My name is Florentine and I am what the world describes as a “minimalist.” I can pack all my belongings into two suitcases and go travel the world if I want. I aim to make $30,000 a year from various online projects and consulting gigs, which makes me feel slightly guilty since there's a hint of hypocrisy.
With an efficiency studio and a bicycle, I don't need much money to lead a happy life. I want to tell you a secret, which is a secret that many minimalists have, but don't want anybody to know.
The reason why I deem myself a minimalist is because I have difficulty achieving more. For three years after college, I tried my hardest to work myself up an advertisement company. I was passed up for promotion, and then the recession came.
Instead of telling people I lost my job, I told people “I quit” so I could lead the life of freedom I've always wanted. “Screw the world and conformity!”, I told everyone.
I was too ashamed to tell my parents and friends that after four years in college, all I could do was stay a gopher, photocopying papers and answering phones all day. I didn't even succeed at that.
Minimalist For A Reason
Getting up and going to work is hard, I realize this. Earning just $30,000 a year in a job that you don't particularly like is particularly dissatisfying. But, I know that doing the dirty work for years is just the process in order for me to get to where I want to be.
I want to create those beautiful images, and put together those unique sounds and call them my own creations for all to experience. Yet, thanks to the recession, my opportunity was curtailed and I can't get back in. Let me back in! Please? It's been almost a year now.
I renounce material goods, nice homes, and great careers because I can't have any of those things. Don't even talk to me about retirement savings or starting a family. I'll get to those things when I can. I tell people that they are leading lies and are on illusory treadmills.
It makes me feel better. I know I shouldn't try and make others feel worse. Minimalism is a way of being. I tell people I can live anywhere in the world, yet here I reside in a crappy city nicknamed HOE, or Hell On Earth. It's freaking freezing right now.
The easiest way to tell whether a lifestyler is successful is finding out where we live. If we are really living the dream, we'd reside in Rio de Janeiro, Malibu, Paris, Rome, Hawaii, Bora Bora, and other fantastic places for goodness sake! We wouldn't live in HOE now, would we? But, we do. Damn you HOE. Your streets are so dirty.
I embrace minimalism now, because I've come to accept the difficulty of becoming great. I'm great to the outside world, because I say so damnit. In reality, I want more, but society just doesn't let me get there.
There is no coincidence that our movement has taken off during one of the greatest economic downturns of our times (so my parents tell me). Although our employers let us go, at least they gave us the dignity to say we left on our own volition.
Let's face it. Nobody leaves a job they love. If they did, they are either batshit crazy or lying to themselves. I'm thrust into my minimalist position not out of choice. But, everyday I embrace my situation and even convert some to do the same.
At least I'm not siting around feeling sorry for myself. I'm actually practicing what I preach. Just be careful OK? Not everything is what it seems, especially if you have a choice.
Related post: Achieving Financial Independence On A Modest Income
Reader Questions And Suggestions
Pick up a copy of Buy This, Not That, my instant Wall Street Journal bestseller. The book helps you make more optimal investment decisions so you can live a better, more fulfilling life.
For more nuanced personal finance content, join 55,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter and posts via e-mail. Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites that started in 2009.
52 thoughts on “The Minimalist Lifestyle Is Not For You”
I just found your article, and I can relate to a good bit of it. I live on about 12k a year so minimalism has pretty much been foisted on me. So relating to what you’ve written here, perhaps there’s a bit of rejection on my part of our materialist society because most of it I can’t have. But then I’ve also always been this way simply because I love the aesthetic of it. So I guess you could say that I was a minimalist before being minimalist was cool; in my case it’s just a part of who I am I suppose. Sometimes I guess I do hold it over other’s heads simply because it’s the only thing I have that they don’t, material wise anyway. Not usually, though.
Interesting view point. How did you find this article?
Minimalism is cool. And minimalism is GREAT if you are happy to live in such a way. I know I am heading towards that way and enjoy it.
I enjoyed your article. I agree fully with it. I have just been watching ‘Minimalist’ on TV. Those guys were high up the corporate ladder already with 6 figure salaries. They never HAVE to work again and can live off their savings. Normal humans need to work and have stuff to have a life.
Some of these comments seem rather hateful and reek of classism.
It’s OK to be a minimalist if you have good career prospects, but it’s not OK if you are only qualified to work jobs that pay less than 20k a year? That must be circumstantial, right? Lower classes don’t have enough money and possessions to be a college grad minimalist, right?
I’ve met people who earn less than 20k who have a home full of possessions. They shouldn’t be allowed to become a minimalist because they aren’t earning more money? You can still be a minimalist if you earn a low wage. Someone earning 20k can buy a cell phone, computer, internet, television, cable box, and many other things for the home that aren’t always necessary. Many have just as much need to reduce their belongings and expenses as someone who works in IT.
I’m starting to think that people feel minimalism is only reserved for the middle and upper classes. Only in America would people criticize others for trying to simplify their lives just because they don’t fall under the “I gave up my corporate job to live in the woods” category. What a bunch of snobs.
Some very good perspective there! I think this post is to simply inject some realism that the current love affair with minimalism should be double checked with some reality.
Over the past few months I’ve entered into a minimalistic state of mind by choice. I think it’s dangerous to to be too connected to society, whether it’s through food, obligations, whatever. People need to be independent and self-sufficient in the majority of what they do. When one becomes too dependent on the system, and the system fails, such as during hurricane Katrina, then you will have a hard time.
The discussion is really great. This is what I love in this website. The discussion goes longer and longer creating a mix of different opinions making the website more exciting. Thanks for posting this kind of writing. Really interesting.
I am by no means a minimalist, but I do try to be self-sufficeint, to live off one of our paychecks rather than two, and to not fill our house with junk we do not need, waste food, etc. The real eye opener for me was when we went to Paris and saw how people lived in smaller apartments, with less, but had much more vibrant lives because of it. I believe people are much too complex to ever put easy identifier-titles on anybody. Somedays I am feeling minimalist, other days I come home purchasing $15.00 dog treats for our dog and I feel like it was great buy. Who knows?
it’s all a matter of perspective, and perspective changes with time as over time we are exposed to various experiences, events, situations and circumstances, both internal and external, that shape up our perspective. we all make our coffee in a very different and specific way. we are all entitled to drink our own cup of coffee :)
I spent about a year after I sold out of a business trying to persuade myself and others that I didn’t care for achievement anymore. Basically I was miserable for a year and got nothing much done. It was a giant waste of time.
I aspire to some tenants of minimalism, but not giving up. It’s a difficult balancing act.
I have to admit that would be a tough way to live. $30,000 as the maximum goal for salary. I would love the freedom aspect however!