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.


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.

Playing Pretend

Ever since my successful experiment I’ve been playing a game with myself. At random times as I go through my day I ask myself “what would Future Me do?”

The results have been fascinating.

Future Me has slightly different tastes than I do. I have found myself selecting different outfits for work and digging through my small stash of costume jewelry to mix things up a bit. Some of the items were discarded as Future Me curled up her nose at their condition. She’s a bit picky, it seems.

She doesn’t seem to talk as much either. Two of my coworkers have asked me why I’ve been so quiet lately. I hadn’t even realized that my behavior had changed so much until they mentioned it. I was simply moving through the store, pretending to be her as I dutifully tidied the shelves.

I’ve also seriously reduced the time I spend online. I didn’t even aim for that; I simply asked myself what Future Me would do one evening and allowed things to progress from there. Now I check my email, visit a couple of news sites, and move on with my life. I wasn’t expecting that.

I’ve done a bit more journaling over these past few days but that might just be due to the fact that I’m reveling in the new journal I treated myself to. I feel seriously wealthy when I place my thoughts upon the pages.

One of the most fascinating discoveries is the fact that I smoke less. Future Me is a nonsmoker; she tends to point out that she cares for her body and doesn’t want to mistreat it. She also reminds me that I didn’t start smoking until after I moved here so the habit isn’t that old. While I haven’t stopped smoking completely, it gives me enough pause that I find myself occasionally passing up the opportunity to smoke now.

I’m starting to wonder if this game will provide a way to completely cease the habit.

I believe that I am going to continue this game. It’s rather amusing to step aside and allow the person I envision myself in the future to take charge. Even better, this game of pretend is making me think and change some of my behaviors.

I will keep you updated on my progress.

Have you ever pretended to be your future self? What happened? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Ivory Soap For Washing Dishes

I decided to try an experiment over the last several days.  On the theory that back in the old days soap was soap, I attempted to wash my dishes with Ivory Soap.

I tried it using the bar soap.  I found that while it lathered and cleaned okay, it left a film on the dishes that was easily seen on glasses even if I put vinegar in the rinse water.

My largest concern was an intestinal one, however.  When using the dishes washed in Ivory soap I encountered a case of diarrhea.  I am guessing that the film left on the dishes disagreed internally and caused the issue, for when I re-washed the dishes in regular soap the problem disappeared.

Just to be certain it was caused by using Ivory soap on my dishes I tried it again, with the same intestinal results. Since I don’t enjoy diarrhea, I will have to look elsewhere for a more environmentally and frugal alternative to dishwashing liquid, and I cannot recommend the use of Ivory Soap for washing dishes.