Living Minimally: A Conversation with Julia Ubbenga at Rich in What Matters

About a month ago, this quote was making the rounds among myself and my friends online.

“If you want your child to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them and half as much on money.”

Abigail Van Buren

Hits deep, doesn’t it?

Shortly after seeing and sharing it, I reached out to Julia Ubbenga, creator of Rich in What Matters, and asked her if she would be willing to come on the Living Brightly podcast.

Today I’m thrilled to share our conversation with you in the newest episode of the Living Brightly podcast. In our conversation, Julia shares her personal journey of breaking free from $40,000 of consumer debt by embracing a minimalist lifestyle.

Through our conversation, we dive into the profound advantages of living with less, including increased peace, improved relationships, and a life of significantly less stress. This episode goes beyond the surface-level aspects of minimalism, diving into the deep and meaningful benefits that come with embracing a minimalist mindset.

For the full conversation, listen to Episode “#111 Living Minimally with Julia Ubbenga at Rich in What Matters” on Apple or Spotify. Or keep reading for a summary below!

Breaking Free from $40,000 Consumer Debt

Growing up in Iowa with a grandmother who loved to shop, Julia learned from an early age that shopping was a fun way to feel good and an escape from feeling bad. This mindset carried over into her twenties, leading to a mountain of stuff and $40,000 worth of credit card debt.

“I had all this stuff, all this credit card debt, and when I thought about the debt, I would feel bad, but when I felt bad, I’d go buy something new because that’s what I thought would make me feel good. That’s what I thought would make me happy.”

The cycle went on until she had her second daughter. That’s when she made the transition from working outside the home to staying home with their kids. She envisioned a perfect life filled with baking cookies, reading to my daughters, and enjoying the bliss of motherhood.

But reality hit hard. Just two weeks into her new role, she felt more like a full-time stuff manager than a mom. Though physically present, she was mentally elsewhere, numbed by the stress of managing all their possessions.

A couple months into living this way, she was diagnosed with postpartum depression.

One pivotal moment occurred while feeding her baby in the nursery where she found myself pleading with God, questioning why her reality was so far from what she had envisioned. It was then that a few verses from Luke chapter 12 struck: “Your life does not consist of possessions, be rich in what matters.”

Reflecting on these words, she questioned whether she was indeed rich in what truly mattered – time for a relationship with Jesus, quality time with family, self-care, or even a hobby. The answer was a resounding no.

This realization sparked a desire for change, particularly regarding her approach to possessions.

“Be Rich in What Matters”

During a therapy session later that week, Julia’s therapist introduced her to the concept of minimalism. That’s when she discovered minimalism was much more than an aesthetic. It was a lifestyle that prioritized quality over quantity.

Curiosity piqued, she plunged into reading books, blogs, and listening to podcasts on the subject. The idea that happiness isn’t tied to possessions and that she could be happier with less resonated deeply. This mindset shift was life-changing. It provided a vision for escaping the consuming postpartum depression.

Embracing minimalism wholeheartedly, Julia started a blog called “Rich in What Matters,” inspired by the Bible verse that guided her towards this journey. Over the first year, their family purged about 75% of our belongings. Then downsized to an apartment, where they have been living as minimalists for about four and a half years now.

With four kids aged between one and nine, the Ubbenga home can still be chaotic at times. However, fewer possessions and a smaller home have brought an underlying sense of calm amidst the chaos.

Ultimately, minimalism has been incredibly freeing.

An Outer House and An Inner House

But minimalism, as Julia points out, is not just about decluttering our physical spaces; it extends to clearing our mental and emotional clutter too. When we have fewer distractions in our surroundings, we can focus better on our inner selves and have deeper connection with God.

The metaphor of our bodies being temples of the Holy Spirit is a powerful one. Just like we wouldn’t want our homes filled with unnecessary items, we wouldn’t want our minds filled with negative emotions and thoughts either. By decluttering our inner homes, we make room for positivity, peace, and a deeper connection with the divine.

The process of inner decluttering may involve letting go of harmful habits, negative self-perceptions, and unproductive thought patterns. It could also mean setting boundaries to protect our inner peace from external negativity.

In essence, minimalism, both in its physical and mental aspects, helps us create space for what truly matters: our spiritual growth, relationships, and personal development. It’s all about making conscious choices that align with our values and contribute to our overall well-being.

The journey towards minimalism, therefore, is not just about living with less; it’s about living more meaningfully. It’s about clearing the way for the Holy Spirit to guide us, inspire us, and transform our lives. It’s about finding freedom, peace, and fulfillment, not in material possessions, but in the richness of our inner lives.

Embracing Simplicity and Discovering Freedom

If you desire support and community in your journey to living your bright life, come join us in Live Brightly, a transformative space that combines coaching and community specifically designed for women who are ready to co-create a bright and purposeful life with God. Together we’ll explore the depths of his love and uncover the radiant potential within you. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to live a life that lights up the world around you.

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