I greatly enjoy the freedom and precious time that being a minimalist provides. As I previously blogged in Waking Up from the American Dream, I used to own a house, a car, furniture, appliances, etc. I learned that the more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you. I used to spend my free time paying bills, running errands, and doing chores. For example, owning a car meant regularly filling the gas tank, cleaning the car, coordinating maintenance, getting inspection stickers, dealing with car insurance, etc. I also enjoy moving to different cities and countries, and owning stuff makes moving a giant hassle.
Over the past decade, I have happily given away or sold almost all of my possessions. To remind myself of and share memories, I took pictures of my scrapbooks and keepsakes. Everything I own now fits in one carry-on suitcase and a handbag.
I only shop every few months (less as time goes on). When I buy something new, I give away something old. Also, I only buy the highest quality items so I can use them for as long as possible. In the long-run, that’s better for the environment and my finances.
I own just what I need for work and play, and nothing else. I started by simply holding on to my favorite items, but I am working on optimizing my belongings as a complete set. For example, since I only own one pair of dress shoes, I make sure than any dress I buy will go well with those shoes.
Following is a picture and a list of all of my current belongings.
- 1 carry-on suitcase – very handy to never have to worry about airline luggage fees, and it’s easier to take other forms of transportation, such as trains
- 8 work dresses – I only buy the highest quality, most beautiful, classic dresses by my favorite designers, like Diane von Furstenburg, which tend to last for many years
- 2 scarves – for when it’s chilly at work or at play
- 1 pair of Jimmy Choo dress shoes
- 1 handbag – a Prada handbag that’s a great size and great quality; it basically looks the same as when I bought it 8 years ago
- 1 nightgown and pajama pants – for evenings and sleepy time
- 1 casual jacket – high quality and bright orange for casually walking around during the day or night
- 1 pair of casual pants & 1 pair of shorts – for casual wear
- 5 t-shirts – for casual wear
- 3 undershirts – enables me to wear my casual shirts more often between washing
- 1 workout outfit – to make use of the gym in my hotels
- 3 pairs of socks – for casual walks or working out
- 1 bathing suit – for swimming or beach time
- 1 small bag of laundry tablets – for handwashing my clothes in the sink or bathtub (hotel shampoo works fine too)
- 4 pairs of undergarments – I typically wash a pair every evening during my shower
- 1 brown envelope of paperwork – my birth certificate and a few other documents I keep in case I need them for immigration, etc.
- 1 iPad & 1 set of headphones – for either connecting with, or disconnecting from, the world
- 1 HDMI cable and an iPad cable and dongle – for hooking up my iPad to the hotel television
- 1 bathroom bag – travel toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, coconut oil, 2 essential oils, a razor, little blunt scissors, tweezers, nail clippers, and a nail file
- 1 travel tea set – while not a necessity, I greatly enjoy loose-leaf teas in the evening
- 1 dress coat – unless it’s very hot, I usually wear or carry my coat while travelling
- 1 sweater (aka jumper) – casual wear for cooler days
- 1 pair of sneakers – for casual walking and working out
- items inside my handbag: an iPhone, a wallet, a hairbrush, sunglasses, a ponytail holder, a pen, a USB stick, and a bag of raw, organic nuts & seeds
- a travel bag where I store my work laptop inside of my favorite small blanket (instead of a laptop case) – the travel bag is also useful for grocery shopping, and the blanket is useful on cold nights; when I fly, I store my handbag in this bag too (since airlines have a 2 carry-on maximum)
Overall, I am quite happy to be rid of the clutter, and to have more freedom and time for myself. Questions or thoughts? Please share below.
Wow! I hope to get to your level someday! How long did it take for you to reduce everything?
The biggest reduction was 7 years ago, when I sold my condo fully furnished, and I moved to the UK from Canada with only 2 large suitcases. However, I made new purchases and ended up with several boxes of stuff again!
3 years ago, I was back down to 2 large suitcases. 1 year ago, I was down to 1 large suitcase. Then just 3 months ago, I reduced my number of belongings again, and I replaced my well-worn large suitcase with a new carry-on bag. It feels great!
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