The frugality started because I was in college and had no other option. It continued because I liked the idea of having enough of a buffer to ride out the financial storms that hit all of us at some point. But now, it seems to have gone off the deep end. I’ve found that I … don’t actually want to buy stuff.
It might be a function of how many times I’ve moved in the last few years – it’s pretty easy to donate stuff when you realize you haven’t used it since the last time you packed up everything you own. And my insistence on moving myself with only what I can fit in the back of my car (except for now I have some really great antique furniture from great-grandparents, so the next move might have to involve a U-Haul) means that I’ve kept a pretty strong limit on the number of things I possess.
At some point in the last few years, this has transitioned from something I do because I have to, or even just because it makes sense, to something I want to do. I regularly clear out my closet of clothes I don’t wear. When my parents gave me their (much nicer than mine, plus a larger set) old dishes, I took my set to Goodwill the same day. I immediately re-gifted a Santa plate I got in an office gift exchange because I didn’t want to store it all year. I love books, but as much as I’d like to have a home library, I like the freedom of getting them all from the public library more. I’ve never been the type to just have tons and tons of stuff – the overcrowded bathroom shelves of most of my fellow 20-something ladies give me hives – but I used to be drawn to collections (like teacups, because I’ve been 80 years old since I was 9) and buying large quantities of cheap clothes. Not anymore.
It even translates to how I spend my time. In a couple days, I’m going on a trip to San Diego. I’ve found that what I’m looking forward to the most isn’t shopping and hitting up restaurants, but reading on the beach, exploring the neighborhood, and spending hours sitting on the patio, drinking my beloved cold brew coffee, catching up with my friend.
For me, being a minimalist isn’t about only owning 33 items of clothing, or even having a clue how many items of clothing I own. It’s about being grateful for what I have, and thinking carefully before I add to that. For me, the less stuff I have to store and move and maintain, the more free I am. I love that I have drawers in my apartment that are empty.
I’ve found that approaching things with intentionality has automatically led me towards minimalism. I buy clothes not just because they’re cute, but because they’re cute and fill a hole in my closet. I don’t buy books, because once I’ve read them once they just take up space. I do buy more than one roll of paper towels at a time, because I have room to store them and it’s more cost-effective, and I’m not insane. To me, minimalism isn’t about counting your possessions, bare walls and stark white furniture – it’s about having what you need, what you use, and what you love – and no more.
Sometimes I’m not even sure if I’m not buying stuff because I want to save money, or if I’m saving money because I don’t want to buy stuff! The two traits tie together in many ways, and approaching my choices from the viewpoint of intentionality is just one of the reasons that frugality never feels like I’m depriving myself.
Are you a minimalist?