Part of tiny home living, unless you want to live in a Hoarders house or pay for a giant storage unit, is minimizing possessions. Granted, at 399 square feet (plus a loft space) we aren’t going nearly as tiny as what most people think of when they picture a tiny house, but it’s certainly a change from a 1500 square foot, 4 bedroom 2 bath suburban home.
I have generally never been the type of person to collect a lot of personal (ie non-horse related) stuff. I don’t like clutter, I don’t like knick-knacks, and I’m a rather poor decorator since it all just looks like “stuff” to me. If you really want to psychoanalyze it, it’s probably due in large part to a couple things: 1) I’ve moved a lot in my lifetime. Like 17 times in 36 years. There for a while I moved every year basically. You know what sucks? Having to pack up lots of stuff. I learned how to live without things I didn’t like enough to carry up and down 3 flights of apartment stairs. 2) My mother collected all kinds of things. She was tidy about it, and decorative, but there were gas lamps, copper molds, chickens (like thousands of ceramic chickens), deorative plates, fabric, etc etc all over the place. It always felt like there was stuff everywhere, and like if I turned around too fast I might break something. She got joy out of collecting those things, and that’s fine… but I did not, and still don’t. It makes me feel suffocated.
I’m also not really into clothes, or beauty products, or shoes, or jewelry, or whatever else normal people might have a lot of. I tend to wear the same types of things over and over, and the same two pairs of shoes, and I could not give less of a shit about all the different exfoliating scrubs or lotions or whatever else you’re supposed to use that I definitely do not. I’ve got like… 2 things. Hence why the idea of minimalism has been pretty appealing to me – it’s mostly in line with my natural tendencies. Granted, not the particularly “true” more extreme form of minimalism where they own like 4 shirts… that’s a bit much for me. But the idea of having things in much smaller quantities, and only keeping things that you actually use or need? Very appealing.
Except… you know what I AM into, in large quantities?
Yeah I know, that’s probably a real shock, right?
My real vice, when it comes to buying things and keeping excess, is horse stuff. In my own defense, horses do require a lot of shit. Like multiple blankets per horse. Different types of equipment. Boots for different purposes. Bits. So many bits. Sprays, ointments, shampoos. I mean… even if you try to minimize it, they still require a whole lot of shit if you want to be a well prepared horse owner. Also, look, I like having shit that matches and coordinates. Gotta have the boys looking cute. I also like have fun “toys”. However, I will be the first to admit that I’m like 15 steps past what constitutes well prepared.
The real question I had to ask myself though, was: do I want to minimize this part of my life too? If so, how far do I want to go, and then how do I get there?
For the first part I decided that the answer is a bit of a shaky yes, shaky only because – in answer to the second part – I don’t want to go to an extreme. I still want to be a very well-prepared and well stocked equestrian, and I want my horses to have everything they could possibly need in any forseeable training/care/riding/management situation. I have ample storage space, so I don’t have to worry about that part. The real opportunity to minimize comes when I turn the spotlight on myself.
Do I need 16 pairs of breeches? Probably not. So I picked out my favorites – a couple pairs of tights for summer, the one winter pair I own, the “regulars” that I reach for most often, the whites I show in, and the tan I keep for foxhunting. That left me with 9. Still a lot, sure, but… better than 16. I still feel prepared for any situation, so it doesn’t feel like any kind of loss. I did the same with show shirts (god I LOVE show shirts for some reason). Did I need 8? Probably not, considering how little I show. Pared it down to a couple of my favorite white shirts, a couple of colored ones for schooling shows or if jackets are waived, and the rest went in the cull pile. And so it went, weeding out all the things I really just don’t need, and honestly don’t even wear that much. I was left with a smaller but still comprehensive collection of things I truly love and use/wear on at least a semi-regular basis.
But… it’s pretty easy to just clean stuff out, isn’t it? The harder part is preventing it all from piling back up again. So I gave myself a rule: One in, one out. Basically, if I buy something non-essential, another item has to go. I’ve been applying the rule since the beginning of the year and so far it’s actually working. I’ve passed up several purchases already because by the time I sat there and tried to figure out what I would sell in order to buy it, I talked myself out of it. And, alternatively, I’ve added one thing because I liked it so much I was willing to let go of another similar item. Really it’s not minimalism so much as mindfulness. If I have to get rid of something else in order to acquire the thing I want, I have to really want it. Especially since I’m now pared down to only the things that I like and use the most. I can’t just pile stuff up because it’s pretty and fun. My goal isn’t really to spend less money (although that’s a natural side effect), it’s to have/accumulate less unnecessary stuff.
Except gloves. It will be a cold day in hell before you make me stop buying gloves. At least they’re small.
While it’s not true minimalism by definition, and it’s not particularly “strict”, this was the method I picked for myself because I thought it was one that I could actually sustain. Other people would maybe have more success with a different approach, but I know myself well enough to know what’s realistic for me. My horses get what they need (yes, I’m putting Presto’s ball in the need category, fight me) and I still get to be well-equipped and have/buy stuff that I like. But the purchases are more mindful and more intentional, and that’s really what the overall goal was. Will I stop window-shopping? Never. I’m always interested to see what’s new and great, and eager to try things and see if I’ll like them. Now I just have to be a little more sure before I click buy.