A Brief Affair with Minimalism

I have to admit I’ve spent a bit of time lately reading blogs about minimalism like this or this(hence my recent DVD purge).  While I like the idea that less can be more for a lot of things in life, I’ve fully realized that having a house with two kids and a wife  that runs a daycare that I’m never going to live with 100 personal things or even be able to live with just 33 pieces of clothing over 3 months.  I’m fairly sure the boys own over 100 hot wheels cars, so cutting back their toys to that degree won’t happen.

Instead I’ve been looking around the house and clearing out stuff we don’t really need or even use.  I’m simplify what we obviously don’t need.  I’m more interested in finding a place for everything (like this).  My wife agrees with the idea that we shouldn’t get hung up on a given set number of things or worry about does a pair of socks count as one item or two.  The point is the reduce the crap that gets in the way of your life, and not get hung up on the details.

So for example, I was over due to purge my closet again.  So I went through it and realized something very important about my dress shirts…I had a number of them that only matched one pair of pants.  Which is silly when I had four different dress pants.  So I checked each shirt and if it matched at least two pairs of pants I made a ‘to keep’ pile.  Then I did some honest self reflection on some of my other t-shirts and things I never really wear for one reason or another.  So while I didn’t count my final total (I’ve fairly sure I’m over 33 items), I did purge about 50% of my wardrobe in a hour or so.

My wife on the other hand a simple seasonal method she uses to purge her half of the closet.  She aligns all her hangers facing the backwards direction, then as she uses items she turns them the right way around.  At the end of a season she knows what she has not used and shorts lists it for the to purge pile.

I’ve realized there really isn’t a given way to simplify things, you have to find out what works for you.  But I do really enjoy having less stuff, why?  It’s just easier to live.  You can find what you need faster, you actually use what you own rather than storing it for the 99% of the time, cleaning around the stuff gets easier when you have less of it and oddly enough I’m more relaxed.  Relaxed?!? Until I started cleaning up I didn’t realize how much low level stress I feel from walking into a messy room.  It’s SO MUCH nicer to walk into a clean room (or almost clean room).

So I’m in no danger of having a room with just one chair and a side table, but I am willing to get rid of the excess of my life.  As a nice side benefit…I’m more thoughtful about buying stuff as well which keeps your spending down, which is also helpful to your early retirement goal.  Just thing about all the money you could save if you didn’t buy the excess crap in the first place.

4 thoughts on “A Brief Affair with Minimalism”

  1. I’m not actively cutting down on stuff in my house since I’m adding to the number of kids in my life (after I do that I can decide if I need to pare down) but I have recently realized that I am happiest while camping. There’s just something about being able to fit everything that you need in a back pack that is really cool. Not to mention that you only have one set of dishes that need to be washed!

  2. I am in the process of trying to pair down a lot of my clothes. After our recent move (4 months ago now) we had a moving box (5 cu ft) sitting in a corner – and we didn’t miss it! I never went searching for that one special shirt.

  3. @Elizabeth – I do think your right that part of the appeal of camping is things are just more simple. You do without and just enjoy what is around you.

    @Alicia – Oh, I so love moving to purge stuff. It’s a great way to know what you haven’t used for a while. I usually do more of a purge before I move than afterwards. The thought of paying more to move something I’m going to throw out is motivating.

    @mochimac – I’m not as extreme as you…and likely never will be. I’m ok with that, but I do understand what all these people are talking about a bit better now that I’m starting towards less stuff.

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