There’s this thing that a lot of bloggers (also ) I follow do at the end of the year– reflect on “what worked” and what didn’t. It’s a great tool to reflect over the past year and integrate new things into the year ahead. Since things have been pretty serious around the blog the past few months, I’m going to be sprinkling in some more stories on our experiments with minimalism starting with my variation of the 2016 “what worked for me”: the things we did without in 2016…
We try not to have a lot of stuff. There are Jesus reasons for this, environmental reasons for this, stay out of debt reasons for this, and “we’re just scared of not being able to travel” reasons for this. If you’re looking for some inspiration to get your own minimalist life moving, here is the list of things we did without in 2016:
Car : To be honest, this did not start out as a choice, because I totaled our car in 2015! But then we got used to it, and realized we didn’t really need one. This was possible because we live in a small college town where we could bike to the store, to work (the university), to friends houses (they all live near the university) and pretty much anywhere we needed to go. Most of the time we could get rides to the airport (2 hours away) for longer travels. Did it work? Mostly. One thing that wasn’t my favorite about this was feeling needy and dependent on friends for when we really did need rides (like to the doctor or to church small group). There is NO way we could have survived with no car without a super supportive community. We tried to always pitch in for gas and oil changes and stuff, but still. Also, although this was a small town, and we were fine with bikes, this is pick-up truck country, y’all. People definitely thought we were crazy, and it’s not like there are bike lanes or anything. But I’m glad we did it. I really feel like I could live pretty much anywhere without a car. And free exercise.
Car insurance: No car, no insurance. Did it work? Uh, yeah, no car.
Washing machine: Our apartment has no washing machine, plus, our apartment laundromat was taken out by a tornado last Spring. So we’ve been biking to the downtown laundromat to do laundry this year. Did it work? It worked kind of. It was kind of a pain, and I’m excited to be able to drive to the laundromat now instead of biking. We did it because we had to…but voluntarily I wouldn’t do it again!
Internet at Home: My husband is a grad student, and most of his internet work needs his powerful computers at his office anyway. Since I teach at the university, I also have unlimited free internet on campus. So we went without home internet. For a while our apartment neighbour shared with us (for free! We tried to pay him, but he wouldn’t take it, so we gave him cookies). Turns out it is cheaper for me to go to coffee shops when I need internet than to pay for it at home. We worked out that I could literally go to a coffee shop 3 times a week, and it would still be cheaper. Did it work? Yes. We’re continuing the plan this year, so I guess it worked. So far it really hasn’t been too much of an inconvenience.
Cellphone contract: We paid for our phones upfront in 2015 and before, and love Republic Wireless, which lets us pay a monthly free of just $15 per phone for calls and texting, and we can purchase bundles of data when we need them. David has never purchased bundles this year, I generally do so I can catch SA work-related things from home. Did it work? Totally. If we weren’t on Republic, we’d probably be on Google Fi, which works on the same principle.
TV: So far we’ve enjoyed watching DVD’s for free from our local library, or going to the office to use the internet and watching TV shows for free online. We’ve also been given some Netflix gift cards which we use for the DVD subscriptions, or streaming. When epic sports events happen, we just hang out with friends who have TV’s, and watching sports with friends is more fun anyway. Did it work? Duh. Who needs a TV?
Kindle: I resold my kindle back to Amazon this year, and I haven’t missed it. I had a very old kindle, so while it was nice to read on, it was a bit difficult to navigate with the small buttons. I downloaded the free kindle app to my smartphone, and now I do most of my kindle reading on there. Did it work? Yes! I love looking on overdrive for books from our library on my phone and having it download straight to my kindle app. If I get a new phone, I might get one with a larger screen since I realize I actually read a lot on my phone.
Microwave: We were given one when we moved in 2015, and we were super grateful for it! But when it stopped working, we realized we really didn’t need it. Did it work? Yes! I don’t think we’ll ever get another one. I miss microwave mug cakes, but that’s it!
Automatic Coffee maker: Again, a gift that we were super thankful for, but then when the pot broke and we realized it was more expensive to replace the pot than buy a whole new one, we opted to do neither and instead got a french press. Did it work? Yes! It’s way smaller, and works just as well.
This is the list I could think of off the top of my head! I’m sure there’s more…but on the whole, having less stuff worked great!
Okay you other minimalists out there– what stuff have you removed from your life, and is it working? Have any “stuff goals” for this year?