Are You a Minimalist?

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I hadn’t heard of “minimalism” yet, but back in 2014 I heard about a game. The rules of the game were simple: Don’t buy anything for yourself for a year. Wow. That didn’t sound so fun and I couldn’t imagine who would want to play it with me. So why not give it a try?

“Anything for yourself” didn’t mean I couldn’t buy razors, tampons or mascara. It did mean no earrings, underwear, or cute swimsuit coverup (even though it was on sale) and no eating out unless it was on a date with my husband and he paid. I could not buy candles for the house or flowers for the yard. Who made these stupid rules? Not sure, but I’m a rule follower, so I followed. I am also one of those people who can’t start something new unless it’s on a Monday or January 1st – not as bad as one son who won’t get out of the car until the temperature gauge is an even number, but maybe worse than someone who doesn’t resort to random games to manage her budget.

Anyway, as it was December, I opted to start in January. There might have been a Monday or three before January 1st, but I couldn’t just start an extreme life change cold turkey. So instead of gradually weaning myself off my debit card, I stocked up on Sugar Babies, seed packets and house plants until December 31st. On January 1st I realized my mistake. This was the one year my stocking hadn’t been full of socks from my kids. My husband solved that with several pairs for our anniversary.

Strangely no one was interested in playing the game with me. I couldn’t convince hubby or any of the kids. You’d have thought I was asking them to not spend the money they got from me.

Did I stick the year out? Yes! It was actually awesome. I stopped “browsing” and got in and out of Fred Meyer with only groceries instead of an extra $100 of half-off shoes, sticky notes, blue nail polish, and towels. Hubby didn’t think I’d make it but when I asked for a pair of cream-colored tights for my birthday, he knew I was in for the long haul.

I spent time combing through and organizing what I had. Sure, it was hard to pass up a new dress for my brother’s wedding and not buy more Halloween decorations, but what I had was just fine. It was as though I was looking at my home and possessions through a different lense and I literally stopped wanting more things.

I somehow had more money in my account. I lost the feeling of coveting what I couldn’t have – because I could, I just chose not to, and somehow it made all the difference.

I think that was when I realized I’m a minimalist at heart. Have I done another year without spending? No. Do I always stay within my budget. Nope. Have I moved from a relatively big house to a 300 square foot cottage? Yes. Do all our earthly belongings fit in an 8’x12’ van. Yes. This lifestyle certainly wouldn’t suit everyone, and it shouldn’t. There is a certain satisfaction that comes with the family home and the accumulation of things that matter and where people can gather. But for me, right now, I’m enjoying simply living.


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  • Dawn Martin on

    I love your story! Last April, we sold the house, got rid of everything, and bought a 35’ motorhome so we could hit the road. It’s the most freeing thing we’ve ever done. Well, other than quitting our corporate jobs!

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