I watched a show on Netflix a couple of weeks ago called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. It’s mainly about two affable young men who seem to be leading lights in the “minimalist movement.” There were some other minimalists in the movie, too, like Joshua Becker. I enjoyed the documentary and recommend it. And it got me thinking about where I have too much stuff in my life and where I’ve struck a good balance.
• Housing. My wife and I live in a condo in downtown Phoenix that’s bigger than we need in some respects. It’s 1259 square feet, with two bedrooms and two full bathrooms. I like having a spare room because that’s where I work out (quit the gym and bought a weight bench a year or so ago) and where I keep my embarrassingly expansive wardrobe. My wife’s wardrobe is yet more expansive – the woman’s shoe collection is vast – and we pretty much fill the closet space. But do I really need a home bar, or a place to store old paperwork and other useless clutter? Probably not. We’re looking at buying a 950 square foot condo in the same complex, though that’s still pretty big for two (small) people. Definitely room for improvement here!
• Transportation. My wife and I both drive old hoopde cars. Neither of us are “car people,” so our old Honda and Toyota commuters serve us just fine. I’d rather walk, bike, or ride the light rail when possible, anyway. I’ve confessed on this blog about my not-quite-rational desire for a Jeep Wrangler, and maybe I need to rethink that. My wife has left a Kawasaki Ninja darkening my parking space for ages. She needs to shit or get off the pot on that thing. Some room for improvement here.
• Electronics. I’m an old guy, so I’m happy with my three-year-old Droid Mini cell phone with unlimited data that’s paid by my work. My little $40 Kindle Fire tablet works fine. I recently bought a $40 Echo Dot that’s fun because it’s hooked up to my daughter’s Spotify Premium account at no cost to me. My wife is an Apple Zombie, however, with her iPad Pro and iPhone 6-something. Apple addiction is downright ugly. We have TVs bloody everywhere: living room, home bar, spare room. No cable, though, just Netflix and DVD/Blu-Ray players. Some room for improvement here.
• Food. My wife feeds us very well on a strict budget. We use the Dave Ramsey cash-envelope system for grocery money and she shops the deals at Walmart, Fry’s, etc. She shops largely on the perimeter of the store, so there’s always plenty of fresh produce and real meat and fish around, with virtually no processed/boxed food. She or I cook practically every meal at home, I pack a lunch of leftovers for work every morning, we eat out very rarely, and we always stay under budget. Good to go here!
• Clothing. We both struggle here. While I try to winnow down my wardrobe periodically, I admit to being vain and enjoy being well-dressed, whether it’s for the symphony or a Diamondbacks game. But I’m a straight man with twenty pairs of shoes, for God’s sake! Do I really need three suits, three blazers, or three pairs of jeans? I could probably narrow these down to two each, right? My wife’s closet is way worse than mine, though she has no pretensions toward minimalism (yet). Much room for improvement here.
• Entertainment. We get the lion’s share of our event tickets from VetTix, and often simply skip an event if VetTix aren’t available. We do spend money on shows when we visit Las Vegas, and my wife has a weakness for monster trucks, so we go to Monster Jam every year. We exercise and hike, which is essentially free. We almost never go to movies, and often spend time in our complex pool and spa (included in our HOA). Our biggest weakness here is going out for drinks downtown, where we socialize with the many area people we know and like. We’ve definitely swung more toward happy hours for that kind of thing lately, though. Some room for improvement here.
So that’s my analysis after watching The Minimalists. I don’t consider myself a minimalist, but I think there are valuable principles in that movement. In the interest of accountability, it’s good to compare myself with people who take this kind of thing really, really seriously.
Coming soon: A Deplorable Consumer Goes to Las Vegas!