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5 Things Where Minimalism Doesn’t Work

Living with less stuff can sometimes be both a blessing and a curse. There are times when you want to do something, maybe you want to build something, but you can’t because you lack a specific tool required. Or perhaps you want to bake something, like a pineapple upside-down cake, but you’re lacking a Bundt pan.

And then there are other times where you have those tools but only use them once in a while – if ever –  but you’ll be damned if you’re giving that stuff up! In fact, the thought of giving it away conjures up images of Charleton Heston saying “…from my cold dead hands…”.

So what do you do?

Jaime Lynn Bach is an anthropologist. She travels to many different places as part of her job. Sometimes those places are cold. Sometimes those places are hot. Sometimes those places are wet. And sometimes, those places are all of the above. She keeps all the necessary gear for each climate even though she may only use the equipment once a year.  This isn’t an excuse for her to cozy up to her friend Justin Case, she needs this stuff to do her job!

Does this make her an un-minimalist?


And let’s be real honest; is un-minimalist even a thing? Do we need to try and measure up to someone’s so-called standards of minimalist living? Jaime Lynn still does more stuff with less stuff than many other people do. In fact, check out this cool adventure she’s on to find Amelia Earhart.

If you need something for work, it’s safe to say that work stuff falls out of the minimalist lifestyle realm. And there are a few other everyday items that you shouldn’t skimp out on in life. Your health and well being is far more important than trying to adhere to some silly minimalist rules.

So, in typical fashion, I need to provide you with my quirky outlook on stuff…

Minimalism doesn’t work when it comes to…

Your Job

I have a laptop, smartphone, and a tablet. I need all three for work. Why? I need to know how something will look on each device, especially when I build websites. I need my phone for pics and ad-hoc social media work and for communication. Sure, it’s nice to unplug, but work requires that cord be connected to the outlet most days.

And just as Jaime Lynn needs her equipment to do her job, you too may have stuff that is required for your job. Carpenters need their tools, some of which they might not use for an entire year, possibly longer.  But if you’re an encyclopedia salesperson, well, good luck with that.

Minimalism doesn’t work when it comes to…


True story: I’ve seen undies at thrift shops. Not sure why, kind of weird in my opinion. I don’t know if they were ever worn, or if they’re ‘like new’, meaning they could have been worn once, twice, possibly more? Either way. Eww. No thanks. New undies please. I suppose I get peace of mind knowing what my bits and pieces will be rubbing up against.

You can limit the number of undies you have though. Got 20 pairs of tighty-whiteys? If so, you can probably scale back on the skivvies. Extreme minimalism got your gitch count to just 3? Might want to stock up at the thrift shop. Kidding. Buy your undies new folks, it won’t hurt your bottom line.

Minimalism doesn’t work when it comes to…


And I mean comfortable shoes, not $2 flip flops used for beach days. I’ve lived in a developing country where there’s quite a premium on comfortable running shoes. No, ridiculous premium. Seriously ridiculous. A pair of mediocre kicks would set you back well north of $100, closer to $200 bones. WHAT!

Comfy shoes are a must, and sadly, they cost close to $100 here in North America, too. Clarks, Rockports, Doc Martins, Sketchers, Asics, Saucony, Birkenstocks…whatever your preferred brand, decent shoes can sock your wallet.

That being said, they’re a necessity. Poorly fitting or cheaply made shoes will a) wear down quicker, and b) typically offer less support that your feet need. You also need the proper shoe for the occasion. Again, work can dictate what you wear; from steel toes and kitchen clogs, to dress shoes or walking shoes. Having a half dozen pair of shoes isn’t wrong if they’re worn for different occasions. Pick your podiatric protection properly people!

Your ankle is one of the strongest (and most complex) joints in the body – think about it – it has to support an entire person. So you can’t skimp out on proper footwear. Doing so can lead to foot problems, leading to compensation, which can then cause knee, hip, glutes, back, and believe it or not, shoulder and neck issues. It’s all connected folks. And just like Lieutenant Dan said to Forrest Gump…

Oh, and quick side note. Unless you’re running, never wear running shoes to the beach. That’s just wrong on so many levels. Actually, two levels;

  1. Sand in your shoes.
  2. Dork factor.

Minimalism doesn’t work when it comes to…

Your bed

Having house sat several dozens of homes, and having stayed in several dozens of beds, you learn quickly why your feet, knees, and back are sore when you wake up. It’s not always tile and concrete floors.

Back in our previous lifestyle we bought a pretty good mattress – brand new from whatever mattress store we purchased it from, possibly the popular Sleep Country Canada (why buy a mattress anywhere else). Sorry, some Canadianna right there.

Anyway, the mattress was starting to get those indentations from where we slept. All mattresses get them at some point. If we stayed in our jobs and in that house, we likely would have been in the market for a new mattress. But that’s okay, because a good bed is probably one of the better investments you’ll ever make. Think about it, you spend around 8 hours a day on it, either sleeping or doing…something else. Aside from linens, once you buy it you don’t have to put much more money into it, unless you want to hide some money in there. A good bed is a way better investment than this one!

Oh, by the way, hammocks are beds too. Don’t cheap out on a hammock. You’ll sacrifice comfort, and that’s just wrong. Material is super-important when it comes to a good hammock. They make good hammocks in Nicaragua, just sayin’.

Minimalist doesn’t work when it comes to…

Sittin’ yo a$$ down!

Do you sit on your seat all day? For many people, sitting at a desk is an inevitable part of their job – be it a home office or an office building. What you park your posterior on is pretty important. Companies actually hire ergonomic specialists to make sure their workstations are comfortable for employees. Many now offer the option of adjustable desks to allow for standing (which also requires good shoes). Comfort = Production. Because a crappy chair can lead to the same issues as crappy shoes and a crappy mattress. You got it, your body will feel crappy.

Folks, when it comes to living a minimalist lifestyle you don’t need to try and measure up to anyone. If you need something for work, that’s okay.

If you want to spend money on stuff, spend it on the right stuff.

There are so many other areas you can cheap out on (I just bought a pair of like-new Levi’s for $6 a few weeks ago from the Sally-Ann).

This is why we don’t call ourselves “minimalists”. It’s not something you need to be, it’s a way of living. If you’re stressing over spending $1200 for a new mattress and think you can just stuff some hay between two sheets sewn together, you know what, maybe you need to rethink being a “minimalist”.

Now go sell all your stuff, just not your undies – nobody wants those!



8 thoughts on “5 Things Where Minimalism Doesn’t Work”

  1. Who needs a mattress?

    Hang a hammock in your bedroom 🙂

    I know it doesn’t work for everyone, but for under $100 (might have to spend a little extra in colder climates if you don’t have a good heater) I have a sleeping arrangement that is more comfortable (for me at least) than an expensive bed, folds up to fit in my backpack when I need to move, and can be easily taken out of the way to open floor space during the day.

  2. I turn my desk into a standing desk using just a couple of boxes. Doesn’t get any cheaper than that. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than spending $200+

    1. standing desks are great – just make sure it’s ergonomically sound. Nothing worse than sore neck/shoulders from bad desk setup.

  3. Hmm. I sold my $3,000. bed for $900. after 6 years of constant use. It had zero indents, looked brand new, except where 5 tiny rescued kittens clawed their tiny, joyful, darting ways across, and left itty bitty holes, which I stitched up nicely. (Vera Wang Serta) I sold my car, my shoes, my chairs, and went Nomad. No regrets. It is SO much simpler to exchange services and stay with new friends than to even be minimal. Homes are a lot of energy and work and money. I will have one again, but after ten months of travel, I love simplicity, and the simpler the better. I indulge in 4 outfits that make me feel amazing! And great boots and shoes. I agree that shoes (and 1 amazing belt), mattress, & chairs are crucial, and worth every investment. Thanks for a great article.

    1. Thanks for commenting Claire. Yeah, cats can get that way with stuff :). I’ve seen many pieces of furniture ruined by cats…and door frames, carpets, clothes, drapes, shoes, boots. Hey, is your “amazing belt” by any chance reversible? I needed a new belt recently and got a sweet reversible one, it’s brown on one side, black on the other, and when I twist the bucket it reverses it – so cool and perfect for the minimalist at heart!

  4. I think you’re confusing minimalism with cheapness. Cheapness is buying crappy items to save money now and then spending more in the long run. Minimalism is buying only what you need, and has nothing to do with the cost of the individual items.

    Most minimalists would subscribe to the “buy quality now so you can have it for years” mentality. Someone who is cheap would subscribe to the “spend as little as possible now and… oops that fell apart so I’ll buy a new one but I’ll still by the cheap version.”

    1. Thanks for commenting Squints. No confusion at all. In my first reference of “work” being a place where minimalism doesn’t…uh…work, I mention laptop/tablet/phone as devices I need to do my job. That’s not being cheap, it’s what I need. Others may think three devices is excessive. For some though, a minimalist lifestyle IS about being more frugal and finding deals. Cheap, or better put; inexpensive clothes from a thrift shop can sometimes be an expensive retail purchases. I snagged a $10 barely worn Banana Republic dress shirt at a thrift shop. Probably retails for $90.

      We don’t “subscribe” to anything as “minimalists”. In fact, there isn’t really a definition of “minimalism”, really. Nor are there any rules to it.

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