What is a minimalist? Am I being a minimalist? I think I'm frugal, but... what is it to be considered a minimalist?
Cos I was thinking, can I go further? Where else can I cut? Should I cut even more?
So I went to get some data...
And there's a list of consumer goods which many people own...
And well... I have most of them.
My expenditure isn't very much lower than the 40th income percentile.
Straight off, I thought to say that I'm not a minimalist. I'm just frugal.
I thought that I would really need to be somewhat living on the edge of poverty to be considered a minimalist.
Then I went around online and read more...
Then I came across this "elevator pitch"
Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.
There are many flavors of minimalism: a 20-year-old single guy’s minimalist lifestyle looks different from a 45-year-old mother’s minimalist lifestyle. Even though everyone embraces minimalism differently, each path leads to the same place: a life with more time, more money, and more freedom to live a more meaningful life.
I like this explanation more. Personally, I don't like hard definitions. I feel hard definitions draw the line too clearly and distracts us from the spirit of the idea.
Like retirement, early retirement, semi retirement. If we try to define it too clearly, by age, by what we are expected to be doing, whether we are earning an income or not, etc etc... we waste time defining, when we could be living it. So what if the definition is right or wrong? I'm still going to be living this way. No one is going to get money for being right.
So anyway, back to topic...
Looks like a broader way to define minimalism is to de-clutter the unnecessary distractions in life and hold on to the things that provide good value to increase our overall well-being.
Oh ok... looks like I'm a minimalist too... That was easy...
I think the idea is simple but extremely hard to define.
On one extreme end, we could call someone who chooses to live on the edge of poverty a minimalist. So he doesn't need to live in poverty, but he does.
On the other hand, any normal person could be called a minimalist. As long as he/she doesn't overspend too much.
I think no one would consider someone who bathes in luxury products a minimalist so... that's out of the picture.
So do we classify it as...
Minimalist = Choosing to live in poverty
Minimalist = Miserly frugal
Wanna be Minimalist = Frugal
Are you sure you can be considered Minimalist = Non-indulgent normal spending
Definitely not Minimalist = Anything else
Once again... I think... NAH... this classification doesn't work for me.
I don't think that minimalism is about how much we spend, but rather a mindset.
Yes, definitely, a minimalist shouldn't be over indulgent. But if on my birthday, I go for a nice treat, around $80 per pax. I would probably just show the finger if anyone splits hairs with me. Cos really, I think over-defining these really spoils the whole spirit of things.
I'm not being or trying to be a minimalist to show anyone. I'm not trying to prove that I'm a minimalist. Being labeled one or not being labeled one doesn't really impact my life.
Personally, I use my $4 telco arrangement. My wife uses a sim only plan which is around $25 per month. Other people typically spend $40 for their monthly telco expenses. And I don't think any of these are over-indulgent. I would maybe raise an eyebrow if he/she is carrying the latest iPhone though, cos personally, I think those are over priced and he/she probably topped up $500 to buy that phone. But that's fine as well. It's not my problem.
Or if someone owns a car, like me... I would think that if someone has a somewhat fair reason to own a simple sedan, I wouldn't even think he is indulgent. But getting a BMW, Merc... Then yes, I would call it indulgent.
So do I think I am a minimalist? Yes I do.
Can I improve? Yes definitely. There are stuff that I would/could do without. Maybe I would cut them in future.
And yet, I live a relatively normal life.
I own a car, I wouldn't if my wife was not working in the far end of Singapore, such that even Uber can't be found there.
I own enough clothes to last me til 50 years old at least, and yet I didn't buy them myself, they were all gifts. Should I throw them all away to be considered a minimalist?
I have a home internet plan, a TV, a sofa, tables, chairs, stove, fridge, etc etc.
And yet, I consider myself a minimalist.
Cos in the spirit of things, I try to cut where I can, I can probably do better, but I don't think it's about going down to the lowest common denominator.
I don't value a very pretty dining table or chairs. My table cost me $50, and each chair was $29. I could probably eat on the floor, but I think that is unnecessary.
I own a 40" TV. I could probably own a 32" TV, or even no TV at all... and yet once again... is that necessary?
I have air-conditioners in all my bedrooms. But I don't have it in my living room. And yet I could probably still live well with no air-cons at all...
So what is minimalism? It's a broad spectrum. But let's not lose sight of the forest for the trees. I would call it a mindset, were we cut when we can, where we can, to a point where there's still a semblance of good living. To be indulgent at times where it is appropriate and frugal at most other times.
Cos if we go down to the lowest common denominator, and we're just talking about staying in a 1 room flat, with a single fan, no TV, no internet, no phone, cooking using a portable stove, with just enough clothes to go to work. Then we're just talking about living an impoverished lifestyle. And that's just not in the spirit of things.
So I'd rather stop defining too much and just live it.
Do I think I'm a minimalist? Yes I do.
Whether someone else thinks so or not, well, they can call me whatever they want. I'll let them win, if that's what makes them happy.
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