For better or for worse, when I picture minimalists I picture some of the leaders in the industry: Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists, and Leo Babauta of Zen Habits— and I find that they all have something in common.
They’re men over 35. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing— I find inspiration every day from all four of these fantastic writers, but sometimes you just want to hear from people who are… well, more like you.
That’s why I started this blog. Mindful minimalist living changed and continues to change my life every day, and I wanted to be able to reach other people like me— the gals, typically between 18-29— in a way they could relate to. Our lives are similar to the guys mentioned above in many ways, but they are also quite different. Women face different pressures. Women are marketed to differently, and expected to present themselves in certain ways to society, and so often our minimalism looks different. We have different items and pressures to deal with, and different expectations.
I firmly believe that moving towards some degree of mindful minimalist lifestyle is for everyone whether you’re a young twenty-something like most of us here, or an empty-nester dealing with years of accumulated junk, or a new mum or dad. But I think that minimalism is particularly powerful for millennials, and here’s why.
1. You have fewer years of bad habits to undo
At this stage in our life, most of us can still see the walls and floors of our houses. Though you can still accumulate a lot of stuff in the years away from home, we’ve got an easier journey to a minimalist lifestyle than someone with 40 years of accumulated crap, plus the crap of all their children who have moved out.
Most of us haven’t been away from our parents’ home for that long, and we’re in the perfect place to start taking our life into our own hands and really shaping the kind of mindful lifestyle that will bring us the most fulfilment and joy. Were at the stage where we can really begin to live our personal values, rather than getting by under the values of others (if they don’t match our own).
2. You have more freedom to travel/explore
Let’s be honest— most of us don’t have our shit figured out yet. We’re in university, or just out of university and we’re really unsure about the job situation. We’re supposed to be deciding what we want to do with the rest of our lives, even though we know that things don’t exactly work that way anymore (and probably never will). So, what’s a twenty-something to do?
Your twenties is the perfect time to be able to travel, explore, see the world, expand your worldview, Eat Pray Love, etc. When you’re less tied down by your possessions (and are spending less money to acquire them) it is easier and more affordable to go on the trip of your dreams. When you apply smart finances and a minimalist outlook to your travel aspirations, you’ll be amazed what you can achieve on a small budget. My husband and I went backpacking for our honeymoon while both of us were in grad school AND while throwing gobs of money at my own student debt. It was the best experience of my life.
3. It'll help you retire before the arthritis and bad hips take you down
Our generation is getting a bit of a raw deal. The job market is changing rapidly (and not in our favour unless the government starts offering a guaranteed monthly allowance), and the guarantee of a retirement fund at 65 is basically gone. Most people I know aren’t expecting to retire until they’re 68 or even 70.
But there is good news. With a minimalist lifestyle and a seriously good budget you won’t have to rely on the government to retire and you definitely won’t have to wait until you’re 65. You might not believe it, but with a steady income and smart investing strategies you can retire in 10-20 years (depending on how good that steady income is, of course). Time is on your side. The younger you are when you start saving, the more compound interest will bless your life.
“Someone who puts $4,000 a year into retirement accounts starting at 22 can have $1 million by age 62, assuming 8% average annual returns. Wait 10 years to start contributing, and you’d have to put in more than twice as much – $8,800 a year – to reach the same goal.”
Except you’re a smart cookie, and you’re going to be putting away way more than $4000 a year (realistically, to retire with your knees still in good shape, you’ll want to be putting away about 25%).
4. We understand the consequences
We’ve probably seen enough documentaries and heard enough on the news to know: things are a little rocky right now. I’m the kind of person who will typically take a positive outlook, but our habits have got to change if we want to have a healthy planet to live on over the next few decades.
We’ve seen what the rampant, compulsive consumerism of our parents generation brings, and we have the ability to make a mindful decision to choose otherwise. We can take the time to live a little more slow, and a shop a little more local. To learn how to spend wisely, and to get a little more self-sufficient. To spend more time with our loved ones, and less time chasing the acquisition of meaningless things.
The ability to make a change is in our hands and no-one else’s. Each decision we make moves us forward or backward. Which direction are you heading?
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And now I want to know: which part of minimalism can you most relate to as a millennial? Let us know in the comments below!