I have been flirting with minimalism (voluntary simplicity, living with less, whatever) for years. We (I) don’t need so much stuff. I learned that from clearing out 80 years of my parents’ stuff when they passed. We live in a small (by American standards) house; we don’t have new cars or new furniture; and I try to resist the lure of consumerism. This lack of buying and debt helped us to retire early. When I do have the urge or need to buy, I head for the thrift store or online used-clothes shopping. I prefer travel, experiences, decent wine, and donating to charity. Though I have a long way to go, I try to walk my talk. (And luckily, my husband has the same values.)
This past winter, in Mexico, I read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” I had thought it sounded too cutesy for me but a friend recommended it. And now I recommend it. After our Mexico trip, I “Marie Kondo”d my closet and started on the rest of the house. I got rid of half (or more) of my clothes. I got rid of boxes of books and other stuff.
We have more room than ever in our closets. It feels good. I can find things. I am now more picky about what gets added to my “stuff.” Goodness knows there is still more to go — the little shed attached to our carport, photos of my grandmother’s family in Austria, inherited jewelry… Nonetheless, I am on the path, the right one for me.
But what’s an aspiring minimalist to do when faced with a shiny penny? I met some friends for a drink at a little mall we have in town. While I was waiting for them to arrive, I thought I would just kill a few minutes in the Title Nine store. Right. I found a dress (on sale, even) that I adored. I tried it on and it looked great. I knew I didn’t have any brightly colored summer dresses left after the big closet cleanout. I put it back on the rack and met my friends.
A week later, I went back. The dress was still there and I bought it. I love it. I will wear frequently and it will last a long time. It was $59. Recent travel planning (more on this later) tells me that the same $59 could have paid for a night in Mexico at a nice AirBnB or hotel. Was the dress worth it? Will thinking about these trade-offs help me the next time I am faced with a shiny penny?