I was thinking to buy a small book on minimalism recently. But actually, I bought a pack of several books about minimalism. To be honest, I was thinking I was buying a single book but ended up with a pack. Oh well. The first book I have read is Adopting the Minimalist Lifestyle by Ariel Horowitz.
It’s a really tiny book. I was thinking the entire set of book was small already, but each book is tiny. It’s a minimalist book about minimalism ;) I have been able to find it for very cheap on Kindle once again. It is difficult to find this kind of books in my used book shop. But if you are patient, it is relatively easy to find them for cheap on Amazon.
The book starts with explaining what is a minimalist lifestyle. The idea is pretty simple. It’s to live with less. Focus on the things that brings your happiness and get rid for the things that do not.
This should have the advantages of reducing your spending. If you do not buy things you do not need, you save money ;) That’s something everybody should plan to do :) What is the point in buying something you do not need. However, there is something a bit more extreme about the concept of need in minimalism.
And minimalism is not only about things. It is also about relationships, the food you eat, the imprint on the environment and even the parties you throw.
Simplify your life
The book gives a few examples of things you can do to simplify your life. This is very varied. It starts by choosing a small house and not a huge mansion. Of course, your needs may vary based on your family and your occupation, but you should not choose something exceeding your basic needs.
It is quite interesting that the author suggest reducing your expenses and saving on your bills as a way of simplifying your life. In fact, by simplifying your life and avoiding unnecessary expense, you can save a lot of money. A good example is your television package. Do you really need so many channels ? Do you watch them all ? It is always a good idea to go through your recurring expenses and see if you can save some money. For instance, I was able to reduce my mobile phone cost by 10 CHF each month.
One thing that was surprising to me was that the book was also advising to get rid of bad relationships to avoid drama. I did not know that minimalism was going so far. The book is also mentioning food. You should avoid big fancy meals in favor of home-cooked meals. On this I agree that you should do it most of the time. There is nothing wrong with a nice restaurant meal from time to time. But this should not be a habit. You can also avoid foods with too much packaging that just results in a lot of trash.
One thing that the book insists upon is to work on some routines. These routines are made to avoid clutter as soon as possible.
One idea I think is really good is to process all your paper as soon as possible. You should throw away all the junk mail directly. And you should process directly the important mail, scan it and throw it away once you handled. Being paperless is an important part of being minimalist.
On the other hand, some of the routines are a bit too extreme for me. But I am guessing that they make a lot of sense in the minimalism world. For instance, the advice to always get rid of one item every time you bring something new in the house. Even though it may make sense, I think it is a bit too difficult to do it. And also trying to declutter the home every evening is a bit too much for me.
I like routines a lot, but this is going a bit too far for me.
Finally, the book also gives you many tips to declutter your life. Each part of your life is concerned here.
The first step is probably to declutter your home. You should first categorize your items into the one you really need and the one you can get rid of. You can then donate, sell or throw away the items you do not really need. Once you know what you want to keep, you need to organize your items. For this, you need to plan shelves, containers and other storage solutions. What is important here is even if you do a big decluttering of your home, this will still require a constant effort to keep it uncluttered in the future.
I found it very interesting that you should also declutter your finances. This a concept that I did not link to minimalism. One of the idea is to keep an emergency fund for unexpected funds. I think this is a really good idea. The author mentions 6 to 12 months, which I think is too high for most employed persons. And once you have an emergency fund, you should repay your debts to get debt-free. I do agree that being debt-free is very important. However, I would argue that you should first repay your debts and then fill an emergency fund.
There is another thing I do not agree with: the author mentions that you should pay everything in cash. Arguably, you will spend less. However, a credit card (without debt) is a good financial tool. You can get some money back by using it. If you are smart about it, there is no point in not using it.
The final step in your decluttering journey is to take care of your personal life. The main idea is to go through your relationships and find out which relation ships are dragging you down. You should not see these people again. This makes sense in my opinion. But it should not be necessary to go through this. I do not think I have toxic relationships with anyone. If do not have a good time with someone, I simply do not see them again. It is not very difficult. This should done by everyone anyway.
The other idea is to declutter your mind. I think this is something really difficult to do. I do not really mind this myself. But I am guessing many people have too many things running in their mind. I personally like thinking a lot about many things at once. It keeps my mind active.
The author lists several advantages of being a minimalist. You should have a greater financial freedom. Indeed, if you only spend money on useful things, you should save money. And if you only focus on simple things, you could save even more. By eliminating the clutter and your toxic relationships, you should decrease your stress level. And have more time as well.
If you have more time and are less stressed, you should be able to increase your productivity. Arguably, you may also enjoy your work more. All around, you should be more happy with a minimalist lifestyle.
I think I am quite far from being a minimalist. I think minimalism has many advantages. But I am not sure it is for every one. I think being frugal and avoid impulse expenses is more than enough for most people. On the other hand, I like the fact that being minimalist will save you space in your house. This will avoid you having to need a larger house or apartment for instance. I still think I should be more minimalist with all the things I am keeping at home. I am going to try to get rid of some stuff. And I will go trough my bills to see if I can save money again. This could help me on my way to Financial Independence.
This book is interesting, but it is really small. It contains only very few specific advice. I think it would deserve to get a bit more detailed about several of its aspects. The ideas are there, but not always the means to apply them. This book did not convince me to become minimalist. Nevertheless, it is well written and makes sense in its organization. But since it is preaching minimalism, it succeeded in being a minimalist book ;)
I still have two more books to read on minimalism in the books I already bought. Also, I have one book about the stock market. I will probably start reading the one about the stock market first to make a change. Then, I willé continue with the second book on minimalist.
Did you read this book ? What do you think of minimalism ? Did you read any book about it ?