My last week as a minimalist has been a busy one, it is silly season and there has been lots of festivities demanding my time alongside my duties as a wannabe minimalist.
Part of this weeks challenge was to take time out to reflect on my finances. What better time to start a review of your finances than Christmas? Yes this may seem like a bizarre thing to do at this time of year as many of us will be focusing on blowing the budget or flashing their flexible friend every time they are within sniffing distance of a shopping centre but as a new minimalist I have decided that this Christmas is going to be different.
I have done a lot of reading on the topic of gift giving for Minimalists and there were a few reoccurring suggestions. These included gifting charitable donations, experiences, subscriptions and my personal favourite ‘gifting our time’. Imagine the scene, its Christmas morning you come downstairs to a Christmas tree without any presents underneath it and your partner declares, ‘Yeah you see the thing is this year I decided that the best present I could give you was my time and so I didn’t get you that thing you really really really wanted but instead you get me… my present is my presence’. Cue slap round the chops and a packed bag in the morning.
Initially I wasn’t overly keen with the suggestion of donating to a charity as a gift for a loved one either. I could only imagine the reactions of my family and friends, ranging from the slightly bemused to looks of horror at not receiving the bottle of perfume or football shirt that they so desperately wanted and instead receiving a donation to a charity that they don’t really understand or support. ‘That’s worse than a pair of socks or a WHSmiths voucher’ I can hear them ungratefully saying.
However, after looking for inspiration I have decided to make a charitable donation as a gift to a particular dog related charity for a particular dog loving person as I think they will love it and I’m hoping their reaction will be as happy as the dogs face on the gifting certificate. As an added bonus I didn’t have to brave the Birmingham Bullring shopping centre at Christmas which is nothing short of horrific at this time of year.
The other suggestion that I saw frequently was to buy ‘experiences’ for loved ones. This one I really liked as I have found in the past that these gifts tend to be well received and offer the added bonus of getting to enjoy the experience that you have gifted yourself. You get to see your gift being enjoyed, hopefully enjoy it yourself and get to spend some quality time with a loved one. Everyone’s a winner; it’s the gift that keeps on giving, good game, good game.
Aren’t you meant to be reflecting on finances? I hear you cry. Yes it is true that I have been splashing the cash on Christmas gifts over the last couple of weeks but I have funded this extravagance with the power of Minimalism. You heard right, Minimalism has enabled me to buy lots of things. But like a true minimalist I haven’t been spending my hard earned cash on consumerist products and instead choosing charitable donations and experiences for my loved ones.
I have to admit it, I’m feeling pretty smug about this and you may be wondering how I did it? Well, I haven’t managed to monetise my social media following (I have 64 followers on Instagram as I write) and so I haven’t written a book, filmed a documentary or gone on a huge minimalist tour. What I did do was simple, I identified the things that I no longer wanted or needed that I could sell and I sold them. That’s right… I made nearly £1000 within a few weeks from selling my junk. I have paid for Christmas and I have some spare change leftover to pay off some debts. You can re-adjust your dropped jaws right about now.
Another area which I have neglected over the last week due to Christmas based frivolity is the topic of Day 20 of the Minimalist manifesto – health. On day 20 the Minimalists asked me to focus on Diet and Exercise. Confession time… this week I have been out to eat on four separate occasions at a variety of events, I have had a variety of delicious cuisines Italian (twice), French (once) and American (dirty gluten free burger) yum. So my diet has taken a nose dive and my waistline has expended ever so slightly. My excuse…it is Christmas and they made me do it. What I have reduced in consumption of goods I have certainly made up for with the consumption of food.
Because of all the socialising and eating I haven’t had time to go for a run or swimming and so my exercise regime has gone out of the window too, whoops.
So there it is, after 21 days my minimalist journey is complete. One of the reasons that I decided to try my hand at Minimalism was to try and find happiness by focusing less on the things that I already own and not focusing too much on the things that I don’t own, so how did I do?
Stop – over the last 3 weeks I have learnt to stop…
- stressing about consumerist items that I don’t own
- worrying about climbing the career ladder and focus my energy on the thing that I enjoy
Start – after the last few weeks I have decided to start
- focusing on my mission
- focusing on the things that matter to me the most
- focusing on improvements to my diet and exercise…after the Christmas gluttony is out of the way. Now pass me the cheese board.
Continue – after the last 3 weeks I have decided to contine
- paying off my debts
Happiness Rating – 6/10
Right now I would only score myself as a 6/10 after becoming a minimalist. The reason… it has been a lot of hard work. Packing all of your stuff up and then identifying the items to trash and sell is a lot of effort.
Selling the things that I own wasn’t as much of an emotional challenge as I thought that it would be but it was time consuming and often an irritating experience. However I have made near enough £1000 which I have used on Christmas gifts and to pay off some of my credit card and as a result has helped me to worry less about my debts.
I feel as though my journey as a Minimalist is only just beginning and there is still some way to go. I wont be packing up all of my belongings into a bag or moving into a tiny house anytime soon and neither would I want to, but I feel a lot lighter as a result of my three weeks as a minimalist. I have begun to really value the things that I already have in my life and my sock drawer has never looked neater.