I’ve been a little bit obsessed with the idea of minimalism recently. First, I watched a documentary on Netflix called “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” directed by Matt D’Avella. One of the people interviewed was Joshua Becker, the author of a book called Clutterfree With Kids, which I then immediately borrowed from the library. I have four kids at home and am in awe of people who can manage to keep tidy, clutter-free homes while also living lives full of fun and work and friendships and school and volunteering and exercise. When I’m busy, the very first thing I let go is the taming of the mess. It doesn’t take long for the six people in my family (none of whom are naturally inclined to tidiness) to very quickly turn a clean home into a disaster area – and it seems to take a very long time to clean it up again.
As I tend to be a busy person, my house tends to be a mess, so you would never know from walking into my home that I appreciate the values of the minimalist movement. I’m not an extremist at all – I don’t want to live in a tiny house or own just six plates for the six people in the house, but I completely agree that our family has too much stuff – much of which no one ever uses! – and it takes a lot of our time and energy to keep our stuff in some semblance of order. The message spread by advocates of the minimalist movement resonates strongly with me. What I kept hearing in the documentary and the books I’ve read are things that so closely resemble things that I say all the time in talking about being mindful about your money and making purposeful financial decisions.
In the first two minutes of the film, you hear Ryan Nicodemus, one of the main subjects, say:
• I was living paycheck to paycheck
• I was spending faster than I was earning
• I thought I’d buy my way to happiness
• I was living for a paycheck.
These sound like financial problems, not problems with too much stuff in your life, but the truth is that those two things are inextricably linked. When you get used to having a lot of stuff, much of your money goes to acquiring more stuff and a bigger house to store all your stuff. Maybe hiring someone to come clean your stuff once a week. And that’s without even considering off-site self-storage facilities. According to the Spare Foot Storage Beat, there is 7 square feet of self-storage space for every American! And most of the people who rent self-storage facilities also have garages, attics or basements available to them.
I don’t like to waste my money on things that don’t legitimately add value to my life. Proponents of the minimalist movement don’t want to bring excess things into their homes that don’t make them any happier and take time/money/energy to maintain. We have the same message: think consciously about what you’re buying and bringing into your house. Make sure that it’s something that benefits you in some way, and it’s well worth it to buy one quality item rather a series of junk.