How to Develop the Minimalist Mindset

Bicycle at the Grand Canyon

This post is the first in a series called TravlMor, which is designed to show you ways to redesign your life to enable you to travel more often. We begin by concentrating on how to reduce the number of things that you own so you can have more money to travel.

In order to travel more often, it is necessary to prioritize the things in your life. If travel is important to you, then it needs to be one of the things that comes first when you are spending your money. In other words, the more you spend on other things, the less you can afford to travel.

To save more money, it is helpful to develop a “minimalist” mindset. The minimalist movement is really catching on these days and there have been several good books written about it lately. The concept is very simple to explain, but sometimes difficult to implement.

Minimalism is simply the idea that you should own fewer things. The less stuff you buy and have to store and maintain, the more time and money you have to actually experience life. Think of all of the things that you have in your closets, in your garage, maybe even in storage, that you know you will probably never use again. Yet you keep it all, just in case.

Unfortunately, all of that stuff has already cost you money and if you are not using it, it is wasted. There is not too much you can do about it. You can sell it, but probably for pennies on the dollar. “So,” you say, “why don’t I just keep all of this stuff and from this point going forward, I’ll do better.”

My answer to you is that you won’t.

You will do better for a week or two, maybe even a month, but one day soon, you will get the urge to buy more stuff and will forget all about your pledge, rationalizing it all somehow.

I want to digress here a moment to tell you a little bit about myself here, please bear with me. My personality type is what some people refer to as Gamma. In a nutshell, it means that I do not like to be told what to do, nor do I like to tell people what to do. Let’s just say that I didn’t much care for the Navy because of this. What this means is that in this and subsequent articles I am going to tell you what I think works to illustrate the point I am trying to make. However, do not misconstrue this as me telling you that you “have” to do this, or you “need” to do that. This is just me sharing with you what works for me. You are free to take the advice that you think works for you and leave the rest. Sometimes I might seem forceful if I am trying to make a point, but, again, take what works for you.

Now, back to our story, already in progress...

I know from myself, that if I do not take action, my intentions, although honorable, usually fall remarkably short. In order to take action with minimalism, you have to get rid of your excess stuff. It’s the first step towards changing your life from one of mindless consumption to one of mindful experience.

When I was younger, it was easy for me to be a minimalist, even though I did not know what one was at the time. The reason was that I was dirt poor. I could not afford to buy anything, so I didn’t. In college, one of my best friends took pity on me and gave me National Geographic maps to put on my walls because they were bare. (Side note, I also went to highschool with her and she consistently gave me half of her lunch because I never had anything to eat - Thanks, Kelly!)

As I got older, I was able to earn a nice living and could afford to buy things whenever I wanted them, instead of waiting. So that’s what I did. If I wanted a Starbuck’s, I stopped and got one. If I wanted a bicycle, I bought it. If I got tired of my car, I got a new one. Earning more money became a goal of mine. Why did I want more money? So I could buy more things, of course. Once I even bought a Porsche to have as an extra car for fun.

Then, everything changed. Sara and I had travelled quite a bit already, but for my 40th birthday, she took me to Egypt. On that trip, we both decided that travel was going to be our mission in life. We made a conscious effort to curb our spending and save everything we could in order to travel more.

There are a lot of blogs on the Internet of travellers who sold everything and went on the road for a year, five years, forever, and that is certainly a goal that we have. But for now, Sara and I are trying to maintain a somewhat “normal” life while still travelling as much as possible. We have gotten rid of a bunch of stuff and in each of the past three years have spent a minimum of two months and as much as four months away from our home in San Diego.

So what is the first step to this minimalist mindset? Getting rid of your stuff. How do you do that? Tune in next week...

TravlMor Series

How to Develop a Minimalist Mindset (TravlMor 1)

How to Get Rid of Your Stuff - The Extreme Method (TravlMor 2)

How to Get Rid of Your Stuff - The Ease-Into-It Method (TravlMor 3)

Minimalism and Family Life (TravlMor 4)

How to Save Money at Restaurants (TravlMor 5)

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