Our original post on becoming minimalists seemed to gather lots of interest. We know this lifestyle is not for everyone. But this may help others who plan to become full-time travelers or just want to simplify their lives. My young friend, Arpita, asked for an update as she transitions into her new minimalistic lifestyle. Check out her series, as we really like the way she is doing her “research” as she took on this new way of living, as a working professional! She is NOT in an RV nor is she in the United States.
I have been wondering how it may look to others to say we are minimalists but yet live in what many would consider a “luxurious” 40-foot motorhome and drive a Cadillac (granted it is a small crossover, SRX). Both are used, BTW. What appears to be minimalistic to one person may mean something else to another.
What does minimalism mean? I decided to see what the “official” definition was, but the word has really evolved over time. So here is the one definition which really suits us.
When you call a person a minimalist, you’re describing their interest in keeping things very simple. A minimalist prefers the minimal amount or degree of something. (Source.)
And the minimal “amount” of something we prefer are possessions or stuff! Less stuff, less stress. Less stuff, easier to clean. Less stuff, more discretionary money (to spend on grandchildren, tithing and donations to others). Less stuff, easier to move!
Our Tiffin motorhome slogan is “Roughing it Smoothly.” And that is our lifestyle. We both started working at young ages and have enjoyed long-term careers. It only seems natural as we age, we would want to enjoy the comforts of our home.
This past month (September 2015), we finally closed out our storage locker. And sadly, as we think about how much money we spent to store these items, we only walked away two categories of “things:” Our lifetime of photographs, to be scanned and digitized, were removed from the albums; and our “Lifetime” brand pots and pans. We bought them when we were first married. They were too big and heavy to carry in the 5th wheel but now fit nicely in our motorhome. We just think about all the money we wasted on stuff that in the end, had no meaning or place in our new lifestyle.
So here are the advantages we are now enjoying as we have officially downsized:
- We are more nimble! We’ve had a few occasions where we had to lock up our home and drive to various family members homes to help them as they faced some challenges. It was so easy to pack our personal items since we didn’t have to search through the clutter to find our suitcases and then to pack.
- We often think we are doing our only child a favor. She’ll never have to clean out our home like we did for our dads. Bill’s parents had never moved, so it was a house full of nearly 50 years of memories and stuff. My dad was a bit of a pack rat. While my parents moved a lot, dad always had lots of stuff!
- When we suddenly had our toddler grandson for 11 days, we didn’t have to put stuff away. Our home is basically baby-proofed!
- Bill took a course in college called the “biology of disease.” It made him want to live in a really CLEAN home! It is so easy to keep our home clean and to actually wipe things down, dust, vacuum, etc.
- I’ve never really been one to “feather” my nest. I was more focused on a career and parenting my daughter. I do look at lovely homes, beautifully decorated. But we’ve just never been able to do it ourselves. This has helped us really get rid of our stuff.
- FREEDOM! We are not slaves to needing to shop to buy stuff. It helps that we are not shoppers.
- We are more or less penny pinchers. We wanted to retire young, so we learned to spend less. And that includes not eating out. So our minimalism runs over into our eating habits. We do like to eat healthy since we plan to live into old age! And cooking at home seems to help our health.
- We love to be active and on the go. One reason we wanted the motorhome over our 5th wheel trailer was so we could do laundry much easier. Having everything self-contained, which includes eating at home and doing laundry on our schedule, means more time to go sightseeing, hiking, long beach walks and family time. We’ve wanted to incorporate another fitness activity such as kayaking. We just haven’t been able to figure that one out. I now have a “Fitbit” watch which has helped me see, we are indeed active. I hit 10,000 steps regularly!
- We only get our mail twice a month and we have been able to reduce our mail to the minimum. When I was a little girl, I liked to play “office.” Go figure. Anyway, I’ve always had an office in our homes. And they were full of office work, paperwork, just too much stuff. I attended a seminar on how to eliminate clutter in our lives – mainly focusing on paper. We shred nearly everything after we verify it’s accurate. We will only keep the supporting documents needed for our tax returns. We’ve now eliminated the need for my once beloved office!
- And finally, there are the financial benefits of this lifestyle. It sickened us as we saw how much stuff we accumulated that really wasn’t necessary or needed. At our age, and now as retirees, we are looking at what is REALLY important in life. And for us, to maintain our health, spend as much time as possible with our grandchildren, visit other family and good friends as we travel and to really enjoy the fruits of our labor by seeing this beautiful country! And after we do all this, we hope to do some international travel.