If you do a search for minimalist blogs you will find the vast majority of them are written by young people. People in their 20’s, fresh out of school, full of piss and vinegar. Ready to challenge all conventional notions of life, living out of a backpack, ambitious, cocksure that they can handle anything that life throws at them. They stand ready to take on the world and make it a better place for all concerned.
Boy, am I glad those days are over with.
The Fritter covers minimalism from a much older perspective. I am the first to admit that I have squandered away many of the opportunities that have come my way. I made the decisions and dealt with the results. It’s nobody else’s fault, except for that one ex girlfriend, the bitch/slut/whore, but I ain’t bitter.
As I said in the beginning, I have adopted a minimalist lifestyle partly by desire and partly by necessity. Today covers necessity.
I am of the Baby Boomer generation. You know, the one that is about to bankrupt the country with entitlement demands. Ours was the first generation in known history to never go hungry. We were taught from the beginning to acquire and consume things. A new car, a fancy house, big screen tv, all the newest fad gadgets. Now we are looking at retirement with few pensions, a crap shoot with Social Security, and questionable health care. At some point you have to sit back and realize that maybe it just isn’t working. Borrowing to keep a house that eats up your time and money. Wasting money on a new car that will be worthless in three years. Going shopping every weekend and coming home with more junk to add to the pile. Then you have the ongoing worry of losing all that stuff. What if there was a fire, a hurricane, or earthquake? Look how fast people lost everything in Japan recently, or New Orleans a few years back. Could you lose everything and be able to start over again from scratch? And to pay for all of this we debase ourselves by selling the most valuable asset we have, time, for jobs that we hate. We so willingly give up our personal freedom and dignity to faceless companies that consider us to be no more important than a stapler or shovel. We take these jobs then fight to move up the corporate ladder. We make enemies on the way, we say and do things that in normal settings would never even be considered. All to keep a paycheck coming in to maintain a lifestyle.
I know, I was there, for many years. Until I hit the magic age of 40.
My 40th birthday was one of the most miserable days of my life. The actual age was not a big deal. Some feel that 40 is when you go from being young to old. That part didn’t bother me. But I spent that day sitting alone in a bar, drinking a beer, wondering what the hell I was doing wrong. I had lost my job so no income was coming in. I owned a house, with 26 years left on a suffocating mortgage, a car loan, credit card debt, all adding up to $65,000 worth of debt. Add in other monthly expenses such as utilities, gas, and trying to feed my self and life wasn’t looking to great at the moment. It was then that I knew I had to make some major changes. I knew what I wanted to do, I just didn’t know that at the time it would going minimalist.
The next couple of years were rough. An odd job here or there, barely enough to hang on. A break finally came 2 years later when I managed to get a job in the field that I had trained for. The company was well established with a surprisingly good owner. He paid well and treated everyone right. The job enabled me to catch up and eliminate some of the debt, get back on my feet, and even put some money away. But I knew it wasn’t going to last. Never get comfortable with your situation as something will always come along to change it. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good. The end came when the owner announced he was retiring and selling the business. He made sure we all had a job with the new owners but I knew what was coming. The previous owner had no turnover of personnel while I was there. Within one year of the new ownership, all but 3 were gone. Replaced by newer, cheaper, labor. It didn’t take long for me to get out. But by then I was on my way to getting a handle on the debt and the lifestyle that I was working on. By the time I hit 50, not a happy day either as I lost a parent to cancer a week later, (Can’t wait to hit 60!), I was out of the house, no debt other than the credit card, and looking for the right opportunity to get out of the area and head for the Keys, where I live today.
Now I am debt free, have my own little business, and I am quite content. I no longer work to maintain a lifestyle, rather I have a lifestyle that that lets me work the way I want. Retirement is not going to happen. Most likely I will be doing something until I die. Which is why I am on the internet blogging and looking at income streams. My little business is fun and easy, plus it is starting to make some money. But a variety of issues will be coming up soon that will force me to make decisions on whether to continue with it or not.
If you have made it this far in life, enjoyed what you do for a living, have a nice retirement set up, or are already retired, good for you. Happy for you. You did what you felt was right for your lifestyle. For myself, I adjusted my needs and desires to fit my situation and to be honest, I am quite happy at the moment. There is very little stress in my life. If the next big disaster comes along and wipes out everything I have, it can be replaced in a few days. I love living in the Keys but if something happened that forced me to leave, I could, with very little problems relocate to another corner of paradise. I may have made some poor decisions over my life, at least by conventional standards, but I am the only one who has to live with the results. Despite not having the “required’ pensions, retirement funds, all the other trappings that you should have as you get up in age, I am looking forward to the future and all the challenges that will come with it. Taking up a minimalist lifestyle has made it happen. It may not work for everyone, but it has for me…as long as that damn ex doesn’t show back up.
Til next time.