I’d Love to be Minimalist — but it’s Expensive
I live cheap — and that means having lots of stuff.
I don’t want to have lots of stuff lying around. I don’t like shopping. I don’t want many possessions. I’m not into fashion. I’m not interested in ornaments. I don’t like clutter around the house.
I sound like the perfect candidate to embrace minimalism. And I do find minimalism enticing. But there’s a problem — a money problem.
You may have seen the pictures on the minimalism blogs. The minimalist has: A bed, a chair, a phone and an almost-empty desk — on which sits a MacBook.
The MacBook, it seems, is compulsory.
The trouble is…..
Minimalism is expensive — and not just because of the MacBook.
As someone on a limited income, I keep lots of stuff, because I dare not throw it away. I might need it. I keep spare parts from old computers, in case one of my newer machines breaks and I might need them. I have a spare hose for the washing machine, because it came with the machine and I refused to throw away the old hose that still worked just fine.
I pick things up cheaply from charity shops, even though I don’t yet need them — because when something breaks, I don’t want to have to pay full price for a new replacement.
I have lots of DIY stuff. I have boxes of tools, because I want to avoid bringing in professionals. I have scraps of wood and leftover plasterboard. I have lots of paint pots with leftover paint. I have a box of lightbulbs from back when energy-saving lightbulbs were being given away as part of an eco-friendly government initiative. I’m not going to throw such stuff away. It’ll all get used eventually. But in the meantime, it takes up space.
I have an archive of currently unused toys in the loft (attic) for when they might be wanted by grandchildren — including a fair bit of Lego that would be quite expensive to replace.
I don’t go on expensive holidays. I go camping instead. But that means storing tents, sleeping bags, roll mats, camping stoves and cooking pots.
We don’t eat in restaurants. That would be expensive. This is no hardship at all, because my wife is a fantastic cook and loves cooking. She cooks a wide variety of wonderful meals from fresh ingredients, but that involves having some fairly well-loaded kitchen cupboards.
There are free-to-use tennis courts nearby, but tennis rackets and balls take up yet more room. Cycling is a cheap hobby, but even cheap bikes need to be stored somewhere. I have some footballs, a badminton set and an inflatable dinghy with oars. They provide very cheap outdoor fun and good exercise, but they take up yet more room. I’d love to be able to just hire a rowing boat when I want to use one, but that would be far too expensive.
I have a collection of board games. I particularly enjoy playing chess and I have a couple of nice chess sets. I got them cheap, but they’re bulky.
I don’t have central heating, because it would be expensive to repair when it goes wrong. Instead, I have several portable heaters. I have a well-insulated house, so I only need them for about 4 months of the year — but they take up a fair bit of room in one of my largest cupboards.
Multiplayer computer games are great entertainment — and many people play computer games with others online, by having subscriptions with Xbox Live or other such services. I have four cheap desktops instead, that I hook up together for a local LAN party. They’re much cheaper than having online subscriptions, but they take up space. I have desktop computers instead of laptops, because they’re cheaper to buy, they last much longer and are much cheaper to repair when they go wrong.
I have shelves full of DVDs. I prefer to watch the best films many times, rather than watch many poor-quality films once each. This makes owning the DVDs much cheaper than paying for a service such as Netflix, which will be missing a lot of the best films anyway.
I have many shelves full of books. One person reads a book. It then gets stored ready for when someone else wants to read it — and for when the first person wants to read it again. I’d prefer to have ebooks, but ebooks are expensive compared to picking up paper books from a charity shop.
I even keep old clothes (with holes in them), so I can use them when I do some decorating or when I clean up the yard.
I’m not a miser, by any means. Much of what I do spend is for other people’s benefit, not mine, but I don’t feel like I live in poverty. I don’t go without anything important. By world standards, I live a life of luxury. But by local standards, I have a very limited income and I have to be careful with money.
I love the idea of having very few possessions and lots of space. I just don’t have that sort of money.
You might think that living cheap means not having much stuff. In fact, it can easily mean quite the opposite.
So if you’ve tried to be minimalist, but floundered, perhaps you’re not doing anything wrong after all. Perhaps you’ve just realised that minimalism comes at a price that isn’t always worth paying. So cut yourself some slack and save yourself some money. Don’t go overboard on the whole minimalism thing. It could easily cost you a lot more than it saves you.