Minimalism

Merry Christmas!

In the spirit of the holiday, I thought that I would veer slightly off-topic from bankruptcy law, but I think many of my clients may find value in this post as they work to recover financially.

I suppose this post would have been more appropriate before Christmas or – better yet – before Black Friday.  But this idea can be implemented at any time of the year, and if you’re hoping to get special mileage out of it at Christmas, you can begin laying the groundwork for next year’s holiday now.

Last year, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to have more experiences in 2016 – specifically manifesting as more travel and other work that I enjoy doing on the side.  Around springtime, I was introduced to the concept of “minimalism” and have embraced it as a method of clearing out clutter to help me focus and make room for more important things.

Minimalism is not about living in a “Spartan” home with no furniture or luxuries, though some people who practice minimalism do prefer that sort of environment.

Minimalism is about intentional living – retaining material possessions only if they bring value to your life, and removing clutter (both material and ethereal) to make room for important things.  There is no right way to be a minimalist, and if minimalism is something that you find value in, you ultimately decide how that will manifest itself.

The Minimalists: Joshua Fields Millburn (left) and Ryan Nicodemus (right)

That being said, there is plenty of help out there for people who need or want advice.  My favorite resource – bar none – is a podcast run by Ryan Nicodemus and Josh Millburn (“The Minimalists“).

As of the time I’m drafting this post, there are 44 episodes – most run about an hour long.  I don’t recommend that you spend the next 2 days binge-listening to these episodes, but I’ve made a list of some of my favorite episodes – ones that I think will quickly get you up to speed on what minimalism is and do a much better job of articulating the philosophical principles than I can.

  • Episode 1: Declutter
  • Episode 2: Technology
  • Episode 4: Education
  • Episode 5: Priorities
  • Episode 11: Sentimental
  • Episode 15: Consumerism
  • Episode 19: Mental Clutter
  • Episode 21: Travel
  • Episode 27: Passion

The reason I thought about sharing this today is because the holiday season does tend to be a great source of stress – not just for my clients, but for many people.  There’s the stress of purchasing gifts, receiving gifts that have no value to you, coordinating holiday celebration schedules with family, friends, and coworkers, and so forth.  Christmas is supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year, but – due to market forces, social forces, and many more influences – it has become one of the most despised times of the year.  And I think minimalism has a lot to offer people in terms of scaling back expectations and giving people the freedom to voluntarily remove stressful elements.  If you’re looking to get particular help with Christmas, you might also be interested in…

  • Episode 38: Giftgiving
  • Episode 41: Holidays

But beyond Christmas – minimalism can help you financially by changing the way you purchase and consume goods.  You can train yourself to be more deliberate with the things that you bring in to your life, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand how that can have benefits to personal finances.  So I hope my bankruptcy clients can find extra value in minimalism.