As you work your way along the path to FIRE, the same ideas come up over and over again. One idea you’ll hear a lot is minimalism. Minimalism began as an art movement in the late 60’s, now minimalism takes on a different meaning.
Less is More
One of the main ideas behind minimalism is that by having less material possessions you are creating space in your life for more experiences. I continuously work toward minimalism myself by reevaluating the things I own and whether I actually need to keep them. Many people see minimalism as depriving but if you truly grasp the concept and embrace it you begin to feel freer with each thing you give up.
How I Started
Over the years I’ve moved from place to place and each time found myself wondering why I kept some things. Having to pack so many things over and over made me realize along the way that I didn’t need all of that stuff. I was getting my clothing ready to move yet again and realized I didn’t even wear about half of the things in my closet and I didn’t even like some of them. That particular time was probably the first time I really cleaned a massive amount of stuff all at once.
As I’ve continued on my journey to Financial Independence I’ve found the work of a couple of authors quite helpful in explaining ideas behind minimalism. I highly recommend checking out the book “The Cheapskate Next Door” by Jeff Yeager. Jeff was featured on the show “Extreme Cheapskates” for some of his eccentric ways but the real important concept he discusses in his book is learning to let go of things you don’t need. Jeff has additional books as well but I re-read this book every year as a reminder to myself that I don’t need a lot of “stuff” to be happy.
I can’t talk about organizing and minimalism without touching on the queen of organization Marie Kondo. Marie is famous for her book and tv series “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” Marie’s techniques for storage are interesting and helpful but she really gets to the heart of the issue and handles emotional attachment to objects. If you run out and buy a bunch of fancy boxes thinking that’s going to solve your problem you’re missing the points Marie makes throughout her books. She focuses on thanking the items for being in your life and letting them go so someone else can enjoy them.
When my stepson was younger I found it helpful to tell him that he should pass his toys on for other children to enjoy. I think it’s super important to let others decide on their own what they want to keep and what they can sell or donate. My wife and I guide him through the process asking questions but never answering for him. We go through this process with him 2-3 times a year depending on when he outgrows clothing (which is also part of what we go through).
How Having Less Really is More
This sounds impossible but as you get rid of things you don’t need you’ll notice a lightness coming about. When you have less stuff it’s less to maintain and clean. I do not have a lot of knick knacks or trinkets on display in my house because it’s a lot to dust off and clean every week. I am not saying you have to clear every surface, this is just my personal feeling when it comes to having many things displayed.
How it Fits into a Frugal Lifestyle
As you let go of more and more things you’ll start to notice that you no longer feel the need to shop just to have some new stuff. I rarely want anything more than a book that I can’t find in my library. I leave stuff on my Amazon shopping list for a while and half the time I end up deleting it because the thought has passed. I live by the statement wear it out, use it up, or do without.
Too Many Choices
We think having more choices spells freedom and luxury but really it’s overwhelming to me. I don’t have to live by anyone else’s rules and most people don’t pay as much attention as you think. I own 4 pairs of the exact same pair of jeans and 4 pairs of the exact same pair of khaki pants and no one has ever noticed. When I open my closet and see only two choices for pants it saves me so much time. I feel the same way about my hair. I’d love to have long flowing luxurious movie star hair but I don’t want to spend 3 hours on my hair every day. My hair is naturally super frizzy so I cut it short and never even have to brush it. I don’t bother with dying my hair either, I don’t care.
How do you feel about minimalism?
Will you take action and let go of things today?