Tim earned masters and doctoral degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy, and has 30 years of experience working with families.  While growing up Tim says he could trust that “My mother would love me no matter what, and that my dad would require that I respect my mother.”  When he isn’t busy guiding the vision for the Trustyy App, you can find Tim working around the house and yard, taking care of his sheep, dogs and horses, or enjoying a game of Corn Hole with the family.