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    Any minimalists here?

    I grew up as somewhat of a packrat... my parents have a ton of stuff in their house, and I kind of grew into that lifestyle. As a young adult I noticed that I started to accumulate things as well, perhaps things that I didn't need. Sometimes I would buy some shampoo at the store, only to realize that I already had that shampoo buried in a cabinet somewhere.

    The fridge became messy, and I found myself throwing away food that had expired, mostly because it was so far back there that I had forgotten about it.

    I once noticed that I had a can of chicken soup... that had expired two YEARS ago.

    So, one day I decided to start trying to get rid of things, trying to live as a minimalist. It has been a long process but I am gradually getting rid of things that I don't need.

    First I started with food. Every 2 months I would try to eat ALL of my food, completely, and have gotten pretty close. Still working on getting rid of spices, because that is pretty hard.

    Today, the fridge is getting better... Right now I am down to the following:

    Freezer: 1 icecream bar, 3 cans of juice concentrate, 1/4 pound of shredded cheese (for pasta)

    Fridge:
    1/2 gallon of water
    Nalgene bottle of gatorade I make from powder
    1/4 Kimchee bottle
    3/4 package of spaghetti (dried)
    3/4 package of dried instant oats
    3/4 bottle of spaghetti sauce
    1.25 containers of coffee creamer
    5 oranges
    1/5 of a cake someone made me for my b-day a few days ago
    2 mountain dew cans
    1 beer
    ketchup
    mustard
    strawberry jam
    peanut butter
    30 oz of mixed nuts

    This is basically all the food I have in my house, with the exception of about 8 pounds of rice, and 1 container of gatorade powder.

    Hopefully I will be able to get rid of the Kimchee in the next 2 days, and a few other things. The jam and peanut butter is going to take a while, and will likely involve 2 loaves of bread, but I plan on attacking that next.

    I would imagine that there would be an interesting mixture of minimalists on a saving website, along with a few packrats... I would imagine that if a frugal person saw a good deal on, say, canned beans, he or she would stock up, and, over time, this type of behavior might lead to hoarding for certain people. On the other hand, I would also imagine that a subset of frugal people would be minimalists, as they would not need fancy gadgets and lots of stuff...

    Thoughts?
    g

    #2
    I'm somewhat that way, though probably not as significantly as others... I've been living more or less out of a suitcase (literally, everything I've had with me HAD to fit in my car, which was a small civic) for almost the last year now due to a long TDY assignment, and it really made me realize that I don't need alot to be happy. Once I finally get all of my household goods (next month... ugh), I expect that I'll be going through it all with an eye for eliminating the meaningless things. If it doesn't serve a legitimate purpose, it's likely to go. The exceptions will have to be certain specific memorabilia from childhood through college, and also some minor home furnishings that I have simply because "they look good". Otherwise, I've come to really enjoy a simple life without all of the random STUFF that seems to accumulate.

    It's an interesting topic you bring up about being a 'minimalist' with your food, however... I don't at all mean to sound judgemental, but it just doesn't seem like an entirely healthy way to go -- when you're trying to run dry your entire kitchen, doesn't that restrict your nutrition to a very narrow range of items? I mean, I keep a rather sparsely-populated fridge, but my freezer and pantry are generally fairly well stocked with the basic items that I use in cooking. It's not alot, but I'm able to use it all on a fairly regular basis in a variety of different applications, so it keeps things different for me. Just as an estimate, most of my non-perishable food stuffs are probably used within 1-2 months of purchase (though milk, bread, and other stuff I use alot of obviously goes much faster, often within a week). The trick (for me at least) is normally just not buying things you won't use regularly, and if you must get it, buy it in small amounts that you'll be less hesitant to throw out if you know you won't use it.
    "Praestantia per minutus" ... "Acta non verba"

    Comment


      #3
      With regards to being a food minimalist... I think it could be unhealthy if I absolutely adhered to not buying anything until I got rid of ALL of my food... I think with the amount of rice I have, it would come down to me only eating rice for weeks

      So it is just a goal to get rid of ALL of my food. What really happens is that I get as close as reasonably possible, and then restock.

      I think for me, I still get a variety of nutrients by eating food at work, or ordering out. So it isn't like I am going to JUST be eating rice.

      It also is something that I feel makes more sense for me, as a reforming packrat, than it does for people with less hoarding habits. I just tend to have some packrat tendencies that I feel I need to work on. Also, the feeling of having a clean, empty kitchen, or living space, is just so refreshing.

      Every time I get the urge to save something I watch another episode of Hoarders on A&E and that goes away

      Hoarders - A&E TV

      g

      p.s. I think it is also extremely hard to live a minimalist lifestyle with a family... as I am not married/have no kids, it is definitely easier.

      Comment


        #4
        I would not say that I'm a total minimalist but I'm working hard at getting rid of things. Besides buying less equals less debt and less work.

        Comment


          #5
          I wish. While not hoarders, we definitely have way too much clutter. Every time I try to attack it, it gets better temporarily and next thing I know, it is all back. The older I get, the more it bothers me so I am working on it.
          Steve

          * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
          * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
          * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

          Comment


            #6
            I would say I am a minimalist.... I believe in everything having a place, and a place for everything. Anything beyond that is sold, traded, stored away, or trashed.

            Comment


              #7
              Since our next move in 2 years will probably involve finding a temporary home while we buy a house, I will be minimizing then. Moving always helps me minimalize. Last time we moved I got rid of half my books. I keep thinking about the fridge clean out when we move. Our usual food elimination is spured on by my want to push back our Costco trip to as late in the month as possible. That leads to a lot of interesting recipes as we run out of our favorite foods.

              As a tip for food that is going bad, my huband loves to make "stone soup". It is basically soup made from whatever produce we have, soup stock (which I make from scratch), and some sauces and spices. It always turns out delicious.

              Comment


                #8
                In our house, which includes two kids, I regularly go through the closets and cabinets and purge. We have a pretty good steady-state going. We have a moderate amount of stuff and sticking to a strict budget keeps things in check.

                In 2003, we lived for 6 months in Stockholm in a 1000 square foot fully furnished apartment. We left our 2500 square foot house with all of our stuff in it waiting for us. In packing to go, I had to fit everything we'd need for 6 months into 2 suitcases each. Not wanting to buy much there as prices are much higher, I had to carefully plan what to take. One really sees what one can live on when having to do an exercise like that. It was also interesting to see that the Swedes have about 25% as many clothes and closet and cabinet space as we Americans do. When we got back, I threw out most of the food (not a whole lot) that was left and expired in the pantry at our house. It was an eye opener to see that things I thought I was using up about every month or so were actually sticking around longer. Our closets also seemed grossly overstuffed by comparison.

                I do keep a steady-state for most things. If something new comes in it is usually because something old was worn out or given away. We are not minimalists but we are not accumulating anything either.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by disneysteve View Post
                  I wish. While not hoarders, we definitely have way too much clutter. Every time I try to attack it, it gets better temporarily and next thing I know, it is all back. The older I get, the more it bothers me so I am working on it.
                  I was talking about the show Hoarders today with my coworkers and I think I really realized why I was susceptible to clutter. When I watch these interviews with the hoarders, I really see some of myself in them. At least how I used to be.

                  I think the biggest rationalization I used to make while getting too much stuff was "well, what if I could use this once next year? What if I could resell this for 2$? Why get rid of it?"

                  and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that, yes, there is that chance, the sum total of all accumulated stuff was weighing on me... I think living in an environment with alot of possessions really drags someone down, mentally, even if it is subconsciously. At least it did for me.

                  I am fortunate that at this point I am in a place where I am somewhat financially stable, and if I were to try to, say, sell a book on Ebay, the amount of time it would take was just not worth it. I could just work another shift, or some more hours, and that would be a better use of my time. So, I just dump the stuff off at Goodwill.

                  I also thought about it some more, and realized that being a cluttered person, and hoarding (which I probably had a mild case of) was really a matter of indecision... I mean, if I kept this knickknack around, maybe I could use it next Christmas, or maybe I could sell it at the garage sale I kept postponing... blah blah blah...

                  and then I thought about it a bit more, and realized, "You know, my job requires decisiveness, and I feel proud of my ability to do my job... so why am I being so indecisive (by not getting rid of something) in this area of my life?"... that helped me get rid of some stuff.

                  But after talking with some coworkers about one of the employees (who we all secretly suspect is a hoarder... he would never let anyone visit his house, and if they knocked, he would only open the door a crack and not let anyone see in... also he would always talk about buying weird stuff at the thrift shop, only because it was cheap)...

                  I realized that this guy was the most amazing cure for my hoarding ever... <evil chuckle>... all I needed to do was give my stuff to him... over the past few days, I have had 4-6oz bottles of hand sanitizer? put it in his mailbox. weird ceramic santa claus? put it in his mailbox... I only did this because he would actually thank me for it, and say he would use it. "you can never get enough hand sanitizer" he told me today...

                  So I feel a little guilty about just transferring entropy to his house, and being a hoarding enabler, but I don't let it bother me too much

                  Just as an afterthought, it really is a luxury to be a minimalist in a way. I mean, living as a minimalist is kind of anti-frugal... If someone were truly trying to save money, the best thing to do would be to buy in bulk, or to buy on sale, which pretty much by definition means that you are going to be accumulating more food than you could eat at that time. By becoming a food minimalist, I am essentially at the mercy of whatever the price of whatever food is that week.

                  On the other hand, I essentially am not wasting any money at all as nothing goes to waste. However, there are probably alot of frugal shoppers who buy in bulk who eat absolutely everything.

                  So I completely understand that living a minimalist lifestyle is kind of contrary to being very frugal. For me, that tradeoff and peace of mind I get from minimalism is worth the financial costs. Another thing that sealed the deal for me to try to become a minimalist was realizing that everything that I had grandiose plans for (not just food) when I bought, rarely came to fruition... and I ended up throwing away/giving away those things when push came to shove.

                  g

                  p.s. over the past 2 weeks I am down to 2 cups, 2 plates, 2 bowls, 4 forks, 4 spoons, 1 big knife, and 1 little knife, as far as utensils go. With just forks alone I had to give away about 20 random forks of different styles.

                  I guess if more than 1 other person comes over for dinner they will have to eat in series...
                  Last edited by gambler2075; 09-13-2010, 04:58 PM.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by gambler2075 View Post
                    I think the biggest rationalization I used to make while getting too much stuff was "well, what if I could use this once next year? What if I could resell this for 2$? Why get rid of it?"

                    I am fortunate that at this point I am in a place where I am somewhat financially stable, and if I were to try to, say, sell a book on Ebay, the amount of time it would take was just not worth it. I could just work another shift, or some more hours, and that would be a better use of my time. So, I just dump the stuff off at Goodwill.
                    This describes me perfectly. Sounds like you and I are a lot alike.

                    and then I thought about it a bit more, and realized, "You know, my job requires decisiveness, and I feel proud of my ability to do my job... so why am I being so indecisive (by not getting rid of something) in this area of my life?"... that helped me get rid of some stuff.
                    Again, very similar - not surprising since we are both in the same career.

                    Just as an afterthought, it really is a luxury to be a minimalist in a way. I mean, living as a minimalist is kind of anti-frugal... If someone were truly trying to save money, the best thing to do would be to buy in bulk, or to buy on sale, which pretty much by definition means that you are going to be accumulating more food than you could eat at that time.
                    That's true, but there is also a cost to clutter and hoarding. How many times have we bought something knowing that we had that item somewhere in the house but couldn't find it. So we ended up with two because the one we had eventually turned up.

                    Thank you for a very inspiring post. Maybe it will spur me to take some more definitive action around this place and start purging stuff that I've been hanging onto just because it has value or I might need it someday.
                    Steve

                    * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                    * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                    * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I would say I tend to lean to the minimalist style, but with kids and a house, it is hard to be very minimal. However, I don't have two different types of dishes. Or duplicates of many things. Just enough.

                      I'm actually in the process of helping a neighbor organize and declutter her storage room. She is very motivated and getting rid of so many things she just no longer uses or doesn't like anymore. It's freeing to release the clutter. I don't think people realize how much time and energy we spend on our stuff even when we aren't doing anything with it! We think about how we should do something, wonder when we should take care of it, why we don't want to deal with it and so forth. Ugh. I'm exhausted just writing about it.

                      I'm definitely in the camp of less is more. It's much more relaxing and if one isn't buying more stuff...it is less expensive!
                      My other blog is Your Organized Friend.

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                        #12
                        Minimalism should be synonymous with savings.. once you want more "stuff", you inevitably spend more. Once that mentality leaves you, it becomes easy to save a couple extra bucks!

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                          #13
                          I am not, but I am trying to become one. Time will tell if I succeed or not, I guess.

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                            #14
                            Do any of you who want to be minimalists have a profession where you must have equipment? How about papers? Special clothing aside from your home clothes? Are you able to keep all that somewhere else?

                            What do you do if you change your oil and it an even number of quarts are not required? Throw away the oil?

                            What do you do about simple things like, say, salt? Do you just keep it in the single container you buy it in and not use a salt shaker? Or do you fill a salt shaker and then throw away the rest of the box of salt?

                            There must be a zillion tiny questions like that that come up.


                            Do any of you have children? If so, what about their lives and kiddie accouterments?

                            I'm remembering the home of one of my son's childhood friends. The place was so clean, orderly, and felt beautifully calm. However, the people in it did not seem beautifully calm to me. The boy's father was always ready to snarl about something. The boy seemed always to be searching for something just out of grasp. He seemed always on the verge o panic. I'm not attributing any of their negative traits to their rather empty household, but I did feel sorry for the boy whose parents would seize papers and projects he brought home from school, the moment he came in. I brought him home one day and saw that some "goop" he'd made at school and was supposed to play with as an intro to solids and liquids, was immediately thrown away. It looked to me like none of his possessions were really his own.

                            Also, I tutor a couple of sisters four days a week. These parents have a similarly simple, elegant, most uncluttered, sparse home. I admire how well kept it is. This family has few furnishings. When a small table is needed it is brought from another room. We sit on the floor or on one of two sofas. Actually, they have only one chair in the house; it normally is with the computer. There are no chairs or table for the eat-in kitchen. Meals are taken sitting on a blanket in the living room.... They just have few possessions at all. (I've seen every room of the house). However, it feels to me that nothing the kids produce at school or during tutoring is valued enough to save it even for an hour. Whoosh! Off it goes to the trash! I used to bring these kids library books, but two of them disappeared, and I really think that they got thrown away, in favor of the super tidy, super simple house. The cardboard clocks I brought them and hoped they'd play with once in a while were gone by the next day. The bangle bracelets I had them make with beads in sets of five to reinforce counting by five? Gone! Their school papers and art work go straight from the backpacks to the trash. They are never displayed or discussed, or given acknowledgement by anyone but me. (Heck, I have some of them on my own fridge because they are just so charming.)

                            So I can see good and bad in minimalism. I guess children in a household don't have much say in the way the household runs. But sometimes, it seems like it can be disrespectful to the children and it can rob them of chances to enrich their lives/minds.
                            "There is some ontological doubt as to whether it may even be possible in principle to nail down these things in the universe we're given to study." --text msg from my kid

                            "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." --Frederick Douglass

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I'm going to try to answer the questions in order...

                              1) I work in a profession where I don't really need much equipment... scrubs, a stethoscope, some books. That is really very little volume, probably would fit into a 2ft by 2ft by 2ft cube.

                              2) Changing my oil? I do it at the Jiffy Lube. I don't think it is worth changing it myself.

                              3) Salt: I do have a salt shaker and a 1 pound container of salt. I did find that I had 2 1-pound containers of salt from my hoarding days, so I gave away that extra pound to the work lunch room.

                              4) Children? No. It definitely is much, much easier to have less stuff without kids.

                              As far as that bad experience with your son's childhood friends, I don't necessarily think that that was caused by being a minimalist... perhaps OCD on the cleaning or some other issue, but I think with the minimalist philosophy that just doesn't fit.

                              Of course, minimalism can be taken to an absolute extreme, and taken to the point where it becomes counterproductive... I am definitely not a hard-core minimalist. I have a TV, I have a playstation 2, I have a road bike, and a mountain bike, a snowboard, and all the other accoutrements that go along with it.

                              Some of the minimalist blogs I have seen out there have taken it to an extreme... I would never try to get down to 100 things, like this guy:

                              Get Rid of Clutter: 100 Thing Challenge Helps Shed Stuff - TIME

                              but I try to get rid of things that are more just causing clutter, than are benefiting me.

                              Here's a post from rowdykittens about the reasons for becoming a minimalist (guest post from missminimalist)

                              The Joy of Less

                              Essentially what I take from minimalism is to really try to get to a point where when I enter my room, I can actually enjoy the space. I know it is a totally different way of looking at space. Most people see it as "empty" but to me, it actually makes me relaxed. For example, in my bedroom, I have 5 things in sight. I have my bed, my dresser, my desk, my chair, and my alarm clock. That is all. I got rid of my bookshelf because it had so few books, and I put those few in the closet.

                              To me, when I see a room that is cluttered, or piles of papers on a table, it is difficult to really concentrate on something. I am constantly distracted by those piles of clutter, or papers, whereas if the desk is completely clear, then I can focus on the task at hand.

                              If you have time, maybe you can take a look at the zenhabits site. It really changed the way I look at stuff and material possessions.

                              The Beginner’s Guide to Zen Habits – A Guided Tour | zen habits

                              g

                              p.s. all this being said, I don't consider myself a real minimalist. In some ways I am more minimalistic than the average person (getting rid of dishes to get down to 2 bowls, 2 cups, 2 plates, etc...) but I also will not get rid of things if I felt that it made my life more difficult. I think minimalism can be taken to different levels and for me, the level I want to get to is where I have just the amount of stuff that is useful to me, and not any more. I also think that the minimalist lifestyle is not for everybody. It is not better or worse than having lots of stuff, but for me, I feel like the advantages outweigh the costs.
                              Last edited by gambler2075; 10-04-2010, 05:12 AM.

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