The Minimalists: Enough Stuff

Monday, June 09, 2014

minimalism (hansel5569/flickr)

Voluntary downsizing has worked for Joshua Fields Millburn and  Ryan Nicodemus, the Minimalists. They talk about the blog, their book Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists  (Asymmetrical Press, 2014) and tour promoting a simpler life with less "stuff." Have you tried a simpler life with minimal stuff?  What did you keep and what did you get rid of?


Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

Comments [43]

Susan Ticker from Morris County, NJ 07960

Having just cleaned out my home of 25 years (where I raised a family of three children) of 20+ huge garbage bags I can honestly say there is a sense of calm and peace and space which I didn't even know I was missing. I loved many of the things I gave away, threw away many things that had sentimental meaning but were irrelevant at this point, and kept only the things I would want my children to eventually have. And if they want to get rid of them then....I am all for it!

Jun. 17 2014 07:29 AM
susan from SF Bay Area

You may think you're attached. But in my experience, once you throw/give/donate, you completely forget about it. On rare occasions, you are reminded that you used to have something, but by then it doesn't matter.

Jun. 14 2014 03:15 PM
katesview from Belleville NJ

Hobby equipment takes space: smallish items, but use 4 shelves of boxes/containers. Necessities when the world gets me upset. With my small clothes closet,3 containers of seasonal clothes are in the basement. While in my 20's, I bought at a thrift store--terrific! Now, in my 60', retired w/my hubby, most of my clothes are from the Goodwill Store. Recently, I bought a black leather, dressy pair of Easy Spirits for $6. No wear spots; Lysol cleaned them & presto, ready to go! Good spot for mens & children's clothing, used books, VCR & DVD movies. Use, reuse, recycle things again! Lessen "stuff":)

Jun. 14 2014 12:35 AM
Anne from South Plainfield, NJ

Skip buying books. Use the library. If your local library doesn't have what you want request it through inter library loan (ILL). Some libraries offer their patrons free ebook downloads. As others have mentioned books you want to give away can be donated to library book sales.

Jun. 11 2014 06:57 PM
MC from West Harlem

Purging and de-cluttering is an ongoing process. My favorite motto I picked up along the way: "Keep only what you NEED or LOVE."

Jun. 11 2014 05:02 AM
Mary from Brooklyn

If you want to downsize, but 'keep' 'just in case' objects and mementos, scan old letters, photos to reliable backup and take pictures of objects, clothes etc with meaning, then give them away.

Jun. 10 2014 08:58 PM
Tracey from Queens from Queens

Materials for the Arts will take printers, pencils, pens, art supplies etc. for artists and non-profits to use. I regularly weed my books and donate them to Friends of the Library for book sales. I also regularly weed my clothes and donate them as well.

Jun. 10 2014 06:00 PM
sallybd from Lebanon, NJ

I seem to be a collector -- books, cookbooks, fabrics, and, so on. I felt guilty about not doing anything with them, and so I decided to stack each category into artful displays and then photograph them.

Result is that I have some really wonderful and interesting photographs. And I feel that I have now "done something with them all", other than reading them just now, cooking from them, or sewing things from the fabrics. It may be a mind trick, but it has taken some of the angst out of the collecting things that I love. (A few more categories to go. . .!)

Jun. 10 2014 05:49 PM
Karen from Montclair, NJ

It was a real wake-up call when I got married, and we merged our stuff, and had an estate sale before moving into a NYC apartment (from 2 houses). The wake-up was that there was lots of "stuff" that no one wanted and many charities that take specific "stuff" only. It became clear that if we didn't use it, we should give it away early so someone else may be find it of value. We have since moved into a house with a pact to not re-accumulate. I think we are doing pretty well; it is very freeing.

Jun. 10 2014 04:13 PM
ceedee from Fleetwood

"as well as vinyl records"-there are a lot of people who wish they had held onto their old lps(not to mention their even older comic book collections). Toss stuff out at your own risk...

Jun. 10 2014 11:41 AM
Joan from New Jersey

Animal crates, food, treats or toys can be donated to your local animal shelter. They will be happy to take them and any old towels, blankets or sheets you may need to get rid of.

Jun. 10 2014 11:39 AM
YoLev from NJ

to get rid of stuff try as they are international. It's amazing the kind of stuff that people will take. I've also left stuff out on the sidewalk with a sign that says "free".

Jun. 10 2014 10:24 AM

Thank you Alice from Soho--my biggest problem is figuring out how to give away/haul the stuff out of here! I've got 2 boxes of stuff in my front hall waiting for a home. Some stuff even the Salvation Army doesn't want (box of pencils, erasers, other office stuff that isn't enough to donate to a school...) I managed to find a home for the extra printer (relatively new in good condition--NOT garbage) when a co-worker retired and mentioned he needs one--HURRAH! I have 2 small animal cages that need a home, in good condition--I will check out Yerdle and pray they have some interested parties for these sorts of things...Any other suggestions???

Jun. 10 2014 09:42 AM
Jill Tucker from utah

I'm the minimalist but I can't get my husband on board. 22 years of marriage and he keeps everything. He has more clothes and shoes than I do. Drives me crazy most days.

Jun. 10 2014 08:53 AM
stanchaz from Brooklandia

A disposable culture is meaningless.
A culture of disposability is even more meaningless.
If you love it, if it means something to you, then keep it....

Jun. 10 2014 08:44 AM
Judith from New York, NY

It is very hard to go through the purging process yourself. It's so easy to start reading old letters, looking at pictures, etc. and before you know it 2 hours have gone by and nothing has been thrown out. Having an organized friend help you make decisions will make it less painful and keep you from getting distracted. If you want professional help, which is well worth the money, look to NAPO, the National Association of Professional Organizers or NASMM, the National Association of Senior Move Managers who specialize in downsizing, relocating and decluttering Senior Citizens.

Jun. 10 2014 08:43 AM
Bert from Garrison,NY

I had years worth of sailing trophies gathering dust.I took photos of them and donated them .I have the memories and none of the clutter.More de-cluttering to come.

Jun. 10 2014 08:00 AM
Matilda from Long Island, NY on my way to Irvington NY

Mamma died @ 94 it took me the last 5 years of her life while I cared for her in her house organize, separate, sort & purge her stuff. I am a sentimental hoarder...though neat & organized....there was stuff in every corner of my home...My 2 daughters left their stuff behind as well & having fallen close to this crowded tree...duplicated my habits not only in their homes, but left tons of stuff behind in mine. It has taken these five+ years to purge mammas stuff, my daughters stuff, my brothers stuff...which was still at my mammas house...It cured me of my hoarding.

I love my daughters very much...& do not want them to go through the waste of time it took to purge etc...the stuff which only blocked & insulated life to be lived. My mamma valued stuff more than people..for her own reasons...but I love people more than things....My things were using up my time energy etc...& left me no time to enjoy the people I love in my life. so....THE PURGE has been ongoing...& now...will be moving out of my big ol empty house to live in smaller more affordable quarters so I can spend my time visiting those I love, doing what I love with little to encumber me ...If it doesn't help keep/bring/share joy ...out it goes!

Thank you for spreading the word....Now I can throw out my notes on the book I was going to write...for you said it...& now it is out there....MILLE GRAZIE...thousand thanks...Tilda
"art is a way of knowing"

Jun. 09 2014 09:01 PM
Benoit Balz from NY

There is a significant yuppie vibe to these two guys, still talking about all their stuff, and all their success.

Pretty basic common sense here, getting rid of the no-longer-useful and -meaningful.

Do we need two annoying yuppies, Josh and Ryan, to liberate us from materialism?

Welcome to America, land of neurotic, self-obsessed consumers big and small...

Jun. 09 2014 08:59 PM
Gayle Benson from Oceanside, NY

We seem to spend the first half of our lives collecting stuff, and then, if we are lucky enough to start to think about it, we spend the other half trying to get rid of it. After clearing out our parents' places, my husband has decided that the best gift to leave your kids when you are gone is to unload most of your stuff.

Jun. 09 2014 07:06 PM
hicoachrich from UWS


if you live in the burbs, move to NYC, you will get rid of a LOT of stuff...unfortunately books will have to go---as well as vinyl records

simply moving helps one see how foolish it is to have all of the stuff you have unless you move to a larger place--don't do that

Jun. 09 2014 02:16 PM
EDR from Harlem

A rich or, at least, financially stable person can get rid of things because if that thing does become necessary at some point in the future they can simply repurchase it. The “just in case” model feels more necessary if you are poor or not financially stable because if that is your circumstance you can’t just buy things at a moment’s notice.

Jun. 09 2014 12:05 PM

Bill from UWS from UWS ~

I came to the EXACT same realization a while back.

NYC storage rental = INSANE

Jun. 09 2014 12:02 PM


Jun. 09 2014 11:59 AM
Nigia Stephens from Bronx

I always think about what will happen if I died suddenly? What will happen to this stuff and who would get the things that mattered to me. We should clear out our space like this once or twice a year. We should all explore this even if its just for a month and not some kind of spring cleaning thing. I plan to do my version of it. It sounds like a big flush down to the items, sites, work and people we honestly enjoy.

Jun. 09 2014 11:59 AM
Nancy from NYC

Consumerism is for chumps. Buying corporate crap for no reason.

Shop at thrifts, and when you're done with it, donate it back -- it's all a great swirl of stuff, and we just use it for a while.

Jun. 09 2014 11:58 AM
Bill from UWS from UWS

Recently got rid of mini-storage unit which I had for more than 20 years. It was costing me $150 per month, when all the stuff inside probably wasn't worth more than $500! We kept some stuff, but got rid of a lot (sold some on eBay) after deciding we definitely could do other things with that $1800/year!

Jun. 09 2014 11:58 AM

For at least 18 years, my stuff could be packed up in 2 suitcases because I joined Peace Corps and then went to graduate school on a tiny budget. Now I live in a tiny apartment with my husband and son and am constantly shuffling things out of the apartment. My son used to sell his toys. The only thing I have a hard time giving up is books. There just simply isn't room for everything. Our apartment is comfortable but not hyperorganized.

Jun. 09 2014 11:58 AM
Alice from soho

Place all of your extra stuff on Yerdle. It is an awesome marketplace for free stuff. What is one man's extra stuff is another man's treasure.

Jun. 09 2014 11:58 AM
Andrea from Rockland

The more stuff, the more dust!

Jun. 09 2014 11:57 AM

Single mother- one bedroom son has the bedroom...pull out couch and one cat for me..Owning a house gave me a nervous break-down and a divorce..Breathing Easy

Jun. 09 2014 11:57 AM

Seems to me minimalism is an overreaction to overconsumption— it's hard to live on a budget without a good set of kitchen tools and a bike and a sewing kit/machine and so on. And renting everything you need once a year or once a month can get awful expensive— buying a homebrewing setup is cheaper than paying to use the homebrewing store's equipment, or buying beer at the store every time. So does needing to buy the one perfect thing for a task, rather than buying stuff used and testing it out.

Jun. 09 2014 11:53 AM
Rebekkah from Brooklyn


Oh I have so much stuff that I realize that I have nothing. I hope some of this stuff was donated to people who are really in need.

Jun. 09 2014 11:53 AM
fuva from harlemworld

This ethic is really the only way forward. And it really is an ethic. For strong, self-determined people.

Jun. 09 2014 11:53 AM
C.E. Connelly from Manhattan

Old cell phones were the hardest to give up? What?

Jun. 09 2014 11:52 AM
urbangranolagirl from jersey city

I am very intrigued by minimalism and the tiny house movement, and work on what I call "divesting" daily. My biggest issue is getting rid of useful things...things I might need "someday" and seem silly to toss if they still have inherent value. How do you mitigate "minimalism" vs. "practicality" ?

Jun. 09 2014 11:52 AM

Ha! Tell these kids to save their shekels for their kids. THey'll need it!

Jun. 09 2014 11:52 AM
David from New York

I love my stuff. I love buying stuff. When new stuff arrives, I get excited. Why should I deny myself? Life is hard enough as it is.

Jun. 09 2014 11:52 AM
Susan from Inwood

I've always been a minimalist, less is more (and less to launder and dust), however, when I moved in with my partner, that changed somewhat.

Having had a situation with apartment "pests", I dumped a lot of things and have only the bare necessities now, felt great to get rid of stuff I normally felt very attached to.

Jun. 09 2014 11:52 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Yes, but "stuff" attracts people the way sh*t attracts flies. The reason why people get a lot more than they really need is because they want to be the center of attention. They want "friends." They want people to come and to party, etc. When the 'stuff" goes, the so-called "friends" and moochers go with it. It's a "class thing." A certain size house in a certain neighborhood with a certain amount of expensive stuff means "you've arrived." You are acceptable. You are part of the so-called "middle class" or better.

Jun. 09 2014 11:51 AM
rrr from nyc

It's most difficult when your weight fluctuates and you don't want to let go of the small/large size clothing...

Jun. 09 2014 11:48 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

I have a hard time getting rid of things. I might need/want those shirts/shoes/belts/containers (that I haven't worn or used in years) one day in the future!

When it's time for spring cleaning, five minutes of "Hoarders" provides great inspiration for downsizing.

And this mantra: "When in doubt, throw it out."

Jun. 09 2014 11:29 AM
rrr from nyc

part of living a simpler life is not only consuming less but consuming second hand, pre-owned "stuff."
Second hand books, furniture,'s all part of the reduce, reuse and recycle lifestyle, rrr.

Jun. 09 2014 11:29 AM

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