Minimalism Puts Money In Its Place

March 4, 2016 Carol 4 comments

The expression “You can’t take it with youoriginates from a film of the same name.

This quote, spoken by the film’s character Grandpa Martin Vanderhoff, encapsulates the meaning of the expression:

Maybe it’ll stop you trying to be so desperate about making more money than you can ever use? You can’t take it with you, Mr. Kirby. So what good is it? As near as I can see, the only thing you can take with you is the love of your friends.

Grandpa is putting money in its place. If you as an individual want to live simply, you’ll need to do the same. If we as a species want to thrive, our societies must reevaluate the meaning of wealth.

Take The Money Quiz

Mentally mark each statement below either True or False.

  1. Money can make you happy.
  2. We should consume more to help our economy grow.
  3. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the best measure of a country’s prosperity.
  4. There has always been a wide gulf between the richest and the poorest.
  5. Trickle-down economics works for everyone. The richer the rich get, the better our economy does.
  6. I want to live in a world where the 1 per cent own more than the rest of us combined.

For the answers, see 6 Myths About Money.

Minimalism Puts Money In Its Place

As we saw in Myths and Magic of Decluttering, the amount of stuff we possess can have a profound effect on our well-being. Less is more. As Mike Burns says, “When we narrow our focus, we have greater impact in those areas.”


Envision a scale that balances the material side of life with the non-material side. Moving things from the material side of the scale will allow you to place more valuable things on the non-material side. In a way it all comes down to capacity. You and I can only “fit” so much into our lives. The more time and energy we devote to the accumulation of material things, the less time and energy we have for the things that truly matter (such as family, relationships, personal passions).

Minimalism is one of the primary attributes of the simple life. In Living With Less, author Rebecca J. Rosen sits down with Joshua Fields and Ryan Nicodemus to discuss what a minimalist lifestyle means to them. Joshua Fields says, “As a minimalist, everything I own serves a purpose or brings me joy. And everything else is out of the way.” Ryan Nicodemus adds, “Clearing the clutter from my life allowed me to regain control of my focus, my time, my finances.”

Voluntary simplicity, or simple living, is a way of life that rejects the high-consumption, materialistic lifestyles of consumer cultures and affirms what is often just called ‘the simple life’ or ‘downshifting.’
What Is Voluntary Simplicity | The Simplicity Collective

As Duane Elgin has famously defined it, voluntary simplicity is ‘a manner of living that is outwardly simple and inwardly rich, … a deliberate choice to live with less in the belief that more life will be returned to us in the process.’ In his article Simplicity Is Not Sacrifice!, Elgin says:

Contrary to media myths, consumerism offers lives of sacrifice while simplicity offers lives of opportunity. Simplicity creates the opportunity for greater fulfillment in work, meaningful connection with others, feelings of kinship with all life, and awe of a living universe. This is a rich way of life that offers a compelling alternative to the stress, busyness, and alienation of the modern era.

The Power of Minimalism

The power of minimalism is derived from the fact that it puts money in its place.

For you, for me, for our societies, and for our planet — Minimalism puts money in its place. 

If you as an individual want to live simply, practicing minimalism can help with that. It can help you balance the material side of life with the non-material side. It can help you focus on the things that truly matter.

If we as a species want to thrive, our societies must reevaluate the meaning of wealth. If you took The Money Quiz above, and read the answers, you know that our relationships toward money and our attitudes toward money can mean the difference between a thriving planet and a dying planet. Simple living could save our planet!

Are you beginning to reimagine your life as a minimalist? Can you forecast some positive outcomes as you move in that direction? 

4 Comments on “Minimalism Puts Money In Its Place

  1. We downsized all the way to living full-time in a motorhome. That let us go explore this wonderful country. It took us three years to visit all 48 contiguous states and we greatly enjoyed doing it. What a lot of wonderful, and some not so wonderful, history this country has. And what a wide variety of nature and local traditions! Downsizing can free you to go and do whatever appeals to you.

  2. In regards to the second question, I think that as societies, we need to realize that our economies don’t necessarily need consumption or over-consumption to grow. However, there are many different ways of defining the notion of growth. ]

    Sadly, I have limited knowledge on economics, but I hope to read an interesting book that links simple living with economics soon. It’s called Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered by E.F. Schumacher. Thanks for the great post Carol!

    1. Hello Marco, I too have minimum knowledge of economics.In my post “6 Myths About Money.” , I do try to address this question:

      2. We should consume more to help our economy grow.

      A: False!

      The Forbes article Think Consumption Is The ‘Engine’ Of Our Economy? Think Again. offers a good explanation. As Forbes contributor John Papola explains, “If the economy were a car, consumer preferences would surely be the steering wheel, but real savings and investment would be the engine that drives it forward.”

      However, the real question should be: “Do we want our economies to grow?” Check out the Common Questions page on Post Growth Institute’s website. Here is an excerpt:

      Because the earth has biological limits, it is both physically impossible and an unacceptable risk for humanity as a whole to pursue growth indefinitely. For our own security and safety, we need to move beyond the widely accepted belief that we can continue to grow our economies, our populations and our consumption of material resources forever.

      Thanks for reading, and thanks for the book recommendation!

      Wishing you well,

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