It was winter and I was losing it all.
The work hours at my retail job were shrinking leaving me broke. My car broke down and I didn’t have any money to fix it. The girl I was interested in had rejected me. Then to top it all off my dad lost his job.
We were getting evicted from our house.
My entire 18-year-old world felt like it had fallen apart in front of me all in the blink of an eye…
I spent a lot of time in my bedroom. My friends and I would hang out there, that’s where I got my homework done, and it’s where I would do just about everything. Over the years it had collected a lot of memories and a lot of clutter. I grew comfortable with my junk drawers and my never-ending need for more space.
But now I felt empty. I was depressed and needed to find a way to cope. I looked around and saw disorder everywhere. My room wasn’t looking so comfortable anymore.
Everything around me seemed useless. None of it could fix what I was feeling on the inside. In fact, it didn’t make me happy in the first place. They just brought me a temporary feeling of excitement and novelty that just faded away and collected dust. No amount of anything new could be bought to save me.
I searched for something to fill the void in me. Something needed to change.
None of it mattered to me anymore.
I needed to start fresh.
I quickly grabbed as many trash bags as I could and started to fill them up. I rummaged through my drawers, my bookshelves – everything. Whatever I had that didn’t make me happy had to go. Anything that wasn’t essential to me had to be removed. I grabbed my things by the handful and threw them away.
But a part of me resisted…
What if I needed those things but had already thrown them away? Everything I touched brought back memories. I knew the more I thought about it the stronger the resistance would be. But the more I threw away, the stronger and freer I became. Eventually, I stopped looking at all – I just knew it had to go.
I got rid of clothes, documents, books, CDs, electronics, decorations…
All I kept was my laptop, an external hard drive, my cellphone, guitar, essential clothes, and essential toiletries.
However, I still felt empty and I couldn’t stop cleaning in an effort to find what I was missing on the inside.
I knew that eventually this feeling would fade and therefore I would grow from it, but I had to work on myself to be happy again.
That was my introduction to Minimalism.
It’s about living with less. This means having fewer financial burdens like debt and unnecessary expenses. The philosophy is about getting rid of the unimportant and living a life based on experiences rather than one of worldly possessions.
So first let me ask you this.
How do you spend your money?
Are you always waiting for the next latest, greatest thing to come out on the market? Maybe it’s a new cell phone or a new shoe?
However, no matter what you buy, there’s always something newer or better that comes along and makes what you have obsolete.
Let me tell you something.
It was designed that way.
The market takes advantage of your insecurities.
The truth is that companies want you to feel that way so that you will keep coming back to buy. That’s how they make money.
We live in a disposable society.
Let’s take a look at apple products.
I have to say I love them. I think they are premium products that are worth every penny for their quality and reliability. No matter how expensive they seem.
The problem is that they have this premium stigma, this elegant, sophisticated, yet simplistic ideology to them. That they are a reflection of you. That if you own them, you too represent those qualities.
And they come out with a newer and better phone. Every. Single. Year. Something new to replace last year’s model. See the problem here?
It will never end. It’s part of the reason why they are so successful.
When the qualities of your belongings represent your identity, you stay inadequate until you buy the next thing… you become dated just like that product you are dying to replace. Then you stop growing and evolving.
The world is moving forward, right? So why shouldn’t you? But that’s farthest from the truth.
The same principle applies to the clothes you wear, the car you drive… everything.
But when you live this way, all you are doing is giving away your hard-earned money to a corporation which will only leave you struggling financially.
Does it make any sense to buy the latest shoe even though you won’t be able to pay your rent next month?
Maybe you lack confidence? What will other people think of you?
I had a friend who always wore designer clothes. I asked him how he got a passion for it. He said that when he started to wear them, people started noticing him and he got treated differently.
Does this sound like you? Have you been treated differently because you got the latest gadget?
Let me tell you something about confidence. There are two types.
There’s outer confidence. It’s the confidence that comes with possessions or status. Things like an exotic car, designer clothes, or a great job. Maybe you own a Jeep and get the “Jeep wave” when you drive down the street. You’ll feel great and accepted in the moment but these effects only last while you have them.
Then there’s inner confidence. It comes from the inside, where no matter what happens to you, it never goes away. It comes from failure and trying again and again, from being yourself to the extreme, and from not giving a fuck.
I have another friend who is as poor as can be. I mean he doesn’t have the latest clothes or even a car. Most of his clothes were given to him. Yet, whenever I see him he looks as if those clothes were made for him. He owns the look like it was meant to be.
He has inner confidence. The truth is it doesn’t matter what he wears he pulls it off with ease.
It’s not the clothes that make the man it’s the man that makes the clothes.
Instead of obsessing about what you might look like on the outside, focus on yourself. Work on your inner confidence. It will shine through you and make you look better than any article of clothing ever will.
Don’t squander your money on the latest product you want, you should spend money on the things you need.
This will help you avoid struggling to pay your bills.
Maybe you lack the level of happiness you want in your life. People out there spend tons of money buying things that they think will eventually make them happy.
But these things actually do the opposite.
When I buy something new I’m filled with excitement. I feel like I’m growing, moving forward like I gained something special and it makes me feel great… Until about 20-30 minutes later. Then I’m back to how I felt before. I’m back to where I started.
But I was smarter back then and spent my money on things that would last longer than 30 minutes.
Videogames and television.
They became my escape. A place where I could forget about life and my problems. They drowned everything out and made me feel like everything was okay for the moment. But they numbed me in exchange for my precious time and little money.
This discouraged the needed change in my life. I was never solving any of my problems head-on. It only gave me more anxiety and made my problems worse. Yet I still felt sad and unfulfilled.
Whenever we come across an obstacle, we are supposed to face it. That’s how we grow. Instead many of us are hypnotized by all the shiny things around us. But you see when we get rid of distractions, we have nowhere to run. We are forced to wrestle with our problems right there.
May I offer a solution?
Get rid of your stuff, or put them away temporarily. Just remove the temptation completely.
Do you know what a packrat is? It’s someone who stockpiles everything they can because they cannot bear to lose one more thing. But they aren’t really attached to their stuff they just have emotional baggage. The clutter everywhere is just a symptom. I’ve been there.
If you can’t get rid of your stuff, I suggest you go shave your head. So many people out there are attached to their hair. But when you shave your head there’s no more attachment. Because it’s literally gone. You can’t be attached to something that’s no longer there.
Living life for material objects is slavery. You work hard to replace the things that always break eventually. Not to mention if you are buying it with a credit card. Debt is slavery. No matter how much you spend you have to pay it back – and more. When you owe them money, they own you.
I could care less about material things anymore. I don’t even know what to tell people to get me for Christmas or birthdays. I have everything I need or I just go and buy it. I don’t worry about the price tag either so I don’t look at it because It doesn’t matter. I can afford what I want because I don’t waste my money.
So instead I’ve learned to ask people for experiences, a nice card or concert tickets or something.
I value time more than material things because we only have so many years on this earth. You can always get your money back but you can’t get your time back. Once spent it’s gone! So choose wisely how you spend your time.
The reality is there’s a cost to living. Quality things do cost money. You can’t just live a cookie-cutter life trimming everything down to the bone. Being conservative with your money will help you afford it. Money is there to spend, so spend it. Think about quality, not quantity… So spend your money on things that matter like your health!
Things like healthy food yourself, the proper vitamins & supplements, a gym membership, maybe a bicycle, and new running shoes. These things have a solid purpose for helping you improve your life.
If you actually want to be wealthy, then you need to live well below your means. If you only make $3,000/month then cut your total monthly expenses to maybe half of that.
Now focus your time on what’s important to you rather than worrying about how you’re going to make a payment. Maybe focus on making extra money on the side for yourself, doing what you enjoy.
Be a minimalist so that you don’t struggle, but in fact, can succeed financially. This way of life allows you to focus on the real things in life, like what makes you happy.
“Live now like nobody will so that in the future you can live like nobody can.”A chinese proverb
Live life for things that matter. Remove the things in your life that don’t make you happy. Your house will be easier to clean, you’ll have less stress, and live more peacefully.
Get rid of the unnecessary things in your life!
Now, let’s imagine you’ve lived your life and now you’re on your deathbed.
Looking back… ask yourself this.
Would you rather have a house full of junk that you wasted time chasing money to buy thinking it would make you happy?
Or a life full of meaningful, priceless experiences?
We came from nothing and we go back to nothing.