The Elegance of Minimalism


Sliding Rock

Funny story: this started out being a post about canceling cable.  But more on that later.  The post turned into this because I understand that canceling cable is one of the pillars of the minimalist lifestyle.  I have wanted to do this.  But I have some priorities and standards in addition to wanting to be minimalist.

  • I do not like things that are cheesy or tacky, like cutting coupons.  I’m not going to turn down a Bed Bath & Beyond flyer or a DSW certificate that might land right in my lap.  But I am not going to go out of my way to find a collection of coupons to go through painstakingly.  May as well put on some Mom jeans and hoard all those bottles of dish detergent in the basement.
  • I do not want to save money by complicating my life, by doing things such as taking a second job when I could just save money.  Unless it is an absolute emergency (I took an emergency 2nd job when I was 25 and it was not that great – it inspired me to never let that happen again).
  • I do not like to waste lots of my time that could be better spent.  I would never, ever go on some sort of free time share vacation in which I have to sit around listening to time share speeches.  I would not spend hours sifting through second-hand store bins or drive far distances to an outlet mall.

Unfortunately these activities ring of despair.  I empathize with those feeling despair, but I am not currently in despair.  I have the financial power over my life to continuously improve my financial situation (even if by hit or miss) in the manner I choose: minimalism.

I hate to start out such a fond topic on a negative note.  But the above activities to me are the opposite of minimalism: they are frustrating, wasteful, and they defy logic.  The point of minimalism is to let your life flow like water, into the cracks, through the path of least resistance, in whatever way pleases you.  And wear down the sharp edges poking into your life until all your routines are smooth and delightful to the senses like the worn rock water slides of the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina.

Instead of slamming through main roads traffic using 4 of my car’s gears and thrusting myself into perilous road rage on my work commute, I take back roads all in 3rd gear without stopping.  As the crow flies.  It takes the same amount of time, sometimes longer.  You might think this wastes time, as noted above.  But my car and my serenity are preserved.  This is what I call Ms. Goodies’ Law of Preservation of Your Marbles.  It is more important to save yourself and your trusty automobile a little every day than to save a few minutes.

And so it goes with other things frugality-related.  I save time and money by optimizing anticipated annual sales rather than continuously scoping out novel ones – which sounds exhausting.  I venture out to the stores at odd times when things have been freshly stocked but fewer people are around to snatch them: early morning and late at night.

And when it comes to all the other little details of my life, I seek out the path of least resistance, even if it seems kooky on the outside.  I would rather spend 10 manhours sewing a skirt perfectly to my liking, with a yoke, hidden zipper, and full A-line than spend 10 manhours searching in vain at the mall over 5 shopping trips.  Call me crazy, but there’s wine and TV and personalized style in only one of those options.

Which brings me back to my original point, and next post: TV.  Until then however, this is the first of what will probably be a series of posts about minimalism.  I originally envisioned myself writing a humdinger masterpiece on the topic, but it is too dynamic and enduring a part of my thinking to try to capture at once.

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8 thoughts on “The Elegance of Minimalism

  1. Sounds like you have the right ideas. Sometimes, I read about people who do extreme things (making soap) to save money. Was that worth the time and effort? A bar of soap is like a $1.

    Smokies are awesome! I love the Blue Ridge region. Some day, I’ll hike the AT…

    • Thanks for stopping by Mr. 1500! Yeah the entire AT must be amazing. I hear of people going on several-weeks’ camping journeys from one end to the other. I would love to see more of the east coast mountain regions. Your post about your hikes around the country was an inspiration to me – I want to see many of those places eventually.

      • RE: hiking, you should read Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods” it’s a hilarious story of a travel writer and his recovering alcoholic friend struggling to hike the AT at the age of 40. Very good read with a lot of ancillary info on the AT and wilderness in America.

        Some random quotes that have stuck with me and bear tangentially on the topic:
        “We are enriched, not by what we possess, but by what we can do without.” –Immanuel Kant

        “Far too often the value of a thing lies not in what one attains with it, but in what one pays for it–what it costs us.” –Friedrich Nietzsche

      • Thanks Rob, I will have to check that book out!

        And your literary observations class up the joint as usual. I am pretty sure I had to read those same works but you actually remember them!

        So with the Nietzsche quote, if you get a couch for free from Craigslist, and it gives you bedbugs, is the couch worth nothing or bedbugs? Just kidding… I think he means what things *really* cost us, which in that case is dignity.

  2. Ms. Goodies’ Law of Preservation of Your Marbles– hahaha i love that!

    Yeah, some money saving methods are just too difficult. I do like coupons that end up in my mailbox (you’re right- BB&B sends SO many!) but I’m never going to go out and buy a newspaper or sign up for those coupon websites just to save a teeny bit!

  3. Pingback: Cutting cable, Goodies-style | Yay, Goodies.

  4. Pingback: I already saved $2 today… have you? | Yay, Goodies.

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