Taking the First Steps to a Minimalist Lifestyle
Partly by design, partly due to necessity, I have taken up a minimalist lifestyle. It really started in earnest about 10 years ago when I sold my house. I was moving from a 2 bedroom 1 car garage into a 28 ft motor home. As the time for the move got closer I started looking at all the shit I collected over the last 15 years of living in that money draining pile of crap and decided that, after the cats and the computer, if it didn’t fit in the motor home, it was gone. Yard sale, ebay, trash, leave it behind, get rid of it. 6 years later I moved from the motorhome onto a 27 ft sailboat. (Why yes, I’m single, how did you guess??) When it was time to make the move, I decided, after the cats and the computer, whatever didn’t fit on the boat was gone. I have since moved off the boat and rented out a small rv trailer but I have already decided that on my next move, back onto a boat, another rv, a small apartment, whatever, along with 2 very nervous cats, my computer, whatever else goes will fit into an ordinary backpack. Going minimalist has without a doubt been one of the most liberating and exciting decisions I have ever made. It has freed me up to do all sorts of new things, even for someone in his mid 50’s. I now live where I want, the Florida Keys of course. I have my own business which is starting to gel and produce a positive cash flow. And I have the freedom to come and go as I please. Nothing to hold me back if an opportunity that I fancy presents itself.
Minimalism is pretty much what is sounds like. Living with less. It’s not being poor, even though that was an incentive, but rather not wasting money and resources on the things that hold you back from having a full and rich life. No mortgages, no car payments, no credit card. No need to consume useless stuff that doesn’t enrich your life but rather hinders it. We are taught from birth to be consumers. Buy new, buy the best, replace the old. Without this or that your life is a miserable failure. People preach against debt, how bad it is, while at the same time making it so easy to get in debt with a low down payment and monthly payments that you won’t even notice. The shiny new wears off fast on that new car or other purchase when you are in your 3rd year of 5 year loan and it seems to be no end to the payments. I know, I was there.
Minimalism can be different things to different people. You can take it to the extreme like I am trying to do and reduce everything you own down to a pack back. Or it could be as simple as cleaning out your garage to the point where you can actually fit your car back into it again. There is no right or wrong, it is what you are comfortable with. But be forewarned, minimalism can be addictive.
As this blog progresses I will be offering tips and hints on achieving a minimalist lifestyle. But for now, try taking the first steps toward reducing your clutter. Take something small, like a box of old papers, receipts. Sort them out into two piles. Stuff you don’t need anymore and stuff you do need. Be honest and objective with yourself. Do you really need to hold onto that warranty on that blender you bought 3 years ago? Take the pile that you don’t need and shred it. Shred it and send the shreds to recycle. The pile you do need, scan it, assuming you have a computer and a scanner, if not consider joining the rest of the planet in the 21st century and get one. Scan, confirm you scanned correctly, then shred and recycle. What you should end up with is an empty box and some electrons on your computer that look like the papers you just scanned. Get rid of the box as there is alway an urge to fill an empty box with more crap, and move on to another. Take it one step further and apply the same logic to a closet or small room.
Impose a timeline on stuff. When was the last time you used something? Last week or last year? I give a year on my things. If I haven’t used it in a year, I don’t need it. And none of this “I might need that”. Either you do or you don’t. If not, get rid of it. If nothing else give it to a neighbor or a friend. If you do need it you can alway borrow it. If you follow that logic you will soon find a lot of empty space where there used to be clutter. You are also going to find a lot less worry and stress as you rid yourself of unnecessary stuff. It works but only when you get into the mindset that you just don’t need so much stuff to live. Just don’t eliminate a bunch of stuff only to replace it with more useless stuff.
That’s all for this installment of Manatee Fritters. Take some time and do an inventory of what you have and what you need. You will be surprised by how little it takes to maintain a full lifestyle. See you next time.