One of the greatest outcomes of adapting to a life on the road was embracing minimalism. When you can only fit so many items in a Subaru Impreza, you are forced to realize what is actually important to you – and consequently, what is simply a luxury item. It also shapes the way you shop; you seek possessions that are multi-functional and offer the most extreme level of purpose to you and your lifestyle.
Though my time living out of a four-wheeled vehicle gradually came to a conclusion (for now), the appreciation of minimalism did not. Here are a handful of tips to approaching life with a minimalist outlook, sans #vanlife (or in my case: #Subarulife)…
1. When it comes to wardrobe, be a basic bitch.
I used to be the type of person who would buy a shirt, or even a complete outfit, for a Friday or Saturday night out on the town – and then, never wear it again! If I was photographed in a top, forghedaboudit. Fortunately, I grew out of this habit. Not only is it money consuming, but it’s completely environmentally unfriendly to give in to disposable fashion (I’m looking at you, Forever21). These days, I commit to clothing items that are simple and work with a variety of other pieces. My friends have even dubbed this one tank my “the shirt,” since it’s the only thing I’ll wear out to dinner or to the bars. I don’t purchase an item that will only look good with “X.” I purchase things that will look good with “X,” “Y,” and “Z.” Bonus: this eases the stress of getting dressed in the morning and makes packing a breeze.
2. Meet your new mantra: fewer, better things.
As appealing as the price tags are at a discount stores, like Forever21 or Wal-Mart, you’re paying for quality (as well as supporting unfavorable working conditions for the people who create aforementioned items). Focus on spending your pretty pennies on articles that are well-made, and even more importantly, sustainably created. I get it, dropping the big dollars can give you a minor heart attack, but those items will last you a lifetime longer than something purchased from a cheap chain… Which further benefits the planet by curtailing waste of all the short-lived, crappily-made products!
Note: I am not saying there isn’t a Forever21 or H&M item in my closet. There is, but the key is to be aware of your purchases.
3. Everything must be a “jack of all trades,” and master of all.
Before making a purchase, I do my research and always consider the following: How often will I use this? What instances will I use this in? Will my life be improved by this? Even with items as seemingly insignificant like a new pair of DarnTough socks or a carbiner. I try to buy clothing that can be worn casually or as a functional piece when playing outside, or multi-sport gear (which can be a bit trickier to do). I pay attention to materials used, features, and I compare things to what I already own to determine if it’s really a necessity.
4. If you aren’t 100%, don’t do it.
If there’s any doubt in my mind regarding a purchase, I say no – whether permanently or temporarily (see next tip for more information on that). It’s not worth owning a bunch of things you kind of like when you can own things you love. You should see purpose in everything you own, and feel as if each item benefits your life in some way.
5. Hit pause.
If you’re on the fence about something, don’t be afraid to step away from the purchase decision before an impulse buy occurs. I like to mull over purchases before pulling the trigger, or if stock is low, I’ll make a purchase with a company that offers a great return policy, like Backcountry.com or REI. My mother always said, if you find yourself thinking about something the following 24 hours, then it’s meant to be!
6. See the big picture and don’t succumb to trends.
It’s easy to get caught up in “what’s hot,” but fads come and go so quickly that you’ll waste all your money trying to keep up. It’s even easier to get jealous of your friends who have the “latest and greatest.” My roommate splurged on new everything for the mountain this year, and while I want to look cool on the hill too, I don’t need to (nor can I really afford to). My ski jacket and pants keep me warm and dry, and that’s all that matters. I like to soothe any envy with the comforting knowledge that I have this extra cash to spend on trips, or gear I actually need.
7. You can pick your friends, you can pick your gear, you can (probably) pick up your friend’s gear.
If your friends aren’t complete assholes, they will probably let you borrow gear for one-off adventures. However, don’t get butthurt if they turn down your request to use their $4000 Swiss Army knife, or something of equal value. Also, please, people, don’t forget to return the gear you borrow in better condition than you received it – I’m talking beacons with brand new batteries, skis waxed and tuned, tents clean of debris, and climbing ropes coiled properly. Friends also appreciate little acts of appreciation, so buy them a beer once in a while and you’ll have eternal access to a second gear closet.
How do you curtail frivolous spending or live more “minimally?”