Our minimalist lifestyle update: Almost a year of living with less!

 

Living with less!

My wife and I were watching a documentary by two well known minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemu recently.  We were fascinated by their journey to become minimalists, to live with less, and to thrive.

Our journey to live with less coincided with us preparing for our early retirement.  Even though we retired in August 2020, our journey to live with less, actually started around 2019.  

In 2019, my wife decided to quit her job of 10 years.  That year, we decided to really tighten our budget.  We stopped buying stuff that wasn’t needed.  Out went shopping for clothes, knickknacks, household items, Toby’s (our Pomeranian) toys, and others…

We trimmed our budget to live with less that year.  Little did we know at the time, but this practice to live with less, actually helped prepare us for our early retirement the following year.

To prepare for our early retirement in August 2020, we pared down our belongings to around 10% of what we started out with.  This was a huge undertaking, as we had to sell, donate, throw out everything that was tucked away in our townhome.  

They say there are around 300,000 items in a typical household.  I believe that number!

My wife did most of the work of trimming down during the months of June, July, and August as I was still working at the time.  When I did help out, I was overwhelmed to say the least…

I didn’t realize how much junk we had accumulated in our 14 years of living in that townhome…

By the first week of August 2020, we had successfully pared down our belongings down to pure essentials.  We kept these following items:

  • Clothes we actually wore (others we donated)
  • Shoes we actually wore (donated the rest)
  • Kept one pair of utensils (spoons, forks, cups, plates, etc.)
  • Toby’s favorite toy, his raincoat, and bath towels (donated rest)
  • Pillowcases, bedsheets, pillows, set of bath towels, comforter 
  • One small box of sentimental items
  • My wife’s art related stuff (some canvas, brushes, paints)

Note:  My dad helped move our stuff to his place prior to us moving out of the townhome for storage.   I’m thankful (and sorry) that his place looks like a mess thanks to us…

By the third week of August when we had moved out of the townhome, we had at least year and a half of practice living with only the essentials.  This helped us adapt to our lifestyle of living like nomads.

For those of you that don’t know, we currently do not own a home or rent a place of our own.  We’re living month to month (or longer) in different places, lugging our essentials like clothes, personal grooming products, and Toby’s stuff.  Our entire belongings that we need are carried inside of our SUV.  

We are getting better at living with less after about a year of living like nomads.  In that time, we already trimmed more of our stuff we had stored in our parent’s place.  Normal wear and tear meant we threw out some clothes and shoes.  We also decided there were other items we could recycle/donate.  

Compared to last August, our stuff is definitely pared down.  After living on the road past 8 months out of the year (8 months in AirBNB/Vrbo), we understand what we need and don’t need…

The stuff we bring with us these days are getting smaller and smaller each time we go out on the road.  The first month (October 2020 in Ocean City), we brought with us too much stuff!  Our SUV was jam-packed where I couldn’t see through the back using the rearview mirror!

That month, we brought two huge suitcases which not only took up space, but were way too heavy to lift.  We realized we didn’t need the huge suitcases after that fiasco.

By April 2021 (Claysburg, PA), we used large duffel bags to carry our clothes.  This had the added benefit of allowing me to carry two of these bags on one trip, cutting down on the trips back to the SUV to retrieve our stuff and into our Airbnb/Vrbo rental.

I believe we’re getting more efficient at living this nomadic lifestyle.  What we initially thought as being essential turned out not to be…

We didn’t need to bring our own drinking cups or plates, when we can just use the rental’s cups and plates.  We didn’t need to bring our own pillows when we can just bring pillowcases.

We’re still learning and becoming better, but we do admit it’s a work in progress.  Like anything in life, practice, practice, and practice, to get better at something…

These are our tips for living with less:

  • First, stop buying things you don’t need!
Paring down to bare essentials won’t work if you constantly buy more things!  Remember, buy only necessities (groceries for example), and not wants.

The longer you can go without buying stuff, the quicker you can reach your goal of living with less!
  • Decide early on what you need to keep and to get rid of
The essentials to keep

Clothing and shoes:  Keep what you typically wear, sell/donate/recycle others you THINK you’ll wear down the road.

Sentimental items:  Keep some things that you absolutely must keep forever.  Wedding gift from your grandparents for example.  

Hobby related stuff:  We all need a hobby!  Keep something that you absolutely cannot live without.

Kitchen related stuff:  Keep what you use, and get rid of things you haven’t used in the past 6 months.

Bedroom related stuff:  Same rules apply here as above…

Other items that bring you value:  This can be any item(s) that you really enjoy and/or need.  Such things are sofa, chairs, bed, etc…

Maybe you don’t need three different sofas in your place when two will do.  Figure out what makes an item valuable to you.  

The non-essentials to get rid of

This can be any item that you haven’t used in the past year.  Why keep them if you really haven’t used them?  How often do we say, “I might need it next time?”

Try to pick one item each day for a week that you can get rid of.  Then pick two items per day the following week, and so on.  You’ll be surprised at how well you’ll adjust to life without those items you got rid of!

  • Once you’ve stopped buying things you don’t need AND are actively getting rid of things, you’ll notice two things:  1) Have extra money left over each month and 2) Your place and your mind will start to feel decluttered.
Buying less things will free up money you can use towards your retirement and/or emergency fund.  You’ll start to feel secure in knowing your financial future is looking brighter.

By getting rid of more junk, your will start to feel better at seeing your place with less clutter.  Don’t underestimate the power of living with just the bare essentials so your mind can focus on things that really matter!

What matters to me the most is spending time with family, being creative, traveling and getting new stimuli, and learning new things.

I think humans are at their happiest when we’re learning and creating…

In conclusion:

Our journey to live with less (much less) coincided with our early retirement.  After getting rid of about 90% of our stuff and living with only our bare essentials since our retirement, we can happily say minimalism has given us more creative energy and happiness.

We are no longer focused on buying more things to keep us happy.  We take pleasure in reading new books, being creative (painting for my wife, writing for me), and learning about a new place we visit via AirBNB/Vrbo.  

We are grateful we can live this nomadic lifestyle.  We don’t think it would’ve been possible without paring down to absolute essentials so we can travel like nomads…

Thank you all for reading!


Jake

Wandering Money Pig 


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