Today we’re going to talk about minimalism! Which might also touch on anti-consumerism in general. And will definitely touch on framing as well. So were covering some of my favorite topics to think and write about, and I’m very excited. Much less drab than the run we’ve been on for the last few days. We’re through the self-loathing phase everyone! Thanks for sticking with it.
We’ve covered my current situation previously, but a quick overview for my new readers – email sign-ups are absolutely through the roof right now. 🙏🏼 I moved back to my home town (Milwaukee, WI) a few years ago, and as a part of the move decided to clean house a little bit. Why? For one, I just read the Marie Kondo book about the Magic of Tidying Up and I was and am very impressionable. Two, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to settle geographically, and wanted to keep whatever I did hold onto in a storage unit temporarily. I knew from prior moves that things don’t come out of storage the way they come in usually, so I didn’t want to store and keep things I wasn’t 100% sure that I wanted to hang onto. And third, I knew in certain areas I just had way too much stuff, and it was likely that I was never going to use it again. And another aspect of this that needs to be called out is that I am in a position where I can use a lot of parents assets, so it’s perhaps easier to call myself a minimalist when counting up my assets but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
While I was packing up and getting ready to leave Florida I sorted all my belongings, and decided to donate a fair amount of clothes and shoes to begin with. If I can pinpoint the area where I was absolutely, without question purchasing too many goods it would be apparel. I was a little bit of a clothes horse, and always was attracted to brands and labels as well. The same also applied to shoes – I had been collecting New Balance since high school. I don’t have the numbers, but I must have given away 20 pairs of jeans, dozens of button up shirts, sweaters, etc. It was really a lot. And it was hard for me, not because I wasn’t sure if I still needed them, but rather because it forced me to face how excessive my purchases were in the past. I wonder why I was doing it in hindsight. Maybe it was for no other reason than I could – I had a lot of disposable income and no other avenues to spend it really. Even though I cut my wardrobe by about 50% at least, I haven’t noticed much of a difference, and this should be fairly obvious. Why? Because there are only so many days and hours for you to be clothed. And I guess my attitude has shifted towards one of wearing the things that fit you best, repeatedly, until they are completely worn, and then replacing. Replacing, and not adding, is my general attitude when it comes to clothes now and it’s served me well. I am also served well by the fact that I saved a couple of really nice pieces I had bought in the past, and I am roughly the same size, so I can still use them now and well into the future hopefully. In general I am much more deliberate with purchases, and have more of a framework of what I want to have in my wardrobe. Once all my bases are covered, which is kind of where I’m at now, I only focus or replacements and upgrades. And has this change impacted my life in any tangible way? No! I was just buying for the sake of buying.
Next, major area where I’ve downsized my footprint is transportation. I had a car with about a year left on the lease when I got back here, but once that had run out, I returned it and switched to a bike. And here again, I would call out that I can borrow a car whenever I need one, and I also have the added benefit of not having to commute to work every day. So things are set-up pretty nicely for me to operate in a car-free way. But regardless I have been doing it, and using my bike to get around for the most part. And again, I feel much better this way since driving has always been something I haven’t particularly enjoyed. Less things to worry about make me feel better, who would have guessed. I am hoping I never have to buy another car, but that will be largely dependent on where I end up settling down.
I haven’t bought anything furniture, art, or kitchen wise with a couple notable exceptions. I bought an instant pot after hearing people rave about them and I am very pleased with the purchase. I am not saying that I don’t buy anything, I’m just very picky now! All of the art I had and stored is now in my basement. Haven’t even unpacked it. When I need to furnish my house, will I be able to use it? From one perspective, I have enough pieces for maybe 1000 square feet, so I can cover the walls. But what about my taste? That might have changed. One change I know I would like to institute would be towards bringing in my plants and flowers, and using them as an alternative form of decoration to hanging pieces. I’ve seen that aesthetic becoming more and more prevalent and I like it too. I have a large box of kitchen utensils I haven’t unboxed, which may or may not be usable. But again, similar to my wardrobe, I have a much clearer idea of what I would need to get going in the kitchen. Almost like a starter kit when it comes to cooking tools and also pantry supplies. I wouldn’t be wandering the aisles of Target grabbing at whatever caught my attention. Furniture wise, I still get tempted all the time. There are lots of beautiful pieces out there, and at some point I will have to make a couple of biggish investments. But here’s where I can fall back on my minimalist ethos – it’s a style choice! Whether or not that’s true, I don’t know.
And last, let’s talk about gadgets and toys. I have become pretty tight when it comes to electronics purchases. Tighter than I would like to be if all things were equal to be honest. I am still using an iPhone 7, trying to squeeze another 6 months or so out of it, but I want to replace it. I just replaced my laptop after 5 years with the old one and am feeling good there. I bought a new pair of headphones for the gym that are great, but I want AirPods. And if money was no object I would probably buy an Ipad too. Actually I would buy a Sonos speaker too. So if I had to say there was one area where I was legitimately a little leaner than I would like it would be on the electronics side.
Physical assets aren’t everything. What about experiences. Yes, I have substantially cut back on the travel budget. Before it was a choice, but surprisingly not dictated purely on cost. I didn’t want to travel because I didn’t want to break up my routines either for better or worse. Now there’s no choice – travel is shelved for another year maybe. I cut off my gym membership too, because I wanted to save time (commuting) more so than money. That’s another one that is no longer a choice, but I’m set-up nicely for. I cut back on haircuts – I was going for once every two months, but now it’s been five since my last one. Ponytails are back! And I have more recently figured out that I can find equivalent hair products for about 1/4 of the price. I’ve cut my hair product cost down from $30 to less than $10, bi-monthly. If anything on the product side, I’m better off!
Surely it can’t all be one-way. Where are you spending more? I buy nice coffee beans. It’s my area to semi-splurge. Somewhere between $15-20 a pound every other week. And when I do buy beer, I get something nice, but that’s only every other week too so it’s not going to move the needle too much. What about digital subscriptions? This is a place where I want to spend more just to try what’s out there, but I can see it quickly getting out of hand. An example would be newsletters – there are at least five I can think of that I would like to subscribe too, but I would I be able to read through them? I don’t think I would. I pay for web hosting, a password manager, and email most recently. The email example is interesting because I really went back and forth on it. I already had a perfectly functional free account, but decided to pay to improve my email address (purely vanity, shame), to support a small independent shop, and also to see some of the functionality. It was still a 50-50 type call though. I cut my Amazon Prime membership and started to get books from the library. That has been such a game changer, and I think it’s saved me hundreds on books alone since I did it. And the extra benefit is I don’t have growing stacks of books all over my bedroom anymore either. And the simple fact that I no longer am eligible for 2-day shipping has dramatically cut back on my Amazon purchases in general. It’s funny, I, like a lot of others, was ordering everything from them because of the low prices and fast shipping. I lost one with the shipping, so went back to my local CVS when they started to train me via 25-40% coupons every week or so. I get the same price, the same goods and I get it even faster. All that’s required is a two block walk each way.
I’m going to run out of time, so want to wrap things up. The gist is I cut back on buying and it really hasn’t hurt my quality of life. It makes you realize how much stuff you buy that really isn’t necessary, and in many cases, how much you buy are really status symbols. This is where I legitimately have a loss. I can’t pull up somewhere in a BMW now, and that absolutely colors the way you’re seen. And I do care a little about that, I’m not above it, so that stings. If you can get past status symbols, which I would recommend btw, you can live really cheap in this country, I’m convinced. In terms of clothes or shoes, not missing a thing. The number one status symbol there that I’ve seen is being in shape, and wearing things that fit you properly. If a fat guy is wearing all Versace and I am wearing a sweatsuit from Walmart, I think he would still be the more insecure between us. You can’t buy the effort and commitment it requires to maintain fitness.
But what would happen if I came back into a lot of money? Would I revert back to the way I was, which would imply that I haven’t had some type of permanent change to my behaviors, but rather am creating a story because I’m kind of tight on money right now. I would hope that I would not go all the way back. Because having a lot of stuff inherently makes your life more complicated and I won’t want that no matter what my financial situation is! The grip would release in a few areas though. What are they? Let’s make the list:
- I would buy ethically sourced meats – I am guessing this would cost something like $100 / month.
- I would potentially get some type of meal delivery service – $300 / month
- I would buy some electronics – Sonos, AirPods, iPad, Oculus – Maybe $2K total?
- I would buy a lot of plants – $500?
- I would be more liberal in testing out new SaaS offerings – $100 / month
- I would buy some new formal wear – $1K
- I would be really tempted by the new Tesla Truck – $50K
That’s honestly about all I can come up with, and if you exclude the truck, it would cost less than $10K a year which I’m sure I could get down even further. And none of that is going to materially change my life, and I wouldn’t expect it too! Just edge work. Being a minimalist works pretty well for me.
Thanks for reading and I will speak with you tomorrow. 56 Minutes. 2244 Words.