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Erin from Broke Millennial rants about minimalism.

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Hi, I'm Erin from Broke Millennial for the Financial Diet.

Welcome to the Three Minute Guide brought to you by Skillshare. In almost fifty episodes of this show you've never really seen me do a rant, so when somebody asked recently in the comments for my thoughts on minimalism I decided it's time that you got to see one.

Here are my unfiltered thoughts on minimalism. For those of you unfamiliar, minimalism has been a growing concept over the last seven years or so. Of course, it predates that as a general concept especially considering many of the major world religions do encourage its leaders and most devoted to give up earthly possessions in the pursuit of a better connection with their higher power.

But I digress. The mainstream popularity of this current version of minimalism did really start to gain traction in our post recession world with it hitting a fever pitch in about 2015. That was around the same time that everyone kept talking about tiny houses.

By fever pitch, I mean that every blogger or influencer for money to fashion seem to be making note of this trend of minimalism. It was discussed in mainstream media and there was even a documentary made about it called, you guessed it, Minimalism. The de-facto founders appropriately called the minimalist describe the movement on their website as "a tool to rid yourself of life's excess in favor of focusing on what's important so you can find happiness fulfillment and freedom." Listen, I'm totally on board with not being owned by your stuff and not consuming to the point of incurring debt or not being competitive about consumption with your friends or neighbors or being mindful of your environmental impact.

Being mindful is important but like any movement, some people just go too far and of course those are the people that tend to get most of the media attention. Like many trendy money concepts, this one had strong intentions but something about the underlying premise just really struck me as problematic. But it's not just feeling annoyed at people that will attack those of us who want to own more than the bare minimum that provides necessary utility, it's also about eye rolling at what feels like truly privileged nonsense.

I recognize that I personally come from a place of immense privilege. I am a white, straight, able-bodied American who never grew up being worried about whether or not my base needs were going to be met. In fact, I'm probably the target audience for minimalism.

But there's just something about preaching that all you need to do is simply shoe life's stuff and it will lead you to a place of purpose and peace. Maybe that does work for some people, but I also can't help but think about the literally billions of people on this planet who are financially forced into minimalism. It's not a choice.

They don't get to look around their apartment and think "ah, does this bring me joy?" They may be more focused on actually finding a place to sleep. Okay sure, I'm taking this critique to the exact opposite end of the spectrum. People will say "well, that's not minimalism intention and you're using an extreme example to prove your point." Fair enough.

I guess my bigger issue is this feeling of moral superiority that often tends to seep out of people who are entrenched in this movement. It's as if they believed they took the red pill and the rest of us are just mindless conception suckers. We're getting these coded messages from advertising agencies combined with societal pressure that just makes us act like lemmings.

If you want to own more than 33 items in your wardrobe or more than a single set of dishware or live in a space larger than 200 square feet, it does not mean that you are being mindless or excessive. Sometimes stuff is great. My husband and I recently upgraded all of our kitchenware and it has been amazing.

We own far more tools than we did before but we actually are encouraged to cook at home more. We can make certain dishes that we couldn't before and it has reduced the amount that we go out to eat. Having the appropriate tools even makes cooking more enjoyable for the both of us.

Minimalism is often positioned as a cure-all to live a more meaningful life and whether the movement intended it or not, it is far too focused on material possessions. Even when describing the movement on the minimalist website it says "that doesn't mean there's anything inherently wrong with owning material possessions." Today's problem seems to be the meaning we assigned to our stuff. "We tend to give too much meaning to our things often forsaking our health, our relationships, our passions, our personal growth, and our desire to contribute beyond ourselves." But is it really the stuff that's getting in our way or is it the fact that we can constantly be distracted without allowing ourselves a single moment of introspection? That we don't give our minds enough quiet to bring up what may be truly bothering us?

I could pare down all of my possessions to a few pieces of clothing, a cell phone, and a laptop and I'd still be able to constantly distract myself by reading or watching TV or watching YouTube or listening to podcasts. I could ignore much of what is gnawing at the back of my mind because I don't allow myself to just sit in the quiet and reflect. I can consume just as much without possessions, it's just a different type of consumption.

Is it really our possessions that's standing in the way of our happiness and contentment or is it our unwillingness to confront what actually may be at the root of our discontent? Perhaps ultimately both lifestyles minimalism and consumerism are ultimately just different forms of compulsion and addiction. After all, any far end of the spectrum is still an extreme.

Whether you like minimalism or maximalism in your space, you can learn how to customize it to your heart's desire by learning the basics of interior design. One place you can learn that skill without hiring a pro with a huge price tag is with Skillshare which provides an easy and affordable way to expand your talents. Every week, we're featuring a different Skillshare class we think you guys will love.

This week's class is Interior Styling: Style Your Space like a Pro, hosted by designer Justina Blakeney. This class offers key tips and tricks for upgrading your home without investing a ton of money. As always though, Skillshare offers a huge range of high-quality classes on must know topics from writing to fitness to business and it's all about what you want to learn at an affordable annual subscription of less than ten dollars a month.

And since Skillshare is sponsoring this video, the first 500 people to use a promo link in the description will get their first two months free to try it out risk-free. Click the link in the description to check out this week's featured class or any of the other classes Skillshare has to offer. Have a money question you want to learn more about?

Leave your topic idea in the comments section below. I'm Erin from Broke Millennial for the Financial Diet and don't forget to be here next Thursday for a new Three Minute Guide. Bye.