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Minimalism: My Shit Doesn’t Own Me

I am what you might call a hardcore minimalist. I have a limited wardrobe, exactly enough utensils and dishes for my husband and I to eat at the same time (yeah, I’m totally serious), and no knick knacks whatsoever. I like nice things, I just don’t feel the need to have an abundance of them.

After reading this post over at Save. Spend. Splurge. and having my luggage lost by the airline on the way back from Jordan, I felt compelled to write another post about minimalism. It is something I am very passionate about, and not only because I’m lazy and I really dig when people give me cash and buy me alcohol.

On S.S.S., Mochimac (Saver Spender? What are you going by these days, lady?) talked about her parents’ hoarding tendencies. They hang on to everything, even when it is broken and/or out of date. The part of the post that hurt my insides the most was this:

My mom actually cried when I sold some old, manual exercise machines they found FOR FREE ON THE STREET.

These stupid machines were taking up a third of the entire kitchen and NO ONE could walk in that area because of them.

They started putting boxes on the machines, and hanging plants off them, and I knew it was time to junk them, because they would NEVER get used.

She was in tears.

She was feeling actual, physical pain when I told her I found a willing couple on Craigslist to come by, pick up the machines and deliver them back to their own house.. while paying for the privilege of doing so.

How sad is this? Mochimac’s mom grew up very poor, so I understand why it is hard with her to part with things she might “need”, but I can’t imagine being so attached to my belongings they affected my life in such a dramatic way.

But it is easy enough to judge. Would I feel the same way if my own possessions were threatened?

My minimalistic viewpoint was put to the test just recently when the airline lost my baggage. My first thought was, crap, I don’t really own very many clothes outside of the suitcase. My second thought was, eh, it’s just clothes. And I dress like a troll while I’m working anyways. Worst case scenario — the airline will reimburse the cost and I can re-buy as much or as little as I want.

Note: nowhere in my reaction was depression because my possessions were gone.

So I started thinking about whether or not there was anything in my life (possession-wise) I would be devastated to lose. I would probably be annoyed if I lost my computer, just because I need it for work. But then, I could just use Steve’s, as all my docs are saved somewhere online.

I came to the realization the thing I would be most irritated to lose is my birth certificate. Because it’s a pain in the ass to get a new one, especially since I’m in Oregon now. I wouldn’t worry about my clothes, my housewares, my car, even my wedding ring. Why?

Because none of my things matter to me that much. 

I feel very lucky to have separated myself from my possessions. They are all replaceable and none of them are important enough to bring me to tears if I lost them for some reason. That’s a very freeing feeling. If I had to start over tomorrow possession-wise, the worst thing about it would be the time it would take to replace it.

I love minimalism because almost everything you will ever own is not actually a necessity. And even the necessities are replaceable. My shit doesn’t own me, because I don’t allow it to.  (That’s good.  That should be a famous rap quote or something.)

The only things in my life I would be devastated to lose are not “things” at all. They are people. Isn’t that how it should be?

Minimalism is my homeboy, and not because I dislike nice things. I am very adamant about owning a small amount of nice things, instead of a large amount of crappy things. If I don’t NEED or LOVE it, it gets donated, sold, or trashed, depending on the item.

By the way, my bag was found, but there are multiple items missing out of it (including my only two bras — told you I’m a minimalist!). I’m waiting for the airline to send my claim form. I want reimbursed (it’s like $400 worth of clothing/products missing), but I’m not stressing over the missing items at all. It’s just stuff, after all.

Do you have anything you would be devastated to lose? Is minimalism your homeboy?

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Erin Thompson

Erin Thompson spent years managing her own blog about budgeting and debt. Because of that, she has great insights not only about managing spending and borrowing but also about running websites profitably. When she's not writing articles for us, she's traveling and looking for new types of wines to try.
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