I’ve been lured by the siren call of minimalism several times over the last few years. There is an attractiveness to the philosophy – that “less (stuff) is more” – that’s hard to deny.
Recently I stumbled upon a fascinating article on The Art of Manliness blog, titled “The Problem with Minimalism”. It cites another well-written article, “Wealth, risk and stuff”, by Charlie Loyd.
In short, minimalism at its extreme is only suitable for people who are well-off. If you’re well-off and need something you don’t have, no problem! You can just buy it.
Loyd makes this point especially well when he says: “Wealth is not a number of dollars. It is not a number of material possessions. It’s having options and the ability to take on risk” (emphasis added).
I can certainly vouch for this. Over the course of my life, the poorer I’ve been the more reluctant I’ve been to throw anything out. The relationship between my level of financial comfort and my willingness to throw things out is almost linear.
Minimalism is also only suitable for those with simple needs. Bachelors (who are the philosophy’s main evangelists) are the prime example. If you’re a bachelor you can get away with a spartan life.
If you’ve got young children, can you really live with just 100 items? Maybe you could make minimalism work. If you were prepared to have a terrifying quality of life.