Minimalism is about not compulsively consuming products and being intentional with what things you own. I’ve heard about this lifestyle through other blogs and interviews, so when I saw The Minimalists’ documentary on Netflix I couldn’t wait to watch it. I was starting to feel claustrophobic by our processions and was thinking it was time to reset our junk-o-meter.
I never thought I was going to get Ms. Blue Ribbon on board but then we watched the minimalism documentary on Netflix. Just like with anything, changing a person’s mind is a dangerous thing. In fact, you can inadvertently solidify someone’s belief just by trying to engage in the idea that there is another way of doing something. (This is why I don’t try to push my feelings on anyone when it comes to personal finance, religion, politics, and spicy foods.)
Since this was something I was curious about I decided to watch the video on my own. My manager let us off really early the Friday before a holiday. I had driven to daycare to pick up Mini Donut and realized he had just gotten put down for a nap. Too lazy to drive home I just sat in my car, connected to wifi and watched on my phone.
If you haven’t watched it I highly recommend it. You can watch it on all the major services (https://minimalismfilm.com/).
Tumbling Down the Rabbit Hole
I was shocked and thrilled when Ms. Blue Ribboned turned to me after we had finished and asked where should we begin. I can’t remember where we started but we started going through the house tackling room by room. Determining what was a necessity and what we could live without. By the end of the weekend we had accumulated a massive pile of STUFF to donate and filled a few garbage bags. Everything was sitting by the garage door waiting to go to Goodwill and we hadn’t even gone through the rooms in our downstairs yet.
We both just looked at the pile and thought, “why did we have these things?” We obviously weren’t using any of it because we didn’t even know we had most of it. That was the sad truth. We had accumulated so much stuff we had forgotten it existed to begin with. Our overflowing storage under the stairs was boiled down to just a few tubs (mostly holiday decorations or seasonal items). We now have a rule that if we don’t use or display a decoration during the holidays to goes straight to the donation pile. If we weren’t using it then were we really going to use it later? The funniest part of the whole ordeal was trying to figure out what to do with 20 empty plastic storage bins!
It felt like a load of stress was lifted from us because it had. We didn’t need to worry about where we were going to store certain things anymore since we had a newly cleared out storage area. There wasn’t clutter in the back of our minds (or our house).
Minimalism Doesn’t Mean You Own Nothing
In no way are we close to the level of minimalism you see in the documentary but you don’t need to limit yourself to only having 10 things to call yourself a minimalist. It just means you are making sure you aren’t filling your life with useless stuff. Being a software engineer I’m focused on functionality. If it doesn’t serve a purpose then what’s its point; it’s just clutter.
I do have a tiny video game collection though, that is mostly made up of my favorite NES, Nintendo 64, and GameBoy games while Ms. Blue Ribbon has a collection of books. Both collections are half or less of what they were before we watched the documentary.
How Minimalism Changes You
Now, this isn’t a one time purge and you are done. Only a few weeks later we already amassed more stuff to take to Goodwill. A month after that we found a charity called Bridging and took a few boxes of kitchen things to them.
Bridging is a local charity that takes in household items to help people getting out of poverty or homelessness. They take a lot more items that your normal thrift shop wouldn’t take and it goes directly to helping others. We’ve taken kitchen utensils, my grandfather’s recliner, end tables, blankets, and towels there.
We are still finding more and more things that can go to charities or sell (we made over $500 selling on craigslist over a month after watching the movie). Even when we thought there wasn’t any more to get rid of, we found it. Our lives are so much fuller, less stressful, and we don’t even miss what is gone. Even now, one of us will get into a purging mood and then we both start filling donation boxes.
Most of the stuff that we feel cluttered by are the kids’ items. As Babe (baby 2) gets bigger and outgrows any toys or clothes, Ms. Blue Ribbon is quickly putting them on her Facebook mom’s group or Facebook Marketplace.
I will leave you with a quote from Joshua Becker, “Once we give up being attached to physical possessions we find the time and freedom to follow bigger dreams.”
Do you try to practice minimalism or something like it? How is it going?