Are you minimalist or materialistic

Materialism makes you unhappy - the minimalist life

Buying is great. Owning things is great. More is better. I feel bad, so there is frustration buying and I feel better. Does that sound familiar? Just very good to me. I lived like this for a long time, owned a lot of things and kept buying new things. But old things are only removed now and then. So a lot really accumulated over time. But one day this changed for me. I don't want to own so much anymore. Owning things means ballast. Not only when you move, but also in general. I just feel better when I don't have so many things and the closets are relatively manageable. That makes decisions easier and I can concentrate more on quality.

What is the point if I have 5 wristwatches, of which I may wear 3 regularly? And what if all of them are possibly only of mediocre quality so that I can buy several? Then it would actually make more sense if I only had one watch that is of high quality and goes with everything. Quality instead of quantity is not a stupid approach. Especially when it comes to everyday objects that I use every day. Smartphone, wallet, wristwatch, clothes. Or even my bed, my desk and the desk chair that goes with it.

How much do you need to live?

You really don't need much to live. You need clothes, a place to live, and food. This would already have satisfied your basic needs. In addition, there are a few things that are part of life. A bed, a smartphone, the Internet, maybe a bike if you use it to go to work every day. But you don't really need many of the items you own. Take a look around your room, now. Do you see some items that you rarely use and actually don't need? You could still get money for this

The thought experiment

There is also a very nice thought experiment that I have heard of a number of times. And it's really good and opened my eyes in some ways.
Throw everything you own in a heap. Really everything. Every detail. Then take out the things you need every day. Closets, clothes, smartphones, etc ...

If you now go through all the remaining things, or if you think “you can use that” for some, then put them in a box. If you need something, you take it out of the box. But what is still unused in the box after a year can be removed.

If you play that through in your mind and look at some things that you never actually use, then you will find a lot. Decoration, old clothes or an old laptop. Maybe even the television or the hi-fi system.

Away with old things

These things can go. If you have less, you are happier. At least that's how I feel, but so do many others. Just give it a try and sell some of your things on ebay or various flea markets. You can find buyers for everything. Even for old shoes or electronics that have been outdated for a long time. Just take a look on ebay for a few things that you might sell. You will be surprised how much you can still get some for. And money is money. You can then use that and invest in new, high-quality things or use the money as a reserve.

I've been selling my old things for many weeks now. Always on ebay. Others swear by clothing tops or shpock for clothing and the like. I would put bigger things in on ebay classifieds. Made good money as a result and feel more comfortable. What do old things bring me in the closets? Ok, forget memories. But even some of these can be parted with. It doesn't make me happier having 3 old laptops lying around. However, it makes me happy when I have a modern laptop that will stay with me for years to come.

New watch, new wallet, new clothes. Away with the old one. Instead of additional purchases, there will only be replacement purchases in the future. In other words: a new pair of jeans is only available if the old one is broken. There are no additional jeans.

Duplicate items and memorabilia

Take a look around your room or apartment. You certainly own some things twice. Just in case you have a second copy at hand. But as I like to say: You don't really need "just in case" things. However, there are exceptions here as well. I like to have a spare hard drive here, which serves as a backup hard drive.
When it comes to memorabilia, opinions differ. Many like to keep some things that you associate with an event or a memory. With things like that, I always wonder if I really need this thing for memory. The memory stays in my memory, even without an object. Everyone has to decide for themselves - it's a matter of taste.


So far, most of my tips have related to the living room and bedroom. However, if you are the proud owner of an entire apartment, then you have even more rooms. One of them is the kitchen. Here, too, there are many things that you don't really need anymore. Do you really need three pans and five pots? At most in rare exceptional cases. Thus, a lot can be sorted out here too. In addition, many people also tend to literally collect glasses. It's more than unlikely that you want to have a 40 person party with glasses where everyone needs one, right?


Some of them also have a lot lying around in the bathroom. Do you really need that many hygiene and cosmetic items? Is that much makeup needed? Do you need 20 towels?
My bathroom is quite manageable. Ok, I'm a man too, but still. Every now and then something accumulates in me too. And especially when you go on vacation, you realize what you need of all that stuff. Mostly just the basics.

Garbage on the go

When you deal with a minimalist life, at some point there comes a point where you are interested in other food options, but also start thinking about your own consumption. While this has nothing to do with a minimalist home, it has to do with a minimalist life. Many take a coffee to-go with them every day. Over the course of the year, the small cup alone adds up to a rather large pile of paper every day. There is also the plastic lid. In general, there is a lot of food and drink that you can take with you. Packed in styrofoam or something similar. That adds up. Or if you buy a lot of products that are double and triple packed (Amazon's frustration-free packaging is a nice approach to it). Or capsule systems. There are a lot of products here that create a lot of garbage.

And while we generally have it from garbage: Even the free newspapers with the advertising brochures that come in the mailbox every weekend also add up to a large mountain of waste paper over the year. A small sticker on the mailbox can significantly reduce this mountain.

Old documents

But we have more than just objects in the apartment. Old documents are also important. Invoices, receipts, old brochures. Most are punched and filed.

But let's be honest: we will never need most of the documents again. Or when we need you, we are always looking for you. So I've got used to simply scanning in all documents and invoices, etc. It's quick and I have digitally saved all the documents on my hard drive as PDF files. I can search them specifically for keywords and the file name can also be used to quickly find invoices. The whole system is made easier because nowadays you get many invoices by e-mail or online as PDF files.

Letters and the like are simply scanned. If you like to need scratch paper for notes, you can take the back of such letters. I've been doing this for years and have no longer needed normal paper for notes. My Grünspar trash can even helps me with this. And a multifunction printer is usually sufficient for scanning. My Epson XP-610 * prints and scans really fast. However, since I scanned a lot of documents at the beginning, I bought the Canon LiDE 220 *. Wonderful for frequent scanners.

The only exception to this is official letters. You keep something like that. I also keep bills with higher amounts for a few years.
Bank statements also add up. I have switched to a direct bank and thus only receive a monthly summary as a PDF file.
I still have a single folder where all my documents are in. A handful of official letters, medical documents, and a few bills.


Enough of material things. But what about your hard drive? Your smartphone? Your tablet?
Many people have a neat home and a neat desk. But you'd better not look at the PC. The background image is no longer recognizable because of the sheer number of files and the documents are confused over the entire hard drive.
I started grouping my documents early on. Pictures, videos, documents, music, everything has its own folder with useful sub-folders.

Videos and images can be compressed without any loss or with a slight loss, which leaves more space on the hard drive. Documents can be converted into PDF files and usually save space in the process.
And do you really need the 500 cute cat photos? And the last 200 downloads? Such things can and should be deleted regularly.

  • Compress images:
  • Compress videos:
  • Convert documents to PDF:
    • Adobe Acrobat Pro (e.g. included in CreativeCloud)
    • Free tools like Foxit Reader. This makes it possible to easily create PDFs from Word documents, images or scans.

In addition, cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Mega are a good thing. I can access files from all of my devices and easily share them. This means that some images or documents do not have to be available on all devices, but only in the cloud or they are also automatically synchronized.

Order on the smartphone / tablet also plays an important role. I delete photos / screenshots and videos on a regular basis. I move important files to my computer to save storage space (either directly, via Dropbox or with AirDroid). And apps that are not used are deleted. The same applies to music that has not been heard for a long time.

I also take care of old files on all systems. Cache files, old program remnants, etc. can be deleted as they only take up space. On my PC I use the CCleaner software for this, on the Mac I manually look through the handful of folders. The same goes for my smartphone. Since it is rooted, I can easily look through all folders with a file explorer and delete old Nandroid backups, for example.

But no matter how much is deleted: Always remember to backup!

My 2 cents

And I think that's a good thing. I feel more comfortable in my life. And you can do that too. Just take the step. At first I wasn't sure either, but it was a really good decision. I can use the money earned by selling all the old things sensibly and I have a lot less baggage in life. Or being spoiled for choice as to what to wear. I can also travel or move more easily. I was really motivated by a lot of texts by digital nomads. These are people who make their money on the Internet. So you only need the Internet and your laptop. This means you can work from anywhere. Most of them love to travel (they are also nomads) and only have a single backpack with them, which has everything they need inside. This really is the ultimate in minimalist living. Too blatant for me at the moment, but I'm working towards it and I find it very motivating and inspiring. It just feels light and great!

If you want to find out more about the life of digital nomads, have a look at Conni from PlanetBackpack or Sebastian from Wireless Life / TravelWorkLife. I also bought the book “Digital, Independent, Free” from Conni, which is worth every penny. The concentrated load of motivation.

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I am an IT entrepreneur / developer and photographer. I'm at home on the web and on the Linux console. My home base is Frankfurt am Main. I like to travel all over the world and read a lot. Think a lot. And on this blog I show a bit of everything. New every week. This is me in blog form. I'm Sven, Hi!