Being a Minimalist

I’ve basically been a minimalist for a while now. I become more and more of one as time goes on.

I have always had a bit of a weird dichotomy – I love luxurious places, and dream of gorgeous glass houses with large spaces, but when I think of them, I either think of very minimal decor, or very bohemian homes, but not with tons of STUFF. It’s always spacious.

I also love the total opposite – the idea of living in a van or an RV, or a cave, a yurt. The former because of mobility and adventure, the latter because of one big room – spacious. I like space. The whole world could be my space in a mobile home. Wherever I live needs to have large space, or at least a big yard. As much as I like the idea of a tiny home, I don’t like limited room to move and create.

I hate “stuff.” I don’t mind a little decor, but having crap everywhere is tedious and annoying. How much does one person, or even a few people, need? I am pet-sitting right now – there is 12 animals here and one lady. The amount of crap is ridiculous. The amount of animals is ridiculous, honestly. I realized, even though I love them all, that I wouldn’t really want more than two! I used to want a whole gaggle of dogs, now I am not really into the idea. It’s just so limiting in what you can do. I like freedom. I want to be able to move, breathe, and share space, not fill it with tons of junk or living creatures.

Do you use everything you have? I use almost everything I do have. I have most of my things in storage under the stairs of my boyfriend’s house right now and can’t even remember what’s there, other than my journals. Lots of books, I know – at least those are worth having to some extent, and I got rid of about 3/4 of what I used to have!

When I moved to the Island (a year now!) initially and just before, I put all my things in a storage locker except for summer clothing and a few books, my blender, food processor, and my computer. I didn’t miss anything in my storage locker, at all. I felt super free. Everything I had with me fit in my car. Everything I had with me, I used, or would read. I could have pared down even more.

I will never understand hoarders or people who go shopping just for fun, unless it’s for something you actually need. I mean, I like going vintage shopping but I do need clothes – I only do this every year or two! I actually hate regular shopping and avoid it as much as I can. If I need new socks I basically wait until all of them have holes, or try to sew them. My shoes are falling apart, but mostly I can’t find ones I like that are not leather, even used leather is fine but nothing appeals so I just wear the one I have to death. Mostly I just hate shopping. Shopping and stuff is not interesting to me. It doesn’t make my life more exciting. ADVENTURE makes my life more exciting. Going after and dedicating my life to my DREAMS is exciting. PASSION is exciting – for my sweetheart, nature, my friends – so much better than going out to have a 5 minute thrill of a random thing you find cool.

I also like to use my money for things that are IMPORTANT to me. Healthy food, martial arts, books I want to OWN (I use the library more than buying books anymore). Gas to get places. Clothing I ADORE and will wear all the time. Debt payments from my months of unemployment. Now I work for myself and make more than I ever have. Go figure. But I also am frugal for the most part, except for with food, and am even trying to lessen the cost of that.

So what can you do to be more frugal and minimalist? And why?

1. Go through everything you own. If you haven’t used it in a year, or it does not have intense sentimental value (like my journals, for instance, and some letters), toss it or sell it. I go through my journals every few years and they are precious to me. Almost everything else I have, I could take or leave. If something you get rid of initially is something you want or need in the future, get another one!

2. Being minimalist saves you money so you can do the things that you love. Accrue experiences and not THINGS.

3. Write out a plan and figure out just how frugal you can be. It’s actually sort of fun. I once saved $7000 in 4 months by doing this. I worked, lived in a staff house (and still paid some rent), babysat, sold things, and suddenly I was able to travel for 5 months overseas. I didn’t really buy anything except food. I rode my bike everywhere. I hitch-hiked (I lived in a town where this was common and acceptable and safe). I made things for Christmas presents. I spent my days going after my goals instead of being bored and looking for entertainment. My life was my entertainment, and I like to keep it that way.

4. Eliminate the non-essential. This Bruce Lee quote has had a profound impact on me, and I try to implement it in all areas of my life now. Sometimes it’s hard, as I enjoy things like eating a whole bag of mulberries, but otherwise it is seriously the best advice to follow in every aspect of life.

5. When you clear out your life of stuff, you have more room to breathe and relax. You have space to fill with ideas and experiences.

6. When you die, you will be able to look back and remember everything you accomplished, instead of everything you accumulated.

7. If you’re unsure what to do with all your stuff, separate it, donate it, sell it, trash it, give it away, put it in a free box on the sidewalk, put it on Craigslist, put it on freecycle – just get it out of your space. You won’t miss it, I promise you.

8. Read about other minimalists. Minimalists tend to be happier people. There is less cleaning, more savings, and more imagination and creativity. Minimalist people are usually interesting and admirable folks. They generally do a lot with their lives.

9. Do you want to deal with paying for all your  crap when you get old? Do you still want to be working to pay off debt from your junk? Do you need a fancy car to get to where you want to go? Or are you just trying to look awesome? Looking awesome is great but not at the expense of the rest of your life. Spend your money on healthy food and adventure instead. Your passion and adventurous lifestyle will make you look more awesome. Sell your expensive vehicle and get on a plane to somewhere amazing. Spend your money on your passions. Learn something you’ve always wanted to learn.

10. Instead of collecting things, collect memories. Write the so-called bucket list. Not the “I want to buy” list.

11. Believe in yourself. Stop caring what other people think. Embrace simplicity. None of this matters when you’re dying – what does? The things you wish you’d done, not the things you wish you acquired!

12. If your life seems empty without “stuff” – ask yourself what you’re really missing – a great group of friends? Adventure? Freedom?

13. Pay your debt off as SOON AS POSSIBLE. If you have a lot of it, do everything it takes to get rid of it. Everything, because it will just keep building and building and building and you will never get out, and you will be a slave to it – get the fuck out. Declare bankruptcy if you need to. You may have shit credit but that could be a good thing – it will force you to be mindful of what you spend.

14. Don’t see being frugal as being poor, or vice versa. You will have more time and space, you will have more freedom, you will see more opportunities. Being frugal will give you MORE riches – in terms of experience, and actual money. You will have more LIFE, because you won’t be working your time away to pay for junk you don’t need.

15. Stop seeing cheap things as okay to buy – your apps, magazines, cups of coffee, take-out…drop them!! They all add up.

Would love to hear your minimalist/frugality tips in the comments 🙂

 

Recommended Reading:

The Joy of Less

I’m only recommending one to be minimal. Heh.

Don’t Go to College


Image by Donkey Hotey

 

Seriously.

Well, wait. If you can AFFORD to, without loans, then go ahead. If you want to be something that ONE HUNDRED PERCENT NEEDS you to go to college or university, then go, but also be 100% sure, without a fraction of a doubt, that it is something you want to do for the rest of your life. If you do want to go, but aren’t sure what for – WAIT! Almost no one knows what they want to be when they finish high school, and if they do, they’re very lucky, and even then, a lot of those things do not need school. There are lots of ways to learn.

Necessary schooling + passion = fine, go.

Unnecessary schooling + passion + money = fine, go.

Unsure + unnecessary + loans = STOPPPPPPPPPP.

Unnecessary + loans = nooooooooooo.

Necessary + money – passion = no no no no no.

Unnecessary – money  + unsure = RUN FUCKING FAST

The majority of people going to school fall into the LAST equation. How do I know? I know lots of people! Including me! I was lucky enough that I chose short courses and that my parents helped pay my loans, which were diddly compared to what some people end up with. Basically everyone I know has massive debt, and basic jobs that don’t require their specific degree. For me, I have been to college twice and don’t do either of the things I went for.

The most valuable things I’ve learned have been from self study. Sure it might not get you a job easily, but it will allow you to LEARN FOR FREE. And it will make you use your imagination. It won’t force you to spend all your time on assignments and classes you don’t even want or need to take. You can learn at your OWN pace, and work at the same time! So many people get degrees and end up with ludicrous jobs anyway, because there is a million other grads just like them, scrounging for wages.

Spend your time doing what you love THE VERY MOST. The things you know you are meant to do.

I almost went back to school this year. I even registered, paid money, and all of it. I did this because I couldn’t find a job and figured having a degree would help me. Plus I hated regular work and wanted to just learn all day. However, with time and more thought, I knew it was a stupid idea. Especially since creative writing does not need to be learned in a school, nor does it guarantee a job. So instead of being $40,000+ in debt in 4  years, I lost like $150. Big whoop.

Part of what put me off is that even though I’d be a mature student, I would have to take a base year and a bunch of shit that had nothing to do with writing. Why the fuck do I have to take MATH to do a writing course? Or science?

There are a lot of jobs that require school, I know it, but unless you are completely dedicated, and know from the day you apply that it is what you want FOR SURE, and you will be able to get work or create work FOR SURE, that you LOVE…don’t. You will just end up a slave. To debt, to endless mediocre jobs, to a life you think you should be living.

Believe me, I would love to go back to school. I adore learning. I’d love to take creative writing. But at the expense of my life and freedom? No way. Debt is a death sentence. I want freedom. Freedom is my number one priority in life. Anything I choose to commit to, I CHOOSE 100%! Nothing is forcing me.

I can learn to write on my own, and if I really want help, I can hire a coach for way cheaper than going to school. I can read books.

When I did go to college, I ended up  not wanting to do what I took. I took a multimedia course (and should have stuck with graphic design, like I was drawn to) and after I finished the course I realized I didn’t want a job sitting at a computer all day.

I also took a vet assistant course, and while it was valuable to me in some ways, I could have learned it all by volunteering at a clinic.

I have considered library sciences, but there is no guarantee of work after completion, either, and that is like 6-8 years of school. I don’t even want to know how much that would be in terms of debt, especially going to a place like UBC. Insane.

Commit yourself to freedom, unless your lifelong dream has been to be a lawyer or a doctor or a scientist. If you’re going to school to “get an education” – just go to the library instead.

Only put your money towards your health and your most BURNING PASSIONS. That’s what it’s for.

If you have debt (of any amount!), get rid of it above ALL ELSE as soon as possible. Eliminate EVERYTHING non-essential. Everything. Debt will weigh you down and asphyxiate the life right out of you, and you only get ONE.

Recommended Reading:

Walden on Wheels (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – this post was inspired by reading this book)

The Teenage Liberation Handbook (I read this 15 years too late)

How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World

If You Want to Be Rich and Happy, Don’t Go to School?

Experience VS. Things

Me underwater in Cathedral Cove (Narnia), New Zealand, 2005.

An experience is always a better choice than buying an item.

Eschewing food and other absolute necessities, having an experience is always the better choice when choosing how to spend your money. Most people don’t even “choose” – they just mindlessly fork over the dough.

Something my dad said a long time ago has always stuck with me – when you consider how much work you have to do to make that amount, when buying something, think about it in terms of HOURS SPENT rather than the moola itself.

Would you work a half hour (or an hour?!) in exchange for a latte?
Would you work a whole week in exchange for a pair of fancy shoes?
Would you work a whole day for one meal at a swank restaurant?

That sort of thing – because that is what you are doing.

So many people work often and do little, because their money is spent on unnecessary things. Then they whine that they need a vacation but can’t afford it, or that they wish they had more time off, or more time to spend with their kids, on and on and on.

I’ve stopped buying things I don’t need, including books – which for me is amazing. I get credits at work (a book store) so that is the only time I buy them anymore. I read what I own, and I go to the library. I used to desire a huge book-lined home, wall-to-wall beauty – but without the money I spent on those books, I would have no free time to read them all. Dig?

I also make sure that the food I buy actually fills me up. On a raw diet, this is important, because many raw foods are so low calorie that you need a TON to be satiating – hence eating high-calorie fruit as a staple (bananas, dates, mangos, etc). I limit the amount of other things that are for flavour more than satiation – lemons, nori – things like this add up to a lot and really do nothing to fill the tummy. You should do the same, whether you eat raw or not!

I also pick up any change I see on the ground, even if it’s a penny. You cannot have any sum without pennies – these are the building blocks, If you ignore the free money around you, you tell the universe you don’t need it. I’ve seen beggars scoff at one cent coins – ironic.

Use your extra money to DO things. What are you going to remember at the end of your life? The stuff you bought, or the stuff you did?

Here’s some examples of what you can do with certain sums of money:

$10 – A couple of days of coffee VS. basket of fruit for a picnic in the park with friends.

$20 – a fresh-pressed t-shirt VS. a whirling slamdance nightclub evening.

$50 – lacquered nails VS. a thrumming live concert.

$100 – a dvd set VS. a zipline ride through the mountains.

$500 – a fancy handbag VS. a weekend away with your lover.

$1000 – the latest phone VS. a new guitar for your lifelong dream of being a musician.

$2000 – a designer gown VS. a sunbaked week in Hawaii.

Watching Pipeline, Oahu, 2010. I spent a week here for just over $1000.

$5000 – a diamond necklace VS. a raw food retreat in Costa Rica to heal you from within.

$10,000 –  plastic surgery VS. months of traveling in South East Asia.

$100,000 – a zippy sportscar VS. trips to every continent.

$250,000 – a partially-paid-for condo VS. a caravan to explore the country.

$500,000 – medical bills (due to your terrible eating habits, not unfortunate accidents) VS. enough to live on, work-free, for years.

$1,000,000 – a beautiful home…VS. basically whatever you want. If you have this much money you wouldn’t even be reading this article.

Most of us do not have much disposable income (what a horrible phrase – disposable income? If we work for that money, then we are saying our TIME is worthless – so we are saying that our LIFE is worth trading for insignificant crap).

Obviously a little indulgence is okay now and then, but when it throws you into debt, and you think shopping is “therapy” – that is when you need to really step back and scrutinize the reality of what you’re doing.

Personally I would rather do more, work less, and appreciate reality, not artifice; adventures, not stuff; dreams, not consumerism.

If you have debt, get out of it as soon as possible! There are many ways to do this, make it your #1 priority (okay, second – health is #1).

 Me snorkeling off West Coast Australia, with whale sharks, 2005.

$350.

Worth every cent.

~~

(This post seems very geared towards females – oops – guys, I dunno what you waste your money on!)