Living Simply: Easy for you to say.

tiny things

One of my new WordPress friends is Ron Byrnes at Pressing Pause. He recently wrote an article articulating some thoughts I’ve been having about the problem with the simple living movement. (Read it really quickly – I’ll wait.)

I really appreciate the way he explains his concerns here. I agree that the tendency for people on the outside of the movement is to assume that those of us living by these principles are 1) crazy, 2) elitist, and/or 3) going through a phase. While number 1 may apply, I have to take serious issue with numbers 2 and 3. The more popular icons of the simple living movement do feed the public’s assumption that minimalism in particular is a luxury that only the wealthy can afford. One often hears stories that include such phrases as “so I walked out of my six-figure job and lived on my savings for a year!” or “so I sold my $300,000 house and moved into a tiny apartment, paying off my debt with the $2,300 a month I was able to save!”

Those statements do not resonate with me at all. I suspect they don’t speak to many of you, either. When my husband and I began our journey toward minimalism, we were making more than we ever had: a whopping $25,000 a year. (I suspect that some of you reading this don’t even make that much.) We were on crappy car number 3 of the 4 that would live and die in our possession in as many years. We were lucky to put any money in savings, let alone enough to give us a year-long sabbatical from work. With horrible credit from some very bad credit card decisions right out of college, we were bad investments. At one point, we were working 80 hours a week (each) to make enough to pay for the Dude’s medical needs. In a nutshell, we began our trek toward minimalism as a way to survive. Every year, we looked for a cheaper apartment than the one we had been living in. I’ve told most of that part of the story before. Minimalism was never an elective luxury for us.

Some of you can say the same. Some of my minimalist friends understand what it’s like to have to fit into a 500 sq ft apartment because it’s all you can afford. Some of you have one car for your household because you don’t have the funds for a second one right now. Others of you are on your journey toward a simple life not because you have to, but because you want to be free. More than anything, you want to have the option to pick up and move to anywhere, anytime, without debt or stuff holding you back.

My point is that simplicity and minimalism aren’t just the eccentric preference of the rich. We all have a story. We all have our reasons. And I want to explore them all.

Starting soon, I’ll be conducting and posting interviews with other members of the simple living movement. Not the high-profile members. I’ll be talking to the average joes and janes. The typical, unassuming people who have their own valuable reasons for this lifestyle. Get ready to hear from the uniquely normal. And if you’re one of my blogging friends, don’t be surprised if I come knocking at your WordPress door.

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18 thoughts on “Living Simply: Easy for you to say.

  1. Personally, I don’t see the minimalist movement as a function of elitist boredom..

    Nor do I feel the Haves should keep quiet about their minimalist choices lest they irritate the Have-Nots.

    Rather, like so many other aspects of human existence, I see the appreciation of minimalism by those capable of securing luxury and excess, as a natural by-product of Humans’ innate tendency to see the grass on the other side as greener – until they finally cross the fence.

    Most people believe (in most Western cultures, for instance) that greater wealth will lead to greater happiness. More is better. For some, it is only once they actually achieve it that they realize that true joy is found in simplicity.

    These tales from the Rich are merely testaments from those who have been to the mountaintop…

    • “These tales from the Rich are merely testaments from those who have been to the mountaintop…”

      I totally agree. My goal is to get more “average joe” stories out there, and help to break a stigma that I’m afraid is forming.

  2. I don’t think I would call myself a “minimalist”, but definitely a “simplifier”. It began for me when I gave up one thing out of sheer frustration with that thing, and then I realized I was much happier without it. That led to me giving up other things that i found myself frequently frustrated with. And, like you, I don’t make enough money to ever consider myself an “elitist”, haha! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. That sounds great!! I’m really looking forward to reading those interviews! ๐Ÿ™‚ I love hearing other people’s move towards simplicity for whatever reason ๐Ÿ™‚ xx

  4. Thanks for the reference and kind words Amanda. Candice’s thoughts really resonate with me. And yours too that “we all have a story”. The challenge for some well-to-do minimalists is to learn to tell their story with humility.

  5. Hey Amanda… I hear you! Living with less can be a challenge, but when one learns to appreciate the simple things – to NOT need so much – wow! the richness kicks in! I was kinda forced into it, and like many things throughout my life – I just accepted it, bit the bullet, and made a shit-load of lemonade! But now I’m happier than ever. There is so much more time now to be with people, to REALLY listen, and to be more of an observer of the crazy world running around like cockroaches – and the lights aren’t even turned on yet! Just imagine what’ll happen – when the lights get turned on – the truth of how things REALLY are, comes out…. rock on!

  6. LOVE THIS POST!!!

    I will be honest, I entered minimalism out of need. My husband passed away so my income was cut by more than 50%. For the first year I tried to keep my former life going. I was buying crap left and right. But after overdrawn checking accounts, looking for change to pay for gas and not being to pay for my kid’s extras. I knew I needed a change. Once I stopped I felt so much better. Money is no longer an issue for me, I am not rich, I am down right poor; but my life is.In the end… That is what matters!

  7. Oh dear I’m sooooo glad you started following ME!!! Thank You much lay by the way! I haven’t been so interested in a read in forever–I am a perfect candidate for your research–please come ‘knocking at my WordPress door’ We have a Big and Small story please message me! I followed back and I’m looking forward to reading more of joyous posts as kids go to school today ๐Ÿ˜‰
    J9! http://j9sopinion.com/ stop over, bring coffee!

  8. This really resonates with me. I’ve been unconsciously moving toward a more minimalist lifestyle because my financial situation has become more and more untenable in the last few years not because I thought it would be great to walk away from a wildly profitable but ultimately unfulfilling career. I have to admit though, that looking at downsizing my life as a means to an end makes the fact that I recently moved to a much smaller place in a not so nice neighborhood after selling most of my stuff a lot less bitter a pill to swallow.

    Oh, and I only have 4 bowls in my cupboard which is 6 fewer than that Graham Hill guy so I must be more of a minimalist right? Pffffft, 10 bowls. So bourgeois.

    • Haha. I know how you feel! I think the biggest hurtle for most people isn’t the downsizing, but the mindset that accompanies the change. You are at a huge advantage because (no matter the reason) you are choosing to change, rather than white-knuckle a lifestyle that isn’t healthy for you right now. That’s more than half the battle. Keep up posted on how you’re doing!

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