While I was travelling in Australia and New Zealand – and later, when I lived in Israel – I was used to living out of two suitcases, owning just a week’s worth of clothing, and only having the essentials. Sure, I invested in new clothes when the old ones wore out, but I had no major purchases other than travel costs.
It was easy and fairly cheap. I had no need to buy things like furniture or kitchen utensils. I used what was available at hostels, and in Israel, I lived in apartments where those things were already available. Even when I returned to the U.S., my partner and I lived in a furnished apartment for a year.
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I only recently learned about minimalism as a conscious choice.
Some people might think that minimalism is reconsidering purchases based on need: “I don’t need to buy this shirt because I have one like it already.” Others might think it’s owning exactly 100 items or fewer.
Minimalism focuses on the value that material possessions have on us. It’s based on the idea that we are happier when we own fewer things.
Ours is a society in which we value material things. I’m not shy to admit that I own Apple products and clothes I don’t wear and even trinkets that I have no idea what do with, but I strive to be conscious of my material purchases mainly because of how I feel towards those items.
At one point, my partner and I considered building a tiny home.
But we quickly realized that we needed – or, perhaps, wanted – a home with one room for us, one room for the baby, and one room to use as an office-slash-guest room. Even with the desire for a tiny home, we knew it wasn’t practical for us.
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Now that I own a home and am about to become a parent, I realize I need even more things: kitchen utensils, pots and pans, furniture, and tools – not to mention all the accessories for the baby. Is it possible to be minimalist and own a home with three bedrooms? Can we be minimalist parents? How do those things affect our finances?
It’s increasingly difficult to sort out the needs and wants for the baby, for instance. Everyone has an opinion on what we “need.”
I’ve read all the websites that say you need a place for the baby to sleep, as well as clothes, diapers, feeding supplies, a car seat, and a stroller. But that leaves out a lot of things. Do you really need a wipe warmer? What about the number of clothing items? I know we can’t dispute the diapers, but each of these categories has a lot within it. So how can you manage as a minimalist parent?
I have no answers, but I have found resources and a community of others online who wonder the same thing.
Being minimalist isn’t only about material things, for instance. It’s also about scheduling fewer after-school activities for kids, which will absolutely reduce costs. Instead of having foreign language classes on Monday, ballet on Tuesday, soccer on Wednesday, tutoring on Thursday, and music lessons on Friday, minimalist parents may only have one activity a year or even none at all.
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Perhaps minimalism is more about promoting experiences than material things.
I can’t do much about the material needs and the resulting financial consequences of having kids, but I can help my future child to combat the idea that material things always make us happier. That’s why I’m also a big proponent of frugal birthday parties and alternative ways to celebrate birthdays, like having one friend sleepover with a movie night when the child is older. There are so many ways for us to be creative, minimalist, and therefore frugal with kids.
Being minimalist is not anti-shopping, because yes, we need diapers and clothes. I have to admit that each purchase can be difficult for me, but the fact of the matter is, sometimes you need things. For now, I’m trying to work on being more aware of what is a “need” and what is a “want,” as well as how to stretch each dollar when we do need to make purchases.