May’s trial – Quasi-minimalism

Exposition

I got this email a while back from Adam Baker of Man vs. Debt. He’d sent me a copy of his Sell Your Crap program, and in the body of the email, he wrote:

Seriously, you seem like a guy who has a lot of crap sitting around. A lot. Of crap. You should sell it. Just saying.

And at the time, I was like, Thanks for the program, and he was like, No problem dude, and I was like, Are you really going to wear that shirt? and he was like, Shut up or I’ll stab you with a cactus.

We have a complicated relationship, Baker and I.

But, after having the best of intentions, I filed the program away and went back to living with all of my crap. And, inevitably, accumulating more crap.

Acceptance

Eventually — sometime after I had kids, who accumulated their own crap at an astonishing rate — I realized that Baker was right, and that I have too much crap.

And what’s more, I’ve pretty much always had too much crap. I’ll bet you have too much crap, too. In fact, I think we all have too much crap, and it took hanging out with a bunch of internet weirdoes to realize it. You know — those minimalists. People like Baker.

And the thing is, I like the idea of minimalism. It conjures images of simpler times, clearer minds, closer families and friendships, and sitting on a mountaintop on a magic carpet smoking a bong. I like the idea of having less, doing less, and keeping track of less. I like the idea of having fewer things to maintain and fewer expenses and fewer things to replace when they break. I like the idea of clearer and cleaner living spaces. I like the idea of my kids learning by example that happiness is not found in the newest, hottest material acquisition.

I like the idea of minimalism. But, you know… I need all of this stuff.

Or at least, that’s what it feels like until I try a little purge.

Experimentation

Last year, after I read Chris Guillebeau’s book The Art of Nonconformity, I stood up, walked into the kitchen, and picked up a trash bag. I went into our hall closet and began grabbing things that (in a moment of clarity) I suddenly realized we’d never use or need again. It was easy. A pair of gloves with a hole in the ends of the fingers. Binders filled with papers from a real estate course I’d never, ever want to peruse again. Old audio and videotapes. An obsolete Walkman.

And when that bag got full, I grabbed another. I went into the basement, where I found more useless bounty.

EXHIBIT A: The temperamental fax machine I’d bought for $60 five years ago wasn’t going to stop being temperamental, and I sure didn’t know how to fix it. Why was I hanging on to it?

EXHIBIT B: The VHS tapes of movies I didn’t care about (and in a format I no longer had access to; the VCR was down in the basement somewhere too) weren’t going to suddenly become relevant or interesting again. Why did I still have them?

EXHIBIT C: It didn’t matter if the embroidered picture someone had given us for our wedding ten years ago was handmade. We’d hated it when we first saw it and hated it now. What had compelled me to keep it, as if storing it in the basement was some kind of a gesture of respect?

It wasn’t hard to fill up two or three more bags. Stuff I hadn’t looked at in years and would never miss. Stuff I was holding on to out of inertia, or out of some misguided belief that it’d be of use to me some day, and that getting rid of it would be a mistake.

In other words: Stuff that was crap.

Flashback

My post-Chris-Guillebeau purge was about clearing out obvious clutter and crap. But there’s more to this than clutter.

I started to ask: What do I own, maintain, pay for, support, spend energy on, etc. that doesn’t serve me? What do I own — stuff that feels legit, but might actually be a different species of crap — that’s actually owning me?

Let’s go back in time a bit.

Only a few decades ago, a one-income family was the norm. Dad went to work, and Mom stayed home. And okay, maybe it was a sexist arrangement, seeing as Mom could have done just as much as Dad. But consider: Forgetting about whether the old model was right or not, ask yourself whether it’s still possible today.

Really, in the average family that doesn’t want to live on Ramen Noodles and government cheese, how realistic is it for one parent or another to stay home and not work an outside job? (And I don’t mean “work at home,” either. I mean NOT WORK.)

Not so easy, is it? In most, most, most western families, one income is simply not enough anymore to cover expenses. Is it because life has just gotten so much more expensive? Well, the cost of living has gone up, yes. But there’s more to it.

We’ve filled our lives with crap. Crap that costs money.

Think of your monthly expenses. There’s shelter and there’s food, but there’s also the cable bill. There’s the cell phone bill. The health club membership. The toys and baubles for adults and for kids. Internet service. And, while we’re at it, let’s reexamine “shelter”… do most of us who feel a pinch have more shelter than we need? i.e., we may need an apartment, but we want one that’s conveniently located and has room for a big TV. Or we may be able to easily afford an apartment, but we buy a house. Or we may be able to handle a house, but we buy a big house, with a big yard, with a decked-out kitchen and a breakfast nook.

And nobody thinks anything of it, because it’s just how things are done today. Our level of “need” keeps creeping up higher… and higher… and higher.

All these things we “need” today.

As I mentioned, there’s a quote that says, “The things you own actually own you.”

Yeah. That.

Epiphany

We have too much junk in our lives. Our maintenance demands are too high. We earn more, but still feel the crunch because we have to have two cars plus a minivan, and because we need the special sports package on DirecTV.

I’m hardly immune. I NEED broadband internet service because my business is online. I NEED a smartphone with the big data plan because my phone allows me to check in on my business. I need software and hardware and books and courses, and I need to travel sometimes… and when I travel, I need to book the dogs in a kennel. I like to stay in shape, so I need a gym membership. But I want to swim, too, and my son should take swim lessons. So I need a second gym membership, at the place that has the pool but a pitiful weight room.

Need, need, need.

I was talking to Pace recently, and she told me that when she and Kyeli decided to take the leap and start their own business, they decided to mitigate the financial risk of doing so by sitting down and figuring out how to cut their expenses in half. She says that it was hard, but that an interesting thing happened: within a few months, they adjusted. They didn’t notice what they no longer had. And life went on.

I’m starting to realize that while I have a lot of “stuff” around my house and in my life, I haven’t touched or used or looked at a whole lot of it in years. YEARS. Yet we hang on to it… and why? Because we might want to enjoy it again some day, like the old VHS tapes? Because we might eventually need it, like cables from the computer I had in college? None of that makes sense.

Or do we keep it out of inertia? Or fear of letting go?

In 1999, I spent four months in Europe. I had packed one very large hiking backpack for the trip. For four months, I owned that stuff and nothing else. I bought what I needed along the way, and when I found I lacked something, I did without it.

I know, from personal experience, that what I truly need to own, and keep, and have, and reuse would fit in one corner of one room of my house.

I know that if the house burned down and we lost everything, we’d only use insurance money to replace a small fraction of it.

It’d be interesting to remind myself of that… just a little bit.

Trial

I don’t currently have the chops to become an actual minimalist. I’m not going to get rid of everything and live out of a backpack again. I have a house and a family, and I’m choosing to keep my furniture and to not auction off the kids’ toys… but I’d like to stretch a bit. To remind myself what it feels like to let go.

For this month’s trial, I’m going to get rid of ten things a day. I may sell them, donate them, or throw them away, but they’re leaving my house and my life.

I’m also planning to look at all of my expenses and see what I can let go of — to, you know… unautomate my finances a bit. Not because I’m budgeting or trying to save money or being stingy, but because they’re just… not necessary.

At the end of the month, I’ll have gotten rid of 310 things. (I currently have many thousands, which is why I’m calling this “quasi-minimalism.”) And I’ll bet I won’t even notice. I’ll bet life will just go on.

I don’t see this as a lifestyle change (not yet, anyway). This is more like going on a fast. People say that when you go on a fast, it changes your thoughts about food. You start to realize that a lot of the things you eat, you eat because you want an emotion. Chocolate makes you feel good. Cheetos curb your boredom when you have nothing to do. Lattes are a reward. You’re not hungry for food. You’re actually hungry for a change of state.

So I want to go on a “things fast,” because I want to see if it changes my thoughts about “things.”

Let’s see how that works out.


Comments

  1. Have you still got the walkman? (Just on the off-chance. You don’t say if you actually tossed it.)

    If so, can I have it?

  2. Amanda says:

    Oh my, Oh my. Do I LOVE this. I need constant reminding that I don’t need all of this crap. Every 6 months I purge a ton of stuff, and I always think I’ve done a pretty thorough job. But 6 months later, I’m getting rid of more stuff that was there 6 months ago.

    I would love to be a minimalist, but with a husband who doesn’t necessarily want that, and 3 kids, it’s nearly impossible. But we’re making an effort, and that helps.

    I also recently started slicing my finances – not because I am in a dire situation but because some of it is just plain wasteful. Who knew I could be a grown up?

    • Amanda says:

      But, ya know, if I could find an old Atari that worked with all the games – that would clearly be something I NEED to have.

    • Matt Langdon says:

      I totally understand the spouse who isn’t totally into it. I would love to clear out a whole bunch of stuff, but there’s more than just me in the apartment.

      However, she is participating much more than she would have a few years ago and we both enjoy the process of getting rid of stuff.

      Maybe Johnny’s ten things a day approach is the way to go about it – rather than a lofty end goal.

    • Dr. Pete says:

      I completely sympathize with the difference in opinion with your spouse and dealing with the kids (I’ve got a 9-month-old whose stuff seems to actually reproduce when I’m not looking), but I think it’s important to remember that this ultimately starts with you. This is something you value, so keep doing it for yourself, and to set an example that stuff just isn’t that important. Eventually, your kids will pick up the best part of that idea, and your husband probably will to, even if it’s not 100%.

      • Amanda says:

        I should clarify that my husband is, in general, not anti-purging. He just thinks I’m a tad excessive sometimes. But, this spring, he’s all excited about it and is tossing stuff left and right! Yard sale coming very, very soon.

        • Dr. Pete says:

          My wife claims that, whenever she goes out of town for work, I throw her stuff away. For the record, I am innocent of that crime 🙂

          I think I worry more about it with the baby. We’re not really materialist, in any extreme sense, but we just feel like she (the baby) “should” have the best toys, etc. Plus, she’s the first grandchild, etc., so gifts abound. I don’t want her to think that life is all about piles of stuff.

          • Amanda says:

            I may or may not be guilty of throwing away my husband’s stuff. I plead the fifth on that one.

            Definitely on the piles of stuff. Every time my kids get a new something, I make them donate an old something. And our mantra is “People are more important than things.” 🙂

  3. Genna says:

    I got all up on the minimalism bandwagon this time last year [I may have reduced my 1300 things to about 200] and although I have mostly kept to my promise of not accumulating or keeping ‘crap’, I sense it is time to have another look and do another purge.

    The thing I got rid of that has truly surprised me? My TV. Seriously, love living without it.

    • Johnny says:

      I love the idea of trying a trial without TV (it was on my original list of 30-day trials), but it’s impractical. There’s a chance (a slim chance) that my wife would go into it willingly, but the kids would be hard. So while I could do it, it’d feel too much like imposing my will on everyone else.

      Maybe there’s some kind of a middleground. We’ll see…

      • Charlotta says:

        We don’t have a tv since if we want to watch something we do it over internet. Don’t know how old your kids are, but we have used an old laptop as “tv”. The kids have a library of disney films and also childrens tv series as dvds. They don’t seem to mind the repetition. 🙂

        • Johnny says:

          … and my wife? 🙂

          Haha, I can’t blame it on her. I want some shows too. But we’re doing just fine without cable now, using a Roku, DVDs, and stuff we saved on our DVR before canceling. We watch entirely “by appointment” now, instead of our old way of just turning the TV on and leaving it on.

  4. Adam Porter says:

    ‘Sell Your Crap’ is collecting dust for me, too. You just inspired me to crack it open and start reading.

  5. Shane says:

    Hey Johnny….the bong part was priceless. Actually…I just did this myself. But took a different approach slightly. We moved and I began working frim home. But instead of buying a house, we are leasing for one year. And it was furnished. So I purged everything down into a storage unit that is 10×10. Literally the most important thing are there and that’s it. Purge. It felt good…it felt great taking ten trips to goodwill to hive up that nintendo 64….and it felt great giving all that crap up…

    Now to reduce expenses…a little harder but certainly doable 🙂

    And I also thank Adam for his getting rid of crap as a push for me too!!!

    • Johnny says:

      The crazy thing is that you probably won’t go to the storage unit pretty much ever. Meaning that at the end of your lease period, you may find you don’t need THAT stuff, either…

  6. Dr. Pete says:

    Pardon what’s likely to be a long comment. I just, no exaggeration, spent 30 minutes filling a trash bag, thanks to your post.

    Here’s the thing – I’m NOT a hoarder. I hate clutter, and I have for years. Even so, there are just things I can’t seem to make a decision about. A lot of it’s guilt (like the embroidered picture you mentioned). Example: my parent’s hometown got rid of their parking meters, so my dad bought two, made wood bases, and gave them to my brother and I. It’s cool and really unique, but they’re also 2 feet tall, heavy, and have no purpose at all. Yet, it sits there, because I just feel so bad about getting rid of it.

    The other issue (which I’ve been thinking a lot about lately) can be summed up by the old question: “What do you get for the man who has everything?” I’ve been doing a lot of 30-day challenges and trying to improve my habits – as an American, what’s the natural way to wrap up effort? BUY something, of course. The thing is, I don’t really need anything, and most of the things I would buy would sort of defeat the purpose. If I challenge myself to read a bunch of old books, rewarding myself with buying new books is a bit dumb. If I challenge myself to improve my diet, rewarding myself by downing a chocolate cake and 2-liter of Mountain Dew is counterproductive, to put it gently (“or “fucking stupid” if you like it less gentle).

    So, I’ve been rewarding myself with permission, which sometimes means permission to throw something out that I hate. It’s not just about materialism – this stuff weighs on us. Every time I see something I’ve hated for years, all that hate and guilt comes to the surface. Problem is, it’s been there all along, chipping away at my mental and emotional resources, all because of a lot of useless guilt.

    Ok, now I’m rambling 🙂

    • Johnny says:

      That’s awesome. That’s exactly what reading Chris’s book did to me… I had to do something right away. And the other thing? Today is the 4th, so I had to find 40 things today to catch up. It took me 5 minutes. Crazy how much stuff I could get rid of if I really wanted to.

      Glad I could inspire you. Now stay away from the Dew.

  7. Jess C. says:

    How funny… I started this kick last week. We made some decisions and in the last three days, we’ve pulled in $290 selling crap on Craigslist we didn’t need. I have another few hundred dollars’ worth of listings either in progress or ready to run.

    I don’t know how active your local Craigslist is, but I’d give it a shot. We tried eBay last year and it wasn’t a stellar experience for us. CL’s much easier…

    Can’t wait to hear how it worked!

    Are we going to get an update on your meditation progress? I was curious how that’d turn out for you…

    • Johnny says:

      See, Robin had no luck with Craigslist. Tried to unload some kids’ stuff she couldn’t sell at this big consignment sale. Must depend what you sell.

      I have a ton of books and DVDs that I don’t need, so I’m thinking of listing them on Amazon… add to that “used” inventory. I’ve bought used stuff off of Amazon myself, and I figure if we make even $2-3 per book and I have 100 to sell, hell, I’ll take it.

  8. Vic Magary says:

    I love this. I am DOING this. Starting right now. Thanks!

  9. Very, very good. I go through cycles of cleaning up closets or other areas–and giving away stuff on Freecycle. Then I probably let the spaces fill up again with more stuff, probably for the kids. A purge would be great. I may try it.

  10. Jaryd says:

    Love the post. I have a few comments though. When people say things like “actual minimalist” it signals to me that they don’t really get minimalism. The thing about minimalism is that there isn’t one lifestyle that fits all. For some it’s living out of a backpack, for others it’s living lean with 5 kids. You can have a family and be minimalist. You don’t need to throw away all of your kids toys. It’s whatever fits.

    The beauty of minimalism is that it’s also iterative. You’ll purge all you think you can do without, then do it again a few months later. It’s not an end result, it’s the process. So, by this definition, I’d say you are a minimalist. Just not the exact kind of minimalist I am. And that’s awesome.

    • Johnny says:

      Great points; thanks for making them. I guess it’s more like there’s a continuum instead of “minimalist” and “not minimalist,” and I suppose it’s also sort of a journey instead of a destination. I’ll try to keep that in mind as I work.

  11. Shawn B says:

    Great post. In the process of doing something similar, in a much more old fashioned way – GARAGE SALE! I love the thought behind the process, and am pushing the wife to purge more. We’ll see how it goes.

    Any chance of you listing out some of your more significant purges?

    • Johnny says:

      I can be general when this is all over, but I’m not going to keep a list. I actually doubt there will be much “significant” stuff in terms of material goods. You’ll see “books” and other stuff way before you’d ever see “couch” or “car.” But it does have me wondering if 2 cars is truly necessary.

      I do have some expenses trimming in mind that’s noteworthy, though. I’ll probably share some of that.

  12. That thing about the state change – so true. So many of the things we consume (literally or figuratively) are for the sake of the change of state.

    But you can change the state of your brain by paying attention differently. Much cheaper, and fewer side effects.

    Oh, except you may notice that you need to change your life. I guess that’s why people prefer to stick with the sugar and the retail therapy.

  13. Sylvia says:

    Inspirational post for me. Have been meaning to get rid of stuff…. Amazing how much piles up over the years and breaking it down to 10 items a day is a great idea. Good luck with your effort and thanks for making me start mine. Remember – Food, Shelter — everything else is a bonus! 🙂

  14. Laura says:

    Really good stuff. We have to move, and I was thiiis close to signing a lease on a house much bigger than the house we have now, complete with actual closets. Something about it felt unsettling to me. And then I read the post that Leo wrote the other day where one of the items was how stuff limits you and it clicked for me. If we have a bigger house, we will fill it up. No one thinks they will do that but everyone does.

    So today we signed the lease for an old bungalow that it’s a bit smaller than our place now and doesn’t have a single “full sized” closet by the modern definition. And I’m already getting excited thinking about the extra stuff we can get rid of in the move! We don’t have old walkmen or anything like that (just thinking about having a BASEMENT to fill with junk makes me anxious!) but there are the stupid little things like the basket full of travel-sized toiletries, the cooking tools we have never used, the extra pairs of freebie headphones.

    Baker & Courtney are definitely an inspiration in this area, if they can fit in all in an RV (with a kid) I can fit it all in one little closet!

    • Johnny says:

      You went to spam. Odd. Please stop talking about Viagra in your comments.

      Anyway, I think you’re right… we fill the space we’re given. And we have a reasonably large-ish house here (okay, not large, but not minimal), and there’s a lot of closet space. And a ton of space in the basement to store things. And when you buy it, you think, “Wow, that’s great! Tons of space to store my stuff!” But why do we have it if we’re just going to store it?

      Sure, the Christmas decorations need a place to go while it’s not Christmas, but so much of it is just… junk.

  15. Thanks.. been wanting to do something like this for a long time. Started a year ago and got rid of a lot, but not enough. I love the 10 items a day idea.

  16. When dealing with crap, my motto is “Keep it moving.” I would regularly have my kids go through their things (and I’d do the same) to weed out stuff we didn’t need anymore, then give those items to charity. Now that the kids are grown, I still try to keep crap moving.

    I thought I lived an uncluttered life, but I was surprised and humbled to realize how many things I thought I needed aren’t really necessary.

    Almost three years ago, our second car had broken beyond repair, and we started looking for a replacement. Then I was laid off from my full-time job. We put off buying a second car while we sorted through our finances.

    Nearly three years later, we still don’t have a second car and we’re doing fine without it.

    Imagine that! A suburban household with two (and when our son is home from college for the summer, three) drivers and only one car!

    I generally work from home, but when I need to drive to do an interview, I can drop my husband off at work and take the car. When the weather is nice, my husband can bike to work. Even getting our son to and from his summer job while we both work, too, has been doable.

    When we faced the prospect of doing without a second car, I felt better remembering that we have alternatives. We have a car sharing program in our area as well as cabs, and we can use them pretty often and still not spend as much money as we did owning the second car.

    We haven’t used the car sharing program yet. Or taken a cab. Not even once.

    I never knew how many restaurants there are within walking distance from our house, or how many errands I can get done riding my bike. As coast down the hill on my way home from the supermarket, I don’t feel deprived. I feel free.

    • Johnny says:

      Wow, great to hear about the car. We live a little bit out in the country, so we certainly can’t walk to anything (unless we want it to take hours), but I still think we could make one car work. And when it’s nice, like you said, I can bike.

      Thanks for this!

  17. So many of my clients “don’t have time’ to do their creative work. Why? Because they are busy maintaining and organizing their crap.

    I like to take what I call the “Lacksidasical Minimalist” approach. Unlike Ev Bogue, I have more than two pairs of red underwear. But I still have a lot less stuff than most Americans. Not having a garage helps. So does donating anything I haven’t used for 6-12 months. Not buying stuff is a great first step. The more you bring into your home the more you have to fix, mend, dust, or change the batteries.

    I’m also finding it helpful to think about my non-phsyical crap. Do I really need a bazillion social media networking sites? Must I really listen to every free webinar? And what about my kids? How many sports/music lessons/weekend art classes do they need. Do less. Be more. You’l l be glad you did!

    • Johnny says:

      Agreed. I’m also getting overwhelmed with “mental clutter.” And part of that is stuff like having ton of shit on my computer’s desktop screen. I’m trying to be conscious about it, but it’s definitely a process…

  18. MIkeTek says:

    Having recently moved, I dumped a lot of crap – moving turns out to be a nice way to figure out, in short fashion, what you don’t need, because you’re suddenly forced to decide whether it’s worth packing/carrying/unpacking.

    And then I started buying new crap. Tools especially. Who can’t use a good 18v drill? Or a Japanese hand saw? Come on, those two items alone can build a garden, a chicken coop, a compost bin, etc (well, plus some screws and other hardware).

    An Amazon Prime account is a dangerous thing (as much as I love it).

    Of course, there’s one thing you’ll never be able to buy on Amazon: time. Unless I’m just not checking in the right departments…

    The longer I live, the busier I feel. I can’t remember the last time I felt “bored” – the concept is absurd to me.

    Running as fast as we can to stay right where we are, just with a heavier backpack.

    My loose plan (they’re often loose) now is to eliminate recurring monthly expenses to the greatest degree possible. The goal (also loose) is freedom.

    But if you’re getting rid of an 18v cordless drill, preferably with lithium ion batteries, preferably a Makita or something comparable, drop me a line. Maybe some day I’ll get around to that chicken coop (neighbors be damned).

    • Johnny says:

      Freedom is probably what most of this is about for me. My dad has a friend who has a shitload of solar panels on his property – enough that he makes not only enough for his own use, but sells the surplus back to the grid. It’d be so awesome to not have an electric or gas bill, but for now I think that eliminating expenses and eliminating stuff will go a long way toward the same end.

  19. Jess says:

    Came over through Pace’s FB mention and just have to say that I *loved* reading this, Johnny!

    When we moved almost two years ago we donated more than half of our stuff and cut our personal (and business!) spending more than in half. It’s definitely time for another round of “freeing the stuff from our spaces” and reviewing our personal finances for those hidden I-am-happy-to-keep-this-income-instead-of-spending-it spots. 🙂

    Thanks for the GREAT and enjoyable reminder!

  20. Hot topic!

    I like the idea of ten things a day although I’d like to lower the bar for myself a little. I live with people who don’t share my love of decluttering so I’d soon stray over to their belongings at that rate and that’s a no-no.

    How did the meditating go?

    • Johnny says:

      I guess I owe a post on that. It was nice, and I guess I de-stressed some, but it was also kind of anti-climactic. Typically a trial is a big disturbance and you notice it, like you can definitely tell the effects.

      Generally chilling out was warranted, though.

  21. Try this, sublet your house for 3 months while you go on an extended vacation. Not only is it a great way of covering your costs, but you will have STRANGERS living in your house. Strangers looking at all the crap in your closets. Strangers viewing the contents of your basement. You will have to empty drawers for them to use which makes you examine the contents of such drawers. Looking at your life and your crap from the eyes of strangers gives a unique perspective onto your belongings.

    I do love this post. And death to cable bills.

  22. Archan Mehta says:

    Johnny:

    Thanks for your post: it resonated with me.

    All over the world, Americans tend to be perceived as “too materialistic.” This has become a stereotype. They acquire things to feel good about themselves and their lives, but there is a hole within. They find that there is a voidl some thing is lacking.

    To fill that void, you fill your lives with clutter and junk. You shop till you drop. You store stuff you no longer need. You show off your toys to unwilling guests and non-admirers you think will fall for the bait.

    I think that Americans now are finally realising what the ancient cultures have always known: bliss is an inner journey and should not have to depend on externals. I think, therefore, that this minimalist experiment is going to do you a world of good. The peace you are looking for is not about how much money you make or what you own or how good you look in the mirror. That is a shallow lifestyle.

    I used to be of a similar nature, but now the journey has turned inward. I have also tried to adopt the minimalist lifestyle because I was fed up with things I owned. It did not bring me happiness. The useles clutter lying around disturbed my peace of mind.

    These days, I am trying to live a simple and functional life. I have cut down on all forms of consumption. I find great wisdom in that kind of life. With the economy in recession, I think more of us will have to embrace this voluntary poverty, but that can be a good thing. Who needs junk anyway? There is no wisdom in such a life.

    Cheerio.

    • Johnny says:

      Hey, thanks for this. I think you may be giving me too much credit, though… I’m hardly doing voluntary poverty and am really just trying to cut through what Adam Baker calls the “first level” of crap. Maybe we’ll be able to go lower, but for now it’s somewhat cosmetic.

      Although I will say, we’re making some decisions that may LOOK from the outside like we’re trying to save money (and ending up “poorer” in terms of possessions), but really it’s about eliminating stuff that’s unnecessary, even though we can afford them just fine… like cable TV and the fancy health club membership.

  23. I cancelled my cable a couple of months ago and am also doing the “TV by appointment” thing. (Love that phrase.) I hadn’t realized how much even my relatively benign TV habit was eating up my evenings.

    Here’s a tip I got from a friend last year when I was preparing for a massive yard sale: That stuff you can’t bear to part with because it has Sentimental Value? Take photos of it, then walk it to the door. Works like a charm. And what’s really funny? I came across the folder on the computer with all those photos the other day, and I was like, “Oh, I forgot all about that stuff.”

    • Johnny says:

      Huh, very interesting! My gut says that would still be hard, but I think I’ll give it a shot.

  24. Angie Kay says:

    I am with you! I have gotten rid of 206 things and I am on this minimalism journey with you! I am determined to get rid of anything that doesn’t have value in my life! Keep the purging going! My new blog about my minimalism journey is here http://minimalistwith3kids.blogspot.com/
    -Angie

  25. Hollie says:

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting
    my own weblog and was curious what all is required to get setup?
    I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?

    I’m not very web savvy so I’m not 100% certain. Any recommendations or advice
    would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  26. chanel Bags Japan
    I’m curious to find out what blog platform you’re utilizing?

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Trackbacks

  1. […] is undergoing an experiment in quasi-minimalism where he is getting rid of 10 things each day for the month of May.  As I read about his […]

  2. […] Johnny B. Truant has a great article on "stuff" and "needs". I may do a 310-thing-go-away as well. From "May’s trial – Quasi-minimalism" […]

  3. […] And once again, many thanks to Johnny B. Truant for the inspiration to get rid of my crap via his quasi-minimalism experiment. […]

  4. […] comes with my highest recommendation.  Many thanks to Johnny B. Truant and his exercise in quasi-minimalism for the […]

  5. […] May’s Trial – Quasi-minimalism […]

  6. […] May’s Trial – Quasi-minimalism […]

  7. […] few weeks ago I posted on open loops about Johnny B. Truant’s go at QuasiMinimalism. He came out with the report and it was a success. Definitely worth reading. At “Latest […]