The Value of Voluntary Simplicity | Young Minimalist

The Value of Voluntary Simplicity – Richard B. Gregg

Originally published in 1936, social philosopher Richard B. Gregg coined the term ‘voluntary simplicity’. As a Harvard graduate and later a student of Gandhi’s work, in this article Gregg explores the philosophical, intellectual, spiritual, social and very real reasons for adopting a simple life. Gregg was an influential author, with much of his work focused on creating non-violent social change, Martin Luther King, Jr cites him as an influence (Ansbro 1982).

As minimalists, we would do good to read this and deeper understand how a simpler life can create good in the world. Gregg’s article is an inspiration to many, including Duane Elgin who wrote a book titled, Voluntary Simplicity.

Download the PDF article: The Value of Voluntary Simplicity

Ansbro, John J. (1982). Martin Luther King, Jr: The Making of a Mind. Orbis Books. pp. 146-7, 149.

Time without clocks | Young Minimalist

Time without clocks

Can you imagine a day without time? No need to be here, or rush to get there. Just, here, now?

I recently got back from a rock climbing trip. Three days spent camping, climbing & contemplating. All spent between a cliff and the sea with 5 others, all friends from our University’s climbing society (apart from one, who’s an honorary member). From the moment we met till the moment we parted, there was never a mention of the time. We had spent three days together, and not once been concerned about it. It was a magical experience. Something we all noticed.

Changes come with spring

It’s that time of year again: the days are just getting longer, there’s a rainbow of blossom, the sun is higher in the sky, and everyone seems just a little bit happier. For those of us in the education system, this means one thing: exams & deadlines!! A time where we want to be outside, but force ourselves to be at a desk, trying to learn that equation off by heart (the one that you’ll never have to remember), or linking social theories together in order to create a somewhat coherent theoretical framework for an essay. Days getting longer generally means more time to revise.

Getting away

It was with this in mind that the 6 of us planned a trip away: the calm before the storm. We arrived at the Isle of Portland Monday afternoon, parked our cars and hit the crag. The sweet afternoon warmth touching our skin as we climbed on the limestone. Spending the afternoon climbing, and with the sun beginning to set, it was time to find a spot to camp. We wanted to be right by the crag when we woke up, and (as with most students) we don’t have much money, so we decided to wild camp.

Sun setting over the horizon from the Isle of Portland

We found a beautiful spot, protected from the wind by two boulders, looking out onto the sea, a safe distance away from the cliff. As the moon woke from its slumber, we had finished putting our tents up. We heated our pre-made pasta and had a few beers before hitting the hay. Happy to be resting our weary bodies. Eager for the next day.

Awaken by the sun, we crawled out, and were surprised by the awe of the view we had half seen the night before. Endless sea in front of us, beautiful rock to climb behind us! Unfazed by it being early or late; we had coffee, cereal bars and chocolate spread; packed our tents away and went for a full day’s climb. Only stopping once to satisfy our stomachs with a local pub lunch. The day seemed to last forever and it was the reddish hues in the sky that hinted to us that we are nearing the end. Not a clock, telling us the day is over. Nor the fact the library is closing due to the Easter break. This evening a camp fire was in order. The spot we had adopted as home, had obviously been someone else’s before. Stones indicating a fire place were already there, and we only had to add the wood.

There is something special about sitting with friends by a campfire. The warm glow in everyone’s face, seems to bring people closer together. Flames twist and dance in the darkness of the sky, unaware of themselves, completely free. The spectators of the dance are in turn engulfed by a blast of smoke – as if to wake them up from their trance. Time is lost in these moments.

The final day came, and what a glorious day it was. The wind had died down, the sun was turned up to 11. A few uni friends, who lived in the local area, joined us for (what I imagine was) the afternoon. We got another full day of climbing in, ate couscous for lunch, and, alas, it was time to head home. Loading up our gear, we made a quick trip to the pub for dinner again, and then headed homeward. A journey back, back to reality, back to responsibility, back to work. We had to un-press the pause button, and be controlled by time once more.

Timelessness in a timed world

Back home, the very next day, I was in front of my laptop, typing away at an application for a conference I want to attend. I was thinking about dates and deadlines. Where I have to be next weekend, when I’m going to go here and how to meet them, there. Catching up with everything I had left behind. I had completely lost the timelessness of the previous three days. Life, once again, was in hyper mode and my brain was loving the adrenaline and dopamine kick from it.

Simultaneously, I instantly missed the serenity I had felt sitting in a harness 20m up a cliff with the sun on my back and sea breeze in my hair. This was a sign. A sign to take back control. Finding the moments of timelessness in a day and cherishing them. Meditating in the mornings, when the air is fresh, the birds are chirping and my mind is clear. To be present in my work and in moments of joy.

My realisation is that we need time to forget about time, from time to time.Click To Tweet

So find moments in your day when you can loose track of time.

Flexitarianism? | Young Minimalist

Flexitarianism, a useful term?

Heard of Flexitarianism? Yeah, me neither. But it’s supposedly going to be a key food trend of 2017! Flexitarians essentially follow a vegetarian diet, but they eat meat every now then. “Isn’t that a normal diet?” I hear you say. I would say not. “Is it useful then?” you ask. I’m going to say no to this also.

The different dietary options

Most of us will have heard of the major dietary choices: Vegetarian, Vegan & Pescetarian. Some of us may have heard of Fruitarians, or the other vegetarian sub-categories: Ovo vegetarianism & Lacto vegetarianism. Moving to university halls was the first time I was really confronted with people who chose these diets. I knew of the diets before, but had never fully thought about them. My partner for the first few years of university was a vegetarian and I loved cooking for the two of us. That, alongside my (vegetable focused) mediterranean diet, meant I got to know and love the veggie diet even before I chose to follow it, and then develop that into a mostly vegan diet.

What’s what:

Vegetarian (commonly referring to Ovo-Lacto Vegetariana): excludes meat and by-products of animal slaughter (e.g. rennet/gelatine), but includes eggs & dairy (that’s the ovo-lacto bit).

Vegan: excludes all animal-derived products (e.g. honey, dairy, eggs).

Pescetarian (or pesco-vegetarian): the vegetarian diet, plus the inclusion of seafood.

Fruitarian: diet of around 3/4 raw fruit, some vegetables are acceptable.

Ovo Vegetarian: vegetarian diet with eggs, but not dairy.

Lacto Vegetarian: vegetarian diet with certain types of dairy, but no eggs.

Food philosophies are chosen for a multitude of reasons: ethical, moral, environmental, religious or health. None of these reasons are ‘better’ than the others and none are binding.

A misconception

In a conversation with a friend who identifies as vegan, she pinpointed a common misconception. Discussing a situation where she was having dinner out with friends and a meal she chose had egg in it (which is ‘not vegan’). Her friends were shocked by her choice and asked if she was allowed to eat eggs. To which she, in my opinion correctly, answered, ‘I’m allowed to eat anything!’

And here is where I feel the problem lies. Many people assume that being a veggie or vegan is about a restriction and limitation of what you can or cannot eat – which in a way it is – but it is still down to you to decide how (& what) you’re going to consume food. This is crucial to understand.

If I say, ‘I’m not going to eat beef because it has disastrous environmental effects’, or that ‘I’m stopping eating chickens because of the terrible cruelty they are exposed to throughout their lives, from debeaking as babies to being kicked into lorries when being shipped off to factories’, I’m making my own decision, it is not a limitation, it is a (moral) choice. Much the same way as we avoid committing crimes in our daily lives. It would be easy to just swipe a chocolate bar from the store, but our moral mind restricts us and reminds us not to. These are analogous.

Understanding the above, we can say that those of us that choose a non-mainstream (meaning a non-meat eating) diet do so, mostly, out of intentional choice. In doing this, we are acting on values that we believe and thus are working towards a life that is more aligned with our true self. A life more honest to oneself is the best path to happiness. And here is why, in choosing our diet, we are not limiting ourselves, but consciously being our full selves.

When you can’t choose

There are situations where we cannot choose our diets, thus cannot be ourselves however. Let’s look at some examples:

Travelling abroad – some countries whole diets are fully built around meat eating (e.g. South America), here it may be difficult to uphold your dietary choices.

Dining at friends – if you’re not vocal about your diet when invited to friends’ houses for lunch/dinner, you may be served something you would not deliberately eat.

Moving back home – I’ve had to move back home to do my masters. My parents cook meals for the family and we have typically eaten meat. Not wanting to force them to cook separately for me, and unable to afford buying myself food, I felt pressure to conform to whatever they were cooking.

Gender Pressure – there is a bizarre notion that men should eat meat to be a real man (especially within sporting situations). This is false for two reasons: firstly, what you eat should not define your gender and; secondly, there is no such thing as a real man. It is also visible that vegetarianism/veganism is mostly associated to femininity – another falsity – as I said diet has no gender.

(This list is not extensive, if you’ve experienced other times when you’ve felt pressured to eat things you normally wouldn’t, please comment below! I’d love to hear your stories)

I experience some of these things on a weekly basis. Although my parents have now mainly adopted a vegetarian diet around me, they do sometimes cook a fish or meat dish. I stay at my sister’s house regularly, her family’s diet is omnivorous, and I eat with them at least once a week. Also, travelling regularly it’s not always possible to eat a veggie diet abroad when you can’t understand the language.

I identify somewhere between vegetarian & vegan, but I acknowledge the fact that I’m not really following the diet I’d like to. This creates issues when talking about diet with people. Can I call myself a veggie?

Enter Flexitarianism

Enter stage-right: The Flexitarian. On the face of it, this could be the way I choose to identify. Flexitarians predominantly eat a vegetarian diet, with meat included – BINGO! Except, I don’t want to identify this way. I feel that would be cheating myself. My values lie within the veggie-vegan sphere. I choose not to buy meat, or contribute to the animal farming industry, whenever possible. I disagree with the exploitation of animals in mass meat production, the environmental damages of the meat market are huge and there are numerous health benefits from eating less (or no) meat. These are moral stand-points for me, not flexible ones I can switch in and out of.

Flexitarianism doesn’t seem to have any moral stand-points. It looks like a catch-all term that’s been created by statisticians in order to categorise people into market segments. So no, I don’t think this term is useful.

(Oh, there’s also Lessetarianism, which is reducing the amount of meat you eat – this has its pros & cons, but I see largely similar to Flexitarianism)

What are you then? A veggie that eats meat?

No. I’m a vegetarian. Period. I stand by my morals and choices to not consciously contribute to animal exploitation. And when I’m given something that has, I take it humbly, knowing that I am living in a world where the cruelty & indignity given to animals has been normalised.

One by one, we can change the status quo. Be respectful to those around you. If you’re a veggie, respect the fact that someone eats meat. If you’re a meat-eater, respect that others choose not to eat animals. Maybe if we question why we eat certain things with more honesty and listen to those who eat differently to us, we’ll be able to accept each other more.

Because someone’s going to say it:

Some meat-eaters might say I’m just finding excuses to indulging myself in meat. I can tell you its not. The last time I had sausages, I felt bloated for two days straight and had congested bowel movements. On top of this, the idea of eating something that was alive a few weeks ago, which has subsequently passed, sometimes alive, through a massive machine, that comes out the other end in some weird shape, makes me feel sick. Just thinking of a chicken nugget send shivers down my spine. When eating meat, I have to disconnect myself from what I am eating.

‘Just don’t eat it then’ some might say, and yes I have thought about this. Most of the time I don’t, even if it means going hungry for a bit more. The thing is, ‘not eating’ does not solve the problem when I’m at someone’s house and they’ve spent time cooking a meal for me. I’m at risk of offending them, and more than this, the animal has already seen the harm on my behalf – in my opinion throwing it in the bin is the ultimate indignity. Stuck in this dichotomy, I feel obliged to eat.

Life as a high-functioning alcoholic | Young Minimalist

Life as a high-functioning young alcoholic

Happiness is often seen as a place you arrive. Many of us search for it, without really knowing where to look. At a young age, I found that alcohol allowed me to feel the friendships I was dearly missing. I spent nearly every night of my undergraduate degree (plus the 1.5 years before) drunk. Every morning, a loud alarm, shower and a coffee were the only way I could feel awake. Despite this, I graduated with a 1st Class degree and produced and toured a documentary film around London during this time.

My drinking, however, was not evidence of a thriving social life or bouts of success. It was a confirmation of the loneliness I suffered from and the longing I had for intimate relationships with others. I know I’m not the only young person to suffer from loneliness. It makes me wonder how many of us turn to the bottle?

The first drink…

Do you remember the first party you went to where there was alcohol? I was 15, going to school friend’s party. She had moved to a different school – an all girls school – there were loads of new people to meet, especially of a different sex. The sexual curiosity of that age meant that we quickly moved to play ‘spin the bottle’. This night I experienced my first kiss, that same girl became my first girlfriend (which didn’t last once we sobered up). And the more I think about it now, this very night may have structured my whole basis for sexual relations & relationship building.

Most parties I went to afterwards increasingly evolved around alcohol & sexual encounters. My friend’s 16th, where someone proudly received their first blowjob. A 17th where someone threw up and blew their chance of getting with that guy they wanted. 18th parties where sex was apparently everywhere – along with drugs and cigarettes – including one where there was someone walking around with a tray of condoms. Every year there seemed to be a new addition to the toolbox of ‘fun’.

Apart from that fateful first kiss, I never ‘got with’ anyone at parties. I was that kid who wondered around trying to figure out what on earth was going on. Asking myself, “Why do I seem to just float?”; “Why am I even here?” As the evenings went on, I would grab another beer and then wonder around to find someone to talk to. Some conversations would last for a while, keeping me away from the isolation that seemed to be looming. But some conversations would be cut short by my partner, and I would be cast back into a world of confusion and self-pity. It seemed people just didn’t want to talk to or be with me; and it was during these times that I began to diminish my self-worth.

Free hugs!

I think it was at this young age when I first found the soothing cuddle of alcohol. Having ‘one more’ allowed me to feel comfortable, like I belonged. I used a bottle, and not long later a cigarette, as a barrier between the world and me. It felt safe. I thought I fitted in. This narrative was something I reiterated as I grew older. Little did I know that 5 years down the line I would have a drinking problem and wake up most mornings with a fuzzy head.

Culture clash

I grew up in a first generation immigrant family, well my mother was half-English but she had grown up in Turkey. So neither of my parents really understood British culture. I had been taught the strict and respectful manner of Turkish culture, which was different to the mannerisms and attitudes of my contemporaries. The cultural capital – social knowledge one has: in style of speech, dress, intellect, education (in & out of school) – that I had was a mishmash of two cultures that didn’t really fit, and I experienced this incompatibility through the awkwardness I felt with my friends at school.

Despite this, I was able to move through all the groups (maybe apart from the football one – I didn’t really like football) but that still only gave me a skin-deep sense of friendship. I felt most at home with the misfits, those of us that didn’t quite call ourselves that name (or any name) but certainly weren’t the ‘cool kids’. We weren’t the geeks either, however, perhaps we didn’t have a name, we were just sort of there. Wherever we were, it was there I was able to be myself and relax, yet it was a yearning to not be there that made me ache to be ‘cool’. I was not satisfied by the amazing friends I had in this group and wanted to ‘upgrade’.

Looking into the black of my eye

Towards the end of my bachelor degree, I started panicking about what I was going to do once it finished. After being asked “what do you want to be when you’re older?” all my life and still not having an answer, I felt stuck. How have I got to this stage of my life and do not know what I want to do? Is there something wrong with me? Panic and anxiety set in. Slowly, but very surely, a void began to emerge from within, as a subtle but definite sadness grew.

I had begun to ask myself questions around this time. Not extrinsic questions about jobs or positions or directions, but intrinsic queries. I started asking what I valued: about myself, about the world, my moral values, my ethical values; if I was really enjoying what I was doing? What did I regret doing in the last few months? Could I have said “no” to some of those things? Once I was able to shift my answers from analytical to honest, I realised that I’d been focusing on the wrong things.

Take 5

Meditation had a massive impact on enhancing the ability to analyse my self and my thoughts. I used the app called Headspace to get me started – and still use it daily. The increased awareness of my thoughts, and to watch negative conceptions from a distance, is indispensable to self-discovery. Practising mindfulness allows us to see ourselves in the present, rather than looking into the future or reminiscing on the past.

As the Headspace co-founder, Andy Puddicombe says: the present is so underrated, and yet we spend so little time in it. Studies show having a distracted mind is a direct cause of unhappiness, and in his TED talk, Andy cites that we spend nearly half of our time distracted. That means we might be spending nearly half of our lives potentially unhappy. There’s something deeply worrying about that. Meditation really allowed me to focus on now; to understand what I enjoy; to realise what I don’t enjoy. It doesn’t happen quickly, but taking the time to train your mind is invaluable.

Where I was…

No-one knew I had a drinking problem; I was always on top of everything I needed to do, was always at university & I had spent two years successfully producing a film. There was no doctor or medical professional who told me about it. None of my friends thought it – or at least not that I know of – and I had no major health issues. High-functioning alcoholism is problematic because as it is incredibly hard to detect.

Alcohol has been such a big part of my identity for the last 6-8 years: I worked in craft beer, I had done courses in wine tasting & spent time grape picking to fund a trip, even the film I produced was about the independent brewing industry in London. My knowledge of self was intimately intertwined with drinking and its culture. My social network had been built on the people I met in the London Beer scene: bars & their regulars, breweries & their critics.

I worked in pubs; and if you’ve ever worked in a bar, you’ll surely know the compulsive drinking that comes with the job. Alongside this, the band I was in had a massive culture around drinking and smoking, and after an awesome rehearsal & visit to the pub, I would head over to my local that was open till 3 am and drunkenly sip & smoke. I was adamant that this was my life, that I couldn’t change it, and that if I did I would disappear into nothingness. But most of all, I loved it.

Admitting I’m a young alcoholic

It was after over a year of self-analysis and self-development that I could finally see that I was, in fact, alcohol dependent. This was a truly petrifying moment. All of a sudden my entire reality came crashing. I no longer belonged anywhere. I was looking at my self, naked in the middle of nowhere. Nothing to describe who I was. No past or future. Now there was only the present. A blank canvas. This was the chance I had to answer the questions I had been asking over the past year and (re-)build my self.

The morning I woke up to this thought, in a hostel, was January 1st, 2017. It was the best hangover I ever had – well, at least the most productive. Once the initial headache wore off, and I had my (cold) shower I could see. It was like those mornings (or afternoons) you wake up after a heavy night and say, “I’m never going to drink again” – except this time I meant it.

Dry-January was a perfect chance to test the water. I breezed through, only having one glass of prosecco at my sister’s wedding (which I consciously decided to have). February, I started with all the energy of the previous month, tripping over one night when out with 4 friends and an awkward 2-for-1 deal. I didn’t punish myself for it though, I could see my weakness and have worked on strengthening it. The next time I was out with friends I abstained; the time after only had a half; recognising the urges that were building inside me each sip at a time).

Movin’ on up

I am still working on it. It is incredibly difficult to be 24 and not drink. Our whole society dictates that we do. Everyone I know wants to ‘get drunk’. It is terrible being the person who is ‘no fun’ because they don’t drink. You feel ousted by groups and as if you don’t belong (again). The challenge of not drinking is not only a physical one but overwhelmingly a psychological one. The psychological challenge is two-fold. Both fighting the urges to have a drink and, whilst mentally weak, trying not to be affected by the stigma and ‘otherness’ it brings you.

If you’re struggling with alcohol addiction, you don’t have to fight it alone. Reach out to your loved ones. But if, like me, you can’t do that, reach out to me (hello[at] I’d be happy to listen and offer my support.

Stay strong.

What is minimalism? | Young Minimalist

What is minimalism?

Minimalism (n):
- a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterised by extreme spareness and simplicity
- design using the bare essentials

What minimalism isn’t

Before we have a look at minimalism, let’s start with what minimalism is certainly not. It is not: getting rid of everything, living in a tiny house, eating 1 grain of rice for every meal, selling your car, middle-class, being an extreme environmentalist, boring, no fun, lonely or (self-) idolatry. For a more in-depth analysis of the misconceptions about minimalism look here.

Right now that’s out the way.

A philosophy of minimalism

Minimalism is intrinsically materialistic. “What?” You might say. “I thought minimalism was about getting rid of things, living with the essentials, not living in excess?” And you’re right. That is exactly why it is materialistic.

Contemporary philosopher Alain de Botton (the guy who started the School of Life, made popular on YouTube), would say that we don’t really “live in very materialistic times”. We don’t, in fact, desire material objects, but the rewards from acquiring those items: e.g. recognition of wealth or status, or, acknowledgement of taste in fashion. Yet, de Botton would argue that material items actually have another, purer purpose. A purpose to aid in self-development and knowledge, as well as to “play a positive psychological (or spiritual) role in our lives when higher more positive ideals are ‘materialised’ in them”.

Thus it comes to mean, good choices in our material possessions can change the way we live our lives, for the better. I believe this is the underlying purpose of minimalism: to make conscious decisions about what we own and dedicate time to in order to live a fuller, more purposeful life.

So what does this mean?

The first thing to understand about minimalism is that it is not a simple, thing you do. It’s much more than that. A way of life, built upon the aforementioned philosophy. In order to live a minimalist lifestyle, there is a lot of soul-searching that you must go through. Minimalism allows you to focus on what you love, and remove all the extra noise from your life. It is a way of living your life with intention and focus. By doing & having less, you create room for more (Makes sense right?).

The thing is, most of us don’t do this. Many of us are busy doing jobs we don’t like to buy things we don’t want. I spent most of my university life working part-time jobs in pursuit of a way to define myself as successful. Getting the newest phone, buying new shirts for work, travelling around London in taxis and paying for round after round of drinks. And it worked, others recognised me for it: I heard a ‘friend’ say once, “I love going out for drinks with Kevin, after a couple he just keeps buying rounds for everyone.” I was living a life focused on money & things because money & things make you happy. At least, that’s what I thought.

So when I found minimalism I wasn’t really sure I would get on with it. It didn’t really fit with my lifestyle. But when I gave it a chance and answered the questions posed to me honestly, I very quickly found that minimalist living was exactly what I was looking for all along. Minimalism has allowed me to: stop saying “yes” to everything, stop working in an industry that I didn’t enjoy and spend more time doing things I love, be closer to my family, have more money, get healthier, live moment to moment and travel.

“The more you know, the less you need” – Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia

Learn more … about yourself

The ultimate benefit of minimalism is discovering things about yourself that you don’t know. Self-discovery not only gives you a great buzz, but it allows us to make decisions more intelligently. By figuring out what you love doing, what your values are and where your life is failing you, you are able to take back control of your life and direct yourself onto the path you truly want to be on. So where do we start?

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • What are my values in life?
  • What do I currently do, that I would rather not?
  • Which areas of life do I want to improve?
    • Split them up (e.g. Health / Relationships / Money / Work / etc.) and break these down further
  • What does my version of success look like?

Re-visit these a week later and then proceed to step 2 – Becoming a minimalist (link to follow).

Fighting those temptations | Young Minimalist

Fighting temptations – Student Loan

Fight off those spending temptations

It’s that time of year. Student Loans are coming in and suddenly there’s a lot of money in your account. Mine came through this week. It’s a little buzz when it appears. Money is one of those things which is both so abstract and weird yet so intimate and real. So with the new term starting and many of us trying to quiet those urges to buy stuff, how do we keep our spending to a minimum?

Be aware of what you spend

My first bit of advice would be to start a savings account. If you don’t already have one, they’re great. You can do it online through most banks and it takes seconds. You can put all the loan in here and pull money out to your current account as and when you need. There’s two benefits of this: firstly, it’s not on your card so you can’t just spend it. Secondly, when you are going to spend it you have to transfer it to your current account. This makes the process more conscious and can alert you when spending unnecessarily.

Make a budget! I’m sure you’ve been told this many times. That’s because if you make one and stick to it, they really work. I use the budgeting app Pennies (sadly only available on iPhone). But there are many out there. Get a free one that works for you. Put your budget in there, and log every bit of spending you do.

A good friend of mine recommended this to me years ago. Whenever you feel like you want something, write down the item in a journal (I note it on my phone) and then a week later ask yourself if you still want to buy it. If the answer is yes, think about it, see if you can afford it and find the cheapest option. If the answer is no – or if you forget to look – you don’t actually want it. Don’t buy it.

Or, if you want a simple method, just ask this question every time your about to purchase something.

Does this add value to my life?

The answer will tell you what to do.

Reduce your wallet size | Young Minimalist

Minimise your wallet with ease

Is your wallet overflowing? Here’s a few easy steps to minimise your wallet

Ever since I was a kid, I loved collecting cards. I’d go through every single bit of post to see if there was a bit of plastic in there that I could grab and put in my wallet. Thinking about it now, it was a bit weird. Anyway, getting my first actual bank card was so exciting! And as the years went on I accumulated more and more bits of plastic.

overflowing wallet

That’s it up there. It doesn’t look that oversized, but whenever I sat down, I knew I was sitting on something. If I had to sit down for more than 5 minutes I’d take it out of my back pocket and either hold it, or put it in my bag so my leg wouldn’t go numb. It contained:

  • 6 debit/credit cards
  • my ID
  • my personal licence (to sell alcohol)
  • 5 store points cards (Nectar/Clubcard etc.)
  • 10 different café stamp cards
  • 2 climbing wall membership cards
  • a railcard
  • 2 library cards
  • 2 student IDs
  • a bookstore card
  • 5 business cards from other people
  • 5 of my own defunct business cards.
  • Oh, and a lot of random receipts…

So I figured I’d try minimise my wallet. While I can’t just get rid of all of them I can certainly be wiser in choosing what I take around with me all the time.

Here are my Minimalist Wallet Rules:

Only carry 1 bank card.

If you’re living a minimalist lifestyle you’re not going to be buying many things, so choose an account you’re going to spend from and only take that card.

Use Apple/Android Pay

So if you’re a sceptic you may not want to do this, but I find it super handy! I still tend to pay with the card I’ve designated, but it’s useful to know that there is a backup on your phone just in case something happens to that one.

Take your ID

If you’re lucky enough to look young and live in a country which IDs people a lot, you’ll probably need this with you.

Use a points & loyalty card app

The one I’ve downloaded is Stocard (iOS & Android). It allows you to enter all the major supermarket cards (Nectar, Clubcard, Waitrose etc.) and various shops (Holland & Barrett, Cotswold, Subway, Waterstones) and you can add your own (I’ve added my two climbing gym cards, Mile End Climbing Wall & The Caste). That’s taken 8 cards out of my wallet!!

Alternatively, download loyalty apps

Many of the major supermarkets have their own store apps. Clubcard, Waitrose (which you can use to scan your shopping as you go), Nectar (not a great one), Subway and more. If you don’t want to use an app like Stocard, use their own app!

Don’t carry cash

If you live in a city, almost everywhere you go will probably take card. In fact more and more places are only taking card! Less cash? More space! As a restaurant in Gothenburg said on its window: “Card is King!” – or in our case, 1 card is King!

Have a ‘Home Wallet’

I have repurposed my old wallet to be my ‘Home Wallet’. It’s got all the cards I don’t carry on me. So my other bank cards, my loyalty cards, café stamp cards all stay there. If I know I’m going to need a card that day, I take it with me. So I only carry my Railcard when I know I’m taking the train! There are two benefits to doing this: 1) it makes you think about what you’re doing that day. Increasing you awareness, and 2) it stops you spending unnecessarily – if I don’t have my café stamp card I don’t have a coffee. Of course I could just get a new stamp card and combine them, but this is where self discipline comes into to play. If I didn’t set out to have a coffee that day, I’d be falling back into auto-pilot if I did have one.

The Results?

Minimalist Wallet
Reduced from 41 cards down to 5!! (Needed a new slimline wallet)

My wallet now contains: 1 bank card, my ID, my 2 student IDs & my railcard (as I now take the train everyday). I’ve reduced from 41 cards down to 5! And I’ve never needed a card and not had it. Fed up with carrying all those cards? Change it.

Got any other suggestions to minimise your wallet? Comment below!

Why you should quit Facebook | Young Minimalist

7 reasons to delete Facebook

Why you should delete Facebook.

After having deactivated my Facebook account for 7 months and then permanently deleting my Facebook account 2 months ago, here’s what I have found:

1. I have so much more free time

Without the urge to scroll through the endless ‘news’ feed of Facebook I have discovered free time in the day that I never used to have. Giving me more time to focus on things I want to do. Like starting this blog!! I’ve found it easier to do my daily exercises. And I read the news more.

2. I sleep better

Since I don’t ‘need’ my phone by me all the time now, I am able to digitally switch off in the evenings much easier than before. I can turn off all my electronics 2 hours before I go to bed, and this allows my body to wind down naturally. I have consistently slept well for way over a month and a half now!

3. I connect with people more

Not knowing what other people are doing means I text and call people more than I used to. My close friends are still my close friends, but now I actually speak to them, personally. I spend some of the time I would have spent on Facebook, grabbing a coffee with them and actually talking. I feel like my relationships have deepened and grown to a new level.

4. I’ve stopped comparing myself

One of the biggest issues with (social) media is that we compare. We know we compare ourselves to the models on catwalks, to the ‘successful’ businessmen in corporations and to celebrities. But what many of us don’t realise is that we also compare ourselves to our friends. Our brains processes this in exactly the same way. The less time you spend online, the less time you spend comparing and contrasting your flaws with their (carefully curated) perfections. The better you feel about yourself and the more you define your own world.

5. I want less things

Facebook use all the data they collect from your connected platforms to sell prime advertising spaces. The adverts you see on your Facebook page are catered for you. They know what music you like through Spotify, what sort of partners you’re interested in through Tinder, what your hobbies are through MeetUp. They track everything they possibly can. So, even though you may not click or buy the things they are advertising on the right of your page, your brain is still engaging with them. And urges will develop. Since I’ve reduced my usage of social media, my exposure to adverts has reduced significantly. And I’ve become less prone to wanting to buy new things!

6. I experience more

Without having the urge to share or upload things all the time, I’ve started living in the moment more. At concerts I’m taken away by the music. In cafés I notice how all my senses that react to the sound of the grinder, the smell of espresso, the sights of the cakes and the smiles of the baristas. My increased awareness of all that is happening around me has brought me a new sense of joy in life that I only remember experiencing as a kid. It’s great!

7. I’m more positive

Of course it’s hilarious to see that rant by someone who sent their food back because it was cold, and then complained about bad service. And even more hilarious to see the response from the manager pointing out the fact that had they not spent 15 minutes photographing their food their food would in fact be hot still. But what’s the point? Why deal with all that negativity when you could be getting on with your life? With the things that matter to you? Take away others’ negativity and be left with your positivity. It’ll do wonders!

You don’t need Facebook.

Overall, life without Facebook is great! I still use Twitter for this blog, and I have a personal Instagram account. Neither of them I use that often however and the constant feeling of needing to keep up-to-date is quite frankly tiring, so I might get rid of them soon. The truth is, life without social media is great!

Why not try it for 2 weeks and see how your life changes?

Whilst writing this post I actually realised that the Instagram account I had for it was a waste of time, so I’ve even deleted that.