Good afternoon lovelies, I hope you are all well,
Owing to the great annual debate about what to get us for our seventh wedding anniversary on Sunday, I tried to find an article on gifts and minimalists but alas, I came up dry. Given that then, I decided to compile a list of ten reasons misconceptions about minimalists that demonstrate that when we say we don’t want anything, we really don’t want anything. I hope that at some point in the future, this post will help someone going through the same great debate, minimalist or otherwise!
Most recently made world-famous by Japanese home consultant Marie Kondo, minimalism is a lifestyle that focuses on only living with what matters most to us. Instead of holding on to items that are highly sentimental, it teaches us to only keep items that are used regularly and cherished. For some people, it is a boring life. For others, it’s a perfect recipe for inner calm. With that in mind, here are 10 things that minimalists want you to understand:
1. We’re generally happier people
Minimalism is a lifestyle choice. Sometimes, when you can’t afford much, you learn to live with less. When you learn to live with less, you learn to want less, which ultimately leads to less frustration over finances. Minimalists learn to find ways to work out what they have, what they really want and need. We learn to only prioritise what matters most to us and let go of the rest. For me, one of the driving factors was less housework. Less housework = more time with the ones I love = happiness. Result!
2. We aren’t poor (usually)
Like I said above, minimalism is typically a choice, not a need. I may not have money in abundance, but living with less means I’m buying less and saving money. Avoiding loans and credit cards has gone a long way in avoiding red numbers on my bank account, and living with less means less things to break and replace, saving me more money in the long run.
3. But we aren’t rich, either
There seems to be an idea that minimalists can only be young people who live off of the bank of Mum and Dad and can afford cleaners and the like, but that’s not true. Minimalism really is living with only what you really value and need and tossing the rest, that’s it. No fancy rich-kid lifestyle, just living with less. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it and save money. There, now you too are a rich(er) minimalist!
4. We don’t want your money (again, usually)
My mother once offered to buy my husband and me a divan bed base and she had a really hard time believing me when I said that we really didn’t want one at the time. She struggled to accept that we didn’t need the storage because our floor bed ‘headboard’ (two storage cube units, at that time) already provided it. We slept just fine on a mattress on the floor for six months until I decided that I wanted to upgrade our storage to an ottoman bed. Of course, for someone who was sleeping on the floor because that’s all they can afford, then the offer of a purchase would actually be quite welcome. Please don’t assume everyone who sleeps on the floor is poor though. There are actually physical and mental health benefits to the practice!
5. If we say we don’t want anything, we really don’t want anything (more on that below)
Christmas and birthdays bring minimalists out in a cold sweat. Why? That one simple question, “What can I get you for Christmas/your birthday?”. The answer to that usually is a resounding NOTHING. Do you know what most gifts are to a minimalist? Clutter. We work hard to simplify our lives and have more time for living. Unless there is something particular we want or need, be prepared for “nothing” to be the answer. If that’s the case, whiskey, beer, wine, flowers or chocolates always work. Think perishables that won’t hang around forever. Sounds crazy, but it’s true.
6. Random gifts
Two years ago, I was adamant that I wanted some Russian piping tips for Christmas. Not make-up, not designer handbags or Gucci jewellery, but piping tips. Why? Because I’d seen some cupcakes made with them and I was fascinated by them. I’ve asked for rosti rings so that I could make individual desserts for entertaining, a shed corner storage unit because my old one broke, a mini greenhouse and even a shower caddy. If you really want to buy a minimalist something, be prepared for them to ask for gifts based on what they need, rather than what they might like.
7. Don’t be offended if your gift winds up on Ebay
Social rule dictates that once a gift is given, it is up to the recipient what they do with it. I have received numerous Christmas gifts, only for them to have sold on eBay by March. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the gesture, it’s just that I won’t use a lot of the things that I am given. If I ask for anything, it’s usually because that’s all I need. Cute gifts are cute for a week or two, then they’re impractical, and then they become clutter. Clutter is bad for minimalists.
8. Sometimes, we really do just want your money
Obviously, nobody wants to be paying off someone’s debt, but what if we were saving up for something or planning to start something big, for example, a new project, or driving lessons? I’ve had people say that it feels impersonal to give money or gift cards but it’s really not. I’d much rather the money or a gift card that I can put towards a bigger investment or projects than a random gift that I don’t want or need. I’m likely only going to sell those unwanted gifts for the money that I need for bigger purchases anyway, so let’s just cut out the middle man here, hey?
9. Presence not presents
Presents aren’t that important for minimalists. For us, it really is “presence not presents”. It is about spending time with you, about being with you and talking to you, not what you’ve bought us. If you really insist, bring a cake or a packet of biscuits that we can share while we catch up over a cup of tea. After losing my Dad, my family are all that matters to me. I don’t want their gifts anymore, I just want them.
10. We’re not aliens
“How can you live with no stuff?”, “I couldn’t do it myself”, “Are you a bit OCD?”. First of all, I still have “stuff”, just less of it. Secondly, it’s a lifestyle choice, not a lifestyle obligation. Finally, yes, I am, because all neat freaks are (that one was sarcasm, though I am clinically diagnosed with OCD not related to cleaning 😉 ). If you come to my home and notice it’s clean and tidy, realise that it’s just clean and tidy and has less stuff so that I feel less stressed and have more time with my family. I’m still human, I just got rid of the stuff that I don’t look at so that I don’t have to keep cleaning it or organising it. Basically, instead of keeping stuff and spending my time cleaning, I got rid of it and swapped my cleaning time for more time with the people that I love instead. Instead of worrying about material possessions, I’ve committed myself to social connections. What better gift is there than that?
I hope this list gives you an insight into the minds of those who seem to live with nothing. We don’t really live with nothing, we’re just living with less.
Are you a minimalist? How do you feel about minimalist? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time,
Stay safe & have fun,