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Is There a Downside to Minimalism?

Posted on 05 February 2019

Is There a Downside to Minimalism?

In the wake of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, Mr Men’s Melbourne would like to pose a question: Is being a minimalist actually within your budget? If you’re wondering how owning less can end up costing you more then sit tight, we’re about to take a look.

The Basics

Let’s take a look at a supermarket: it’s always going to be cheaper to buy in bulk. Is this cost effective? Yes, sure. But before you proceed, ask yourself if there is room in your cupboard? Probably not. And, even if there was, you’d most likely get bored of eating the same thing seven days in a row.

And your car? Why does it have a spare tyre? In case you break down on the side of the road, right? Do you need the spare? Well, no, you can drive without it. There are smaller cars which sacrifice a spare tyre for space. But what happens when you do blow a tyre? Without a spare, you’ll end up calling roadside repair or a towing company, which, funnily enough, is going to cost much more than carrying the spare.

Now let’s move back to food: is buying in bulk the spare tyre equivalent of our cupboards–a safety net in the form of food? That’s going to depend how affluent you are. If you have the money, you can afford to own less simply because you can eat as you please, regardless of the cost. If you’re not so well off, that’s a luxury you can’t afford.

Good investments: Want VS Need

Some people will tell you there’s no need to buy a gym membership when you can do a bodyweight workout at home. In essence, it’s true. But do you have the discipline to workout by yourself? For some, having certain places to exercise or study or work is essential–it’s part of a mindset. Is a gym membership then a good investment, especially, when you could spend a similar amount to a yearly membership on your own equipment? For those who need a little extra motivation the answer is yes. Buying equipment to workout at home is convenient and all but discipline isn’t included in the costs.

Not convinced? Let me tell you about the time I sold my ute to buy a motorbike. For the first few months I was on top of the world. It was incredible: the fresh air, seeing everything at eye-level, being in control of a small vehicle at high speeds–it was all so freeing. I could park just about anywhere, especially in Melbourne. But things began to change when winter came. 100 kilometres per hour in 6 degrees celsius winds sends a chill down your spine that’s sharp enough to make anyone flinch. Grocery shopping wasn’t much easier, nor carrying anything other than what fits in a backpack for that matter. Don’t get me started on the rain.

Does that then mean that buying a motorbike is a poor investment? Again it’s going to come down to money. If I could afford to take other means of transport in the rain, in winter and when a motorbike wasn’t convenient, then sure. Motorbike registration, fuel and maintenance costs are much less than that of a car with a few of my own tools and some simple maintenance. In the case of gym membership vs motorcycle above, it’s fair to say the gym membership is needed where as the motorcycle is wanted.

See also: Top 6 Tools Your Toolbox Can’t Go Without

Marie Kondo says before you decide to throw an item out, ask yourself whether it sparks joy in your life. I ask, before you throw an item away, what happens if you need this item again?

A recyclable approach

Instead of ‘KonMari-ing your belongings, why not try to repurpose them? Say you were a little larger a few years ago and those jeans don’t fit like they used to before, try being creative. Every time you want to buy something new, try repurposing an old item first. Your flare pants might be embarrassing from the knee down, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be a great pair of shorts. Sure it might cost a little bit, but in a way, you’re also getting something made to measure, and to me, that’s worth much more than something straight off the rack.

This article was inspired by a story the writer read a few years ago called The Problem With Minimalism by The Art of Manliness.