Since when did “becoming minimalist” include buying a bigger house? Exploring the true definition of minimalism.
What does it really mean to live a “simpler” life?
We live in a world driven by luxurious lifestyles that are built upon material possessions. And while many of these belongings are designed and marketed with the appeal of making life easier, they often make things more complicated instead.
Earlier on The Reply, I wrote about a promise I made to myself to be more intentional in my habits. I wanted to return to my small town roots and the lifestyle I knew from my childhood. A life that wasn’t defined by the expectations society set out for me. A life where I wasn’t pressured into buying designer outfits and expensive toys out of fear of being judged by those around me.
So I vowed to make several small changes that I felt would lead to much bigger transformations. Since January of this year, I’ve been removing unnecessary clutter from my home. I’ve been consuming less – which meant setting a retail shopping ban and resisting the urge to make impulse purchases. I’ve been tracking all of my expenses, and constantly looking for areas where my husband and I can cut down on costs. And I’ve been practicing the power of positive thoughts – filling my days with gratitude for where I am now and where I hope to be in the future.
As a result, I’m able to clearly identify what I value most in life, and dedicate more time to pursuing those things. I’m free to make decisions based on what I want; not what someone else is telling me I need.
And I am proud of the changes I have made so far.
But I have a confession to make: next month, my husband and I are moving to a bigger house, with a bigger yard. And since signing those papers, I’ve been questioning how this recent purchase fits in with my goals.
Can you live a minimalist life from a detached, four-bedroom home?
I’ve put all this effort into having less: less clothes, less bills, less stress. And here I am, throwing all of these values away for more space…
Or am I?
I realize now, the definition of “minimalism” is subjective; it’s different for everyone. Here’s what it means to me:
Minimalism is living a clutter-free life.
In the spring, my husband and I did a major purge of our current home. We went through all of our belongings and got rid of everything we felt we no longer used. The results were immediate. As soon as the clutter was gone, I felt physically lighter.
Now that we are moving, I’m taking advantage of the packing process to purge even more. Before anything goes in a box, I try to visualize a use for it in the next place. If we can’t picture it, we get rid of it. And I expect to go through the same exercise when I unpack. I don’t expect my consuming habits will change much in my new home either. I know I don’t need expensive furniture or excessive decor to feel fulfilled. So I don’t plan to spend my money on it.
Minimalism is building (financial) freedom.
The rewards of our purging have not only been emotional. We’ve found financial benefits too. Since January, my husband and I have made just over $1,000 from selling our unnecessary belongings. It may not seem like a lot over the span of six months, but that’s $1,000 sitting in our bank accounts that we weren’t making use of before.
To me, freedom is one of the ultimate goals to living a life of minimalism. And this includes the freedom to work when and how I want (meaning I no longer have to rely on a paycheque to get by). There are two chief ways to achieving financial independence: by spending less and saving more.
Now, I’m nowhere near retirement (and to be honest, I don’t ever plan to fully “retire”), but I am making sure we bring in more than we spend. And when it comes to what we do with those savings, we’re making what we believe are smart financial decisions.
This is where our latest investment fits in. During the home-buying process, one of the greatest challenges is removing emotions from the equation. It’s a business decision first. And for us, it was the right move financially. More space, yes, but also more room for renovations. More room for building equity. And a better location for re-sale. So yes, a four bedroom house may seem excessive for my husband, fur baby and me. But when you make a purchase on a home, you have to do so with the future in mind.
Minimalism is doing what you love.
The ultimate aim in pursuing a more intentional life is to ensure my days are filled with experiences, not stuff. I want to have less distractions and more focus. And as a result, I’ve achieved a new level of clarity. I am working towards building the life I want to live, rather than simply accepting the life placed before me.
In our new home, I plan to fill my days lounging by the pool and reading from a hammock beneath the giant maple trees in the backyard. I plan to watch the thunderstorms from the bay window seat my husband promised to build in my new office. After all, this is what the “simple” life of my childhood was all about. I had all the time in the world to do the things I love. And sure, now I have adult responsibilities and have to work my ass off to pay for it all, but if I’m going to be happier for it, then it’s worth it.
Are you pursuing a simple lifestyle? What does minimalism mean to you? Share in the comments below.