We live in a consumerist society. Everywhere we go, and wherever we look, we are always bombarded by advertisements about all the stuff that apparently we “need.”
In 2016, I read Marie Kondo’s book titled, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Though it was not really about minimalism, it gave some points about the importance of owning fewer things by only keeping the things that “spark joy.”
I may not have touched my stuff one-by-one to see which of them should stay or go; still, I realized that it will be simpler if I’ll own fewer things.
When I moved to Mandaluyong in 2015 to look for a job, I only brought one backpack and one duffel bag containing everything I need.
But when I moved out of Metro Manila, I had to rent a moving van because I gathered a lot of stuff, including household appliances, office clothes, shoes, and books.
In my first 3 years, I accumulated so much stuff and have not thrown anything. I still owned clothes that I won’t use anymore, shoes that will no longer be worn, and books that I will never read again.
But in 2018, I watched the Netflix documentary called “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.”
I realized that we really love holding on to things until we can no longer identify which are essential and not.
The quote, “We buy things we don’t need, with the money we don’t have, to impress the people we don’t even like,” summarizes what the modern world instilled in many of us.
Growing up, we always associate tangible things with success, such as a big house, a nice car, and the latest gadgets.
However, I came to realize that this mindset is one of the fuels that drove many people to get trapped in the rat race, which at one point, I also subscribed to.
What is minimalism?
Joshua Becker of becomingminimalist.com defined minimalism as intentionally living with only the things we really need.
Though there are many definitions of minimalism, this is the one that I can relate to.
Minimalism is a journey to more intentional living. It does not mean that you should only own very few things or limit it to a certain number.
Intentionality means that the things that we’ll own have a purpose in our lives.
My personal approach to simple living:
The first thing that I did to live a simpler life is to return to my home province.
In my brief stay in Metro Manila, I recognized that it is not the place I would want to live in the longterm.
So, although my earning potential drastically decreased after changing industry, from IT to the academe, the opportunity to live simpler greatly compensates for it.
Below are some of the ways on how I incorporated simple living in my daily life:
Have you noticed that Mark Zuckerburg usually wears grey t-shirts, Steve Jobs had his signature black turtleneck long sleeve, and Nas Daily with his black t-shirt with an xx% sign?
They did it not because they are cheap but because they want to simplify their lives and limit their decision-making throughout the day.
Though I don’t have that kind of plain wardrobe, I usually wear only blue and black shades.
I also have a system to arrange my clothes in my closet so I can wear my clothes following FIFO (first in, first out).
Doing this removes the decision time and conserves the mental energy needed to select which clothes to wear, and reallocate them to more important things.
I also limited my shoes to three – one for work, one for casual events, and one for sports.
I incorporated the JIT (just-in-time) management strategy on my personal belongings to improve efficiency and decrease waste.
Since most of these clothes are ready-to-wear, I can always buy a new one if they start to degrade.
During that time, my single bookshelf started to get filled with many titles that I bought from several bookstores and book fairs around Metro Manila.
But when I realized that most of these titles will just be book displays and will no longer be read, I decided to sell them.
It was a difficult decision to make since I wanted to have my personal library soon. But I believe that owning so many books while not reading them is a disservice to their authors.
However, I kept my favorite books, which I still open every now and then. I also started lending them so that other people may also discover the love for reading.
This includes cellphones, laptops, and tablets. We need to spend more time away from them and more time with the things that truly matter.
Health and fitness should always be a priority. However, I don’t want to spend so much money on something that has cheaper alternatives.
Instead of spending money on gym memberships, I employ bodyweight exercises such as the 7-minute exercise and full-body workouts like burpees and jumping jacks.
I also have the two-kilometer rule, wherein I avoid commuting when going to places within a two-kilometer radius.
I am also fortunate to live near my work, which allowed me to go to the school by bike or a 6-min walk.
Simple living had the most significant impact on my finances. Though I have a lesser salary than my previous work, the province’s low cost-of-living expenses make up for it.
Also, since I often cook, I can save more on food allowance instead of eating out. I also can control what comes into my food.
Another thing, because I maintain a certain level of fitness, I don’t get out of shape. This is also one reason why I have firm control over my wardrobe.
Since I don’t have to adjust my clothes size, I don’t need to buy new clothes, which is a considerable saving if you add them up.
Selling books to maintain a certain number of titles also gives way to fund other books that I will buy in the future.
Simple living and minimalism is a conscious choice towards a more intentional life.
We need to understand that what we own should not define who we are and what level of success we have.
Simple living allows us to improve our lives, be of service to others, and find other ways to spend our hard-earned money toward more meaningful expenses.