(This is not the post for you if you are used to regular raises, bonuses, shopping and living large. Obviously.)
Sometimes I feel like the only person online who doesn’t religiously read and follow minimalism blogs. (And many of the mainstream PF blogs, for that matter.)
They don’t resonate with me.
Decluttering and downsizing are not things I struggle with or aspire to.
I am the person who rotates through the same 3 pairs of shoes every week.
Who put up with only having 3 forks for nearly a year.
Who has lived in painfully small places due to money not choice, and bought a small and dated house because it’s what I could afford.
Who has always lived in a one-car, two-person household.
When you tell me to get ahead by saving my pay raises, living in a small cheap place, ditching the car, cutting back on coffee and clothes … I bounce, cause that ain’t my life. Many of us don’t get raises, live in large places we can downsize from, have a car, buy lattes or shop for leisure. These are not practical options for everyone.
I get it. Trimming the fat is an easy win for lots of people. They are the low hanging fruit. And they’re everywhere on the internet.
There are also people who are doing all the right things, but can’t get ahead. Quite simply, if they want to change that, they need to bring in more. Cutting back is not realistic (any odd small splurge they can manage is what keeps them going, and is not going to materially impact their overall situation). Popular advice assumes a baseline that is way above where they operate from. I don’t know what percentage of the population they represent, but they exist. Particularly in a low-wage, high cost-of-living country like this. They are on the internet too, but you don’t see or hear about them as often. I’ve seen their comments and stories pop up more and more over the past year, and it breaks my heart.
I often find myself short of things that are more need than want. I’ve lost so much over the years through various cycles of flatmates, and moving house. I got by for so long without a shower caddy, baking trays, and tons more little domestic touches that make a home. It made no sense to invest in anything of that nature while renting, and even after buying my house I struggled to spend money on those little things despite their huge ROI in terms of quality of life.
I’m not saying I am perfectly ascetic. I have plenty of crap I don’t need lying around the house and it’s a battle as I have hoarding tendencies rooted in a scarcity mindset (what if we need it someday?!) Mainly free stuff. When freebies come into my home, be they books or drinking flasks or candles or whatever, it’s really hard for me to get rid of something ‘perfectly good’.
I know just how little it’s possible to live on. I backpacked around the world for six months. Full time travel forces you to get pretty bloody minimalist.
I’ve lived with less and I know that I want more. A life of abundance. (And yes, for me that means some stuff.)
Could I cut down my possessions by 30, 50, 70 percent?
Sure. But I’d really rather not.
Could I live on a lower income?
I have done. And I definitely would rather not.
Every new job/salary bump has enabled me to save more and build the life I want. My best life costs money – a house costs money, dogs cost money, babies cost money.
For lots of us, cutting back is not the answer.
(But I still haven’t cut my hair in over a year. I’m still not sure when I actually will get around to it.)