Frugality Fail – Minimalism

Frugality Fail – Minimalism

There’s a whole movement out there that’s gaining popularity: minimalism. The essential component (although not the only one) is to try and live with fewer material possessions to free up physical (and mental) space so you can make room for the things that are important to you. Now, combine this with a suggestion we’ve all heard at some point. That you can turn your unwanted extra stuff into cash by selling it to someone who does want it. Sounds like a winning combination!

Personally, I must admit that I really enjoy cleaning out areas of my house that have become a bit too, shall we say, full of stuff. Haven’t used that camping chair in a year? Sell it online for $3! And that unopened gift set of matching placemats and napkins? Take it to the local “jumble sale” and hawk it to someone who wants it!

On the other hand, my husband, is a bit of a “collector.” That’s my nice way of saying he likes to keep stuff. Just last week he dragged home an old outdoor furniture set someone on our street had put out for the garbage truck. He’s convinced he can tidy it up (which he definitely can), but we already have a perfectly functional (and not too shabby) outdoor furniture set. We don’t need two!

On one side, dear reader, you have me. A super-efficient and organised woman who enjoys purging unused possessions. On the other side, you have my husband. A more laid-back and relaxed dude who likes to stash things away in case we might need them “someday.” Due to this difference, I’ve discovered that if I do want to declutter, the best way to go about removing the item from our home is to do it when my husband isn’t there and then not mention it. Married people will understand this strategy works for many scenarios.

Usually my husband never notices, but sometimes, a few months later, he’ll ask, “Whatever happened to that lamp/DVD set/blue frying pan?” Sometimes I’ll fess up and tell him I sold it (or gave it away). Other times I just look perplexed and wonder right along with him.

A few years ago, I surprised my husband with a trip to Asia for a milestone birthday. Awesome wife – check! To scrounge up some extra spending money for the sojourn, I looked for any unused items in our house I could sell. I’d also be making more space (physical and mental, remember) for the things in our home that we do enjoy.

I even took a huge stack of old fitness magazines to the recycling centre. I got like 15¢ a kilo for them. A few days later, my husband, with a bit of anxiety in his voice (given he’d seen the act before), asked where the magazines were. I explained that given neither of us had looked at them for a long time (months and months, at least), I had recycled them.

Here’s where I failed big-time. He’d been stashing cash in the pages of one of those magazines to take on the trip to Asia. At best guess, he’d had around $700 in there and I’d swapped it for approximately $1.50 in recycling loot (and more space in our bookshelf)!

The pain has lessened so I can share this story now to highlight the hidden dangers of minimalism (only slightly kidding). At the time, I felt physically sick at the thought of literally throwing that money out (or recycling it, if you want to be an optimist). We live on a budget, and my husband had been squirreling those funds away in secret for months to surprise me. We quickly decided to just let it go, as ruminating on the loss wasn’t going to help.

After that disaster, we agreed that in the future, I’d put the items I was thinking of selling or giving away aside for a few days, like a “cooling off” period. This also lets my husband eye the goods to make sure there isn’t anything in there he can’t live without (or that has a fat wad of secret cash hidden inside). But even now, many moons later, I always get a sceptical look and a smug smile every time I let him know it’s time to eliminate some of our excess belongings. (Although truthfully, it’s warranted.)

1 Comment

  • Hi, Cara! I found your website after reading your Design Mom tour! I definitely relate to this post. I find living with other people’s stuff to be one of the most difficult things about being a wife and mother! While my husband isn’t opposed to a minimalist lifestyle, I’m more into it than he is. Also, I have a six-year-old and three-year-old who love their stuff, but aren’t great at putting it away. For a long time, I resisted secretly getting rid of my daughters’ things and simply encouraged them to give things away. For example, suggesting we “make room” for new toys before Christmas or birthdays. However, recently I’ve been so frustrated with their mess, I just want to pack everything—and I mean everything—up for Goodwill! This is a good reminder to take it slow and communicate before getting rid of other people’s things! 🙂

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