minimalism, and links

One of the most difficult steps to organize your life – finances, relationships, etc. – is decluttering, I think.  I’ve been thinking a lot more recently about the idea of decluttering and minimalism.  I don’t consider myself a minimalist, but I have simple test that works:  if I clean up, do I feel more relaxed?  If I organize and remove unnecessary items, do I feel better?  Yes, I do.  It’s not a tough test; anyone can do it quickly.  I don’t like clutter.  I don’t even like auditory clutter; on a Waldorf-inspired binge a few months ago, I removed almost all of our childrens’ toys’ batteries so we wouldn’t have to subject ourselves to the bleeping and blooping.

Part of the decluttering is tough.  I do enjoy having a lot of books in the house, but I wonder: will our children even appreciate books or will they just tote a Kindle or a Nook around with them?  I don’t like junk lying around but I can’t bring myself to toss out pictures our children having painstakingly crafted.

Minimalism and/or decluttering are tough journeys, no doubt about it.  I’m reading more and trying to get my own head straight about what I want out of my material possessions.  Is it fair for me to deny my kids batteries in their noisy toys while keeping a DVD player for myself, for example?  Food for thought.

On to the links:

7 comments

  • My two cents – Kids appreciate what they know. If they know noisy toys with batteries (I have a future engineer on my hands who wants to know how to take everything apart and put batteries in it), that is what they know and want. If they know bookshelves full of books, they’ll appreciate that and not want a nook or a kindle. I love the feel and the smell of a real book. I don’t listen to books or read them on a gadget. I have always loved turning pages. Sure, not everything we show them or give them will be appreciated. But there are certain things – like books – that I don’t waver on. And the more page turning they do, the better. For so many reasons.

    This all coming from a girl who has suddenly found herself drowning in clutter because my father-in-law sent a uhaul full of stuff from his just sold house to us. I have never wanted to be a minimalist more than right now. But there is also the “someone gave this to me, is it okay to get rid of it?” problem.

    I think decluttering/minimalism is a journey/process rather than an end result.

    • @Emily: I hear you, although one of the things I’ve always been quite harsh about with my family (mine and my in-laws) is a “if you give it to me don’t be upset if I decide to donate it/trash it/give it away” policy. I have a number of items I’m very sentimental about and I’ve tried over and over to be very harsh in my assessment of those items once they aren’t useful anymore. Do I love my great-grandmother’s ashtray? Or do I love the association with the ashtray that’s easily replaced by a photo or a memory.

      Dunno. It is tough. And I’m not even sure about books. It’s sortof like people who insist that vinyl is better than an MP3. I’m sure it is, but the simple fact is that books are on their way to obsolescence. E-book editions outsold hardcovers this year; in a year or two they’ll outsell paperbacks. I love a paper book, too, but I suspect I’ll be part of the last generation to do so. In the same way we don’t wax nostalgic about making our own butter or beating clothes on a rock in the river, our kids (or, for certain, THEIR kids) won’t understand what the big deal is about reading off wood pulp.

      But the last thing you said is absolutely true: I don’t view it as a goal, but as a life philosophy: something to be applied to day-to-day decisions and not applied, so much, retroactively.

  • I love books, but I’m not a luddite. I don’t have a lot of space and I’ll be moving occasionally. That’s the reason I’ve now preordered a Kindle 3. I read books for the content, not the physical item so to speak. If I ever feel the need for a ‘real book’ I can just go to the library – win/win. 🙂

    Besides the space savings, ebook readers have several advantages:
    – no trouble with thick books, can be hold in one hand
    – text looks pretty much like a real book (no LCD backlit eye strain)
    – built-in dictionary (great for me as a non-native English speaker)
    – built-in note capabilities

    …and lots more I’m sure I’m forgetting right now. Even as a book lover it’s a no brainer to me (in my situation).

  • Hi Steve,

    I am a staff writer at the My Dollar Plan blog and I wrote “My First job Ended in Unemployment”. Thank you for including it in your roundup!

  • I’m working hard on minimalism. My life pretty much fits in a suitcase and a few carry on bags these days but I still have some way to go.

    I recently wrote a long post on minimalising if you are interested: http://frugalzeitgeist.com/how-to-simplify-your-life/

    Thanks,

    Forest.

  • I approach decluttering by asking why I want to do so. The answer is that in our youth, we try on various hobbies, material goods, and the like to see what fits our personality. As we grow older, this helps us get a better sense of who we are, but at the expense of having a lot of stuff we no longer need, because it didn’t fit who we were (or became). A good example is the old Corvette I bought years ago. It turned out I didn’t have the thing for cars I thought I might, so eventually I dumped it.

    So to declutter, I look at things that I acquired in that vein. If they were not a fit to who I became, they get discarded. End of story.

    • @Curmudgeon: I couldn’t put it better myself. If you apply the filter of “does this have any value to me NOW (as opposed to 5/6/7 years ago, etc.” then you’d have a very clear understanding of what made sense to retain. Dead on.