Oct 062012

For those of you who are new to the Fritter and have been too lazy to go read some of the archives, in addition to living on a sailboat in Key West, I am also a hardcore minimalist. If you are wondering what that means, it means I have taken up a lifestyle over the past few years that doesn’t rely on owning an excessive amount of possessions. By possessions I mean everything…from clothes to property and everything in between. Minimalism means living with the basic necessities of life and little else in material goods. Why live that way in the land of plenty? Because living a life filled with consuming and possessions, especially possessions that require your time and attention to maintain, takes away from the actual experience of living. Owning a lot of things, things like vehicles, houses, stuff to put in the houses, and the debt you most likely incur to pay for all that stuff distracts and prevents you from achieving your real goals in life. How many times have you dreamt of doing something, only to be held back because you are obligated by the things you own? (Or to be more correct, the things that own you). Things like traveling, starting your own business, or um…living on a sailboat in Key West. Sounds like fun to dream about it. Actually do it? “Well, I got a mortgage, and a car payment, and I can’t live without my big screen tv or my coffee maker, and besides I have a good paying job with benefits that I need to keep up with the credit card bill for the tv and the coffee maker even though said job sucks the ambition and joy out of my life every hour of every day I am employed there.” I know. I was there..except for the coffee maker. Hate coffee. Never could acquire a taste for it.

About 10 or 12 years ago that is exactly how I was. I owned a house, a truck, a new motorcycle every year, furniture, appliances, satellite tv, and tens of thousands of dollars in debt. I was working a decent job and has some good money coming in, but I was miserable. It seemed I could never get ahead. The mortgage went on forever. I swapped motorcycles out every year because that was the business I was in. The credit card never saw a zero balance. I even added a second property down here in the Keys with another mortgage. None of it was making me happy. I felt trapped and I was. I longed to just walk away with what I could carry on my back and not worry about keeping the house up to speed, paying for gas, or driving through Orlando traffic for two hours a day just to stand behind a parts counter and sell oil.

When I saw the end of the good paying job coming up I knew it was time to make some serious changes. It took almost ten years to do it but I was able over time to get rid of the debt, any possession that cost me money, and move to someplace I had been wanting to live for most of my adult life. It wasn’t easy, and I lost a lot of money in the process but….here I am, living on a 26 foot by 8 foot piece of floating fiberglass on an island at the end of the world. I have very few possessions, even less of an income, no investments for the future, and I could not be happier….just kidding. A cool million bucks would thrill the shit out of me right now. But you get the idea. I am not bogged down by debt, possessions, or a dead end job to pay for any of it. I have the ability to pursue just about any journey in life that I choose…as long as I can come up with bus fare.

I didn’t know it at the time, but the lifestyle that I was aspiring to was becoming an actual movement. Minimalism was starting to catch on around the country especially with younger folks. They had seen what kind of misery and unhappiness that a lifestyle dependent on debt and acquiring new things all the time had done to their parents. Many had dreams of getting out of the rut they were in and seeing the world and all the neat things it had to offer. Later, many started up blogs about their minimalist lifestyle and their experiences. I began to come across these blogs a few years ago and you can find a few of them on the Fritter Links page. If you are interested in the minimalist lifestyle but not quite sure where to start or if it is for you, I would suggest taking some time and peruse those links. There are some very interesting and helpful sites out there.

One site in particular though, is the gist of this particular post. I have done this a couple times before and it’s about time to do it again. The site is called A Guy Named Dave. Dave was a hardcore minimalist and he came up with the idea of the 100 things Challenge. The 100 Thing Challenge is exactly what it implies. An attempt to limit your material possessions to a set number and to not add any more purchases beyond that set number. Buy only what you need, use what you buy.

While the number is not important in itself, you can use any number you are comfortable with, the idea is to limit yourself to only those things that are essential to your everyday life. Things that you use all the time. And getting rid of the things you no longer use. You eliminate clutter, stress, and become more free in your lifestyle than you would if you were to be bogged down by owning so much stuff. Many have taken up the 100 Thing Challenge in some form or another, including myself. Back in June of last year I published my inventory coming in at less than 80 things. Now that I have acquired a sailboat, I figger it might be a good time to do it again and see where I stand. So, let’s have a look at what I own:

I know what you are thinking,”He owns a sailboat, and sailboats have lots of things, how will he stay under 100 things now?”. Easy. I cheat. Here is how.

The boat was a target of opportunity. I was getting evicted from my apartment at the other marina as they were getting ready to tear down the building. So, I found the Fritter and moved onto it. It provides me with inexpensive living quarters, a possible way to do some travel, and I was able to buy it outright without incurring any debt. How much I put into the boat and how long I will keep it remains to be seen. But as with any boat, this one needs stuff to operate and live on it. Things like life jackets, bilge pumps, anchors, sails, and all kinds of other boaty type stuff. I also brought on board a smattering of tools, some bits of dinner ware (courtesy of the dollar store), and a few other minor household items. Now, do I count these all as separate items? Well, when I do sell the Fritter, or it goes to the bottom of the deep, dark, cold sea in a blaze of cannon fire as I stand on the yardarm firing my last pistol shot with my dying breath, all that stuff will remain with the boat. The only things I will walk away with are those things that I can carry on my back…and the cats of course. So, since it’s my blog and my rules, the boat and the things that are associated with it, will only count as one thing.

As for the rest, the majority of what I own is clothes of course. But my wardrobe, as you will see below is pretty er, minimal. Lightweight, light colored clothing designed for tropical living. The climate and my lifestyle allow me to live with a limited wardrobe. No changing for the seasons. It saves a lot on space and money. I do keep a separate wardrobe up north with family for my visits. I go up there so little that I am not sure exactly what there is up there anymore. All I know for sure is that it is all geared for cold weather. The rest is mainly what I have for computer equipment.

How detailed you want to get into compiling a list like this is strictly up to you. For example, some people count a wallet as just one thing. Others break it down to what’s in the wallet and count each item. You can get into the exactness of this as far as you want, but I don’t get quite that anal. I have what I have and use what I have. I keep a simple rule. If I have not used something within a year, I don’t need it. Get rid of it.

So, without blabbing on any further, here is what I currently own:

  1. sailboat
  2. bicycle
  3. bicycle lock
  4. tire air pump
  5. backpack
  6. carry bag
  7. laptop computer (includes charger/earphones)
  8. iPhone (includes charger)
  9. digital camera with charger and floating cord
  10. cheap $10 tracfone with charger and earphone
  11. bear extender wifi antenna
  12. square up credit card plug in
  13. square up credit card plug in (got a spare for free)
  14. wallet
  15. drivers license
  16. bank card
  17. wallet
  18. captain license
  19. dive card
  20. twic card
  21. cpr card
  22. first aid card
  23. folder with minor papers like birth records
  24. eyeglasses
  25. spare eyeglasses
  26. reader eyeglasses
  27. sunglasses with built in readers and floating cord (Foster Grants for $20 at Publix.  Great buy!)
  28. wide brim hat
  29. rain jacket
  30. topsider deck shoes
  31. one pair sneakers
  32. one pair of socks
  33. one pair of socks
  34. one pair of socks
  35. one pair of underwear
  36. fishing shorts
  37. fishing shorts
  38. fishing shorts
  39. fishing shorts
  40. fishing shorts
  41. lightweight fishing shirt
  42. lightweight fishing shirt
  43. lightweight fishing shirt
  44. medium weight fishing shirt
  45. medium weight fishing shirt
  46. long sleeve t shirt
  47. long sleeve t shirt
  48. long sleeve t shirt
  49. long sleeve t shirt
  50. long sleeve t shirt
  51. long sleeve t shirt
  52. heavy fishing shirt
  53. bandanna
  54. bandanna
  55. portable electric shaver
  56. toothbrush
  57. nail clippers
  58. comb
  59. towel (A real hitchhiker always knows where his towel is)
  60. pen
  61. checkbook
  62. cat litter box
  63. cat feeder
  64. cat water dish
  65. cat carrier
  66. cat carrier

And that’s it. That is about as detailed as I care to get at the moment.

The cool thing about all this is, minus the boat, and the cats of course, if I were to lose absolutely everything, it could all be replaced within a day or two and for about $2000 give or take a fishing shirt or two.  If disaster struck, you would not find me sitting along the curb in my pajamas crying into the local news camera because some storm or something wiped out my home…mainly because I don’t wear pajamas.  It’s all replaceable and has no sentimental value at all.  It is simply the stuff I need and use to maintain a comfort level that suits my lifestyle at the moment.  Right now, it’s less than what I listed before.  (Yes, I cheated by adding a bunch of things into the boat but so what).  Next time it may be more.  Who knows.  The important thing is I am not a slave to the things I own.  I can adapt to any changes life should send in my direction and not be concerned about protecting any material “wealth”.

Sure I’m poor.  I don’t own land.  I don’t own a vehicle.  I don’t have fancy furniture or appliances.  So what.  I am living on a sailboat in Key West.  I have no stress.  Life is good.  How about you?  Are you happy with all your stuff?  Or are you feeling trapped too?  You can escape if you want.  You just have to want to escape.  It may take a while, and it may not be easy, but living a minimalist lifestyle has been well worth the effort for this little fritter.

Take a moment and do a little tour of your own little kingdom.  Snoop around in the closets, the attic, and the garage.  Lot’s stuff laying around ain’t there?  Paid a lot for that stuff and still paying for it ain’t ya?  Is it what you wanted in life?  Do you have dreams that are yet unfulfilled?  Wondering why they never happened?  The answer could be laying right there in front of you, in the form of a big pile of dusty boxes and a desk covered with overdue bills.  Is your real lifestyle interfering with the lifestyle you really want?  Perhaps the answer lies here in this blog or in the others that I link to.  Take a look and decide if perhaps, less is indeed more.

Capt. Fritter

Seriously, a million, half a million, and I am so out of here.  I’ll go someplace in the tropics and live on a boat in peace….oh, wait….


  2 Responses to “The 100 Thing Challenge, Fall Edition…”

  1. Whew! Now that I know I can count my RV and all the things that go with it as one thing, I’m sure I can stay under 100 things. 3 pair jeans, 6 t-shirts, 6 long-sleeve t-shirts, 1 dressy shirt, 1 belt, 1 polar fleece, 1 shell to go over fleece, 1 raincoat, 2 hats, 1 pair gloves, underwear/bras/hankies/socks, 2 pair shoes, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, hair clips, medicines, glasses, sunglasses, hearing aids with batteries, laptop, iPad, iPhone, camera, convertible backpack/suitcase, convertible day bag, cooler bag, belt pack, crochet stuff, water bottle, cane, and electric scooter. Of course if you make me count the stuff in that day bag all bets are off. 🙂

    • Yeah, but still. Everything is accountable. You use what you have. No clutter, no waste. It’s not the number that matters. So long as you have what you need and use what you have.

      C. F.