My New Lifestyle ~ Extreme Minimalist Living

It seems we live in an age of extremes. Extreme sports. Extreme political views. Extreme fiscal challenges. Extreme incivility.

As a public employee, I find myself a scapegoat for the apparent evil befalling our country. Too much government. The message has been loud and clear. I don’t deserve my salary. I don’t deserve my benefits. I have it too easy.

I attended a meeting today in which I was told I may see a 10% reduction in my salary next year (on top of the 5.8% reduction I experienced this past year) or I could work more hours (a total of 19 days) to make the same salary. I gotta tell you I am a positive person, but this is getting pretty heavy.

So, what does a public employee do when faced with these challenges? I choose to embrace extreme minimalist living.

What have I given up this past year? Here’s my top 10:

  1. Starbucks, Caribou Coffee and all other Coffee Houses
  2. Purchasing books and magazines- I use OverDrive, Freading and walk to my public library to loan books and magazines for my reading habit
  3. Travel – it is nice to just stay home
  4. Paid apps – free apps are plentiful
  5. New clothes – I downloaded the free Nike Training Club app, gave up sugar and am losing weight because I need to look good in the clothes I already own rather than purchasing clothes that (I think) make me look good
  6. Trips to stores. If I don’t browse, I don’t purchase.
  7. Eating out
  8. Purchasing gifts – now I make my gifts from items in my home
  9. Trying to get anywhere fast – if I accelerate slowly and coast (a lot) I get better gas mileage… and better yet, if I just walk or bike
  10. Entertainment that costs money

What have I embraced in the past year? Here’s my top 10:

  1. Paying off my home mortgage faster by paying more each month
  2. Über Budgeting
  3. Extreme Couponing and designing meals around local grocery store weekly deals
  4. Repurposing items in my home
  5. Shopping my closet
  6. Goodwill – who knew you could purchase a J.Crew sweater for $4.99?
  7. Pinterest – free recipes and a million DIY ideas
  8. Staying connected with family, friends and news through email, Flipboard, Facebook and Twitter
  9. Vinegar – Did you know that vinegar is an inexpensive alternative to weed killers and drain cleaners?
  10. Water – The free drink of choice

And this lifestyle change is paying off. We recently had our lowest credit card statement since the 1980s. My husband was astounded and I was presented with a new challenge. To beat that low number. I am on pace this month to spend even less. I can’t wait to see our next bill.

Extreme minimalist living has been a change but very rewarding. With a reduced income, life becomes very simple. Time with family, using your talents, depending on yourself. Reminds me of lessons from my grandparents who lived on the prairies of North Dakota. Stuff is stuff but family and friends are not only priceless, they are free.

Scott Stapp’s song, The Great Divide, is one of my favorites. Enjoy the music and may you also be set ‘free’ to live your life…

16 thoughts on “My New Lifestyle ~ Extreme Minimalist Living”

  1. Hey, that actually sounds pretty good! I don’t do coffee shops, we rarely eat out, unless we are traveling…I must admit, that is our major life luxury. Living in Alaska, we have to get out to see family and to find warmth and sunshine! But we are working on changing our location, just talked tonight about the fact that if we were in a place we wanted to be, we wouldn’t need expensive vacations!
    You make extreme minimalist living sound easy and graceful. But I know it isn’t that simple. I hope you find a comfortable middle path for the coming year. Working more doesn’t sound fun, but you can only go so minimalist! Thanks for the round up of great ideas! ~ Sheila

    1. It is pretty good although the other day someone said I should really once in my life take a surfing lesson in Hawaii. I looked at them with a smile and said, ‘Actually, I doubt I will ever get to Hawaii but if I do, I will take your suggestion into consideration.’ Made me smile.

  2. Loved your list :) You are making steady, impactful, profound changes. I’ve lost some lbs working out at home (free) and am enjoying “shopping” my closet, too.

    Great post! MJ

  3. I am impressed by your reaction to such selfishness on the part of others. I am tired of the attitude that public servants aren’t worth what they’re getting. Well, that’s true. You’re worth much, much more.

    But you and your husband are inspirations.

    1. Thanks Elyse… I had to take a break from writing on the blog for a while, I was starting to feel too down and negative and didn’t want that to reflect in my writing because I am really a positive person. But this political climate is getting to me. Luckily, I am stronger than all of the negativity that is being spewed…just took a few days.

  4. That is fantastic and is exactly what i am trying to do on our small sustainable farm, because I am lucky enough to be able to grow my own food as well. Credit is a killer. To get your debt level down must be a wonderful feeling. A powerful feeling. I challenge myself with the electricity bill, getting it lower and lower each season! If i don’t need it, I don’t buy it. And if i cannot pay for it I cannot have it. These are my two shopping rules. They sound a lot like yours!! i shop twice a year for clothes replacements and once a month for groceries.. it makes a huge difference .. c

  5. Isn’t it interesting how many things and activities have become part of the standard way of living for the majority of people, but were the lifestyle of the rich not all that long ago. Unfortunately, it isn’t sustainable in a climate built on ‘buy today, pay tomorrow.’ The public employees are always the first ones who get caught in the squeeze when governments finally figure out that the public taxpayer well isn’t bottomless. So sorry to hear that you are one of the victims, but it is very impressive how you have adapted. Clearly you are one smart cookie!

  6. Me too…
    I am Taoist and have been eliminating things for a few years now. I never drank coffee or smoked but my diet was not too good. My father was a wonderful man but like many people that grew up during the great depression he was sort of a hoarder.
    A lot of us were raised by people like that. I have now gotten my clutter under control and can see how I could be an extreme minimalist. Actually, I am already. I need transport, and a few things like a room to live in and I’m lucky I live in Hawaii (or was it the smartest thing I ever did?) because you need less here and there is lots of good food around like the Mango tree outside my door!

    Still after researching Minimalism…. I am one and it seems like it will become more pronounced as time goes by… the less I have the less I want to have it is exciting! I just ask myself “will this item support my mission”? I mean I even say it out loud to myself as I am De-clutering and guess what, most things do not support my mission and it a no-brainer to dump them…


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