“Are your sofa and TV your best friends? You could change that. … . You can break free from the clutches of society and live well on a very modest amount of money if you simply give up most of the junk most of us cart around.”

A quote from How to Live Like a Gypsy – by Mengro, The Road Scholar

I encourage you to read the article and also check out the rest of the site. Some of the converted vans are pure genius in how to maximize space and utility. Nevertheless, after mulling it over I don’t think that I am the traveling type and neither is DW. Also there would be too much stress (for me) in dealing with people and authorities that are incapable of understanding and accepting this particular kind of lifestyle. Maybe some day people will stop being afraid of things that they do not understand and stop trying to outlaws things that are different. Yet this is not the case yet, so for me the van is out.

Still, it is a least possible to “say no to more stuff” without being persecuted although with the recent spending package it may be seen as unpatriotic if you don’t help the economy by shopping for more stuff?

So why do I not like stuff?

Let me tell you why. Stuff limits one’s choices. It holds one back. For instance, last time we moved, 1 bedroom houses and apartments were not an option because we “needed” the extra bedroom to store the extra stuff we practically never use. I know for a fact that the stuff I really need, and by stuff I mean clothes, computer, cooking wares, shoes, … fits in a couple of suitcases. Still I have let myself slip a bit and accumulated a bunch of stuff like books, CDs, DVDs, and various cast iron weights for exercising. I do not consider furniture part of the equation since I am ready to dump it any time. I estimate that the sum total of my current possessions currently fits in the trunk of a car if we assume that the bicycle can be transported on a rack on the roof. DW has not developed quite the same fanatic appreciation for minimalism as I have. In addition, we did not manage to get rid of all of our standard i.e. oversized furniture. Hence, when we moved we had to rent the largest U-haul we could get without renting a bona fide truck. The last time we moved it only involved 3-4 trips with an SUV for me and my two suitcases plus a box. I remember DW telling me that she only needed one car load the time before that. Clearly we are heading the wrong way. I am afraid that one day we might end up using the garage as an overflow reservoir for the stuff that continuously goes in through the front door. Yikes! This means that we would need a 24′ truck to move and that we could only live in 3+ bedroom places.

This would require a higher rent and a higher deposit. In addition there would be more rooms to heat and keep clean. This in turn would take away time and require me to accumulate more assets to support it. See a problem here?

The thing that makes no sense is that we really don’t need this stuff that just sits around in closets and bookshelves. Or put it another way, I need my freedom to choose where to live and where and whether to work more than I need another gadget, book, piece of clothing, weight set, CD, etc. Therefore I am continuously trying to vigilant about how much “mass” and how much “volume” is brought in through the front door. You see, the money to buy something is not nearly as much an issue as the “ghost-costs”of storage and maintenance that comes along. This is time and money that could be spent better on living life. Since rent is usually the biggest expense on the budget, foregoing the storage of rarely used stuff allows one to live in a smaller space and save tons on housing costs. Parring one’s possessions down by even one bedroom might mean a monthly savings of $200 on mortage or rent costs which is saved would turn into a quarter million at the time of retirement.

Now perhaps it is understandable, why I really don’t like stuff. It is holding me back!


Other readings:

Simplify, Simplify!” — In the Footsteps of Thoreau

The simple life