Is Minimalism a Luxury of the Rich? - dignify

Is Minimalism a Luxury of the Rich?

July 07, 2018

Owning few items used to be called poverty. But when one is able to purge, declutter, and own only long-lasting, good quality items, is this a luxury limited only to the wealthy?



A friend of mine spent several years teaching English as an additional language to adults; most of her students were new immigrants, and many of them, refugees. She saw a frequent phenomenon: an accumulation of stuff. Like, I'm talking: eight TVs kind of accumulation...

No, these folks aren't greedy, and they aren't individualists who are trying to accommodate each family member's personal show preferences! But, after living in want, in desperation, and in lack for so long, when faced with abundance, the scarcity mindset still rules. How can I give up this opportunity for a free XYZ? What if I never get that chance again?

You hear the same thing about people who lived through WW2 or the Great Depression (though, less frequently as people with memories of that time period age and pass away): these are the grandmas who save pencils down to the nub and have partially used notebooks that are 30 years old, waiting to be completed if needed.

The Minimalists have a phrase: you should purge everything that you could replace (if needed) in 20 minutes for $20 or less. One part of me thinks: sage advice! Keep it simple! The other part of me thinks: what arrogance! It assumes that our situation, wealth, access, etc. will never change.



This article, on the website Becoming Minimalist, has stuck with me for years. Patrick Rhone describes a sea change in his life:

"$18,685.00 is the gross total of what I made. Not the net. Not after taxes. That was it. Between August 2003 and August 2004 that was my gross income for a family of three [him as dad and his two boys].

That’s how I became a minimalist."

Rhone cuts through the BS to illustrate the privilege that many of us take for granted when we "decide" to pursue minimalism.

"To many of us, choosing to “live simply” is to others living in poverty and they may not have a choice. We should be mindful of this when we talk about it to others because, many times, we come off sounding like elitist jerks."

Yep.

It is often experienced that minimalism createswealth (of time, of richness of experience, etc.), but do we acknowledge the implicit financial wealth that allows us to "pursue" minimalism?

Have you pursued any minimalist practices in your life? Has it saved you money or cost you? Do you feel that it has come out of need/poverty, or luxury/abundance?


Leave a comment


Also in Shop Good Blog

How Do I Choose Where to Donate My Money? Or Spend It?

December 01, 2018


This week was “Giving Tuesday”, a day that has captivated consumers into funnelling some of the shopping mania (of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend) into charitable giving.

One of the huge questions that potential donors have is: what happens to my money when I donate?

It’s a great question, and a worthy one to ask. 

Read More
"What is the Difference Between a Single Sari Blanket from You & a 5-Bundle on Amazon?" 

November 24, 2018

👆This was a question I received from our contact form a few months ago.

With respect, I think that starting with this question... probably reveals that we are beginning on different pages. Nonetheless, it is a conversation worth exploring and a question worth asking.

In fact, what the writer asked for was a comparison list; so, here we go:

Read More
Behind the Curtain: Black Friday Online Discounts

November 17, 2018 1 Comment


I dislike the overblown, frenetic, & scarcity-minded ethos of Black Friday. Plus, dignify always has our own one-day, once-a-year sale earlier in November. So: why participate in any of it?!

This is a tension that I have wrestled with over 6 holiday seasons, end every year, I’m back at the drawing board. 

This year, we decided that yes, we would offer free shipping over the weekend as a BFCM (industry shorthand for Black Friday/Cyber Monday) bonus. And yes, what led us there was simple economics. It works, it makes money, it makes sense. But, probably not in the same way that you think...

Read More
Join dignify's "Keep Up" Newsletter

Join our mailing list for good words, great company, & first dibs on new arrivals.

 

We're learning to shop, give, & LIVE with more meaning.