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Why minimalism bothers you

Minimalism and just the idea of thinking differently seems totally unacceptable to a lot of folks.

Case in point: I sleep on a Japanese futon on the floor.

P.S. You can buy an authentic all-cotton high quality hand-crafted Japanese futon from Japan here, free shipping worldwide with a few country restrictions, or here if you want an all-cotton one made in the U.S. instead.

I’ve been told that a Japanese futon is not a “real bed”.

Never mind that Japanese people do this (some even to this day and it’s considered not only healthy but a novelty when you visit their hot spring spas), and in the past, before they invented headboards, mattresses, mattress toppers, box springs, and all the accessories that come with a bed, people slept on the floor on a mass of itchy, horrible straw and a cloth cover on top…..

…what people can’t seem to comprehend these days is that a “real bed” can be something other than what they’re used to seeing because they’re too used to be told what to do and what to think, so anything else is uncomfortable because there aren’t any rules.

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Going a little philosophical here and to give a concrete example of what I am trying to describe:

“WHAT IS A BED TO YOU?”

Think about it before answering. What is a “bed” at its core when you think of a bed?

For me, a bed is simply a place to sleep.


Full stop.

A bed can mean any of the following in that case:

  • A quote-on-quote “real” bed with a frame, mattress, headboard and all that crap that comes with it
  • Mattress on the floor (or in my case, an all-cotton Japanese futon)
  • 50 blankets stacked on top of each other a la the fairytale The Princess and the Pea
  • A dirt floor with a cloth
  • A wine crate with a cloth — this was my mother’s bed when she was a child
  • A bunch of leaves on the ground or soft grass

http://bit.ly/2gxEC5L

Are you going to really ever going to ask someone who lives in the wild and sleeps on a dirt floor in a hut, or on soft grass in the countryside where their “real bed” is?

Or are you going to gasp in horror and tsk at them when they look at you like you’re an idiot and say:

Well that spot over there is quite comfortable because there are a lot of soft grasses we can pile up to create the bed.

No.

Or maybe you’re going to go to a Japanese hot spring spa and stay at aย ryokan (Japanese country inn), then raise a fuss when your Japanese hosts point you to a Japanese futon they’ve laid out on the floor to let you sleep and relax in and ask them where the “real bed” is?

NO.

What many define as a ‘bed’ is merely a construct of what has been given to them via books, television, influences from society, shopping, parents, family… everything in your environment to determine and tell you what is acceptable to pass for a ‘real bed’, but as I’ve pointed out above it is not necessarily the only way a bed can exist.

It’s the same with the concept of minimalism for me.

MINIMALISM IS SO VAGUE, IT BOTHERS PEOPLE WHO NEED TO BE TOLD WHAT TO BUY AND DO

A lot of people can’t imagine living without a “real bed”, a sofa, and all these things that we take for granted as being necessary and essential for living, so when they come across the idea of minimalism as a mindset, or a way to choose what you consider to be a priority in your life it bothers them.

It bothers them because while they can’t articulate WHY it bothers them exactly, it just doesn’t feel right to not sleep in a ‘real bed’ because a ‘real bed’ for them has to have a headboard and a frame.

It’s the same thing for me when I encounter the attitude of people who really hate the idea of minimalism and what I am proposing, but they can’t articulate why it bothers them.. only that it does and they have to rail against it.

The real cause of this anxiety and uncomfortable feeling people have with minimalism is that it is so vague that there are no rules, and people need to be told what to buy and what to do.

It gives a sense of order in life.

However if you decide to embrace a new idea or concept like minimalism, it has no rules — the rules are what you make, and that is the true reason why minimalism is unacceptable to so many.

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, 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 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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31 Comments

  1. Arletta

    I have to add a note of caution here, when deciding what is and is not a real bed.Timing is, sometimes, everything.

    I wanted to go for a traditioanl Japenese futon style of sleeping, pretty much always; but, especially after my husband and I were no longer together and I was living in such a way that I had 4 children with me, sometimes, and, one with me all the time, which left 1-1/2 bedrooms unusable for anything except storage for the beds of the children when they came back for visits. It was a dire waste of space and it made me sad to look at their unused bedroom furnture.

    Unfortunately, he kept calling CPS and telling them lies, so, they were involved in my life. And, they had a problem with the daybeds that my mom had bought for my daughters, because, they were “not real beds”. I pointed out to them that the word bed is in the title of that piece of furnture, they had frames, mattersses, springs, sheets, pillows, pillowcases, etc. and gave them a list of persons who had used daybeds extensively, due to illness, work o just preference, for years on end – including some people wo were currently somewhat responsible for signing their paychcecks.

    It pays to read! Keep that in mind, too. lol

    Anyway, this was the day that I found out CPS is prejudiced against caucasians or people who look like tem. Now, anyone who is not caucasian or looking like they are, do not take offense and assume I am saying CPS is not prejudiced against your race or ethnicity, as well. It’s just that, when it comes to sleeping arrangements, they are incredibly prejudiced against caucasians.

    I asked them about different ways people sleep and what does or does nnot constitute a proper place for children to sleep. They told me, in no uncertain terms, tat if you are Alaskan Native or American Indian you can sleep on a blanket, a mattress on the floor, a couch, or anything else where a child can lay down and they don’t care if adults share the bed with te children. That sharing of bed also applies to anyone else not caucasian, so long as they are poor and doing the best they can with what they have. And, they told me Asian people or Pacific Islanders who are Japanese (because, Japanese say they are not Asian but Pacific Islanders (or they were saying it at the time), but, not all Paciic Islanders are Japanese) can use futons, with or without frames, on or off the floor, sharing with adults and children together or not; but, if you are caucasian, regardless of where you are from, what your income level is, current citizenship, age, sex, or travel background, you have to have a traditional western bed for all the children, and, tey cannot share with anyone else – not even another sibling – regardless of the size of the domecile, family, or bed – or, you will be guilty of neglect or abuse of your child and it will be removed from your home.

    Now, I don’t know if all CPS workers are like that. I mean, I don’t know if it is national law, or, if it’s just that they were being extra hard on me and saying such things because my husband was well-connected. Just saying, if you are likely to be getting divorced or dealing with a crazy ex, it might not be the best time to introduce your children to the wonderful world of futons.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      No kidding!!!!! I had no idea. It all sounds so sordid just over sleeping on a futon. ๐Ÿ˜

      Reply
  2. Britta

    Your website links to the futon retailers saved my day! I have been trying to simplify my life so that I have more time to be happy with family and friends, to spend more time learning traditional cooking methods and doing more yoga, less time tidying up and sorting through stuff. We have two spring beds from big box stores, and nobody sleeps on them! The kids prefer to sleep with me, and so we sleep on the floor of our big family room. I checked out the Japanese decor and bedding and its a great solution to my desire to make our informal sleep arrangements more comfortable, and turn our main room into a multi-purpose area. I can redo a whole room, floor to window trimmings, in Japanese decor and spend less than it would cost to buy a cheaply made bedroom set at a big-box store.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      You’re welcome! And yes!!!! Exactly.
      Kids (as I have observed), enjoy sleeping on the floor and playing on the floor. It is nice for them to be at eye level with an adult and so on. If recommend trying out one futon layer then adding another if it is too hard. Also, no monsters hiding under the bed ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Reply
  3. Maggie

    A good bed is a safe place to get a happy healthy and peaceful sleep.

    Reply
  4. Lila

    Who cares? As long as you are happy and healthy, I don’t know why other people are bothered? Maybe they have too much time on their hands if they care about what kind of bed you sleep in.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Maybe not so much ‘care’ as ‘make rude comments about’. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  5. Debbie M

    It’s always disconcerting to find out that there are different ways to do things than the ways you’re used to. That knowledge can be freeing–maybe there’s a better way. It can also be threatening–maybe I’ve been doing it wrong all these years; maybe I’m an idiot and so are the people who taught me this.

    **

    I have another bed example for you: my sister once slept in a drawer. She was just a couple of weeks old and we had to travel. My mom pulled a drawer out of a bureau and put my sister in there because that way she couldn’t roll off anywhere.

    **

    My favorite bed is a traditional matress on a slatted frame with no box spring. I like the feel of the mattress. I like the support of the slats and the way they don’t go bad. I like the under-bed storage.

    On the floor, I prefer carpeting rather than wood or tile. Foam pads (like for camping or yoga) help. A non-leaky air mattress can be way better than a poorly designed sofa bed.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I think I saw it in movies or read somewhere that babies in the past used to sleep in drawers if there was no space. Sounds practical to me.

      I used to sleep on a bed similar to what you are describing. Slats and a mattress on top. Maybe that’s why a futon is not that far off!

      Reply
      1. MelD

        @save. spend. splurge.: Yes, a drawer is a good place for a younger baby! In large families with many children and only two bedrooms in English mining villages, everyone shared beds anyhow, like sardines, top-to-tail – that’s what my granny (born 1916, second eldest of 10) always told me.
        Nicely minimalist, too – if you use the drawer, there can’t be anything else in it LOL!! And the baby doesn’t care where it is, sounds cosy to me. Guess modern-day moms would be up in arms at the horrorโ€ฆ!! But sell it as a “designer” thing as a clever bottom drawer that pulls out and is done in fancy wood and they’d be all over it, I bet.

        Reply
        1. save. spend. splurge.

          What a business idea!!! Could even have multiple drawers for multiple babies ๐Ÿ˜‰

          Reply
  6. Tania

    I slept on a Futon from my early 20s to mid 30s but it wasn’t the real type from Japan, a cheapie on a convertible platform (bed/couch). I would love a white soft made in Japan futon but not where I live (too much centipedes and other critters, also dirt as it’s rural). But I’ve always loved the idea of being able to put the bed away and a minimalist Japanese home where the floors are cleaned daily. No one should criticize anyone I agree. Sometimes my country’s citizens drive me crazy as many seem to think the American way is the only way and can be very ignorant about other cultures.

    Reply
  7. Morgaine

    Wow, kinda sad that people would judge/attack you over what kind of bed you have. That’s just weird! I’m not a minimalist (again, hoarder Mom) but I’m certainly working on not buying things that serve no purpose, I already have enough of those. We’d rather spend our money on renos to the house (the backyard reno will make our backyard more usable) and travelling.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Improving your house sounds like a good plan to me. You might as well enjoy your square footage!

      Reply
  8. MelD

    Minimalism has been like coming home for me, very satisfying. Not extreme trendy minimalism but realising I didn’t need most stuff. Seems I’d subconsciously been looking for that solution for a while – it’s a process but life is so much better now. Glad of the support I find online, tho’ ๐Ÿ™‚
    As for beds, why would it be of interest to anyone else what your personal preferences are?! :O Whole cultures can’t be totally wrongโ€ฆ but of course, the West is always right. duh. Still the colonial mindset!
    For years we slept on a cheap mattress with very basic slats and always felt fine, then for some reason (!) fell into the trap of buying what “people” are “supposed” to have in the way of fancy mattresses (??!!) and from Day 1 realised what a mistake it was and a waste of good money. Live and learn! We have a set like our old one at our coastal house and sleep way better there – what a lesson.
    Once our youngest moves out we get the big attic space for our bedroom and will definitely be putting one or two futons up there for our own comfort rather than an enormous bedstead and mattress, that’s for sure. My (tall, large) husband will be glad of the bigger space!
    (I think the hippie trends of the 60s/70s put some people off because hygiene and mould became an issue when old mattresses were put on the floor and never aired – of course, this isn’t the case with futons and people who do some housekeeping (Swiss housewives always seem to be “turning the mattress”!) ;o though for some, I’ve heard a damp climate can make floor sleeping not recommendable?)

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I’ve never minded sleeping on the floor to be honest. I almost prefer it because as a child I had an irrational fear of monsters under the bed…. as I am sure all children did.

      As for the futon on the floor, I suppose you’re right, if the climate is humid is not really a good idea.. although in that case, a lot of people sleep on woven mats.

      I was basically told off for “living like a student” and not getting a proper bed.

      Reply
  9. Jason

    Japenese Futon. So simple. Tell the naysayers to put it near a wall, there’s your headboard!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Hah ๐Ÿ™‚ Great solution.

      Reply
  10. GirlinaTrenchcoat

    Oh man, I wish I had a Japanese futon right about now! Our bed + mattress combo is so clunky and heavy it takes three guys and a U-Haul to move it anywhere. It’s a pain.

    You know what I don’t like? Those HGTV house shows where they show a house that is littered with kids’ toys, hardly-used sports equipment, and piles of boxes with junk in them, and the prospective homebuyers say “we need a bigger house because we outgrew the space.” Makes me sad.

    I think minimalism is “freeing” because you aren’t tied down to too many things and when you have less stuff to worry about you tend to appreciate what you do have and become very selective about what you consume. It also become much less of a hassle to clean, keep track of, and maintain these things!

    Reply
  11. Elle

    I don’t understood why people get so threatened by other people’s personal decisions. I get similar unwanted advice and criticism in regards to my unstraightened hair (i’m african american with curly hair). They say that my hair “isn’t a real adult hair style.” Whatever that means.

    I’m trying to transform myself into a minimalist but my mother trained me as a pack rat, so it’s a slow process. I wish I could test the different futons like testing a mattress. I’m scared I won’t like it and it becomes additional clutter that gets used infrequently.

    My theory is that people are threatened or don’t like minimalism is that they find too much value in their possessions. Therefore if possessions aren’t necessary then what do they have to make them feel superior.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Who in the world would criticize you because you don’t want straight hair? I think it looks fantastic when african americans have natural unstraightened hair (even though I know it’s hard work to take care of it).

      My mother is a pack rat as well. It’s hard to break the habit. As for sleeping on a futon it’s like being on a very thick, comfortable cotton pad, if that helps. You MAY need to buy a second one to layer after 10 years as the cotton gets flattened down… but it’s really very comfy, and I slept on “actual beds” my entire life until about 8 years ago.

      Oh that’s a good point. They value their things so much that it becomes who they are and they feel threatened if there’s nothing to show for who they are.

      Reply
  12. AdinaJ

    Who gets so worked up about a bed? The mind, it boggles.

    I can’t get into minimalism because I’m a bit of a hoarder at heart (having grown up relatively poor, I now try to hold on to all the things), but I’m impressed by people who can. In any case, it’s no skin off my back what they do. I think other people might get worked up by minimalism because they think it implies a judgment on their own consumerism.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Ah yes! You are like my mother. She hoards every little thing because she grew up dirt poor.

      As for consumerism, that’s where I think: Then I’m not a minimalist. I mean, have you seen my shopping posts!?!?

      Reply
  13. Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way

    We are currently living in a remote kind of place. And mostly houses here doesn’t have a bed. They only sleep at the floor with a “banig” it is a handwoven mat usually used in East Asia and Philippines for sleeping and sitting.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Oh I’ve slept on those things before. It takes some getting used to.. it’s easier if you’re a bit heavier because the fat is a cushion, otherwise, my bony hips and butt were feelin’ it.

      Reply
  14. Aleksie

    I don’t understand why it should bother anyone except the person with whom you share your home and bed. You’re not harming anyone by not sleeping on a bed or not owning very much.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      You would be surprised how angry people get when you tell them you’re a minimalist (AND THEY ASKED!)

      Reply
  15. Naomi

    I like this post for the simple fact that I think traditional Americanized beds take up way too much living area. Also in my case we are still renting and I look at my bed thinking “Omg, this is like the heaviest thing we own. This is gonna suck to get it down the stairs.” I’ve always like the idea of futons and how the Japanese lay them over the balconies to “air out”. One day I’d like to give up the traditional mattress and give a futon a whirl!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      YEP! That’s exactly one of the reasons why I love my futon. It’s a play area for the baby in the day, I can lie down on it any time I want with him and not worry about him falling off anywhere (sometimes I even nap while he plays by himself because I am so exhausted). It’s also our TV viewing area, or a video-watching area (laptop on a stand does the job).

      Reply

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