Thrifty. Frugal. Economical. Miserly. Cheap. Whatever word or however you want to define spending less, go ahead. But the question is; are minimalists just cheap — or worse — do they cripple our commerce-based economy by refusing to spend money on stuff?
We may be MOFOs, but we’re hardly cheapos!
My wife and I have no problem spending money. And while we don’t like to label ourselves as “minimalists”, we definitely fit the mold better than some very popular minimalists. But we’re hardly “cheap”. We just choose to spend our money on experiences rather than material items. Believe me, we spend A LOT of money on experiences.
Other minimalists may choose to save money for their children’s education rather than spend it like drunken sailors, which is awesome. So that’s money well spent…err…saved!
But there is some truth to minimalists just being cheap. Let’s take me for example. I loathe spending money on stuff. And as we settle back into a home we’ve had to purchase stuff. I hate it. I hate that I had to buy cookware again. I hate that I had to buy a sofa (I really, really, really tried all other avenues, but nobody was offering what I wanted). I hate that I had to buy gallons of paint (although I got some for $10 from the “oops” shelf – I highly recommend this method). I have no regrets that I sold all my stuff. Because what I don’t hate is to go driving around our neighbourhood the night before garbage day to look for curb treasures. By the way, this past Garbage Day Eve I snagged two perfectly good snow shovels and a small book bookcase. Free! Well, aside from the $2 of gas used to drive around two subdivisions.
It’s not about the spending of money either, it’s what I’m spending it on, and how much it costs — or in most cases, how much it’s been marked up. And I hate that there’s an expectation of things having to look nice too.
When we moved back east we purchased a few retail items that came in cardboard boxes. We’ve been using said cardboard boxes as side tables ever since. It’s been two plus months with those tables. Again, it’s not because I’m being cheap. I just don’t care enough to spend my time and money shopping for a table when a perfectly good box will do just fine for now. Heck, take kids as another example. What do they do when you buy a toy that comes in a box? They ditch the toy for the box it came in. Boxes rock.
I also thrift shop. Does this mean I’m cheap? Hardly! To me, it means I’m smart and don’t care that my clothes were worn by someone else. Why pay retail prices for something that’s not going to either A) last two seasons and 2) stay in fashion if it makes two seasons.
Keeping up with clothing styles is something I gave up on…wait, I don’t think my clothes were ever “in style”. And making my home look magazine-shoot ready isn’t something I strive for, not anymore.
Back when I did have a bunch of stuff that I really, really, really liked, it was much harder to part with it when we did move abroad. Should we decide to up and move again, I don’t think I’ll be having any emotional attachment to two cardboard box end tables.
But what if company comes over?
I’m not on earth to impress others with my taste in curb-picked eclectic items. Don’t like my cardboard box end tables? Pfft, more cardboard box end tables for me! Besides, I think anyone coming into my home knows me and my lifestyle. And if they don’t, I hope they look at those cardboard box end tables and say “Wow, that’s a great idea, why did I spend hundreds of dollars on end tables? I’m such a fool! Kudos to you Al, and you’re cardboard box end tables. You’ve taught me a valuable lesson today after visiting your humbly decorated abode.” Pretty sure that’s what they’d say verbatim.
When I do need to make a purchase, I strive for dual-purpose items or stuff that offers me some sort of efficiency. Those items may even be higher-priced due to better quality. Other times I’ll look for something that’s pretty beaten up but has the potential to be restored and/or saved. Hey, I like rustic.
It’s not being cheap. It’s not being frugal. It’s not being thrifty. And it’s not a minimalist just cheaping out. It’s just how we choose to live!
Now go sell all your stuff and join us MOFOs and do more stuff with less stuff!