This seems to be a recurring topic on every personal finance blog of late. Today I came upon this post by Frugal Dad. He talks about minimalism and how much he admires such people. And the comments on that post are very interesting too. He talks about how having a lot stuff can be distracting and how he plans to reduce it in the coming months.
I agree with most of what he says. Mike and I did a purge and clean of the entire apartment. We examined every piece of clothing and thought about when we wore it last and if it was more than 6 months, we added it to the trash pile or the donate pile depending on the condition. Like I’ve talked about before, we live in an one bedroom apartment. While the apartment is nice and roomy. our storage space is very limited. We have a small room behind our walk in closet that could be used as an office or a storage area. Predictably that room was filled with boxes and things that we had accumulated over the years. We would just dump all unwanted items into that room rather than throwing anything away. We cleaned through the mess and came across things like my Sega Genesis system and games back from my childhood. 🙂
The main reason behind our cleaning was to reduce the apartment of stuff. But I didn’t want to throw away everything that I don’t use in my day to day life. For example I found an old winter coat from college. Once I get it cleaned, I think I will be able to use it this winter. I like to alternate between coats and I think living where we live, having 3 coats is not bad at all. While going through Mike’s stuff, he wanted to hold onto this old T shirt. That was the first gift I had ever gotten him and he has a lot of good memories associated with that shirt. He said that he likes to keep that T shirt at the bottom of his shirt pile and looking at it while grabbing another shirt gave him a warm feeling. I also found my shoebox where I had all the cards that Mike has ever sent/given me (we both are big on cards), ticket stubs from our first movie date, a couple of letters that he had written me and a CD of the song he wrote for me (Yes, we are that couple :-)) and other such things. I am not about it throw it down the bin just because I don’t actually use it.
I feel that most of the minimalists really take it too far. In getting rid of so many things, it is often necessary to make do without some things or figure out some other alternatives. It’s like living without a car because you don’t want to deal with the problems associated with owning a car. You can make do without one, every time you want to go grocery shopping or met friends, you have to look up bus schedules or call someone to give you a ride – which is more of a hassle than actually owing one. I think that minimalism must be addictive, as the people I know who are into this, are obsessed with getting rid of more stuff every day. This consumes their life instead of stuff.
In conclusion, I am not against minimalism and I think it’s a good idea to periodically get rid of unwanted stuff. But do it in moderation. Unless your house resembles something from Hoarders, you are fine. And you can hold on to your extra set of chinaware that your late grandmother gifted you, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.