Recently I saw a post about how being minimalist requires being rich. I found it on Huffington post, you can read it here. Yet, I think she missed the point entirely. While there are those that are too poor to afford ever furnishing for their house (I would be one of those) that doesn’t mean that they can’t adopt a minimalist lifestyle.
I’ve taken a few questions/myths that perpetuated in the aforementioned article and given what I believe to be the facts on the subject backed up with other blogs here and there. In short, it’s not about showing wealth or even having a few nice things over lots of cheap things. It’s about having what adds value to your life.
Myth: You can’t be a poor minimalist.
Truth: Yes, you can. As someone who still needs their parents help, I embody the poor college kid. MadMan and I wouldn’t be living where we do without the help of our families. A year ago, there was nothing in the house that we bought ourselves, most was donated and given to us by family and friends. Yet, we are still minimalists. We don’t have tons of clothes, furniture, or decorations. While this may be due in part to the lack of funds with which to buy them, it is more due to the fact that we don’t need it.
You see, we could go and get a coffee table, maybe from Goodwill or another thrift store, but we don’t need it. We could go get a few more t-shirts from Rue 21, but we have what we need. The fact of the matter is, being minimalist has helped us save money on our very small budget.
TL;DR: Being minimalist is about having what adds value first. You don’t have to be rich to only have what adds value.
Myth: Minimalism is about showing off your rich.
Truth: I’m going to be honest, I don’t understand this at all. There will always be people that want to show off their wealth. There will always be those that splurge on a bag but skimp of coffee. I’m like that. My toaster oven is one of the nicest and most expensive on Amazon, but I don’t have a coffee maker, toaster, coffee table, end tables, dining room set, or night stands.
I’ve seen some minimalist on TV that have the nicest of everything they have, but they also don’t have much. It’s about prioritizing. If you want a full house with all the tables, chairs, and decorations then you will spend a lot of money even for the low-quality stuff. Yet, if you only want what you need (see this post I wrote about this very subject) then you can buy nicer stuff and might still even spend less.
TL;DR: When you have less overall, the few items you have might be of higher value.
Myth: Minimalism is not about sustainability.
Truth: Here’s where the rich comes into play. To be sustainable you need to be in a higher income level. As a person that cares deeply about the environment, it is hard for me to say, but I don’t help it much. That, however, is not because I am minimalist, it’s because I’m broke.
Grass fed meat is twice what normal (and already expensive) meat is. Sustainable clothing is three times as much, if not more. Local and handmade stuff, way out of our budget. Recycling? Our complex doesn’t have it and there’s nowhere close that does.
We try to do what we can. We walk to school and carpool. We hunt our meat rather than buy it. I buy organic when it’s in my budget. I use natural cleaners and always bring my own bag to the store. But buying everything sustainable, that’s above my budget right now.
TL;DR: You can be minimalist at any income and do what you can to be sustainable. Yet, depending on where you live and the income you have, you might be limited in your sustainable efforts.
Myth: To be minimalist you must quit your high paying job and live down to Earth.
Truth: This used to bother me too. I understand how it feels, to be mad at the documentaries that only interview former CEOs and tech guys who brag about quitting 250k jobs to live simply. Yes, they have life much easier. It’s super easy to live like a minimalist when you make more a year than over half the nation’s families. Yet, that’s not the point.
I don’t make much a year, MadMan makes typical of an entry worker in modern times. We by no means plan on quitting our tech jobs that pay tons because we don’t have them. We plan on living with what we have and saving up for the day we have enough to live independently.
TL;DR: Documentaries should show more simple people who have regular jobs. That, however, doesn’t mean we don’t exist. It’s about living with what you have.
Myth: It’s only on Instagram and blogger sites.
Truth: Many people have met me in real life. Many people know I am a minimalist in real life. Yet, many people I have met probably have no idea, nor do they care, about my lifestyle. I make no money from this site, I have no reason to lie so I can promise that minimalism is real, but you might be surprised to know that you can’t just look at one of us and know.
TL;DR: Minimalists exist. They look like everyone else, you have to get to know them to find out oftentimes.
Minimalism is not only for the rich. It’s not just for looks. It’s not bad for the environment. It does exist. It’s about adding value to your life and fitting your needs.
Minimalism can be done no matter your income level or abilities.
Minimalism is different for everyone.
You might not place much importance on the environment while I do. You might splurge on shoes while I splurge on kitchen stuff. If you have more money, all your stuff might be nicer than my stuff. I’m happy with my life, I’ll let you be happy with yours.
In the end, you have what you love while having less of what doesn’t matter.