The Cost of Minimalism

When it comes to implementing your exercise in minimalism there is going to be an expense. Expense is something that comes up time and again when I’m discussing minimalism, particularly at home with my partner for whom the accumulation of ‘stuff’ is the natural way of things. In trying to reduce the clutter in our home I tend to opt for more expensive solutions; I want an iMac instead of a PC where arguably both are capable of largely the same, I want a solid wooden desk rather than a modified fibre wood-effect imitation. These are not the most cost efficient options. I can achieve my needs with much cheaper alternatives, likely saving myself hundreds of pounds in the process. There are a couple of important factors for me. The one that causes the most contention is the question of aesthetics. I’ve blogged before on the appropriateness of considering the beauty of an object as well as it's function. It still attracts a level of scorn, particularly from folks with a mindset towards the austere or frugal. If I am going to limit the number of things in my home then I want to maximise their impact, and this has to be reflected in what they bring to the style of a room. I don’t believe that anyone can be productive sat in a room that doesn’t evoke comfort, and aside from the ergonomics of your seat your experience of a room is primarily visual. If a room looks good, we feel good in it. For some people this will mean objects with sentimental meaning, for others significant greenery and life, and others it might be more contemporary styles. You can be the most twee doily-toting, knick-knack fan and still be minimalist; while minimalism on the whole is associated with stark white architecture and artistic furniture it is by no means a requirement.

It’s a simple fact that pretty things most often come at a premium.

The other consideration for me is quality, rolled up with suitability. The better an object can perform its purpose and for longer the more cost effective it will be, and the longer you can avoid replacement. While your desk plant may change, and your kid’s photos be updated year on year much of your furniture should be of sufficient quality that daily wear and tear will not trouble it too much. Ideally it will last forever, or until you decide to replace it. You pay for the materials things are constructed from and you pay for the craftsmanship and if you’re being a savvy consumer you will get what you pay for. The saving, in theory at least, comes from not having to pay again for replacements or upgrades and for having the peace of mind that this particular decision is one that you should never have to make again.

There will always be an argument where a cheaper option is just as good, and I am not in favour of opting for a more expensive solution simply because it is more expensive. I don’t have the funds to maintain that kind of frivolity any more than the next man. It’s a matter of experience and judgement in the end, but you shouldn’t feel obliged to always seek the cheaper option, you should endeavour to get exactly what you want, based on an educated decision and with the future in mind.

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