Decluttering,  Minimalism

Minimalist Experimentation

Many years ago I took my readers along on my personal journey through Minimalism. I was overwhelmed at the time so once I discovered that owning less not only helped my finances but made my practical day-to-day life easier I jumped in with both feet.

I followed the advice of the experts of the day, eliminating not only the things I knew I would never use, but all of the excess I possessed of items that I knew I would eventually use as well.

That was a mistake. While it helped free up space and mental clutter initially, that move ended up costing me a small fortune and more than a bit of discomfort as I found myself running out of essentials like clothing during a time period where it was rather difficult to replace the items as they wore out.

I do not regret that mistake. I learned a valuable lesson from it; the educational value alone is worth many times what I lost by that misstep. It taught me that the theory of eliminating all of one’s excess is flawed.

Eliminating excess is a good thing. How you choose to eliminate it can cost you a small fortune and defeat the purpose of saving money.

Let’s face it: in this modern age, it is as easy to overspend on items that we use on a regular basis as it is to overspend on impulse items that we really don’t need.

If we are surrounded by spendthrift friends, it is easy to over-acquire even if we don’t spend a single dollar.

I’ve given this a lot of thought over the past few years. Not only have I accumulated a large amount of paper, pencils, pens, office supplies, books, and food, family and friends have gifted me with a significant amount of clothes, shoes, and other items.

These are items that I know I will use in time. I’m not too picky about the clothes I wear, the shoes I don, or the office supplies I’ve collected. That said, I live in a very small home. If I do not step carefully I will become overwhelmed with stuff.

I have no desire to become a hoarder yet I’ve no desire to cut back to minimalist extremes any longer. I want to maintain balance with my possessions.

It is wasteful in the extreme to discard items that you will use simply because you have a large supply. Throwing those items in the trash or donating them to an already overwhelmed secondhand store is not the solution. Many donated items still end up in the trash and it costs money to replace those items when you use up what little you keep.

It’s not what you spend or earn; it’s what you keep and use that matters.

Annienygma

Wealthy people do not buy unless they use up or wear out what they already own. Wealthy people don’t discard things if they know they will use them.

I learned that lesson during the days when I repaired the computers that were owned by my wealthy clients. Their possessions were old but kept organized and in good repair. Some of them shared stories with me of how they’d salvaged items from the trash that had been discarded by others, delighted to share their secret with a fellow cheapskate. They could not understand why people would discard perfectly functional items, only to replace them a few days or weeks later.

My goal is to become wealthy.

Instead of simply discarding my excess I am going to get creative. As I sort through my possessions this round I will eliminate anything that I know I won’t use. The rest will be stored away and used up as needed.

I’m not sure how successful I will be. Can I resist the urge to acquire more books until I read what I already have? Can I bring myself to pass on the books that I’ve read but don’t expect to read again? Can I resist the urge to collect more office supplies, clothing, or even food?

I don’t know. All I do know is that every penny I can avoid spending at this point can be invested towards regaining my freedom. I want my freedom back, so I am going to try.

I will keep you updated on my progress on this experiment.

2 Comments

  • Karen Richardson

    Great article. Personally, I feel better having my cupboards well stocked. Mark Cuban wrote in 2017 that he believes in keeping a 2year supply of toothpaste. Businesses keep their inventory low because they can pass on price increases to their customers. One reason SouthWest airlines is said to keep their costs down is that they stockpile fuel when prices are low. Not sure if you have price tags on your office supplies but it would be interesting to see the difference in price a few years from now when you need to replace them. Finding the right balance is the big challenge. Please keep us posted on your experiment.

    • Annie

      This is a very good point; the exact same point that does give me pause. On some items the answer will be obvious; when that happens I’ve no doubt that I will buy in larger quantities. For instance, I saved a small fortune by purchasing melamine erasers in bulk and I tend to buy several containers of my favorite coffee every time I catch it on sale. This weekend I will doubtless end up ordering two large bags of dog food instead of one to attain free shipping and minimize cost since there are no other items I need to purchase at the moment since I stocked up last month.

      That said, I would be foolish at the moment to purchase more clothing. I’ve ended up with so much that my closet has overflowed; I am now storing some items in totes. It is clothing that I will use, so rather than purchase more I will wear out the items I have before I buy more. As for food…I definitely need to locate the sweet spot. I’ve got items in the freezer that desperately need to be used before they freezer burn since I’m purchasing too much.

      I have no intentions of going extreme with this but I have to face the facts: I live in a very small house. That is not going to change in the foreseeable future so I need to find the right combination in order to optimize both my finances and my living space. Wish me luck!