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.