Frugality

Minimalist Revelation

I awoke this morning with a surprising revelation. Aside from food, I no longer buy much.

At first I thought I was over-reacting so I looked at my purchase history for this past year. I didn’t spend even $500 last year at Walmart and they were my primary online ordering outlet.

Once every month or so I would order a bag of pet food, add some food or household items to achieve the $35 amount for free shipping, and that was it. While I did visit the local Walmart store twice last year, even factoring those two occasions in I spent under $500 total.

I did order several books that I could not attain locally, but I typically ordered used copies through Thriftbooks. The majority of my splurges were at three local restaurants and one local coffee shop. All of those are completely local establishments.

I don’t spend near as much money as I thought I did. Certainly not enough to make a difference in the grand scheme of things. The largest purchase I made last year (aside from my investments) was a gadget I purchased used from my daughter. She had purchased an iPad Pro to replace her aging laptop, discovered that it would not meet her needs, and offered it to me at a sizable discount so she could purchase another used laptop instead.

I had believed that I had been quite profligate with my purchases over these past two years, so to discover that the majority of my spending was on food and household supplies is quite the shock.

I looked back even further. I didn’t have all of my records, but it was fairly easy to calculate. I can look at anything I’ve acquired since I’ve lived in this little house and recall where and when I purchased it. The conclusion is glaringly obvious after that inventory: I stopped spending money after my experiment with extreme minimalism. Since I currently feel as if I own too much, I suspect that the experiment affected me more than I thought.

My little $500 I spend at Walmart each year is a drop in the bucket compared to the $7,000 the Walton family earns in a single minute. I doubt that they will even miss that tiny amount. Still, that’s one less bottle of fancy champagne that they can buy so I will have to be content.

I wonder what would happen if we all embraced minimalism. Most people spend a lot more than me; I spent a lot more than I did before I began this path. If we all just started buying less, would that make a difference in the world of the monsters?

And who am I to complain about how large they’ve become when I drastically reduced the amount I give them over a decade ago?

This makes me wonder if I could make more of an impact by simply encouraging people to spend less overall rather than to boycott individual companies. Regardless, my little blog is invisible in the face of the big name frugality and minimalism blogs out there. Does it matter what I do, since my refusal to promote this website limits my reach?

I don’t have the answers to my questions. They are heavy on my mind, however, so I thought I would share them with you today.


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!


12 Comments

  • Essie

    Waking up with a revelation on a Monday morning is always a great way to start the week!

    Your minimal expenditure is inspiring. Was the ‘less than $500 total’ just Walmart spending or does it include the restaurants, thriftbooks, etc.? (Thriftbooks is my Amazon substitute, too!)

    The meaning of minimalism certainly differs among people, doesn’t it? Some adopt a frugal minimalist lifestyle while others downsize possessions but are more extravagant as they seek experiences. Others choose to live with less things but want top quality in the possessions they deem important to them.

    So, even if everyone adopted a minimalist lifestyle, there is too much variation to make a strong impact. Corporations have already started capitalizing on the minimalist movement, creating minimalist products and influencing purchases.

    I think living your lifestyle as you do and blogging about it is reaching others and causes them to examine their own lifestyle and principles. They may embrace and emulate you some or all or they may reject your knowledge and lifestyle, initially, but come back to it when they realize that they are getting eaten alive in the rat race.

    I know I have learned so much from you. You have given me the courage I needed to start living according to my principles. I have cut my expenses tremendously and am still working on that. I am learning to be content with what I have. While I don’t think I can boycott every crooked corporation, I do my best to do so. My purchases are much more deliberate.

    Globally, the world is much bigger than you can reach but you can reach the everyday world in which live, humbly teaching and leading by example. Thanks, Annie!

    • Annie

      I am so thankful that my little blog has helped you, Essie.

      I honestly believe that if we, as a whole, simply begin to reduce the amount that we purchase that in time it will begin to help. I believe that the average person can’t afford many of the items that are offered as minimalist options, so I hope to provide realistic alternatives while showing that one does not have to focus on mere appearance if that is unimportant to them.

      As for your question, the $500 a year is primarily my Walmart spending. Right now I have drastically reduced my food and restaurant purchases – to be honest, with the exception of pet food and absolute essentials, I have eliminated buying things almost entirely. Typically (when I am not being actively conservative) WalMart was my primary online ordering outlet. I have changed that now.

  • Linda Sand

    For me, your blog has value. It helps me see where I might be getting off track and how to get back on it. Thanks.

  • John Grebe

    That is encouraging to know, as you were previously concerned about giving too much of your overall money to Walmart only to find out that it was a lot less than you realized. I am glad to see that you were surprised to realize that you were already spending mainly on locally in line with your values without realizing it.

    • Annie

      Thank you, John. I thought I was spending more money than I was. I really did. It’s a relief to know that I’m not doing as bad as I thought.

  • Deborah Rolston

    I love reading your blog Annie, and as I’m in NZ your reach may be bigger than you know. I have always wondered why Americans fall for the American dream myrh – it wasn’t a myth when it was a frontier country but since then the rich have got it all sewn up, just like other places. I also found that my interest in minimalism had an unexpected side effect on my interest in shopping and realise that now that I spend so much less I could spend a LOT more thoughtfully. I’d love to see you write a book about the American dream.

    • Annie

      Oh my goodness, Deborah,! You’re from NZ?

      (faints in delighted surprise)

      I am so glad to hear from you! Thank you so much for your comment. You have made my day! Please do not hesitate to reach out in the comments or through email if you have any questions.

  • sheila

    Thank you for your inspired post!

    I have been really rethinking my Walmart spending. I wish I could say I spend as little as you do there, but I find myself buying household items there often and HBA type items I can’t get at Aldi… But I am working hard to reduce this amount. 

    I’m also questioning my purchases thru Amazon. I wonder if it’s as damaging as Walmart, or probably more? 

    The mega stores have taken over… there are so few individual stores left, it’s all Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, mega drug stores, chain grocery stores.. 
    I’m trying to buy less overall, and to get what I can used, but not everything can be bought that way. I’m still getting the bulk of my food at Aldi because I am on an extremely limited budget and I can feed the 3 of us there for $100-150 a month. I can’t do that any place else. 

    I try and cook food for my dogs to supplement the grain/dog food because I really do not trust the dog food industry.

    • Annie

      I understand your quandary, Sheila. It may be best to think about which one you hate the most as you work to reduce your spending overall. That is the method I have chosen. It isn’t perfect, but it allows us some room to consider alternatives as we move to change our spending.

  • Jolynn Haymaker

    I cannot thank you enough for all the posting you have done. I know I should have made comments
    long before now. I have been so encouraged by you. I wonder how many people you have influenced
    and helped beside me who have not thanked you or who are just quiet like me and you have no idea.
    If you have helped one person (me), you have changed
    a person for life. It’s hard to put a price in that. Please do not stop posting.

    • Annie

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Jolynn. They mean more to me than you will ever know.

      And don’t worry. I intend to keep posting for as long as I am able. I hope to continue doing one post per day for the near future as I strive to form the habit. If you have any suggestions for future posts please do not be shy. It can be a challenge to come up with ideas.