There is this odd misconception that minimalists are cheapskates, I can think of some reasons why, and if you are also wondering this, keep reading.
I'm thankful because I grew up in a blessed home with love and material things. I feel those material things were a bad influence, I was used to receiving presents on my birthday and holidays like Christmas, played with those toys for a while and then ditched them for the brand-new gift.
As I aged, this idea of always wanting something new was into me; I never meditated about anything I was buying; it was a mechanical process.
When I had money, I would not save a penny to invest or as an emergency fund. I would go out with my friends to eat, drink and party, or use the money to buy clothes, perfumes, and whatever I wanted at the moment.
It was until a couple of years ago, where I discovered Marie Kondo, and I know many do not consider her a minimalist. Still, her book and philosophy resonated with me on a deeper level.
I wanted to achieve that life where everything I owned was loved and made me happy. After I finished reading the book, I was determined to make this change for the better.
I followed all her steps and decluttered so much useless stuff, everything that I no longer needed was either sold, donated, gifted, or recycled.
For me, this journey is not over as I still have some items to go through, but a big bulk of those things are no longer part of my life, and I have to say it does feel great to open up my closet or drawer and only see the things I love and bring me happiness.
As a plus, I haven't lost anything for over a year because I have learned the habit of always placing everything back where it belongs after I used it.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Decluttering is just the first step and probably the most talked about, as everyone wants to get rid of things that feel like a burden.
But the most crucial part is keeping up with this decluttered life; many people start with the right foot, but after a while, they get bored of seeing so much space and start thinking about buying random things. Sadly repeating the cycle and wasting more money on useless things.
Of course, you can buy things, but it's the thought and intention behind each purchase that makes the difference.
From time to time, someone tells me I need to buy something that they assume I like, I listen to them but kindly let them know I do not need it all. I feel this is why some people, especially friends, think I'm a cheapskate since they knew me as a person who would randomly spend.
What is a cheapskate?
Have you ever seen the show Extreme Cheapskates?
The one where people showers with their clothes on and collect that same water to handwash dirty cleaning rags, reuse pasta water until it has a thick consistency, or eat restaurant food scraps from the trash containers, I feel that is an extreme most of us wouldn't touch.
These are people obsessed with spending as little as possible, no matter if they buy lousy quality stuff, their only focus is to save money.
We all know people like that on certain levels. A friend who goes to a bar but refuses to buy drinks, an aunt who saves all the wrapping paper for another special occasion, a coworker who borrows everything but never lends, among many other examples.
How do cheapskates behave
Some cheapskates are just happy buying things cheap, and they get that adrenaline rush from doing so.
They have plenty of inexpensive items flooding their home that do not care about; the issue is they always seek that feeling of saving cash, thus buy more cheap useless stuff.
They also search for the lowest price possible, no matter if the quality is terrible, pushing them to buy another duplicate in a few months. They want to save some pennies, but in reality, they are wasting more money and time in the long run.
Cheapskates love receiving, but they can't give, not their stuff, either their time.
When you borrow something to a cheapskate, they will be upset when you ask for that item back, and if you borrow from them, they will pester you until you return it.
Cheapskates always complain about money and the economic situation, even if they are wealthy.
Why? because cheapskates are afraid of losing their money, they fear poverty. This fear of losing what they have turned them greedy and cheap and the sad truth is they are not only material cheapskates but also emotional.
It's such a sad state because, just like those in debt, they also become slaves to money; they only save and save, and for what? In the end, money is good to exchange for something else; if you store your money for the rest of your life in the bank just for saving's sake, you are only making the bank happy, one day you will be too old to be able to enjoy your hard-earned cash.
What about minimalists?
A cheapskate is afraid of losing the money; a minimalist is not; they put efficiency over quantity, quality over price, and utility over luxury.
You may know some people who were minimalists, like your grandparents, people in the past would use up what they had until they had to change it for a newer item. Why change something that is working?
The essential characteristic of a minimalist is priorities; they will only buy what is necessary and make the decisions based around that. It is easy for a minimalist to say No when they do not need something and Yes to the stuff that makes them happy.
A minimalist's fundamental concept is a person who lives in a white room with a mattress and their all-white wardrobe. The truth is minimalist lifestyle goes beyond clothing or furniture, its a mindset, and all the other things will fall into place like a puzzle.
There is no set of rules of how a minimalist should spend money because priorities change between people. In general terms, I would say:
They buy quality products, even if they might seem expensive. The price is right is the quality justifies it.
Prefers simplicity and is not afraid of letting things go when they stop serving them.
It is not attached to their belongings; when you own too much, the stuff owns you back; they take your time when you buy them, care for them and store them. A minimalist prefers time freedom; this is why they choose to own less.
They know money is good that can buy things more important than the latest gadgets, and those are life experiences.
They know things do not buy happiness; they are just means to achieve goals and make your life more comfortable.
So why I'm not a cheapskate?
Even though a cheapskate and a minimalist might not buy things as frequently as regular people, there is a sea that sets us apart from cheapskates. Most minimalists probably share my views on this.
I always seek quality over quantity, even though I won't buy as frequently, when I do, I want to enjoy the experience (probably much more than the average person) as I do not just go to a store and buy what I want. I decide to spend some time researching the product I want to buy, reading reviews, comparing prices, checking discounts, this might take a while, but I genuinely enjoy the process.
Stores will always be there, and sales will also be there, so do not fall for those big banners that scream 50% off only today in bold colors, you best believe those sales will come back, that is how businesses try to trigger our minds to shop right away.
Finally, when I buy something, I am more than happy to pay for it, because I know what I am getting, and there won't be any regrets down the road.
Paying for a more expensive item is precisely the opposite of a cheapskate. I won't bat an eye at a price tag if the quality meets my expectations as long as I afford it within a specific budget. In many cases, an expensive item is built with better, more durable materials, have more features, and can last for much longer.
One of those items is my Sony noise-canceling headphones, before I owned them, I used to get the cheap 20 US dollars headphones, that would break after a couple of months of frequent use.
When I had to go on a long airplane trip with two layovers, I decided it was time to buy a good pair of headphones, especially to cancel the entire flight's awful ear piercing turbine noise.
The ones I bought were quite expensive (280 US Dollars) but I'm so happy to own them, it been over a year since I purchased them and still have not given me any issue, they cancel the noise entirely even without music.
You can apply this concept to all your purchases, and I guarantee you will be happier with the few items you own. And for that same reason you will take better care of them, not only because you have less stuff and it is easy to maintain them but also because it cost you more so you will be more caring.
A minimalist will always prioritize their needs in the moment and not their wants.
That might be why so many are afraid to become minimalists, in their minds, this means becoming a cheapskate when it couldn't be any farther away from the truth.
A cheapskate won't do something because they are afraid of parting with their money, unlike a minimalist, who is happy to pay for whatever that brings happiness and leaves behind what they do not need anymore to keep moving forward without regrets.
That is the biggest lesson from minimalism; It is learning to lose attachment to material things and understand that we do not need everything to be happy.
We need to understand what truly makes us happy to define what we need.
Here are some other Minimalist Lifestyle posts you might find interesting.
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