Minimalism is becoming a “thing” nowadays, but that’s not the reason why I want to pursue this lifestyle. For one thing, I’m not the type of person who jumps into the latest bandwagons and joins fads just to be “cool”. I also don’t see minimalism as a trend; I think of it as a principle, a set of guidelines, a way of living that will remain meaningful and relevant even as years go by.
So why exactly did I decide to become a minimalist? Here are some of the reasons that come to mind:
1. Minimalism gives me a reason to reduce my clutter
You know that thing when you think that you have waaaay too much stuff but don’t do anything about it because you still have enough space for them anyway?
That’s exactly what I was going through.
I didn’t own lots of clothes and bags and shoes, but I did have a lot of books. The last time I counted them they were around 250 or so, not including my grade school, high school and college textbooks, the various dictionaries scattered around the house, my old fairytale and children’s rhyme books and the encyclopedia set my aunt had given me. These 250 books consisted of the fiction (and a few non-fiction) books that I bought using my savings as well as my birthday and Christmas money.
Two hundred and fifty books don’t sound a lot, because they really aren’t a lot (compared to JFM’s 2,000-book collection, for example). In fact, I wanted to add more to my library to make it bigger and ensure I’ll have a huge stack of readables to keep me company if ever I got bored.
But here’s the problem: I was never bored. I know I risk sounding like a snob saying this but, with a 10:00AM-7:00PM work schedule, coupled with a 90-minute journey from home to work (and vice versa), I simply didn’t have the time to read new books or even re-read the old ones I had. So my pocketbooks and hardbound novels sat in my shelves, gathering dust and waiting for someone to open them and enjoy the stories they offer.
Fortunately, I discovered minimalism and realised that keeping stuff I no longer need or want isn’t exactly a great idea. Sure, it’s nice to show off my library to friends who’d visit me and make them think “Wow, she REALLY loves to read”, but in the end my books weren’t really adding much value to my life.
The only thing they did was to add clutter to my room.
2. Minimalism prevents me from becoming a mini-me of my mom
I hate to announce this to the entire world, but I really can’t deny that my mom is a pack rat. She loves to hoard things and finds it hard to let go of stuff that a) have sentimental value, b) cost her a lot of money when she bought them and/or c) might become useful/fashionable a few years from now. Some of the items she keeps include an oven toaster that we used only once (she never used it again because she thinks it consumes a lot of power), an old TV that comes with a built-in shelf and boxes of Tupperware products that we don’t really use (Mom used to be a Tupperware lady). She also has a huge stack of empty noodle packets, dishwashing liquid sachets and canned food labels (which she keeps because they might be used in raffle competitions that require proofs of purchase — insert eye rolling here).
Don’t get me wrong — I love my mom to bits, but I don’t want to be a pack rat like her. I used to think that there’s nothing wrong with hoarding stuff, but now I know it’s not the path for me. It might have worked for my mom (mainly because my dad and I tolerate her), but I don’t want my future house or apartment to be filled with junk and look like a rubbish tip.
3. Minimalism makes my life simpler
I’ve always been a simple person. I’m contented with my old jeans, ratty sneakers, grungy sling bag and non-fashionable T-shirts. I’m contented with my old Nokia QWERTY phone (in all its scratched and dented glory) and my banged-up laptop.
But sometimes consumerism creeps up on me and makes me want to upgrade my stuff. Magazine adverts make me want to buy a shiny new pair of sneakers, cute shirts and stylish jeans. Online ads tell me to ditch my low-tech electronics and get a brand-spanking-new smartphone, tablet and laptop. Sponsored articles convince me that I need an Instax camera, a juicer, a Kindle, a popcorn maker and a stainless steel water bottle. I get tempted by all these fantastic marketing messages that bombard me every day and, believe me, if I had enough cash or a credit card, I would have bought them all. But I don’t have the money and, now that I’m adopting the minimalist lifestyle, I realise that I don’t need all of these things anyway and can live just fine without them.
Let me just make this clear, though: buying new clothes, shoes, electronics and other things ISN’T WRONG, as long as they can give value to your life. (For instance, I’m planning to buy a tablet because it will let me download the books I want to read, instead of getting physical copies that would add clutter to my room.) What’s wrong is when you purchase things not because you need them but because you’re giving to the marketing messages you receive or because you want to keep up with the Joneses (or the Kardashians, whatever).
4. Minimalism helps me cut costs and save money
What happens when you stop buying things just for the sake of buying?
You end up with lesser expenses and more cash, that’s what. You can then put this extra money in your savings account, invest it in stocks or bonds or do other things to make your wealth grow.
That’s what I’m hoping to do. I’m not really a big spender, but I can still use minimalism principles to avoid the temptation to buy things I don’t really need. This means I can save money instead of splurging on unnecessary purchases, giving my emergency funds a serious boost and becoming more prepared for rainy days.
These are just some of the reasons why I strive to become a minimalist. These might not strike a chord in you, but don’t be discouraged. As Joshua Becker said, minimalism will always be different, so what makes sense to me and what grabs my attention might not have the same effect on you. Just take the time to learn more about minimalism and see how it can help you grow and make your life more meaningful.