Is minimalism for the privileged? 

  
I’ve been thinking more about my mum and how her ‘just in case’ tendencies rubbed off on me.
As I’ve explained before, we didn’t have a lot of money growing up so I appreciate keeping items may have been a necessity because there was no spare money to replace them.
The Minimalists follow the 20/20 rule – if you can replace an item for under $20 and within 20 minutes – then you don’t need to keep hold of it.

I don’t know about you but I think £13 (the GB sterling conversion) is actually quite a lot of money.
I’m not criticising the rule – if it works for you then all power to your elbow – but it did lead me to ponder whether minimalism is actually a pursuit of the privileged.
In order to reduce items to a minimum you have to have the money in your pocket to spend on things when you need them, to know that you have $20 or £13 in your bank account that you can spare if you need to purchase an item at the last minute.
Of course, minimalism is different for everyone, and one person’s necessity may be another person’s rubbish. You keep what is valuable to you and what may be valuable to you are those replaceable items that cost £13 or less because it will be a squeeze to afford them.
I’m not arguing for keeping drawers stuffed with spare phone charges and extra whisks (who uses those anyway?), I’ve got rid of the vast majority of my just-in-case items because I’m pretty sure the situations that I thought I’d need them for would never arise.
I’m lucky enough not to be living hand to mouth and have a job that has allowed me to accrue some money in the bank. I just appreciate that this may not be the same for everyone who is considering minimalism or trying to minimise their belongings and free themselves from clutter.
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on whether there is a certain level of privilege in attaining minimalism.

M

 

19 thoughts on “Is minimalism for the privileged? 

  1. I entirely share your opinion in this topic. I am on the way of managing a sustainable minimalism in a farm with a handyman husband and three children and I often think about how minimalism and frugality can be mixed or how we can make a balance between the two principles and live an environment friendly life. Not keeping or buying the excess stuff but not throwing away that we might need someday so we don’t have to buy it again and spend money on it. It is hard to make the right decision but not impossible. You are right, we are all different and we have to work on our own lives and work out our own answers.

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    1. You’ve hit the nail on the head, it’s about balancing minimalism with frugality and waste, and everyone has different tolerances and limits but the thread is not buying excessively. Thanks for stopping by Nora – really appreciate your comment. M

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  2. Great topic to think about. It is a balance. I’ll add “community” to the discussion of balance of frugality and minimalism. Some of the things people do use infrequently, but are needed at times, may not be needed by everyone in your circle or community at the same times. I am starting to try and coordinate with my extended family lists of “things” that we just don’t need more than one or two of in a big group of people,and we can borrow the items amongst us. For example, I have a punch bowl with cups. I use at most once a year, but the set gets used multiple times in a year. My sister and mother in law have big roasters-same concept. The guys do this with power tools. This may not work for everyone, but it has now become more of a habit to think about who has what before even considering buying something for a one or two off use.

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  3. I agree with Nora above. There has to be a balance between letting go of excess stuff (old phone chargers and extra utensils, like you mentioned) and keeping items that can honestly be used again. My husband has a habit of bringing home pens from work in his pockets. I rounded up all the extra pens and donated them at my work. We work with a lot of clients and have a constant need for pens. I didn’t get rid of every single pen even though I could buy a new one for less than $20, but I got rid of the 30+ pens in our drawer. I think initially, the hardest part is letting go of “just in case” things that you honestly won’t use again, even if something broke. I’m thinking of an ugly lamp or a frayed blanket. Those items are still usable, but probably not by you.

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    1. It’s true. When I catch myself keeping a ‘just in case’ item I think about a person that could actually use it and benefit from it. Pens have a habit of creeping into our house too – I usually save them up and give them to our nephew. M

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  4. This is true and something that probably isn’t thought about because to most people doing this lifestyle, $20 really isn’t a lot. But in reality it can be. So, keeping those few extra towels to replace the old ones, or a few extra sweaters in the basement, it all ensures no output of money. It’s something that i try and find a balance in, what can reasonably be used within the next 3 years and what really is going to be a pain to lug around. Those bright pink shoe racks, gotta go!

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  5. I think the idea of minimalism can work for most .
    What i find hard is investing in quality items that cost more .I think that’s because I am at the beginning of the process though. I am drip feeding quality into my wardrobe and it’s taking forever to get the money to invest.
    I have however bought a very smart black suit jacket , a smart evening jacket and a pair of leather work shoes.All these things can be worn with so many things .My feet are far happier with a decent pair of clarks shoes.
    A teaching assistant’s wage is not the best for starting a minimalist lifestyle.Only because the change just takes longer.
    Still trying it out though and happier with less stressing over clothes.

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    1. I agree good shoes are worth the money – your feet will thank you in the long run! However, I should perhaps confess that I do have a few pairs of ‘fun’ shoes (often £5-10 in things like New Look & Next sales) which I will buy purely for wearing out – and often sell on on ebay for what I paid for them after wearing them several times 🙂

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      1. That’s exactly the debate I had the other day .I needed some evening boots and as I wouldn’t wear them that often I could go for New Look cheaper boots 🙂

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      2. I created a tab called ‘Possibly buy’ – so if I still decide it’s worth buying I’ll aim to buy it on offer. The tricky path is learning to delete emails they send not relevant to your purchase. I spent an afternoon recently (as part of Kondo) going through shoes/sandals/boots and then lovingly clean them and store so they keep their best. I actually shocked myself looking down at my Cherry black sponge polish boots and they smiled back all shiny. This isn’t an ad for shoe polish just a nudge to look after what we own 👢

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      3. They’re both good tips. Giving new life to things you own is almost as good as having something new! A ‘possibly buy’ tab is also a good idea – I find I go off items quite quickly so this would be a good one for me. M

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  6. Thought provoking 🙂
    Imo, a realistic balance is required – which will be different for everyone 🙂
    I have 3 sons – and keep stuff for hand-me-downs, even though there are reasonably big age gaps (15/ 9/ 6). A lot of the stuff could be replaced for less than £13 but I see no need to spend un-necessarily in this case, They do get to say whether they like/ want the items – I don’t just pass it on willy-nilly, nor do I pass on shoes. It does mean we have boxes in our loft, but they are organised and we have the space (there’s not too much other stuff in there) I try and apply (amongst other, things, such as the ‘joy’ principle of Kondo’s) ‘would I pay someone to pack/ shift this for me if I were moving house?’

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    1. That’s a good way to look at it – would you pay to ship it. It makes sense to keep some stuff especially when you have children and you know that you’ll need the items again. Thanks for stopping by Mrs G! Glad you have food for thought. M

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