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Is Minimalism Right for You?

is minimalism right for you?

When my husband and moved about eight years ago, we decided to get a storage pod so that we could pack at our leisure. Since we were both working, I thought this was a great idea. When my husband’s grandmother died, his mother inherited her things. When his mother passed away, we inherited all of her things and his grandmothers’. When we moved, my mother had recently passed away. We had absorbed three households’ worth of goods and coupled with our own, it was a lot of stuff. As we were packing, I felt the weight of all those possessions. I decided that when we unpacked, we would choose what was important and what we could let go of. We wanted to be respectful but also mindful that we had only so much room. At that time I heard about minimalism and it seemed like just what I needed.

For most of 2020, we have been sheltering in place, not only with our families but also with our things.   According to Digital Commerce 360, “Consumers spent $861.12 billion online with U.S. merchants in 2020, up an incredible 44.0% year over year, according to Digital Commerce 360 estimates. That’s the highest annual U.S. e-commerce growth in at least two decades. It’s also nearly triple the 15.1% jump in 2019.”

Some of this is because of remote working and learning, but this still represents a lot of goods.

We understand with minimalism the correlation between goods and money but are we as cognizant of the time that our goods cost us? Time, minutes and hours, are our most precious currency, and when we work, we exchange our time for money. When we have time, we can always make money, but no amount of money can buy us more time.

What It’s NOT!

Minimalism is NOT an austere life where you own one chair, share one fork in a family of five, eat rice, and sleep on the floor. It’s a personal examination of one’s relationship with their stuff and spending money on that stuff.  Minimalism came to the forefront in response to the epidemic of hoarding. How much stuff can you own until your stuff owns you?

There several questions that the person who embraces the minimalist lifestyle asks themselves before they spend their money.

How much time will this cost?

If a person makes $12.50/hr and wants to buy a $150 item, the calculation should be 150÷12.50=12. This makes it easier to decide whether your purchase is worth over 25% of your workweek. I’m speaking generally of impulse buying; if you have budgeted and are working toward a purchase, that’s a very different consideration.  That means you’ve given it thought and worked out the details and your purchase will most likely enhance your life.

Do I NEED it, or WANT it?

I’ll be the first to admit that buying things is fun. It feels good to get something new and if it’s an indulgence (something I didn’t budget for), I love it all the more! There’s an element of danger until I remember an unpaid bill. I care that I look well put together in the workplace but I’ve been productive in sweatpants for the last year. Do I need a six-week wardrobe with no repeats?

Can money buy joy?

I love Marie Kondo and she’s helped me identify what brings me joy. If it makes my heart happy if I can afford it if I can visualize myself using it in my home…WOOHOO! Waiting for a beat in a store, or leaving something in my online shopping cart for an hour (or a day), has been a real money-saving practice for me and helped me curb impulse shopping.

Stop trying to be perfect!

When building new habits, you’ll slip, but don’t waste time beating yourself up. Learn the lesson and move on. And guess what…we at CESI can help you. You don’t have to walk this journey alone. We’re here for you. ​Contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.


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