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Minimalism (The Not Owning Stuff Kind)

post #1 of 126
Thread Starter 
This is probably a foolish topic idea given that most of us likely came here or stayed here because of a connection to material things (in this instance, clothing). Regardless, I'm curious if anyone here has ever or currently lives a minimalistic lifestyle.

Even a few years ago, the concept seemed absurd to me. What sort of freak doesn't want to own lots of great material possessions? I've changed my stance a lot since then, especially during the last year.

I don't think I could go full-on minimalist (i.e. be able to fit all of my possessions into a couple of bags). I do think I could go with a minimalist-esque lifestyle, though. I've had the realization that collecting most things were usually just pleasant distractions. My happiest stretches in my life are invariably tied to people and experiences and not the accumulation of things.

That isn't to say I haven't found joy in acquiring certain things. But more often than not, the joy hasn't been sustainable and has only generated a stronger want to gain more. I'm just 25, but I've already been in a couple of bad spots financially when I shouldn't have been due to dedicating too much money to the accumulation of things.

I've spent the last year really hacking away at the amount of things I own. I've cut my DVD collection in half, made countless trips to the Goodwill drop-off station, thrown away bags and bags of stuff, etc.

Anyone else like this or been through a similar lifestyle shift?
post #2 of 126
It's called broke-ass college kid. Enjoy.
post #3 of 126
My gf and I moved cross country and we had to fit everything we both owned into a VW Jetta. Needless to say, we tossed a lot of stuff. It turns out, life is better with fewer things and our new strategy is that whatever we buy must replace a current item.

So if I buy a new pair of shoes, it means I get rid of a pair I currently own. I always have weighed new purchases before making them by asking myself, "Do I really want this?" But now I also ask, "What will this be taking the place of?" That's my tip for minimal living (although I don't consider my lifestyle minimalist).
post #4 of 126
I have almost nothing that doesn't fall into one of these categories. clothing & accessories furniture (bed, work table, 2 dining chairs, coffee table, sofa, shelves) basic kitchen supplies office supplies computer phone books artwork The only thing I really collected that I had no use for were a few model sailboats that I've since given to my dad or sold. I have no Ipod, stereo system, record player, video game system, other leisure toys or television. I've consolidated all that into my computer. I don't see how I could eliminate much more. All my clothes are dark blues, greys, and whites so I can get more versatility out of them and buy higher quality versions of each. I wear a blue or white oxford almost every day. I've got four t-shirts. Two greys and two whites. One v-neck and one crewneck of each. About a dozen boring ties. I've developed a strong aversion to clutter and there's no going back. My parents' house growing up was a bit cluttered in the Better Homes & Garden variety. Instead of seeing things I like and wanting to buy them, I'd rather just admire them as objects. The only thing I can think of that I would like to own just to say I own it is a preserved mammal of some sorts.
post #5 of 126
It feels great to get rid of stuff. Especially when someone else can enjoy what you are getting rid of and even better when you get $ for it. I just sold a bunch of records. I was anxious at first as I've owned them for a long time but it was totally worth it. And now I get to buy some more clothes...

And on the topic of clothes a seasonal edit is always a good thing.
post #6 of 126
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Scoundrel View Post
It's called broke-ass college kid. Enjoy.

Not having much so-called disposable bank is certainly a factor, but that isn't what's caused this shift in perspective.

I grew up in a family where we had a lot of things. We weren't rich or even well off, but a lot of my mom's income went toward things for me and my brother and herself. They were fun times, but it left her with no real nest egg. She gets enough from her retirement to pay her bills and live a comfortable, apartment lifestyle. But if something catastrophic were to happen, she'd be in trouble.

Personally speaking, I echo the sentiments of above posters in that I generally just feel better when I'm not surrounded by things. Living in an apartment, you feel claustrophobic quickly if you have too many things.

My changing feelings are further enforced by seeing others around me constantly buying and feeling no real sustainable happiness because of it. My best friend and his wife (both my age) bring in close to $100,000 annually. That's quite a bit in this state, especially for people their age. He's somewhat frugal, but they're always working on some home improvement project or adding something to the home that isn't really necessary. This doesn't seem to bring any sustainable happiness to them. There's the satisfaction during and right after the project. But then it's on to the next money-gobbling project.

I'm still a materialistic person at heart, but I finally realized I get more out of creating something than I do buying most things.
post #7 of 126
It's so tempting.
post #8 of 126
During my university years, I changed apartments once or twice every year. That forced me to constantly purge the junk I'd accumulated. Recently, I moved to a different continent and had to give up things that I had long held on to, like furniture and books. I find I don't miss them at all. In fact, I packed everything I own into three bags. My current clothing collection isn't minimalist, but I strive to make sure that there aren't a large number of pieces that can only be worn with only one or two other things. I find it easier to value my belongings when I have fewer of them.
post #9 of 126
The rational part of my brain loves to get rid of things, but the irrational part has a hard time with it. The rational part of my brain would do much better at cutting down on the overall volume/weight of posessions if I were not married... The one thing I really have a hard time not accumulating is books, which unfortunately take up both a pretty large volume (a concern for regular storage) and are extremely heavy (a concern when moving)
post #10 of 126
Thread Starter 
My mom is a lifelong reader who at her peak, probably owned at least a couple thousand books. She eventually cut it down to maybe half of that and then another half before she moved from our house to an apartment.

She still reads a few books a week, but has curbed the rampant accumulation by exchanging books with friends and using the local libraries.

I had a similar problem with DVDs. I probably owned about 600 four years ago. I'm down to about 400 and am looking to lop off another 100. I once had this grand vision of building this amazing library of great films and TV shows. But in my pursuit, I wound up buying faster than I could watch them. I slowed down my purchases so I could catch up and then started to weed out ones I knew I'd not likely watch again.

That's where this gets tricky. I think it's perfectly fine to own things related to your passions and serious interests. But there's a breaking point.

I'm most interested in writing, cooking, exercising, and clothes/style. Because of that, I consider things like my cookware, computer (that I'll replace very soon), gym gear, and clothing more or less essential.

I also love movies and books, but those are different in that I only want to own my favorites. I'm always up for seeing a new great film or reading a good book. But I get more satisfaction from looking at a shelf that has my favorite films or books, rather than just hundreds of DVDs and books.
post #11 of 126
didn't we already have a "one shoe" thread. Does that make Foo the ultimate minimalist?
post #12 of 126
getting rid of shit is my crack, i love throwing crap out, and after i gave up all my crap, i throw away other peoples. everytime i watch hoarders i feel like just tearing those peoples houses apart. those got junk guys on there are way too fucking slow and delicate. all that shit has to GO! id be slapping the person whos house it was if they tried to pick up any of the shit that was getting thrown out. and then id throw them out, and be smashing shit on their fuckin heads till they start crying and bury them in the bin of their worthless posessions.
post #13 of 126
They've done studies on this. Experiences definitely contribute more to happiness than do material possessions.

Apparently materialism also makes you less popular. CU-Boulder study link.
post #14 of 126
Originally Posted by mr.loverman View Post
Apparently materialism also makes you less popular, unless you have a bag of dope. CU-Boulder study
post #15 of 126
Things are just props and icing on the cake. Having stuff is nice but meaningless unless you can share it with others.
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