“Right-sizing” our life: How we are selectively minimalist

At some point in every journey towards financial independence or even a more responsible approach to personal finance, one is confronted with stuff. The idea of simplifying our lives and shedding the excess appealed to us. And some say that minimalism saves money. At the very least, buying fewer things should lead to less spending, right?

Between two houses, Mr. Vine and I had accumulated far too much over the years. Occasional spring cleanings of the garage attic and various other storage spaces simply were not enough to keep ahead of pack rat tendencies.

Two houses means more space for stuff. Two sets of dishes, more coffee mugs, more bedding, more towels, more kitchen gadgets, more pots and pans. Those are the things that time and sentimentality make it more difficult to release.

Selling the extra home forced us to confront those possessions. It helped to think of the house sale as the ultimate exercise in minimalism (it wasn’t–we still have a lot of stuff). We tackled it using various strategies and in manageable chunks of time to maintain our emotional stamina. But we discovered that we did not want to get rid of everything that had been stored there. Some things were just too significant (like ribbons and trophies from showing horses in my youth or my great grandmother’s china or Mr. Vine’s comic books).

After accepting an offer on our second home, we had five weeks to empty it and turn over the keys. It is one thing to know things don’t define you, and it’s another thing entirely to face the reality of an imminent goodbye to the place we’d called home for over a decade. This house housed more than happy memories, it also held a lot of stuff.

Even now that The Vines HQ is a one bedroom, one bath condo, I don’t feel like we can fairly call ourselves “minimalist”. We still have a large inventory of things and enduring sentimentality for certain items. But paring down is more refreshing than painful. Most of all I appreciate the calm that an uncluttered space leaves behind. I’m still amazed at how quickly actual trash accumulates–old receipts, past credit card statements, newspapers, magazines, junk mail, catalogs, grocery bags. Our efforts to scale down, reconsider, and right-size are ongoing.

What is your take on minimalism? How do you incorporate the idea of less into your approach to personal finance? Please share in the comments.

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