Aug 082011

I’d like to think that over the last ten years or more I have picked up a few good lessons and tips on adopting a minimalist lifestyle. After all, it’s been quite the transition reducing down to the bare essentials. So, I thought I would post a few lessons and tips along the way. Keep in mind that my version of minimalism may be very different from yours. There are no rules. You can take it to whatever degree you want. As I said in an earlier post I have reached my goals in terms of the amount of possessions I want or need. It’s not much and not a lot of people could function with so little. That is fine. It’s whatever you are comfortable with. So here goes:

The number one thing, above all others in achieving your minimalist goals is to value your personal freedom above all else. Once you start sacrificing freedom for anything else, you have lost and it is very difficult to get that freedom back. Sometimes it is impossible. Freedom trumps all other aspects. Without it, you are, for lack of a better term, a slave.

The number one impediment to freedom is debt. The first step in minimalism is to eliminate all debt. No mortgages, no credit cards, no car loans, absolutely, positively no debt. No exceptions. Interest, especially compound interest is a Ponzi scheme of the worst kind. Nothing will prevent you from achieving your goals more than debt. If you cannot pay cash, you don’t need it.

When it comes to possessions, you either need it or you don’t. There is no, “I might need this”, or “Someday that will come in handy”. If you don’t use it you don’t need it. You can always get it, borrow it, or whatever but if you don’t use it…well, you get the picture. (I use a timeline of one year. If I haven’t used it in a year, it is gone).

Get rid of your television right now. Turn the damn thing off, disconnect the cable or dish, give it away, throw it away or destroy it. Television is nothing more than a medium for wall to wall advertising. The programming is geared towards the lowest common denominator. You are smarter than that, (cause you are reading this blog). Dump the tv now.

If it is at all possible. If you live in an area where you can do it. Go car free. I just did and I am not sorry I did. A vehicle will eat up your money faster than anything else you purchase. It will drain you financially as long as you own one. Try public transportation. Ride a bicycle. Get away from the high gas prices, over bearing regulations, and the demeaning act of buying or selling a vehicle, I know, I just went through it myself. Not everyone lives in an area where they can go without a vehicle but if you can, do it.

Don’t let age be a factor in minimalizing. If you are young and just starting out in life get in the mind set now of not accumulating vast quantities of crap. You will be glad you did in the long run. If you are older you can still do it. I started in earnest when I was in my late 40’s and now here I am in my late 50’s looking much better. I may not have much money but I have all the freedom and potential to make more no matter what my age.

All jobs are temporary. It may last one day or 50 years but it is still temporary. Never let the lure of a big paycheck or alleged benefits keep you trapped. If your job keeps you up at night, stresses you to the point where it affects your health, get out. Find something else. If you are following the basics of a minimalist lifestyle, getting out of a bad situation is much easier.

Work with people and companies, not for them. Stay away from tyrannical bosses, companies with overbearing rules, or un real expectations. But whenever possible, try to work for the one person who will benefit the most from your labors, yourself.

Get out and see some of the world. Travel as much as possible and experience other things. It’s a really cool planet out there. It would be a shame to miss it.

More than anything else, the internet makes a minimalist lifestyle possible. Properly used it is one of the invaluable tools you can use. It can provide income, allow you to function in our complicated society, travel, and learn. Never underestimate it’s potential.

And finally. Get over your fears of de possessing your life. It is way less harmful than you realize. Yes, you will make a few mistakes along the way. I did. And I still do. But roll with it. Set your goals and work towards them. Be patient as they will not happen over night. And never ever let anyone else tell you that what you are doing is right or wrong. Only you can decide that. In the meantime, I will be here running my yap about all the ups and downs in my little unimportant world. Keep following and I hope I have helped you some.

The Fritter

If you have a tip or two on minimalism and want to share it, please add it to the comments. I’d appreciate it.