Our minimalist lifestyle update: Year Two!

 

Quebec City, Canada 

Albert Einstein:  “Make things as simple as possible but no simpler.”

My wife and I have been living a minimalist lifestyle since around 2019.  Little did we know then, but in hindsight, we were preparing ourselves for our early retirement.  Our habit which started in 2019 to live with only the absolute essentials and to live with much less, has brought us to our second year of living this minimalist, nomadic lifestyle.

We still remember August 2020 (our early retirement jumping off point) like yesterday, when we had to sell our townhome of 14 years.  We scrambled to get rid of our belongings, and to pare down to around 10% of our stuff within about 3 months. 

Overall, we succeeded in donating, recycling, throwing out, and selling most of our stuff by August, but we still had quite a lot of stuff left, which were sent to our parent’s place in New York City.  Even on the closing day of our townhome, our Chevy SUV was jammed packed with our last minute stuff like our pillows, blankets, our toiletries, seasonal clothing, etc.

Looking back, those three months were some of the toughest and challenging months of our lives together.  As time went by, and as we slowly eased into our routine of early retirement, we started to see real benefits of living with so much less than we had ever lived before.  

Prior to August 2020, we couldn’t fathom living without our favorite things.  My must have items included things like music CD’s, DVD’S/Blue Rays, guitar/amp, books/magazines, too many clothes, stereo system, large flat screen TV, home gym equipment, and like 10 pairs of shoes.  My wife’s must have items included things like a sewing machine, painting related items, craft items, photographs, memorabilia bought on trips, Toby’s clothes/toys, furniture/furniture accent pieces, 30+ pairs of shoes, and Christmas decorations/ornaments.

After living without these for over 2 years, we are discovering that we really didn’t need them.  We bought them because everyone else bought them.  We were buying most of these things blindly, not thinking how detrimental these items would be to our future finances, just because that’s what people bought for their homes…

If our first year of living a minimalist lifestyle post-retirement taught us anything, it’s that we can improvise, adapt, and overcome.  What didn’t seem possible, is possible, once we realized things that we thought were important, were really not.  

What we realized is that the true essence of being happy isn’t because of things we own, but rather because of things that are more meaningful, like spending time with our family and broadening our horizons by traveling.  

Time sure flew by, and we sometimes can’t believe we’ve started our third year of our early retirement.  Wow…

And with that introduction out of the way, I’d like to discuss my thoughts on our second year of living a nomadic, minimalist lifestyle.

  • Second year was much easier, traveling with less luggage
If the first year of living with about 10% of our entire stuff was a challenge, by the second year, we had gotten used to traveling to a month long (or longer) destinations.  The first year, we carried so much stuff that we couldn’t use the rearview mirror on our SUV.  It was packed to the top of the SUV’s second row and the luggage compartment.

We carried with us anywhere from 25 to 30 bags in our SUV at first.  These things were usually our clothes (3-4 bags), kitchen stuff including groceries brought to our rental (5-10 bags), toiletries (2-3 bags), Toby’s stuff (2-3 bags), bedding stuff (2-3 bags), and miscellaneous (3-4 bags).  

By the second year, we reduced the number of bags to around 20 to 25 bags.  Since our Pomeranian Toby’s passing, we’ve reduced that number to around 18 to 22 bags, finally allowing us to use the rearview mirror.

What changed the second year are as follows:
  1. I’ve been using the rental’s provided linens, pillows, comforters, but using my own pillowcase.
  2. My wife stopped bringing her own pillows, but rather using her own pillowcase.
  3. We’ve reduced the number of kitchen items, bringing less groceries and deciding to shop for groceries the following day once we arrive at a rental.  
  4. Cut down on number of clothing items we carry.  Instead of bringing every sweater I own during winter months, I’m bringing around 5-6 sweaters (out of around 20!), and I’m bringing around 2 hoodies/sweatshirts (out of 5).  My wife has been doing similar things.
  5. Since March (Toby’s passing), we’ve traveled without any of his stuff including his bed, food/treats, and towel/shampoo/nail clippers, poop bags, hair brush, etc.
  6. We’ve been keeping our hiking boots and windbreakers/hoodies in our SUV’s trunk storage so we don’t have to keep carrying them to and fro our parent’s place and the month long rental.
Total sum of all these actions = reduced our total number of bags by around 5-7 bags.
  • Due to natural wear/tear, we’ve recycled/thrown out more stuff 
It’s only natural that our clothes will wear out.  Although my wife decided to repair a pair of my favorite  hiking pants, most worn out items were disposed of, or donated to my parents, the second year.  

For example, some of my sweaters shrank thanks to the dryer, which meant my dad got these.  For some kitchen items which we found out we didn’t really need, my mom got those.  

Over the last two years, our stuff is noticeably getting smaller and smaller.  This in turn equals another reason why we’re traveling with less number of bags.
  • The second year, my wife’s decision to use whatever the AirBnB rental has as kitchen equipment, went a long way towards us traveling with less kitchen items 
By the second year, my wife has gotten used to a typical AirBnB rental’s setup and its equipment.  We know most rentals have at least a rudimentary set of kitchen items including pots/pans, utensils, cups/mugs, and dishes/bowls.

Armed with this knowledge, we are leaving most of these at our parent’s place.  We are, however, taking with us these following items for the kitchen these days: frying pan, wok, water filter, empty water bottles, small strainer, small mixer, various spices for cooking, Saran Wrap, aluminum foil, etc.

Kitchen stuff used to be the biggest headache for my wife, as she has to prepare packing from our parent’s place, unpack at AirBnB rental, then reverse the order when we’re leaving for the next AirBnB rental or to my parent’s place.  As you can see, it’s no wonder my wife doesn’t like the packing/unpacking aspect of our nomadic lifestyle.

The second year thankfully got easier thanks to our joint decision to bring less groceries and less kitchen stuff to our AirBnB rentals.  
  • Buying close to nothing these past two years helps!
With the natural wear/tear/shrinkage of various clothing items, we’ve gotten rid of a good number of items.  Since we’re also not buying much, it’s helping to reduce our stuff even more.

These past two years, we’ve bought a total of 5 clothing items:  2 socks, my wife’s coverall, my lounge pants/sweatpants, and a sandal from a Dollar Tree store.  Not buying, which was something we’ve been practicing for at least 3 years, really helped with reducing our stuff, so much so that my parents are even commenting on it.

Looking forward…

For our immediate future, we’re planning to travel with even less things.  We’re talking about bringing just the absolute minimum number of items, namely our clothes and few kitchen items (water filter, water bottles, set of utensils, spices, a wok, and a frying pan), and nothing else.  

We’re hoping to just bring one large suitcase per person and maybe one additional bag for our kitchen stuff, to see how that works out.  This is a journey of discovering what we can live with and without.  We’re not sure what’ll actually happen, but we’re willing to try to reduce the headache of packing/unpacking for our trips…

In conclusion:

Our minimalist journey which started around 2019 really set us up nicely for our nomadic lifestyle these days.  We’re ok living with less than 90% of what we used to own, and we’re not missing most things we thought we needed to live.

Minimalist journey is not an easy one, as most people have a hard time letting things go, especially things that are sentimental, like photos, gifts from loved ones, and/or items to remember someone by.  Once you get over that hump, to really let things go, you’ll start to feel more in control of your financial and emotional lives.

Having too much clutter, and constantly adding to that clutter, will act as a deterrent to one’s future well-being.  The more stuff you own equals less money towards your financial goals, whether that’s financial independence or paying off debt.

Our version of a minimalist lifestyle is not perfect, but we’re trying to get better at it.  Remember, no one is perfect in anything.  Just do the best you can to get into this mindset of less consumption and more savings.  This will result in a better future for you and your loved ones…

Thank you all for reading!


Jake

Wandering Money Pig 



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Please check out our YouTube channel ‘Wandering Money Pig’ showcasing our travels and our Pomeranian dog! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3kl9f4W9sfNG5h1l-x6nHw



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