Everyday Living, Minimalism

Is minimalism for me?

Somewhere I can hear my mother emphatically stating “no!” in answer to the question that I put up above. Is minimalism for me? As I look around my desk, I see two notary stamps (one with my maiden name and one with my married name); a stuffed, plush Tigger that a dear friend sent me for Christmas a year or two ago; a mug from a newspaper job I left four years ago; a jewelry box that have a pair of earrings that I bought probably 10 years ago and never wore; blank postcards from a charitable 5K I’m participating in and a stack of stuff that’s on my now-defunct scanner.

So no, my friends, minimalism is probably not for me. So why does it intrigue me? Here’s my two (likely uneducated, but spouted out anyway) cents on the matter. When the economy was crap, many people turned to frugality. And while they were dabbling with buying clothes at secondhand stores and taking time to actually make meals instead of going out for dinner, I think some of these people started looking around at their lives and thought “gee, why do I really have seven black sweaters when I only wear two of them?” or “do I really need to hold onto this book that I got for Christmas seven years ago, read and am just hanging onto?” And then … it stuck. Or actually, journalists were probably looking for a different spin on writing about frugality and decided to write articles about people who started paring down their worldly possessions.

I’m oversimplifying. Minimalism has been around for awhile, but it has become an Internet buzzword that has spawned a whole new slew of reading material and blogs written about the topic. (And ironically, as I read more about minimalism and start subscribing to “minimalist living” blogs, I’m overloading my Google Reader. Sigh!)

Here are a couple of blog resources that I’ve started reading – Rowdy Kittens (I really like this one …) and The Non-Consumer Advocate (although I’ve been reading Katy’s blog for awhile). I’ll do a little bit more digging for y’all if you’re interested – those are the ones that I’m currently reading and both of them have links to other blogs that also talk about simple living and minimalism.

So why does this intrigue me so much? I think the partial reason is that I cannot see myself doing this – although I’m not as obsessed with as much “stuff” as I used to be, I cannot see myself paring down my worldly possessions to 100 things. (Google “100 things challenge” to see what I’m talking about when I reference “100 things.”) Sure – when I studied abroad in college, I went over there with only what one suitcase and one backpack could hold. (But I came back with more …) But here is my thought process. If I’m going to keep “stuff” (and yes, I’m thinking about the boxes full of recipes that I’ve torn out of magazines over the years), I need to actually DO SOMETHING with it instead of letting it sit around. For instance, no amount of money would ever make me part with a set of spoons that I inherited from my beloved grandpa (they feature the Dionne Quintuplets and I used to polish them when I’d go over to my grandparents’ house – that was the coolest thing ever when I was 10.). But they are sitting in a box that is labeled “Grandpa’s spoons.” Well, what good are they doing there? They should be in a shadow box or something like that.

So is minimalism for me? Probably not. But living intentionally is. So now you know where I’m going to be spending my weekend – sifting through the “stuff” that’s accumulated in my office. If you don’t hear for me in a week or so, send a search party!

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4 thoughts on “Is minimalism for me?

  1. You should be using your grandfather’s spoons. Not keeping them in a box and certainly not shutting them away in a shadow box. Use them when you have tea, and the experience will be that much better!

    -Katy

  2. I don’t ever aspire to be minimalist, but I certainly like some of the aspects of it! DF is a hoarder, and while I can keep some things that have sentimental value, I don’t shed a tear over getting rid of things. Recently we went through some boxes we hadn’t unpacked since we moved in (over a year and a half ago now). DF threw out seven boxes of stuff! After that he actually sighed and said he felt better, lol. I think our ‘stuff’ weighs us down more than we think.

  3. I absolutely agree on the “living intentionally” thing – growing up we had like 4 sets of dishes – the plastic ones that we actually used on a daily basis, a set of basic Corelle that we used occasionally, another set of Corelle thas a bit nicer, had everything (the coffee cups and saucers, etc.) that I bet I saw used 10 times in 18 years, for certain holiday meals, and ANOTHER set of fine China that sat in a china hutch and got dusted once a year. Similar thing with silverware. Similar with mom’s many wardrobe boxes of clothes. And boxes of things that moved with us in our only big move in 1983, and when my mom finally sold the house in 2004, were STILL in those same boxes. I vowed never to be like that. A small box of “treasures” that have very special memories attached to them seems ok, but keeping years of books, magazines, etc. simply to collect them seems wrong. So whenever I clean, I follow the 5-year rule – if it hasn’t been touched in 5 years, it’s gone.

    And absolutely you need to use your grandma’s spoons! We use a “grandma” silver tea set regularly and it’s fun to use it!

  4. I have gotten on the minimalist bandwagon as well. I recently started a blog to track my progress of change, and I tell ya, getting rid of a lot of things is HARD. I still have 205 items in my kitchen (I did an inventory) but its a lot better than the 279 that was there before.

    So I question myself as well, is minimalism for me? I guess I will find out through this transition I am in. But I agree, living intentionally is important. And I dont think I will ever throw away my high school yearbooks

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