From Mike’s forum on Discovery:
Q: I was wondering have your views changed on being a minimalist? I have a friend who has a lot of money. I hate to spend money. I have always said I would never pay a lot for a car, but my friend just paid $100,000 for a vehicle, to her that was inexpensive. She feels like she is being a minimalist. It made me wonder if my perception of what is inexpensive and being a minimalist would change if I suddenly had more money. You’ve stated you’re a minimalist and don’t want things, what do you perceive is the purpose of having money. Through the years has your definition of minimalist changed? — Jack
“You’ve stated you’re a minimalist and don’t want things, what do you perceive as the purpose of having money?”
The first part of your question implies that minimalists don’t want things. Not true. I see lots of things I want, most of which I can easily afford. My reasons for not purchasing them are more complicated.
Consider the mindset of the average “responsible” consumer. For most rational people, the buying decision has a two-part filter.
1. Do I desire it?
2. Can I afford it?
If the answers are yes, a purchase will likely follow. Like your friend and her car. (The amount spent is irrelevant.) The minimalist however, will ask additional questions.
3. Do I really need it?
4. Where will I actually put it?
5. How will I ultimately get rid of it?
The minimalist is not void of desire. He just confronts it differently than most. It’s an important distinction.
The second part of your question, and it’s overall suggestion, implies and confirms an assumption so deeply ingrained in our free market economy that we barely question it anymore. It goes like this.
We work mainly to earn money, and earn money mainly to acquire.
This belief is reinforced every minute of every day by countless bits of pop culture and advertising, and we have come to accept it as the truth. It isn’t. The relationship between work and money and happiness and capitalism and the health of our own personal economy is far more complicated. And our attempts to sort it out often lead to a kind of class warfare that polarizes both sides and perpetuates all kinds of stereotypes.
Why do we hate the rich? Why do we pity the poor? Neither attitude makes much sense. From what I’ve seen, there is plenty of misery on both sides of the fence. I tend to think, as I’ve said here before, that money really doesn’t change people, so much as it makes them more of who they are.
As for the additional purposes of having money – they are far too numerous to list. In general, I put a steep premium on independence in all areas, including financial. That means making and saving money.
”Through the years has your definition of minimalist changed?”
No, but I’m more convinced than ever that personal debt is the greatest challenge facing most of us. We have actually convinced ourselves, as a people, that living in perpetual debt is normal. At the risk of suggesting some vast conspiracy, (I’m not,) we are constantly encouraged from all sides to indulge our material desire. And so we do.
We are maximists.