Balancing Frugality, Minimalism and Anti-Consumerist Philosophy

I have at various times claimed to be a proponent for minimalism, frugality and anti-consumerism. However in their pure form these three philosophies and lifestyles can potentially conflict with each other.

This is a description of how I personally balance these different ideals in my lifestyle in a guess what might be better referred to a ‘Simple Living’. Of course i’m not saying that this his how you should personally live your life this is merely an example and an opportunity for me to self-reflect on where I stand on each lifestyle.

Now firstly some quick definitions in terms of how i see each of these as ideals:

minimalism: reducing one’s possessions and ‘things’ to only what is necessary or adds value to life. May also be applied to other areas of life such friendships, eating style etc, the point is minimizing the unnecessary.

frugality: being economical or thrifty, saving money.

anti-consumerism: opposing consumerist culture, usually because of its environmental impact, although this may not be exclusively the reason people support this idea.

At first these may seem very compatible and they can be but there are many examples of living these different lifestyle that is in direct opposition to these other ideals. One extreme version of frugality is the antithesis of anti-consumerism and minimalism as it involves buying a lot of things, a lot of cheap things. The version of frugality though that is about saving money overall is less in opposition to the other ideas and the version that I personally practice.

Being minimalist can also be in direct conflict with frugality and anti-consumerism. One version of this lifestyle may still involve buying a lot of things over time and possibly very expensive things, the key aspect is not holding on to many things at one time. For example it is quite common for people with capsule wardrobes to buy new items of clothing every season and following this minimalist technique can actually make people feel justified to make these new purchases they might otherwise not have made as well as things that are more expensive (i’ve witnessed this first hand in people i know personally. No judgement here btw).

Ok so how to I put all these different philosophies together in a way that isn’t in terrible conflict with each theory and in a way that is productive for my life.

My version of frugality is about saving money overall. This means that at times it is going to save me money to buy a more expensive better quality item that will last much longer than many cheaper flimsier items. BIFL (buy it for life) is an awesome concept for this and very compatible with an anti-consumerist perspective as if it is possible to buy very long lasting things (when they are affordable) then there will be less unnecessary consumption (better for the environment) and usually money saved in the long term.

My version of minimalism is having less non-consumable things and usually these cost less. I do at times buy things like food and toilet paper in bulk to save money and to have less packaging as i care about that aspect for environmental reasons and live in a rural location where shopping is more difficult. This is not a particularly minimalist practice. This is why i have separated consumables from non-consumables as i would never buy large numbers of clothing for example even if it were to save money, I just purchase what i need. I also get 2nd hand items where i can and they are of reasonable quality. The majority of my clothing right now is bought second hand. This therefore fits well within an anti-consumerist and frugal perspective and works also with minimalism as i still have just what is necessary in terms of my clothing and other non-consumable items. I am also starting to explore minimalism in other areas of my life such as my relationship with food although this is a work in progress.

My version of anti-consumerism is using minimalism to help me consume less overall and the frugal practice of buying 2nd hand as well.

So in this way I see myself as a frugal minimalist. If you like these philosophies how do you balance them in your life?


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