This guest post was written by Timothy Ng who is a personal finance writer for Credit Card Finder. For more information on “Credit Card Finder Minimalism Series Part 2” simply visit our website or subscribe to our RSS feed for daily updates and more related articles such as on family finance tips.
Many people are turning to the minimalist lifestyle as a way of life. As the cost of living rises, and uncertainty is more prevalent in our lives, it is actually becoming a more viable way of life than it was years ago.What however is the true meaning of minimalism, how can we achieve it, and what are the benefits?
The definition or most clearly understood explanation of minimalism is, “To be stripped down to the bare bones. A way of life that is simple, and only has space for the absolute necessities and nothing more.”
What Does This Really Mean?
Let’s look at a very simple task people do day to day. Washing their clothes-When you really break this task down in tiny pieces you actually see what is involved cost wise. To do a wash load of clothes you have to use electricity and water to run the washing machine, you then have to purchase washing powder, and softener to put in with your clothes. Once they are clean, if you do not have a garden you have to use more electricity to run them though a dryer. Unless of course you choose to hang them up around your house, creating the illusion of a Chinese laundry in your home.
Do not forget in order to use your washing machine, you have to first buy one, along with a warranty, and any new parts that need fixing over time.
This is of course an extreme example, and there is nothing wrong with this process of day to day living, but when broken down, the sentiment of minimalists is the same. “Normal” day to day living requires an awful lot of stress, hard work, and time to maintain.
In the simple act of washing your clothes, you have had to pay for a washing machine, the water and electric to run it, the powder to put in it, and then whatever means you choose to dry your clothes is a drain on either space or more electricity.
A minimalist fully embracing the lifestyle will probably be more likely to take their washing to a laundrette, leaving them to worry about the upkeep of the machines and energy costs. Being frugal is a key element of the lifestyle.
So the basis of a minimalist lifestyle is simplistic, efficient, cheap to run, and easy to maintain. This does not have to mean living in an empty house, with the lights off. Actually living a minimalist lifestyle is not that difficult, and the transition can be fairly swift if you take certain steps.
Let’s look at how you could enter into the world of minimalism!
The Minimalist Home
The home of a minimalist will generally be free of all clutter. There is only the very necessary amount of furniture in the home, and surfaces will be clear apart from maybe one or two items of decoration.
Floor space will be completely open and clear, and walls will be plain, and clear other than again maybe one or two choice pieces of simple artwork.
If it not serving a practical purpose you will not normally find it in a minimalists home.
The benefits – Having a home this way has many benefits. The main one being the ease of upkeep. With less clutter and “stuff” around it is far easier to keep the place tidy and dust free.
There is also the added advantage of having less around that can break and will then need fixing.
Doesn’t this Feel a Little Soulless?
It is often asked of the minimalism world as to whether they feel a simple home is one without soul or character. The minimalists raise a good point- whilst there is nothing wrong with possessions, with people’s lives becoming so busy, how many of us really appreciate those “bits and bobs” we hang on to.
Technology also makes living a minimalistic lifestyle easier. With all the multimedia devices that are available to us it is no longer necessary to have bookcases and cupboards full of records, and DVDS. It is now possible to store all your music and films one or two pieces of computer equipment.
The same is true of photographs. You do not need dozens of different photo albums lying around as you can store thousands of photos on a simple disk which can be viewed any time on your television or computer.
Televisions also double as DVD players nowadays, eliminating the need to have a media unit stacked full of different pieces of entertainment equipment.
In fact technology is making us move towards a more simplistic way of life, without us really realising it is happening.
What is The Point?
Of course living a minimalist lifestyle will not be for everybody, however many people that have made the transition to this way of life highly recommend this new way of living to friends and family.
The basic advantages of living this way are:
· Less to worry about
· Less to own and be responsible for.
· Easy to maintain
· Less to lose
· Easier to organise
· Cheaper to run- a good choice for the frugal.
Choice Without Extremes
If you are currently living the opposite of a minimalist lifestyle, then it would be a very dramatic change to switch over to complete minimalism. It should be undertaken in stages, and over a period of time.
The best way would be to begin with the home. You need to look at the things you have, and decide what you really want to keep. Once you have cleared most of the clutter you can then look at the furniture.
Again do not try and do the whole home at once, rather go a room at a time. You can then look at things like records, DVDs and photos. Do you have an all in one media device you can store things on to save space?
As you start to make these changes you will find you have more space, and less hassle. You will be living in a much more relaxed, and calm environment that is easy to keep clean and maintain.
That in itself should eliminate a great deal of stress from your life.