We can all get by with less stuff. The reality is that what we all consider necessary has changed over time. Stripped down to its core we need food, water, clothes and shelter. Everything else is varying degrees of want.
In my lifetime alone many things like cars, cell phones, internet, cable TV, and oh so many subscriptions have become ‘necessary.’
Let’s be clear, my family was by no means wealthy (monetary). Yet, I also did not want for much. My Dad was a hard worker and I followed in his footsteps earning money for most of the bigger things I wanted. After graduating from high school, I had the summer before I was off to basic, military training.
Heading off to the military meant I had to put my life in a single bag. As you might imagine, keeping a small amount of stuff makes life easier in the military. Other than my first car and a watch, I did not buy much of anything while serving. At the time, I thought myself a minimalist.
Post military I had about seven years of a shiftless existence until I buckled down. In that seven years, I lived in two different countries across 12 different houses, apartments or townhouses. Thank goodness I buckled down at the end of that period and earned my bachelors degree in the last three of those seven years. In this period, I made sure not to have too much stuff as moving was part of life. This reinforced my opinion that I was a minimalist.
Here I sit in my house with a family of five, two cars, a dog and more Legos than one can count. A lot has happened since those shiftless days. We have acquired and parted ways with many things. Some have been long-lasting, great buys/investments. Others have served a purpose and joined the landfill.
The one thing I’ve learned from is that I’m more of a ‘quality-ist’ than a minimalist. You could say my arc has gone from a minimalist (by need), to acquirer of things, to ‘quality-ist.’
To me, a minimalist does with out many wants. Since we only live once, I like to enjoy some of the wants. But, experience has taught me that quality matters. We all know that you can buy four pair of cheap shoes that one pair of quality shoes will out last. This applies for many things. The problem, for us all, is that marketing has become so good that we are often sold on quality that is not. As well, we are sold on things we are perceived to need.
My words of advice are to focus on quality and make the investment in quality goods and experiences. To be sure, being a quality-ist is hard early in life when you may not be flush with money. You might have to organize putting your big (want) purchases around holidays or birthdays. Or, you might have to be patient and save for those things. As well, you have to do solid research and read reviews (good and bad).
The bottom line is that there is a lot between minimalism and hoarding. Being a quality-ist gives you:
- a lighter touch on the earth’s resources
- saves you money in the long run
- less time shopping for the same things
- your purchases might turn out to be investments (cars, watches, toys, jeans, etc…)