Preparing to Move: Thoughts About Stuff & Consumerism

I’ve been living back in Wisconsin for almost six months now and am finally reaching the point of looking for my own apartment.  I was fortunate enough that when I suddenly decided to leave NYC (after being driven out of my apartment by bed bugs and cockroaches) that my parents allowed me to temporarily move in with them.  Well, I (and I think they) envisioned this temporary arrangement last two or three months.  We are now in month six.

I spent my first two-and-a-half months in Wisconsin figuring out what I wanted to do with this next life chapter, brainstorming what business I could launch, and job hunting, until I was finally hired part-time at a retail job selling jewelry.  Around the same time I took on a temp job for six weeks, as well.  With time (about a month after the temp job ended), the same employer hired me on to a non-temporary position in another program.

So now, with a slightly higher paying job (though it’s only 30-hours a week, so I’m still working retail) that offers a little more job security, I am finally coming to a place where it makes financial sense for me to look for my own place.  Finally.

But as I work on my moving budget, I am reminded that moving entails saving for a lot more than just your first month’s rent and security deposit.  Considering the fact I got rid of pretty much everything I owned during my last two moves, I have nearly nothing to move into a new space with.  This partially makes me very nervous as I picture the price tag that accompanies furnishing an entire apartment, but it also makes me feel excited at the prospect of living a more minimalist lifestyle.

There are basics that I have to get– a bed, dishes, some towels.  But then there are all the “extras” that society makes us all believe are essential– coordinating six-piece bedroom set, enough dishes to have a dinner party of eight people (I never have dinner parties and if I ever did, we’d figure something out), matching embroidered hand towels, a living room set complete with more seating than I have close friends, kitchen gadgets that I don’t know or care to learn how to use, decorative lamps that provide little light, and the list goes on and on.

So as I prepare to move, I am making a realistic list of items that I will actually use on a daily basis and should, therefore, spend money on.  As usual, my preference will be on used items (with the exception of my mattress because I’m scared from my bed bug experience despite having a new mattress then too) to save money, help the environment, and add a bit of personality to my living space.

Basically, I refuse to consume for the sake of consumption.  There are so many more things I could do with my money, such as pay of my student loan debt and start saving to build my Tiny Home.

To help me stick to my plan, I ask: What is on your Essential Living Space list?  I will share mine in a later post after I give it more thought, but share your suggestions in the comments below!

Pondering: Can I Embrace Minimalism?

A friend sent me a link to a blogger she thought was a “hottie,” so I searched around his site looking for a picture of him (obviously). While searching, I came across a post that linked to The Minimalists,  a site about how two best friends (Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus) in Dayton, OH began living a minimalist lifestyle.  The site sucked me in and before I knew it I read about 15 or so posts.

Though they do share some practical advice for embracing a minimalist lifestyle (including a 21-day journey you can take), the real gift of the site is their willingness to tackle the difficult topics that go along with it.  When you’re living a minimalist life, what do you do about gifts?  What do you do about sentimental items?  What about when minimalism scares you?

As I’ve mentioned before, I sold most of my belongings when I moved to NYC in August 2011 and then threw most of my belongings away after getting bedbugs in May 2012.  After theses experiences, I’ve felt a decreased attachment to material stuff.  This is why The Minimalists site, and minimalism in general, intrigues me.

The site BecomingMinimalist.com has a great post the defines what minimalism is.  It explains:

“MINIMALISM IS INTENTIONALITY.

MINIMALISM IS FREEDOM FROM THE PASSION TO POSSESS.

MINIMALISM IS FREEDOM FROM MODERN MANIA.

MINIMALISM IS FREEDOM FROM DUPLICITY.

MINIMALISM IS COUNTER-CULTURAL.

MINIMALISM IS NOT EXTERNAL, BUT INTERNAL.

MINIMALISM IS COMPLETELY ACHIEVABLE.”

The explanation under “Minimalism is Intentionality,” offers a simple, yet powerful definition of minimalism:

It is marked by clarity, purpose, and intentionality. At its core, minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it. It is a life that forces intentionality. And as a result, it forces improvements in almost all aspects of your life.

Hearing minimalism explained in this way makes it obvious that its about more than stuff, it’s about our values and living authentically.  So now I sit here pondering, can I live a minimalist lifestyle?

In one light, it seems overwhelming and terrifying, but in another it seems liberating.  Yes, the thought of getting rid of more items makes me feel uneasy, but the prospect of not wasting time sorting and organizing stuff I’m not using feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders, as does the thought of moving around my living space without tripping over anything or rummaging through piles of stuff looking for something I need.

But beyond the stuff, there’s a part of me that is scared of doing the internal work necessary to embrace minimalism.  Can I really work through the part of my brain that believes stuff = security?  Can I really figure out how to be comfortable enough with myself that I don’t try to silence my authentic-self with makeup, clothes, jewelry, and gadgets?  Can I get over the judgements that will surely fall my way as I step further into non-conformity?

Still pondering…

Are you living a minimalist lifestyle?  Do you have any advice to offer?