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Any failed minimalists out there?
Old 08-14-2010, 03:02 PM   #1
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Any failed minimalists out there?

One of the things I've really started getting interested in is minimalism -- owning less than 100 things, etc. I'm 99% sure I'll like it. Stuff is a drag for me, I don't like shopping, I don't have that much stuff now anyway, etc. The vagabonding and/or teardropping lifestyle seems very appealing.

What I wonder about is the possibility that I'll head towards minimalism and discover I don't like it because some of the decisions are relatively one-way. If I sell my house and move to a smaller one, discover I don't like the lifestyle, and then move back to a bigger house, that would be an inefficient use of finances. Of course if I get a smaller house and like it, that would be a big plus financially.

So has anyone out there thought they'd like minimalism, tried it, and it didn't work for you? If it didn't work for you, why not?

I think the biggest obstacle in my case would be my kids, who at least so far appear to be on the pack-rat side of the spectrum.

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Old 08-14-2010, 03:10 PM   #2
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

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Old 08-14-2010, 03:16 PM   #3
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I have been slowly minimalizing. Don't miss anything yet.
Perhaps I shall miss the clothesline and compost and garden and birds...
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Old 08-14-2010, 03:30 PM   #4
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I guess I could have been considered a minimalist years ago...but for me it was not by choice; I was poor.

My needs and wants are few. I think the key is to know you have the money to change your lifestyle if you find something extra that gives you pleasure.
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Old 08-14-2010, 03:32 PM   #5
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OK, maybe it's just me, but there ain't no way in h*ll I worked for almost 40 years to live with a 100 things! I like stuff! All kinds of stuff! There are more than a hundred things in the room I am setting. Books, furniture, electronic gadgets, and I am not through.
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Old 08-14-2010, 03:34 PM   #6
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I think the key is to know you have the money to change your lifestyle if you find something extra that gives you pleasure.
I think there's some basic human nature to that. You may not *want* something if you know you have the means and ability to get it, but if you *don't* have the means and ability to get something, we're more likely to covet it.

Just *knowing* you can buy it if you really want it is satisfying even if you never buy it -- much like w*rk can sometimes be more tolerable if you're FI and you know you can tell Megacorp to stick it any time they made the job really suck. Even if you keep working, just knowing you can quit whenever you want is liberating.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

RIP to Reemy, my avatar dog (2003 - 9/16/2017)
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Old 08-14-2010, 03:50 PM   #7
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After an earlier life of unnecessary accumulation, I have been decluttering for many years, and feel great about it. For me at least, there is a trick to sticking with it that I learned from elsewhere (Fit for Life for those interested).

They tell you how to eat healthy, but they insist the way to stick with it is to plan a regular splurge once in a while. You eat strictly healthy 6 days a week, but then allow yourself to eat whatever you want on Saturdays. You can eat alfalfa sprouts all week, and then get a double cheeseburger on Saturday - enjoy yourself! And if every once in a while you go out of control due to a birthday party or whatever, oh well, it'll happen. No point in beating yourself up, just get back on the horse. Just knowing you won't have to deny yourself indefinitely, makes it easier to eat healthy the rest of the time - for me this is absolutely key. And in time, you may not want to splurge on Saturdays. Regardless, eating healthy 6+ days/week is as effective as 7.

We've applied the same methods to spending. We happily live a pretty uncluttered, austere lifestyle, far below our means. But every once in a while, if we really want something special, we just do it without worrying. I recently took up guitar. I rented one for $30/month to make sure I would stick with it, but then I went to buy one. I could have bought a cheap used guitar, but I went ahead and bought something reasonably nice (to me at least).

For me at least, the occasional exceptions make healthy eating, frugal living, etc. very doable - and essentially just as effective as full time denial. Full time denial ain't living IMO...
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Old 08-14-2010, 04:20 PM   #8
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OK, maybe it's just me, but there ain't no way in h*ll I worked for almost 40 years to live with a 100 things! I like stuff! All kinds of stuff! There are more than a hundred things in the room I am setting. Books, furniture, electronic gadgets, and I am not through.
+1.

I need to have more than 100 things! If the limit is up to 1,000 things, then perhaps I can be persuaded. Else, no deal.

And I mean 1,000 things just for me. My DW wants her own 1,000 things, of course. But that's what I think. She might not settle for merely 1,000, and I have not asked her.

Oh wait! I may need even more than that. I just thought of the tool boxes I meant to go out into the garage to sort back into order. If you count each of the sockets as one thing, then, MAN OH MAN! I may not have as many tools as other people here, but I still have 1/2", 3/8", and 1/4" sockets, metric and english sets, impact sockets and deep sockets, etc...

And then the wrench sets, the various drill bits, etc... etc... And I am not even talking about my electronic parts.
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Old 08-14-2010, 04:52 PM   #9
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At one time we had four sets of dishes. We are down to two. We have a dinning room. So he have to have a dinning room table, hutch, 6 chairs, two sets of crystal, and two sets of silver/stainless. We don't use the dinning room but maybe once a year, but why would we get rid of it? We have a guest house that is used less than 14 days a year. But it is there, and it does not effect our FI. We could downsize the house, we up sized to retire in, and we could sell a lot of crap stuff we seldom use. We would leave our kids more money, and we would be less happy.

I could go on, but I guess my point would be, is that I don't get being a minimalist if you don't have to. I understand in the accumulation phase, foregoing some things, but, I don't understand it as a way of life if you don't have to. I relate more to the thread on when should you spend down your stash.
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Old 08-14-2010, 04:55 PM   #10
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In reality, I'm not looking to be a minimalist. I'm not actively making it a point to get rid of "stuff." I'm just learning to be a lot more content with not accumulating a lot more of it.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

RIP to Reemy, my avatar dog (2003 - 9/16/2017)
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Old 08-14-2010, 05:00 PM   #11
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I'm moderately minimalist and have not failed. I have a rule: In order to acquire a new piece of technology, I have to give up and old piece of technology. That means, no ipod, no iphone, no ipad, etc unless I give up my laptop.
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Old 08-14-2010, 05:09 PM   #12
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In reality, I'm not looking to be a minimalist. I'm not actively making it a point to get rid of "stuff." I'm just learning to be a lot more content with not accumulating a lot more of it.
Same here...

...and it's much easier to be that way when you're retired. At least that's the way it is for me. I pay more attention now as the money is going out instead of coming in.
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Old 08-14-2010, 06:07 PM   #13
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Same here...

...and it's much easier to be that way when you're retired. At least that's the way it is for me. I pay more attention now as the money is going out instead of coming in.
DW and I started living on a fixed income on July 1st.

From a previous thread:
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We happen to have a year worth of living expenses in a savings account right now. I would like to start sending 100% of our paychecks directly to our investment accounts and try to live for an entire year solely on what's currently in that savings account. I will force us to plan expenses better and it should help us transition from living on a large, ever expanding income to living on a smaller, fixed income. I suspect our living expenses will go down as a result. And I think it will force us to weed out some fixed expenses in order to free more cash for discretionary expenses.
It's interesting how our spending changed as a result. We are a lot more mindful about how we spend money now that we gotta make that fixed amount of money last until the end of the year! Before that, we were wasting a lot of money just because we could. The next paycheck was always right around the corner, so spending a few hundred dollars here or there didn't really matter that much (especially since we were still saving the majority of our income). So far, our spending is way down compared to years past. Having to make each dollar count feels strangely satisfying.

As for minimalism, I am all for decluttering a bit but I still like my stuff. When I arrived in America, I must have had less than 100 items to my name. At first, I intended to keep things pretty minimalistic but after about 6 months, some creature comforts started to find their way to my apartment and before I knew it, it was pretty well furnished.
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Old 08-14-2010, 06:19 PM   #14
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Gotta be kidding, There are more than a hundred in the top drawer of my tool box. Then the rest of the garage, and then there is my electronics shop.

Forget that minimalist stuff. Been there done that when I was in the Army.

When I kick the bucket someone else will have to deal with the stuff. Then it is NOT MY PROBLEM.
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Old 08-14-2010, 07:25 PM   #15
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I recommend to the OP that he test out his theory by going on a long retreat in a secluded monastery where he will definitely have <100 things!
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Old 08-14-2010, 08:28 PM   #16
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I have cut down a lot. I have made a concerted effort to have fewer things particularly things that I don't use or that I have just in case.

There were really two primary reasons. One, lots of things require lots of space. We want to downsize our house so we absolutely had to get rid of a lot of stuff.

Two, lots of things can create stress when you have to manage it. You have to find a place for it, then when you need something that you don't use often, it can be difficult to find it. Just today we had 1800Got Junk come out and we threw put most of what was in our second garage (most of that was stuff that we had stored there because we wanted to keep it. Well, guess what? We didn't really need or want it.

That said, I can't imagine having les than 100 things. Even when I was poor law student I had more than a 100 things. You could maybe get me to sign on to limited types of things. Books collectively being one, that type of thing.

But I really don't think I would be happy with arficially just saying I only need 100 things.

And I don't want to have to launder my underwear and towels every night because I have only one of each....
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Old 08-14-2010, 08:31 PM   #17
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And I don't want to have to launder my underwear and towels every night because I have only one of each....
Well, that too! Unless one likes to go commando.
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Old 08-14-2010, 09:18 PM   #18
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Well, that too! Unless one likes to go commando.



2Cor521....

Life is about chances and choices. What makes us happy today doesn't mean we won't find a better way in the future. To me, this is what makes life an adventure; as our forum member Rambler's sig line says..Find Joy in the Journey...

As far as your your children are concerned, I imagine spending time with daddy will be all they need.
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Old 08-14-2010, 10:14 PM   #19
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We have way more than 100 things, probably have that many things it the bathroom cabinet alone.

However that said, we have definitely become more conscious about accumulating less as the years go by. We are not going to go and toss out perfectly good things that we utilise just to say we are minimalists, however we have definitely slowed way down on bringing new things into our lives.
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Old 08-14-2010, 10:37 PM   #20
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I think most people would consider me a minimalist, but I have to say I don't get that "100 Things" challenge going around on blogs these days. My guess is that people are giving themselves a lot of leeway when counting to 100. Just counting underwear, socks, basic clothing, toiletry items, sheets & towels, eating utensils, a few basic tools, etc. would get most of us past 100, wouldn't it?

On a more realistic note, I've found a rule that helps me keep my stuff from multiplying. I'm pretty strict with a "one in - one out" rule for non-consumable items.
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