As I grow older, I become more of a minimalist. I don't know why. My mother raised me to be a collector. She encouraged each of us, my brothers and me, to collect figurines. Mine were owls and elephants.
As much as we went to the library, we also bought books. And records. And tapes. I guess that shows my age, but also it showed what my family home would eventually turn into.
I also collected stamps and maps and political buttons and other pins.
The belongings people accumulate throughout their lives will always own them. - Sarah Noffke
I am no longer a collector, but I am a bit of a hoarder. I still have a few maps and a few of the more special pins. The rest are all gone.
There is a difference between collector and hoarder.
A collector keeps acquiring things. I definitely don't. I come as close to an ascetic as a modern man can. I wear clothes longer than most. I would rather reread the same books I love than buy new ones.
In fact, my best shopping tip is this: Don't!
Shopping is a rip-off. You hand somebody money that you need for food, rent, transportation, healthc are and other important things. You walk away with something that you really don't need.
Like I said, I've become quite the minimalist.
That being said, I would not like to move into a tiny house like this or this. I might be a minimalist, but I am also a pacer. I need room to move. I like a big house, I just like it to be somewhat empty.
And that's the second part of why shopping is a rip-off. Not only do you give away useful money for mostly useless stuff, you then have to store all that stuff. That just makes your house smaller, no matter how large it is.
Stuff accumulates around your house, stealing space. But stuff never accumulates where it counts -- in your memories. Nobody ever remembers the amazing furniture and rugs and gadgets and cookware and shoes and trinkets they had 20 or 30 years ago.
But we all remember that amazing family outing.
And we all remember every trip we took.
Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely. - Auguste Rodin
Travel is an experience
Travel is a great time means of recognizing the value of being a minimalist. If you can pack really light, travel becomes much easier:
- Less luggage to chase down and drag around.
- Less cost to buy all that stuff you would drag around.
- More money to actually enjoy the trip.
- In fact, being a minimalist means that you can afford trips that otherwise would be wasted on home decor or extra clothes or gadgets or cookware.
Travel is an experience, and the memories you collect are more valuable than stuff you collect... and they take up less space.
So how am I doing as a minimalist?
I might not collect things, but I share the house with four women who do. And we have a big house that collects clutter easily. Worse, I grew up with that hoarder instinct. So, as they bring way to much stuff into the house, I can't seem to find it in me to get rid of it all. Plus, I might be defenestrated if I did.
Frankly, the only upside to that would be the chance to use the word "defenestrate."
Not everybody is a minimalist, and I am not saying that everybody should be. As you see, I am not even all that good a minimalist.
But it is worth thinking about how you want to spend your time and money between collecting stuff and collecting experiences. You have only so much time to spend and you'll have only so much money. Enjoying life is all about how you allocate the time and the money.
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
Also on HuffPost:
Are you looking to get rid of years of old family belongings now that you have an empty nest, or is it time to simplify your home (and life) now that you're heading into retirement? Whatever the reason, eliminating clutter can lower your stress levels, save time and help you to appreciate what you have. Consider what you hope to get out of the simplification process and keep that motivation with you as you go along -- especially when you're having trouble parting with personal items. Still unsure? Check out Martha Stewart's list of "100 Reasons to Get Rid of It" for a major dose of de-cluttering inspiration.
When faced with mounting piles of clutter, our first instinct is often to find ways to tame it and hide it away, so we go out and buy boxes and bins and hangers to find a place for it all. But, as "Happier At Home" author Gretchen Rubin advises, "don't get organized" -- the first step should be getting brutally honest about what you need and what you don't. Then, you'll have to go through and get rid of any items that are unused, unwanted, and without enough sentimental value to be kept around. Getting rid of personal belongings can be tough, but once the clutter is gone, you'll be better able to make use of all the stuff you actually do want.
Getting rid of clutter can be an emotional process: It forces to confront our own bad spending habits (an overpriced kitchen product that still has the tags on it from four years ago, or a designer jacket that's never been worn), and to part ways with things that represented who we used to be. Set aside a weekend (or a few) to go through each room of the house methodically, making large piles of things to get rid of, and then subdividing into giveaway, throwaway, and sell piles. The book "Family-Sized Minimalism" may be a helpful guide for those with decades worth of family items to sort through. And if you're going through the belongings of an adult kid who has moved out, try to have them present if possible -- but be firm in your desire to get rid of anything that's no longer meaningful or necessary.
Having a friend or non-immediate family member there when you go through your closet, garage or kids' rooms can help you to be more impartial and break emotional attachments towards your belongings. A 2008 study published in the journal Judgment and Decision Making, found that the longer we physically hold an item, the more we value it -- having a friend hold things up and keep them at both a physical and psychological distance will help you make more objective decisions. This impartial third party can help you to let go of clothing, old toys, books and knick-knacks that may have some memories attached to them, but not necessarily enough sentimental value to be worth keeping.
Once you've removed all throwaway and give-away items from your home, then is the time to get organized. Sort items and store in places where they can be easily accessed, and buy any organization supplies necessary -- but only once you've determined a real need for them. And DON'T try to fill all of the empty space in your house: An important part of the simplification process is to learn to be comfortable with empty spaces that may or may not need to be filled later. Keep a drawer around for future need, rather than using it as an excuse to keep things around that aren't contributing to your life.
Now that you've simplified your home, take an afternoon or two to tackle digital clutter. Unsubscribe from unwanted email newsletters, delete old documents that you no longer need and organize photos and important paperwork into labeled folders. Bloggers "The Minimalists" recommend deleting any files that you haven't used in six months. You can also further reduce physical clutter by digitizing CDs, DVDs, photo collections, important documents and more.
Once you have a clean, well-organized and simplified home, you'll be more likely to keep it that way: Research has found that people are significantly less likely to litter in clean environments than already-littered ones, and the same theory applies to home clutter as well. Your simplified home is a clean slate, and the process of simplifying is an opportunity to reflect on consuming habits that may no longer suit you. As Faith James, author of "Family-Sized Minimalism," writes, "How you look at everything must change. Every item you own, every choice you make in how you spend your time, and every pursuit you have will ultimately take you closer, or further away from your goal of living a more simple life."
Follow David Leonhardt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/amabaie