There’s an odd dynamic between maximizing returns and minimizing clutter in one’s life. I’ve been guilty of holding on to possessions far longer than I need them all the while saying to myself “I might need this someday” or “I don’t want to rebuy this”. This is a side of minimalism I don’t often see discussed.
When looking at Instagram pretty pictures or even ones I’ve posted, it may come off as perfection. Every item is used, every possession has it’s home. While that may be a goal you strive towards, to get there would mean discarding everything else in your life.
There are many such tradeoffs when it comes to minimalism – and not all of them make sense.
For example, the minimal investor in me favors a simple 3-fund portfolio. That’s an easy recommendation to make for someone who is starting, but what about someone who already has funds in the market? For that, many more considerations are needed that would depend on the overlap between where they are now and where they want to get to.
For both a person trying to slim down their possessions and someone trying to tweak their portfolio there are steps that can be taken today.
- Not buying more of what you’re trying to move away from.
- Starting to evaluate every decision through the lens of target approach.
If you start doing these two things today, then you’ll gradually shift to where you want to be.
What I love about this approach is that it’s not about what you can’t do, but about changing your behavior to focus on what will guide you towards what you want. Usually that doesn’t mean buying nothing.
One rule I have for myself is for any purchasing decision is to wait price/$100 days before making it. This has prevented me from making some major purchases that I would have regretted. It hasn’t stopped me from buying things altogether though – or I wouldn’t have enjoyed countless hours playing Hollow Knight on my new Nintendo Switch.
For this approach there are two things to accept:
- That things are not going to be perfect.
- That change is a process, not a destination.
As a perfectionist, this is a mindset shift I still struggle with. I want to do what I can to bring my surroundings to their ideal state immediately – but that’s not the best idea.
For me, after making these small changes to future behavior, there comes a point where action is needed to finish the job. For cases like investing, that action may be over the course of years or even decades.
Here are some things I’m still learning to accept:
Learning to accept that you’re going to part with things you have to rebuy later in life.
Learning to accept that even if I paid a lot for something, if I’m not using it (and don’t plan to use it) I should part with it.
Learning to accept sunk costs are a part of life.
Learning to accept that I’ve made poorly thought out purchasing decisions in the past (and that I’ll make them again in the future).
Learning to accept that if you want a diversified portfolio you’ll sometimes sell funds at a loss, or a less-advantaged time than I would otherwise.
Learning to let go of the past and past mistakes.
Learning that every day and every decision is a chance to start anew.