The Problem With Equating Minimalism With Luxury and Wealth
Why is it that so often when Googling or checking for minimalism related things we are met with scenery of luxury and high end products that cost an arm and a leg? Should minimalism really be about buying and maintaining the most expensive items or high-end brand allegiance? I often encounter articles and content that plainly equates minimalism as a phenomenon only for the rich.
I think a good microcosm of my approach to minimalism would be tech products. When curating tech I try to strike the balance between what is not enough and what is too much instead of jumping to the most expensive option with bells and whistles that I will never use. This is because I want to use my time (money) to curate experiences more than I curate products and I desire to find what is enough for me.
This means instead of a $1,000 phone I carry one that retails at $299 or at least try to carry it to see if it’s enough. This means instead of carrying a $400 bag I carry the $70 one, or try to carry the $70 one to see if it’s enough. This means I use a $200 Asus C302 instead of a $1,000 Pixelbook, or at least try to see if it’s right for me. And to be entirely redundant, this means instead of buying $150 wireless earbuds I buy the $35 wireless earbuds that work for my needs fine.
As an aside on the topic of tech, people often jump straight to Apple in the minimalist community because they have fallen in love with the corporation and may not see most of the functions and aesthetic available in the Apple ecosystem are now mostly available elsewhere. I’ve caught myself wanting to curate products by brand in the past and stopped myself with the Pixel line because it’s misdirectioned glorification of brand. It’s not looking for what is enough. If material minimalism is about finding what is enough for you to live happily and without excess this behavior definitely fails to meet our expectations.
This might also outline why I find it problematic to equate minimalism in this way because it’s minimalism for the rich and puts up a perceived wall of admission. I think minimalism only has to equate to luxury if what is enough for you individually happens to be that luxury. The great thing about luxury is it’s variable between people. Our personal definition is nothing short of malleable. I’m not saying that you can’t find the iPhone in the Apple lineup that represents what is enough for you. What I am proposing is that because we define luxury for ourselves there is no requirement or price of admission for it beyond what we decide. I feel no lacking of luxury in my life with what I own because I’ve decided what is enough to constitute luxury for myself. Perhaps how we define luxury for ourselves and our own needs, needs to change radically. One thing is for sure though, there is no price of admission if you’re looking to apply material minimalism to your own life.
If you would like to read more about the concept of enough author Patrick Rhone has written extensively on the idea in conjunction with minimalism in his book Enough. I also have another post up which discusses applying minimalism as a tool for adventure and self agency if you’re curious as to how applying minimalism can open up additional opportunities in your life.