I would not consider
myself a big minimalist, but after living two months on stuff I could
fit into one suitcase and watching some videos about it, I am quite
confident to talk about my experiences. I also try to have a quite
minimalist lifestyle back in Germany, though.
First, what does it
mean? Basically, if you click through Youtube, you find people
showing how they got rid of stuff (mostly clothes), room tours
through quite empty flats and experiences of people telling that they
felt better than before.
I like this approach
to have less and therefore not having stuff with me that I need to
care about because they need space or I have to take care about them
while cleaning them or – with electronic devices – updating. This
saves you a lot of time and you can concentrate on things (or people)
that are important for you, rather than something that is not
important for you (anymore)It really has the potential to make your
But actually I do not agree with the way of getting rid of things. I actually think it is sometimes also smart to keep things than giving them away now and buying them back later, at least from an economical point of view. One pattern that arose was the people were at the beginning talking a lot how great their life is with fewer stuff, but after a while they see they might need more stuff and so minimalism helps them to find a good balance how much to own.
While clicking through Youtube I found the interviews most interesting where people give a review after living this lifestyle for a certain time. Many got to have more stuff than after they cleaned everything. I do not know how much stuff I own, but I in general like to keep it small and every once in a while I try to get rid of stuff I do not need anymore. Still, I think it makes most sense not to buy everything.
Good links to start are this video in German as well as Minimalismus-Podcast and The Minimalists.
Which brings me to a trend you see often when you look these videos: Frugalism or FIRE, which means Financial Independence Retire Early. The idea behind it is, to save money while you are young, invest into stock exchange, get rich and not work anymore afterwards. The good point again is to see what you really need and then think about if you really have to spend money on this. The bad thing still is that you still have to earn a lot of money, which might be possible for college graduates in their twenties, but not for everyone. For instance, if you need 15.000€ a year, you need to have 25x that sum because the idea is that your stocks raise in value by 4% a year. So you can take out 15.000€ a year while your money in total does not change. So you need to have 15.000€x25=375.000€, which is a lot.
The FIRE folks argue, you can create this amount by investing in stock exchange and get a good interest rate from there: They calculate with 8%, which seems quite accurate, but you still need to earn quite well, so you can invest in the stock exchange.
What I am taking from it? The concept to get an overview of your finance as well as the stuff you own is really great. Many people do not even track their spending, which is actually quite easy, there are a lot of apps around there where you can add your spending, define budgets or even synchronize directly with your bank account. A good video to start is How to be a financial minimalist.
Summing up, I think both concepts are quite good, you see many people putting it into the extremes, but this is not necessary. Integrating at least a little bit of frugality and minimalism into your life might help spend less time on things you don’t like and make your life easier. Still, a good guidance for how much is Marie Kondos:„Does it spark joy?“