There used to be this concept called “living within one’s means”. Don’t spend more money than you earn, and don’t commit to ongoing bills you’re not sure you’ll be able to pay. In the United States this used to be a function of consumerism, especially credit card debt. Now it’s a matter of low wages, rising housing costs, and student loans. This is why simple living minimalism is essential.
When I was in the corporate world, I got trapped. Making good money, I was encouraged to buy a nice house and a new car. Which spirals into having all manner of things for the house, and maintaining the car. There were also clothes. It was all about keeping up appearances. I needed to look a certain part in order to keep the job so I could afford to look the part so I could keep the job so I could look the part.
Now I am, objectively, poor. The bills get paid every month, though. I’ve got the things I need, and some of the things I want. We eat well. There’s a little bit of money in the bank account. I’m also self-employed, running my own business and doing something that I enjoy. I can do that because of simple living minimalism.
Physical and Mental Health Matter
Being beholden to other people for a paycheck was killing me. I had ulcers from the stress of both long hours and constant ethical dilemmas. While I think I already had a predisposition for anxiety, the corporate world did me no favors there. I think that my mental health is permanently jacked up to the degree it is because of those jobs. Because I was pressed to place money and stuff above my own well-being.
Yesterday, I ran out of spoons in the afternoon so I took a nap. I still got everything done that needed to be done. In fact, I got a little bit ahead on a couple of projects. But I got to do so at a sane pace, without killing myself. That’s not the important part, though. When I was sick last month I could work at a much slower pace, and even take days off, because I wasn’t sweating expenses. Without a lot of overhead, like a mortgage and car payments, I have more flexibility in my work schedule. There’s no disaster looming if I have to take a couple of unpaid sick days.
Flexibility in an Uncertain World
I have no idea where I’m going to be 6 months from now. I know where I’d like to be, but being an expat in a world of *gestures broadly* means I have no idea what will happen. It’s not entirely up to me. This means I need to be flexible.
I’m grinding to earn extra money and keeping expenses low, because cash is what’s going to matter most. I know that I can get all of my essential stuff, like clothes and my few precious possessions, into one suitcase. My entire office, along with important paperwork, can fit into a carryon bag. Everything else is replaceable.
It’s About Both Happiness and Control
More is just more, but important is always important. I find that the things that bring me the most joy are actions and activities, not stuff. I need my laptop and my journal to create and be productive. For recreation, all I need to my tablet to read, listen to music, or watch video. My kitchen kit is a few pots and pans and utensils, no expensive gadgets.
If I’m suddenly dropped into another country a month from now, I could in theory have my life up and running in very little time. Only a few common things would need to be acquired. I’m on top of things as much as I can be. Simple living minimalism makes me feel like I’m in charge of my own destiny, rather than being beholding to the fate of a bunch of stuff.
Why Simple Living Minimalism is Essential
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About Simplify – Create – Thrive
About Berin Kinsman
Berin Kinsman is a writer, simple living minimalist, and spoonie. By day he works as the owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.