Is Less More?

10/30/2010

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There has been a movement in the world of minimalism, lately.  And I thought that I would address the question, “Is living with less really more?”

Recently I received a comment from a reader, and they wrote the following:

Trendy nonsense.
This is just an attempt to make money by selling a lifestyle.

This is the new real estate scam: selling psychological ‘guilt-free’ living.

10 years from now all these ‘minimalists’ will be bcak to their old ways, just like the Boomers got square during the Reagan years. Right now, these yuppies are converting their reduced income into a ‘smugness’ account so that they can continue to feel superior to the ‘unenlightened’ down the block.

He/she has a few valid points and some points that I do not agree with.  Let’s discuss, shall we?

Yes, there is a recession or slow down in the economy, I think that we have established that much.  As people, we find ways to cope, and for many of us, we have really stopped and examined our lifestyles and our spending to better prepare for and deal with the economic situation.

I’m sure that many people were spending too much money and racking up credit card debt, and if they were out of a job – they were left with little options.  Maybe they started by selling things that they didn’t need on E-bay for money, maybe they just stop buying things on credit, or maybe they decided to really analyze their spending habits and made a change for the better.

Whatever the reason, the important thing was that people started to realize that a life on credit, is not a sustainable life.  Usually whatever we are putting on credit is stuff – a mortgage, car payments, clothes, restaurants, booze, etc.

What I disagree most with the above comment is that once this recession was over, people will go back to their “old ways” just like how “boomers got square in the Reagan years”. I’m not exactly sure what the second statement meant, but I assume that he/she meant spending like crazy.

Readers, since when is spending like crazy “normal”?  I don’t think it’s normal or the “old ways” at all.  In fact, I think the “old ways” was to save for things and then pay for them in full.  The old ways was living with what you can afford, and if you couldn’t afford it, you’d do without.  If anything, credit cards are the “new way”.  The “new way” that makes spending so much easier and within reach of more people.

Want that fancy car today?  Can’t afford to buy it?  No problemo, finance it.  Drive it now, pay for it later. That is the message that we are bombarded with as consumers, today.  Do they tell you that you can end up paying for one and a half times the price of the car after all the interests payments are accounted for?  Of course not.

Despite being bombarded with advertisements and promises of dream products, we as consumers are also not helpless. Aside from doing the proper research of total costs of purchases, we also have the freedom to decide for ourselves whether something will make our lives happier or not.  Instead of letting an ad or sexy picture tell us how we can be happier stress-free versions of ourselves, we should be making the decision of what makes us happy.

When we stop and take a minute to really evaluate our individual situations, and focus on what we have instead of what the media tells us we are lacking, we might come to the conclusion that we have shelter, we have clean water, we have food, we have government stability, we have access to education, we have family and friends who love us.   That is more than most of the world has.

If you want more, you will never have enough.  And if you are satisfied with what you have, there is nothing to want.

To me, minimalism is not about saying “no” to everything, it’s about consciously making a decision to include something in your life, because you see value in it.  There is no “smug” account, we are all here to help and support one another on our individual paths to our different dreams and goals.

What are your thoughts?  Do you think that the recession has accelerated the minimalist movement and do you think that this a fancy way of dubbing a “poor man/women’s” lifestyle?  I’d love to hear your input!

11 Responses to “Is Less More?”


  1. So there’s three things for me here..

    1) I do know that our memories are very short-lived (hello Depression era?) and we’d rather ‘forget’ how hard it was in the past, rather than remember how hard it was.

    2) I don’t think people who are true minimalists will go back.

    I know I won’t.

    I don’t want to say I’m superior or feel enlightened above everyone, but I hold a normal 9-5 job as a freelancer, and I live in an urban city, I own a car, I cook, I spend money on traveling.. all the normal things people do, but I’ll never go back to what I used to be.

    I don’t want to live with just a backpack, and my ideas in my head.

    I want to live a normal life with a family, but with less stuff, more sustainable living and a purpose of life, rather than spending blindly.

    3) I think minimalism is picking up because it IS a fad for some people. They turn minimalist to feel better and maybe superior and then they get tired of it and start spending again.

    Who knows? But we have both sides of the spectrum.

    I think I shall blog about this and link to you!


  2. Everyday Minimalist – Thanks for stopping by! I agree that I would never just live out of backpack (at least not for long term), since it’s not something that adds a lot of value in my life. But, I definitely want to live a more sustainable and with a purpose.

  3. Hasina Says:

    I remember reading that comment on your blog a few weeks ago but I didn’t reply because this person obviously doesn’t know what minimalism is about. As far as I’m concerned, debating with people who have no clue = pointless argument.

    I’ve never really made a connection between minimalism and recession. I believe that you can’t be (and remain) a (true) minimalist unless you understand the essence of minimalism. And you can’t understand the essence of minimalism without a personal calling into question. I’m a minimalist because I want to live with purpose and I really like the idea of going to the essence of things (and people). I like artless beauty in everything and everyone. To me, minimalism isn’t just about stuff and consumption. I prefer a minimalism approach in art, in design, in fashion and in other spheres of life so you could say my approach is holistic.

    I don’t know if recession has accelerated the minimalist movement but blogging sure has. I do think that minimalism is a fad for people who became minimalist just because a blog told them to do so (there’s no calling into question to backup their new lifestyle). I have to say minimalism/simplicity as a business opportunity bugs me. Maybe that’s what the commenter was referring to when he/she said minimalism was “an attempt to make money by selling a lifestyle”, which is probably true to some extent.


  4. Thanks Hasina, for stopping by and your encouraging words. You are right, there is no point in arguing with people who don’t know what minimalism is.

    Minimalism as a business opportunity is certainly a controversial topic. Certainly, some opportunists are going to take advantage and sell this fad. If there is demand for a certain product or service, there will be people who are willing to provide it.

    As crazy as it sounds, a good business man/woman can sell anything – even leaves! Last weekend, I saw a man selling leaves for $0.50 – and I saw people buying them from him! Yes, these are leaves that you can pick off the ground.

    Thank you for your input!


  5. I live a lifestyle of voluntary simplicity, and I have been doing it my entire adult life. I always wondered how all my peers could afford so much stuff over the years, and I realize now they couldn’t. It was a false front.

    Fad or not, it is the way I want to live. Not going to change either.


  6. [...] Minimalist wrote in her post  Is Less More? -Recently I received a comment from a reader, and they wrote the [...]


  7. [...] my last post, I talked about how a comment left by reader Mason sparked in me the need to respond.  I responded [...]

  8. Annie Says:

    I read this comment earlier, but didn’t feel justified to respond. However, apparently it is an issue so here is my 2 cents.

    I am a minimalist. I own my home (paid for), car (paid for) and soon my land. I minimize my bills and my stuff to make room for what is really important, myself and my kid. I would rather enjoy my life than slave for some company who sells stuff.

    Every penny you spend, every thing you accumulate, takes something from you. Some items (like a paid for home and car) give back in the form of security and lower bills, but others keep taking in the form of added utilities (cable subscriptions and electric of televisions) and other items.

    Heck, after a certain point it starts costing just to keep the junk, in the form of larger homes and storage buildings. Add to that the expense of moving the crap and it goes up even farther.

    Then the time you spend fighting with it, cleaning it, and moving it around to get to the stuff you actually do use–it is ridiculous!

    I have cleaned out the homes of my deceased parents and grandparents. The stuff they left behind amazes me to this day. As my father would say, he would need it the moment he tossed it–however, when he needed it EVEN if he still had it, he could never locate it and ALWAYS ended up buying a replacement item, only to locate the original one a week or so later.

    It never failed. He would waste hours looking for something, buy a replacement, only to waste hours and days more beating himself up when he would finally stumble across the original item. What is the point? Toss it, buy a replacement if you need it, and get on with your life–or reduce your stuff to the point where you can actually keep up with your crap.

    I am a minimalist, and I am proud of it. I don’t live entirely out of a backpack and don’t really want to. I do want to get rid of all of the garbage that clutters my life and wastes my time and money.

    That is something, that need to simplify life and expenses, that should NEVER go out of style.
    ~Annie

  9. Leo Says:

    I will definitely NOT go back!!!!!!!!!

    I work 9 to 5 job, and when I get home, I am too tired to enjoy every room of the house. When I get home, I check the mail, then I eat dinner, walk outside if not dark or cold, shower, then head straight to my bedroom. Watch a little TV or read, then sleep. Life is simple as that.

    I bought the American dream, and I jumped on the bandwagon to rush to buy McMansion several years ago. I bought a colonial two-garage single brick house in a nice suburb in 2005 before the real estate bubble burst. It was newly built in a new community.

    There are 5 beds, and 3 baths, and it’s a waste of space, because I only one or two rooms a day max.

    I am working on selling the house, and I swear I will NEVER ever go back again!!!!! I am reverting back to my natural minimalistic shelf prior to being brainwashed by the american dream!

    cheers :-)


  10. Charles Broadway – That’s great. I only wish that I had discovered it sooner. Things are definitely more in perspective when I see something as adding value or not to my life.

    Annie – Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Please always feel free to comment, you are more than qualified! :) Owning your own home, car and land can certainly give your shelter, piece of mind and shelter. The important thing that I think you’ve emphasized is to know when stuff is making your life better, and when stuff is sucking away your time, money and energy.

    Leo – That sounds a lot like my life! LOL :) I live in a basement apartment with a roommate, and I think that I can go smaller. Though I have no intentions of moving at the moment since my rent is pretty decent. Good for you for waking up from the American Dream, I hope that you can get a good price for your home so you can spend your money in line with your priorities in life.


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