What it is Like to Begin Living a Minimalist Lifestyle
For some people, the notion of a retired person to begin living a minimalist lifestyle may seem counter-intuitive. You have spent your most productive years accumulating possessions — saving “stuff” — so that you would have the things to enjoy after you retire.
After you retire, there will be less money coming in and it is presumably comforting to know that the stuff you purchased will be available and waiting. This was my attitude for years and honestly, I managed to accumulate a lot of stuff.
Even though I was lucky enough to have a great job, that I am still grateful for, I still wondered what all my effort was bringing me. I craved experience and adventure, but with long commutes, limited time to travel and a rigid schedule, all I really accomplished was buying more stuff. I became very uncomfortable with the realization that most of my work was going toward accumulating more possessions and providing a place for them to live. I came to resent that my time and my effort wasn’t mine; most of it was going to my stuff.
Mass Consumerism Failed Me
Eventually, it dawned on me that modern consumerism was a fraud that keeps people just happy enough to keep buying more stuff; but my cultural conditioning made me reluctant to accept that. Even though I didn’t know exactly why, I too craved more toys to play with, the latest model of whatever and room to display my “trophies” for all to see.
None of it kept me happy, but the temporary rush that came from new acquisitions at least satisfied me long enough to get up in the morning, get in the car and do it all over again. I was, as so many of us have been, well trained to be yet another cog in a machine that produces money on one end and sends it out the other, without giving much consideration to what happens with our lives in between.
Then an opportunity for early retirement began approaching and I started asking myself some tough questions. Do all the physical things I have accumulated over the years really make me happy or are they holding me back? What if I were to pare my possessions down to a minimum; could I take the early retirement? Would I still be me if I didn’t have all of this stuff?
- Getting Rid of Stuff to Live a Minimalistic Lifestyle
- For a Happy Retirement the Riskiest Risk is Avoiding Risks
- My Biggest Fear and How I Overcame It
- Taking a Leap of Faith
- The Things You Own End Up Owning You Essay
- Essentials Required for Retiring Overseas
- Why No-one Cares About Your Travels
- Non Financial Tricks For A Happy Retirement
- When Enough Is Enough
- The Good Enough Retirement
- Happy Retirement Wishes
- Life Is Either A Daring Adventure Or Nothing At All
- 21 Hard Lessons Learned About Retirement
- Things To Do In Retirement If You’re Bored
- Don’t Call Me An Expat
- Yes We Are Responsible
- For A Longer Life Try Early Retirement
- Magic Of Leaving Your Comfort Zones
- When is the best time to retire
- 4 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Retired
- Eight Things I Ask Myself Before Buying
- What is The Cost to Retire Overseas
- Is Your Vacation Ruining The Planet?
- Excuses to Deny Your Travel Dreams
Life is an Adventure
In my soul, I knew that my enjoyment in life came from relationships, travel, adventure, and new experiences. But again, cultural conditioning and the anxiety of giving up my material goods made me fear to step off of the consumerist treadmill.
I wondered what would a minimalist retirement lifestyle based on intention and experience, instead of mindless reaction and “retail therapy”, look like? How much less would I need if I simply became more awake in my decisions and lived for the things that I valued? I knew that those questions were unquantifiable, but they were also the most important, so I vowed to myself to find out and took retirement at the earliest opportunity.
Time is the great equalizer. In the final analysis, we are our time and what we did with it. Time is limited and I practiced centering my life around experiences, not around how much dross I could accumulate.
By simply becoming more aware, minimalism kind of came naturally. I began to find comfort in cutting all of my possessions down to the point where everything I owned had a use or added meaning to my life. Also, without knowing it I stumbled onto the fact that minimalism had other benefits that I had really not considered.
Benefits of a Minimalist Retirement Lifestyle
One of the benefits of living a minimalist lifestyle in retirement, or at any time, is that it brings you freedom and peace of mind. I used to fret about what would happen, if, for whatever reason, I was to lose all of my possessions? I paid for locks, alarms, and insurance to make sure that my stuff didn’t disappear, or if it did, I would get somehow compensated.
Now, even though I am careful, I don’t worry about something happening to my things; I don’t have that much and everything I do have could be easily replaced. My life is less complicated and I am able to spend more time on the things that are important to me without distraction. I can focus on creative endeavors and self-improvement. It is easier to be available and present in my relationships.
Fear of Loss
Sadly, I have met people who have finally gotten the material things they craved throughout their lives, but now instead of enjoying it, they discover that their focus was off and they spend their days in fear, worried about losing what they have achieved. While I am not wealthy in material things I am comfortable and satisfied with what I have.
I don’t have to worry about having money for things I want because my needs are few and without all my other possessions draining me, I don’t have to struggle. If I want something I ask myself a few questions and, if I choose, go ahead and get it. My life is simpler now but much more exciting because I am not frustrated by grasping for material things or worried about holding on to them.
My Minimalist Retirement Lifestyle
A minimalist lifestyle is just something that has worked for me. I am not suggesting anyone give up all their stuff because they are looking to fill a void in their life and hoping to fill it with minimalism. That makes no more sense than trying to purchase happiness by buying a lot of stuff.
What I am suggesting, is that it might be valuable to take a deliberate look at the things in your life, decide which ones are truly necessary, choose the ones that truly bring you happiness, and uncomplicate your life by eliminating the stuff you don’t need or truly want. Minimalism hasn’t made me feel deprived of anything, in fact, just the opposite: I feel liberated and I am having more fun than I have ever had in my entire life!
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed you story I certain respect what your doing. I feel so much like you about”stuff” and right now I’ve got alot….of it. But, tomarrow I will start to get rid of it….you have given me a lettle mor courege..my computer is acting up….missing words……some of the places you have been, I always wanted to go….so will’ll so….drop my a mail sometime. Take Care,
Thank you Julie. I really all does start with being a little more awake. Awake to what you are doing now and the possibilities. Me life definitely isn’t for everyone but I find everyday amazing.
You’re so right Jonathan, you don’t need a lot of stuff with which to retire and it’s quite surprising what you can live with out. We got rid of many things before emigrating and now live a fairly simple life with only the good things to savour – great food, wine and experiences ! Anything else (clothes, shoes, other goods) we defer until absolutely necessary. We even gave up TV and must be one of the few households to survive without a phone! Oh yes, simple is best !
It took me a long time to figure it out. But life is much simpler to manage and more enjoyable when you don’t have a lot of useless overhead.
Hello – we’ve recently become empty nesters are thinking ahead to the future and we see a lot of travel in it. So, like yourselves we are looking to live a minimalist lifestyle for a few years up to retirement sprinkled with some travel when time allows. I am very interested in your journey.
Thanks Mark! It really is more about quality of life than anything. Living with little is a luxury we can all afford.
Just discovered your site and love it!
Came across your site after reading your article “The Good-Enough Retirement”. I couldn’t agree with you more (on all points). I am 54 and looking to retire within the next couple years. Part of my planning has been to realize that I do not need much to live in retirement, as well as the ever increasing feeling that life is short and I am ready to enjoy it before it is too late.
I often think that financial advisers are part of the “system” that keeps you working way too long in order to feel “safe” in retirement. Thankfully, there are an ever increasing number of voices, like yours, advocating an alternative view. I hope to spend the next couple years getting rid of stuff in preparation for filling my remaining years with meaningful experiences.
Thank you for being a voice of uncommon sense.
Thanks Jeff, I like that, a voice for uncommon sense. I may have to use it! I have just started a Facebook group with the purpose of discussing things just like this. When I say “just” I mean in the last few days. I haven’t even promoted it yet. I hope you will join https://www.facebook.com/groups/lifepart2discussiongroup
Just found your blog and its amazing. I love to your idea. Most of the time we spent in collecting thing we don’t think that how we will be happy in real. We just connect our happiness with extra stuffs.
Thanks for providing a vision to think broadly not like a narrow one.
This is SO GOOD!