Why I Live With 57 Things

The less you have then the more epic your life.

Long time readers of this blog, and anyone who’s picked up a copy of The Art of Being Minimalist know that I’ve had a storied relationship with the personal possessions that I own and acquire.

Why you have so much stuff.

Basically, I think that we’ve been duped into buying things by an advertisement-dominated society for the last 50 years. The Internet is just now allowing us to break free of this mess and start to realize that the junk doesn’t matter.

Because I live with less stuff, and don’t buy much, all of the money I make from my minimalist business can go towards experiences such as travel and learning.

In my mind experiences are what life is worth living for, not possessions.

Last year, when I quit my job with $3,000 in the bank and moved to Portland, Or. I had 97 things. By the time I wandered back to the East coast, I had 75 things. When Alix and moved to San Francisco bay, I reduced my possessions to 50 things and a few weeks after I confessed that I really needed to live with more stuff than just 50 things.

Well, I just did one of my occasional stuff-counts, and it looks like I was right but not by much.

Even after saying that I was going to scale up the stuff, I only have 57 things.

Disclaimer that every minimalist blogger does about their stuff:

Now, obviously Alix and I have a bunch of shared items such kitchen and bedroom stuff. We got two used stools for our kitchen, we found an inexpensive couch and chair. We have a bed. I also hang my jackets on hangers. So before you leave a comment asking if I sleep on a bed, the answer is yes, I do.

Our kitchen stuff is just the essentials, but we recently purchased a blender/food processor which is decidedly un-minimalist, but allows us to have one of the best simple breakfasts known to man: freshly made fruit smoothies. My energy levels have skyrocketed and I’ve continued to lose weight because of this investment.

I’m counting my underwear and socks together because every other minimalist blogger does too. We’re allowed to cheat on undergarments because we always have. :)

I also have a few books that I’m reading right now. I usually pass my books on to people who really need them. For instance, I just read Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You to be Rich, which I’m giving to my brother because he really needs some personal finance advice at the moment.

Big purchases since moving to Cali.

I’ve made two big purchases since moving to Cali. The first was a new bike, a Surly Steamroller fixie. I’ve always wanted one, so I decided now was the time. The bike market here is outrageous, so I would have spent almost as much on a good used bike as this simple fixed gear bike, so I opted to order it from online.

I also purchased the new iPhone 4, because my old iPhone screen broke when I was in Brooklyn. I use the iPhone as a way to keep in touch with readers over Twitter and to write 85% of my blog posts. I’ve also started using Internet tethering on the iPhone which gives me Internet anywhere that I go and eliminates the need for Internet in our house –though there are bandwidth restrictions, which might be problematic if you watch a lot of TV online. We’ve gone over a once so far but it still seems to be cheaper than a dedicated line.

In the outbox:

A good minimalist always has an outbox, and I’ve put one thing in mine that I think are important to note here.

I decided recently that I should give away my Canon SLR camera. I haven’t used it more than once since moving to San Francisco, and only a dozen times in the last year. It definitely isn’t fitting into my ‘one-month-rule’, and so needs to go. This is hard for me, because I was a photographer for a long time. As some of you remember, I closed down my photography business for good around six months ago in order to focus exclusively on writing.

To be honest, I’ve made 2000% more as a writer than I ever did as a photographer, so that was a good move from a business perspective. It’s still hard, because the camera cost so much in the first place and the resell value is incredibly low now that consumer cameras are everywhere.

All of the photos you see on this blog were taken on my iPhone (including the one above) — you can see all of my photos here. It’s honestly way better for casual captures than my Digital Rebel ever was.

I’ve discarded a significant amount of clothing because of wear and tear over the last few months as well, so my clothes have actually become more streamlined. For instance, I used to have two hoodies, now I only have one new one. However, I’ve purchased more underwear, which has helped with not having to do laundry so much. I also have more pairs of jeans and more shoes than I used to.

Here’s my list of 57 things:

  1. MacBook Pro
  2. Macbook cleaning cloth
  3. iPhone 4
  4. iPhone earbuds
  5. Black Yoga Mat
  6. Moleskin notebook
  7. Pen to write in moleskin notebook
  8. Surly Steamroller Fixie
  9. Helmet
  10. Bike lock
  11. Frye Boots
  12. Belt
  13. Gray Converse Allstars
  14. Tom’s Shoes
  15. REI two-person backpacking tent
  16. Sleeping bag
  17. Gray hoodie
  18. Wind breaker
  19. Sunglasses
  20. Army jacket
  21. Tweed jacket
  22. Black heavier jacket
  23. Gray backpack
  24. Black Diamond Gray Backpacking bag
  25. Jeans
  26. Jeans
  27. Cutoff old jeans
  28. Purple tank
  29. Purple tank
  30. Gray tank
  31. Gray long-sleeve sweatshirt
  32. Gray long-sleeve T
  33. Coffee tank
  34. Gray v-neck
  35. Gray v-neck
  36. Black v-neck
  37. Blue v-neck
  38. Purple T
  39. Gray T
  40. Gray T
  41. Black T
  42. Toothbrush
  43. Deodorant
  44. Swim Trunks
  45. Keys to apartment + bike lock
  46. Minimalist “wallet” (really just a paper clamp that I keep my cards and cash in)
  47. Gray sweatpants
  48. Brown sweatpants
  49. Brown button cowboy shirt
  50. Gray button-down
  51. Socks (about 10 pairs)
  52. Underwear (about 10 pairs)
  53. Sewing repair kit for clothes
  54. Travel towel
  55. Knit hat that Alix made me
  56. 1 TB harddrive
  57. 500 Gb harddrive (looking into cloud backup options)
  58. Obviously you don’t need much to have a great life. I certainly don’t have much of anything.

    The point is to focus your possessions around what really matters to you, so this number will be bigger or smaller depending on your specific interests.

    I live a location independent life working on the Internet, my main interests are writing and practicing yoga. This allows me to really only need two things for my interests: a yoga mat and a computer. Your life might be different, and it’s okay to have more.

    I’m flexible with my things though, so I may buy more things like cloud miners to make money. I may get rid of them. Who knows, I’m not really stressing about a specific number. Once I start traveling, I imagine I’m going to travel with less than 57 things, because I have a home-base here in Oakland now.

    Why carry so many things when I can travel with 25 or 30 things?

    The idea is that we need to curb our consumerism in order to focus on the important. This is why I live with less, because I’ve decided to stop consuming and start living.

Written on April 5, 2015