I have been wanting to address something that #theminimalists have not talked about much. Perhaps because it can feel like a criticism. I have been wondering how to address minimalism and wealth for a while now and then I saw this on Facebook (I have pasted the critique underneath the link, but also wanted to keep the reader informed of the source.
lower-income people tend to be “hoarders” and richer people are able to do more “minimalist” living spaces. if u don’t have much, you will hold onto any little thing that comes across your way. you got a new tv, but you still keep the old tv because you know things can break. you keep extra boxes of macaroni and cheese lying around because there will be a week when you don’t have money for groceries. you hold onto your stacks of books and clothes for dear life. those are your assets. physical evidence of where your money’s gone. it’s hard to get rid of it. the bare wall is terrifying when you don’t have much.
so I’d normally put this in the tags but it’s kind of a lot so just reblog this from OP to skip my commentary. But I dogsit for a family who is clearly LOADED. Their house is immaculate. High, vaulted ceilings, wood flooring, two chandeliers in one room. These things are fancy, right ?? I really don’t know, anything that isn’t tile or 30 year old carpet seems fancy to me. It also so… bare. Everything is organized perfectly, they have no excess. Their decor is extravagant and yet minimal - it is carefully and precisely executed. Nothing that doesn’t match the aesthetic sits in their living room. I tried to replicate some of it, but it’s just not possible. I have every book I’ve ever owned, my mom keeps papers upon papers, VHSs in a dresser, how do you just get rid of these things when you know you may not have the opportunity to buy them again? How must it feel to live in such orderly quarters where everything is replaceable?
I wanted to begin with the words of others because I am not poor. I have never been poor. I have never experienced what it is like to REALLY go without. I can understand some aspects of doing without, but if I wanted to I was always able to find what I needed. I want to address the idea of being poor, or perhaps if you will allow it middle class, and being a minimalist.
I think that if you are not affluent, that just in case stuff is a big item that minimalism sucks about. I am not going to donate my cans of food, and I am going to continue to store boxes of pasta not because they bring me joy, but because I know to save money I need not only to keep them, but to continue to buy in bulk (very middle class privilege) in order to save. Plus I am a Girl Scout. I am not going to be unprepared for a power outage or whatever.
Then there is fixing stuff. Yup, I can completely understand keeping the crappy TV around just in case the other one breaks. My family doesn't anymore because we have decided it is not worth the stress having the crap in the house, but again, we are lucky. If we really want something, even if it is costly we can go get a new one. I have the luxury of being able to choose to not have piles of stuff around the house.
I don't think this type of scarcity only applies to money either. I have been re-reading City of Ember recently, and can understand why the homes are collections of stuff from generations. Additionally I think if you are a person serious about reducing your waste, you might keep more things around for parts if they can not be useful to anyone else. And you would have far more reusable packaging or other storage methods than most people.
I have one big hang up, where I often find myself getting frustrated listening to #theminimalists, or #minimalistmomspodcast, clothing. I really dislike shopping. I always have. Additionally there are very few clothes people give me that I like. So minimizing my wardrobe was pretty easy. There wasn't too much to begin with, and the things I was unsure about I got rid of. Until I got to... "well this is ok, and I need clothes to wear."
So I hear about the 333 project, or a capsule wardrobe and I know, this crap is not for me. Why? Because I have had at least two shirts and one pair of pants become unusable in the time since I last went through my wardrobe. I have others that have holes, that I probably ought to get rid of, but I will wear them until they die because I am not in a place yet where I want to go out and get new clothes. If I limited myself to a capsule or 333 wardrobe, I would wear through half of it.
I have a crappy pair of sketchers (maybe around 3 years old) I can't stand, and wear them daily because they are the non-running sneakers I have, and I am waiting to get new ones at the REI garage sale IF they have anything I like. I tossed the last pair of shoes I had once I could feel the different textures of pavement on the ball of my foot. And yet I have "running shoes" and never run. Do they bring me joy? No. Do I use them occasionally and never want to buy them unless I really have to? Yup!
So what I guess I am trying to say is yeah, there are reasons to keep stuff that does not bring value to your life. You might need to keep a just in case item because you can't afford to get another one. You might need to keep something in case it is of value in the future, and you would be unable to get it back. If you are in a place where you don't need a safety net for whatever reason that is great, please get rid of things that don't bring value to your life. Hopefully they will find a good home with someone who they will bring value or safety to. I would strongly appreciate it additionally, if you are able to acknowledge that being able to live with less is something that having monetary savings affords you. Personally having money is a large part of why my family is able to get rid of many things in our home, and that makes it a privilege not everyone is able to access.
Also being a minimalist isn't just about the pairing down of stuff. It is about being clear and intentional about what you do have, whether it is your possessions, social media intake, use of personal time, relationships, or other aspects of your life. So you do what works best for you, and be a #poorminimalist, #middleclassminimalist, #fixitminimalist, #tinkererminimalist, #makerminimalist, #zerowasteminimalist, or a #hotmessminimalist and just ignore the crickets (critics) regarding the stuff you keep.
This week driving to my child's school I passed by one of my favorite properties and was heartbroken. A massive sign was out front, where months ago there had been no driveway, just open land. It was advertising the homes that were going to be put in starting at the 300s. I felt heartbroken.
I have loved and admired this space ever since I saw it. It is one of my favorite areas in Charlotte (though it is technically outside of it) driving by. And now, it is going to be another development. No more hill, no more grassy plain, no more cute red farmhouse at the top, and likely no tree next to it either.
I know it is impractical because I never would have had enough to buy a property like this and get it to be a farm. Heck. It never even had a for sale sign out front, so who knows how that even works. But I still dreamt about being able to put a farm up there or a cohousing space. It just stinks.
Also this week I was told that my family is considering selling some land, and a house on a lake. We do not use the space often, and there is a lot of maintenance that needs to be done, so it is a good idea to consider selling. But I know exactly who will buy it. A developer. I know because that is exactly what happened right next door.
And I though I don't know how to fix it, I am going to dig deeper into cohousing and see if I can at least be a small part of finding a better way to do this.
We moved into our home in 2010. There are a few things that are not ideal. We want more space to garden, and our home has trees on it's little lot. We are DIY people and there is no garage or mud room... Which was not a problem until we had kids and now the extra bedrooms function as bedrooms not project spaces. Our family also lives out of town so it would be lovely to have a space where they could stay when visiting (currently we have one, but when the kids need their own space it gets to be a bedroom again). And we really want a big central kitchen, ours is an ok size and slightly isolated.
We have been looking on and off at houses, mostly the last three years, when I found a cash only house which was 12 acres with a pond. My parents would love a project house (a farm would be ideal) and we would have paid our mortgage to them. Any way that fell through, and I look every so often now.
I found one this weekend. I drove by, and came home. "I think I might have found our house." We all drove by to take a look, and called the realtor on the sign. There were so many things about this house that were wonderful and ideal. But in the end it just was not right for us. One of it's biggest flaws is that it is in an industrial area so there are no neighbors for our kids to play with.
I did find myself wondering, if I am a minimalist why am I looking at a bigger house?
I think the answer is while we enjoy our house, it does not quite work for us. So I will keep looking.
This weekend I am planning on attending a co-housing meeting. I will be very curious to see how it goes. I have been interested in the idea for a while, and clearly we are wanting something different than what we have. I look forward to checking it out.