I’m a little scared of what Fabulously Broke will think of this post. This is why I’m writing it while she’s off in whatever weird Asian country she decided to visit. If I am anything, it is a coward.
I’m not minimalist per se. As you saw in my look inside my crib, I live a pretty simple life. I have a couch, a tv, 2 laptops, a whole bunch of hockey
toys action figures, and that’s about it. I eat most of my meals from the microwave or toaster oven, and I could easily live in half the space I live in now. And I only live in about 700 square feet. So I don’t have a bunch of needless stuff.
I’m sure this will change once a girl moves in. She will change EVERYTHING and I’ll be forced to pretend to like it, or she won’t put out. Isn’t this how every relationship works?
Even though I may appear minimalist upon first glance, I’m not really. I just don’t care about having stuff. I can afford to buy all sorts of cool stuff, I just don’t have the desire. I get offered stuff all the time from 2 sets of Grandparents who are in the process of downsizing and I just about always turn them down. I have no desire for a tea kettle or a spare bed, thanks anyway Grandma.
Of course, you’ve all probably heard by now there’s quite the movement afoot. There are all sorts of people out there shunning the fruits of consumerism and actively getting rid of their stuff. Some of them even pare down their possessions to a scant 100 items. You may have even pointed and laughed at these people. Don’t worry FB, we’re laughing with you.
The philosophy behind minimalism is quite simple. Stuff should be down away with, stripped down to the necessities of living. Instead, stuff should be replaced with experiences. Take the money that would normally be spent on stuff and spend it on trips. Some people have taken this a step further, even buying a RV and driving across America.
As an aside, what’s up with Baker signing all his posts “xoxo Baker”? Does he want to hug and kiss me?
Now I don’t want to bash experiences too much. After all, I’m the guy who still secretly pines about quitting his job and travelling to watch baseball for a summer. I can understand that desire to get away from your comfortable life, if even for a few months, to have a gander at what the world has to offer. From what I hear, it’s an amazing place. It’s all we have until the aliens show up and take our most attractive back to their planet to create a new super race.
I understand the desire to travel. But I also understand the desire for stuff.
Like it or not, one of the tools we use to judge people’s socioeconomic status is the goods they own. Someone has a crappy car? They’re viewed as poor. Same with someone who picks up their clothes at the second hand store or the couple that crams themselves in a bachelor apartment. They may be making a conscious decision to do these things to save money, but most will judge them as poor without bothering to know the full story.
For some people, this judging is too much to bear. They want to fit in. All of us want to fit in to a certain degree, even us contrarians. Other people look at nice things as confirmation they’ve arrived. They must be doing fairly well, since they can afford a new tv or microwave. While we know this can often be the beginning of a slippery debt slope, the reality is most people who don’t read PF blogs feel this way.
Pretty much the whole minimalist philosophy shuns this attitude. Stuff is stupid they argue. It pins you down to one place. You can’t take it with you! Experiences are what matter they argue. They might not have stuff, but they can tell you a hell of a story about the monks in Nepal.
They’ll then launch into that story, with all the zeal of a bible thumper telling you the good news about Jesus. Can’t you see why stuff is bad?
In reality, spending your money on things or experiences still results in the same thing: less money. Every dime spent on either is one less dime you don’t have. As always, spending money represents a trade-off. If I spend ‘x’, I get this. Is that good value?
The person who values stuff will argue that stuff gives them the best value. The person who values experiences will argue the opposite. Who really cares what someone values, if each person gets value from their money?
Yes, spending money on stuff can often lead to debt. Countless people have gotten into credit card debt from having a lifestyle that they can’t afford. (including, Amanda Lang) Yet when someone leaves the county for extended periods of time, they’re forfeiting earning tens of thousands of dollars. Is that better or worse than consumer debt? Each path has it’s own opportunity costs.
To which I say this: to each his own. If you want to travel the world, go ahead and do it. And if you want to settle down, drive a nice car and drink wine from nice glasses, then do that too. The secret, as always, is to do each responsibly, just like FB does. Each lifestyle is possible without getting into consumer debt. Whatever you want to do, just go ahead and do it.