In Discussions, Lifestyle, Minimalism

Think you’re not a minimalist? Are you sure?

I’m a minimalist, but I’m thinking that’s not the right word to describe myself any more.

I say minimalist with some trepidation because I think that word conjures up images of someone who lives with a teacup on a mat in a single room with 2 neutral outfits to rotate, which is 180 degrees away from who I am.

(Only 2 outfits? IN NEUTRALS? Are you crazy?!)

What I’ve been noticing for a while, is people are taking swipes at the lifestyle to gain what I like to call a herd mentality of other folks who all brandish pitchforks and scream in unison:

BURN ALL THE MINIMALISTS!!

I WANT TO SHOP LIKE CRAZY FOR STUFF I’LL NEVER USE, BUT WILL KEEP FOREVER!!!

SO SCREW THEM AND THEIR HIPPIE, NEW AGE DECLUTTERING!!!!

I ABSOLUTELY NEED THOSE 20 BOXES OF JUNK I HAVEN’T OPENED SINCE 1990!

Admit it, it’s what you may have thought deep down inside at one point or another.

EVERYONE FEELS LIKE A MINIMALIST AT TIMES

What’s funny, is that these folks are probably slightly minimalist themselves.

If you think about de-cluttering, getting rid of stuff you don’t use any more, or cleaning out your basement of boxes filled with stuff you haven’t touched in years — you’re a hybrid minimalist, like me (for lack of a better term).

If you think about not buying something because you’re not sure if you can get enough cost-per-use out of it, you’re a hybrid minimalist like me.

If you get a headache thinking about moving from your current place because you can’t stand the thought of how much stuff you own and have to pack, you’re a hybrid minimalist like me.

(And you also vow to never accumulate all that stuff again, but we all know you will… 🙂 )


The same way that someone who keeps 50 boxes in their basement, neatly labeled and never opened is not a Hoarder in the truest of sense; someone who lives with stuff, but not just a teacup and a mat, is not an Extreme Minimalist, but perhaps a Hybrid Minimalist.

Or one with tendencies towards it.

You probably think you’re just a person who thinks you’ve wasted a lot of money over the years on disposable crap you have never used, and worst of all, paid for the space to store all that junk.

You call that frugality, I call it minimalism.

Travel-Photograph-Paris-France-Cup-of-Hot-Chocolate-Cocoa-Drink-Relax

THERE IS NO MINIMALIST RULEBOOK

Unlike the hard fact that if you don’t save your money consistently, you’ll never be able to retire and will end up eating cat food, being a minimalist doesn’t really have hard and fast rules you have to follow.

If you’re focusing on the (fake) rules like that minimalists have to:

  • live with only 100 things
  • be young and childless
  • not buy anything
  • not watch TV
  • shun cars in favour of bicycles
  • turn into vegetarian/vegan/whatever doesn’t involve a face
  • go green in all aspects of their life, even at the cost of functionality
  • eat out frequently because they don’t have any pots or pans
  • mooch off others by preaching how consumerism sucks while sitting on their couch with an i-Thing

you’re focusing on all the wrong things that don’t even matter, and completely ignoring the actual benefits that come with having minimalist desires and tendencies.

Less than of those things on that list are applicable to me right now, but…

  • I won’t be young and childless forever
  • I won’t stop cooking at home (95% of my meals) to get rid of my pots and pants
  • I certainly will not be giving up watching my favourite TV shows any time soon
  • …nor stopping my purchases

I know one guy who calls himself a minimalist, which is how I started thinking a bit about it during my college days, although I didn’t start getting into the idea until after college.

He’s not young (in his 50s), he’s not childless, and he lives in a home, and rents out the other 3 that he owns.

He also works in a regular job that he goes to, and he doesn’t want to own excessive amounts of unused stuff, waste his money, and have to pay for the space of it to boot!

He just isn’t blogging about it, so what you’re reading is a one-sided view on the internet, which doesn’t show the range of the people who call themselves minimalists.

(He also refers to it as living a very Spartan lifestyle)

I JUST DON’T NEED/WANT AS MUCH AS SOMEONE ELSE

So yes, I can fit my household and my stuff into one car (along with BF’s stuff), but I have 5 boxes of kitchen equipment and utensils that we actually use to make food, not to leave lying around as decoration because it’s cute.

I am not really into decorating my home with non-functional items either, but I can appreciate it and even want it. I just don’t want to carry it all over the place.

I don’t have furniture except for a futon, but this works out because I live in hotels that already give you a table, chairs, a closet and drawers.

Photograph-Travel-Macau-Asia-House-Home-Building

I don’t have hard assets like a house, but that’s because I’d never be living in it (my job takes me to different cities).

I am also not 100% adverse to ever owning a home, I just don’t want one right now to live in.

I’m thinking it makes more sense for me to buy a simple place in wherever I plan on retiring, in cash. Or live in, buy, and fix up one of the existing properties owned by our immediate and extended families.

I don’t have 20 boxes of tools to fix my home, because I rent an apartment or live in a hotel, and I don’t have to do any of the maintenance.

I’m just someone who only has what she wants to use, and what she needs.

I just don’t happen to need a lot of things that people feel are important for them.

It doesn’t feel like a sacrifice at all to me, even if people don’t see it like that.

I feel worse having to tote around, pack and have things I don’t use, than not having them at all.

Plus I don’t like wasting money that I could be saving instead.

What’s so wrong with that?

( Unless of course, all of this makes you feel bad about yourself, but that’s your problem, not mine. )

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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17 Comments

  1. SarahN @ Livetolist

    I think I’m minimalist, til I find a commenter telling me they have less or none of a certain type of item.

    I mean ‘minimalist’ as to say ‘no surface clutter, space for everything in my storage, with no additional storage solutions’. The key to me is to not fill everywhere/thing up! It’s about rejecting stuff that I know won’t have a place in my home – I consciously think ‘where will that go’ pre purchase!

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      @SarahN @ Livetolist: Maybe they’re trying to politely steer you into thinking about whether it’s necessary or not?

      That’s where it gets personal — some things I have because *I* want them, but others find useless. Other things people have (like bed frames, mattresses other than a futon, boxsprings) are not necessary to me, but I can understand them not wanting to sleep on a futon on a floor like me. 🙂

      I also don’t own furniture but I know people who love their chairs.

      NOT filling everything up is a good way to put it. If it’s bursting at the seams or you haven’t opened the box in 5 years, it’s time to get rid of some things.

      Reply
  2. Janine

    I’m definitely more like you than any 100 items minimalist. I’m trying to get rid of useless stuff and replace it with less items, but things I love!

    Reply
  3. PK

    live with only 100 things – My 100 things have 100 things, roughly.
    be young and childless – Ha. I’m not Malthusian. My genes don’t stop with me.
    not buy anything – See #1
    not watch TV- Panasonic in the LR, some off brand in the sunroom.
    shun cars in favour of bicycles – 2 cars, no bikes (I’ll get my mountain bike back at some point)
    turn into vegetarian/vegan/whatever doesn’t involve a face – Opposite
    go green in all aspects of their life, even at the cost of functionality – I use more than one square
    eat out frequently because they don’t have any pots or pans – Okay, in this one I fit the mold – I cook probably 18-20 of the 21 weekly meals at home.
    mooch off others by preaching how consumerism sucks while sitting on their couch with an i-Thing – (Sent from my PC Desktop)

    With outfits I went for the minimal – one of each color polo, although the brands change (I’m an engineer so polos are the staple in the summer). It all falls apart for blue though – I double up on very similar colors.

    Anyway, that’s me. Good stuff, pal.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      @PK: You really REALLY make me want to tell you to watch Forks over Knives.

      I couldn’t give up meat either (at least not before), but after watching that film, the health benefits of doing so are incredible.

      I’m not going to give it up 100% forever (could go off it when I go to Europe to these small farms), but it’s not worth it for me to eat something I don’t really enjoy as much as hurting my health.

      I thought all engineers wore blue all the time 😛

      Reply
  4. Tammy R

    I love your rants about 100 things. I love ridding myself of things, and also find lots of pleasure in not acquiring things, but I do not have the energy to count the items I use. Even though I tutor math, it’s at an elementary level, and I’m not so good at estimating. It would drive me batty and make me anxious to even think about counting. When I find things I don’t need, I get rid of them happily and move on. I like clean open spaces and find myself slightly jealous that you don’t own a home and have places furnished!

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      @Tammy R: Exactly! What’s the point of counting out 100 items? What purpose or pleasure does it provide someone to say: I HAVE ONLY 100 ITEMS!

      It’s just ridiculous.

      Reply
  5. Tania

    Laughing at “burn all the minimalists” (just make sure the stake is nice and simple with clean lines).

    I think I’m a minimalist who got caught up in consumerism if that makes any sense. I like things very simple and I don’t have a hard time letting go but I’ve always bought too much and then spent too much time/effort purging. I’m working on changing that now.

    The other thing is we all have our “areas”. My BF hardly has a thing in the house but outside he’s got multiple dirt bikes, quads, motorcycle parts, tools and random building materials. If I can get rid of many of my clothes, shoes and accessories, everything else is really not that much. So I do think some of us tend to have minimal tendencies in some areas and not so much in others.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      @Tania: Oh yeah, 90 degree angles for the wood-burning is a must.

      You and I are the same — I was just like you about 5 years ago, then I got rid of a LOT of stuff. Still kind of purging and watching my spending day to day, but it’s a lot better than my 4 closets full of junk 5 years ago.

      Now I have one closet, and even that could use some weeding down but I don’t want to give up anything 😛

      Reply
  6. maria@moneyprinciple

    For sometime now I have been trying to live by the Socratic principle of moderation: possessions are not evil but I am reallt fed up with clutter. Finding the balace I do find trying.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      @maria@moneyprinciple: Perfect explanation.

      🙂 I too don’t like clutter but it’s a struggle to figure out what clutter really is for me, seeing as I do use it, just not 100% of the time. Perhaps 50%.

      Reply
  7. Lauren @Cheapstudents.ca

    Ah this sounds like my nightmare. I’m a total hoarder (I’m working on it) and definitely am not a minimalist. Maybe I should start setting goals to try and reduce my clutter and live a more minimalist lifestyle, and stop being such a consumer. This may have inspired to live my life more like this though.. “I’m just someone who only has what she wants to use, and what she needs.” Thanks for the great read, let the steps to personal growth begin.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      @Lauren @Cheapstudents.ca: But hey, if you enjoy being a hoarder, why change?

      Just don’t really become an extreme hoarder and get stuck in your house…

      Reply
  8. AdinaJ

    I hate clutter! But I also love buying things (discriminately, but still). So I love the idea of minimalism, but I always feel like I fail in the practice.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      @AdinaJ: I think we all feel like we fail in practice. You love clothes as much as I do, so in that regard, we aren’t considered minimalists. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Jason Hull

    You have succinctly and accurately summed up my views about stuff. Buying experiences will make you much happier than buying stuff (http://my.psychologytoday.com/files/attachments/2557/howell-and-hill2009the-mediators-experiential-purchases.pdf). It seems to me that the overboard minimalists just want something to bang their drum about in a holier than thou approach to life. They take a scorched earth strategy to living – if they can’t have it, then neither than you. However, just because you can have it doesn’t mean that you *should* have it. Stuff clutters your life and leaves less room for the experiences. To quote a friend of mine, “I collect friends and experiences.” Everything else is merely utilitarian.

    You can be a minimalist yet still have nice and useful things. I personally am asking Santa for a very nice Dutch oven!

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      @Jason Hull: Exactly.

      I really HATE it when people who call themselves minimalists go on this rant about how stuff is evil and preach about having only 100 items. WHO CARES?

      Who even came up with these dumb rules anyway? I don’t think things themselves are necessarily evil, it’s more that if you don’t use them, it’s really a waste of space and money to keep it. Plus it’s a mental drain, not just a physical one.

      I feel better in a clean, open environment with very little clutter than I do in a place over-decorated with expensive things.

      I also happen to really like traveling, which has opened my eyes to how little I need for life, how much other people actually need (some don’t live with anything), and that life is not stuff.

      I agree that you can be a minimalist and have nice, expensive, useful things. We own quite a bit of REALLY nice cookware, and I have a fantastic wardrobe which I enjoy wearing.

      I just don’t put any value on things like furniture or decorations because it doesn’t add anything to my life.

      Reply

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