Does anyone else just have minimal desire for material goods?

This is not about moral superiority or even cheapness. I don’t look down on people who like to buy lots of stuff. I just don’t have the desire to have a fancy car and a huge house and all that.

If I had my 'druthers I’d just live in some house in the middle of nowhere and telecommute to work, making just enough money to live but being basically unconstrained by the man.

I’m bound by certain restrictions, though. Since I do want my friends and potential girlfriends to step foot in here, I do have to have basic amenities like a dining room table, and all that, but if I gave up on romantic prospects and only met friends at restaurants and stuff, I could see myself living in a one-room studio apartment with just a bed, chair, table and computer.

Strangely, though, I do have a desire for travel, and I’m willing to spend thousands of dollars on trips to various places around the world.

Incidentally, if I ever do want to follow my dream, what is the place with the absolute lowest cost of living? (That includes all costs from taxes through rent through food), so I can work for the man as little as possible.

  • Jack

I am very UN-materialistic to the point where it probably did me some harm.

When I was 16 my mum died and I kind of, for lack of a better word, got tossed out into the world. So I didn’t have anything, but I did OK, so by the time I was 30 I accumulated some stuff.

Then I moved from Fort Meyers FL to Rochester MN and I intended to come back, so I put everything I owned in storage. Then I ran tight of money so I skipped a payment thinking OK, they won’t throw it out for one payment. Wrong, next month I sent them two months rent on the storage and they sent me one month back saying “We got rid of your stuff when you defaulted on it.”

So once again, I had nothing but the clothes on my back. After that I never bothered to try to get things. I found though I probably should’ve, because for better or worse, people do judge you on what you have.

I always said, “Well I’ll get nice stuff, if I get a nice flat but until then why bother?” Instead I’d use my money to go to NYC for the weekend, or such. I was like, why pay for a couch I never sit on. I live in a studio flat and I can’t sit on a couch AND a bed.

But then as I got older, people expect you to have things, so when you start dating, they wonder about you. Like WHY don’t you have anything. I was like I have $35,000 dollars in the bank. They’re like “Why don’t you buy something.” I was like “Why?” I can’t sit on a couch AND a bed. Why have two?

My only regret of the loss is all the family photos I got. So and those were lost when my stuff in storage got thown out. So I have no photos of me prior to 1995. And plus I got all the old family photos and movies and my brother and sister, could’ve had them.

I actually live in a one room studio with a bed and a table for my computer and a coffee table for the TV.

But this is a problem, like if I was dating, I’d have to go over to someone else’s house. No one can come to my flat, because there’s nothing in it. People in relationships want to feel they are “sharing” stuff. And even if I bought stuff, no one my age 45, is going to want to sit in a one room flat.

And right or wrong you’re judged on how much stuff you have. OK maybe people shouldn’t but they do, so it doesn’t matter. You need stuff. If I had to do things over, I would’ve bought stuff and made a nicer life with things. As it is that $35,000 is long gone having been out of a job so long, so that did help, but who knows. I mean maybe without the money to fall back on I’d have tried harder to get a job. I think I’ve done everything and try hard, but again, you can never say for sure.

As for others, I don’t care what you have. But ironically because I have so little, I’m very easily impressed. I’m like WOW you have a dishwasher!!!

I recall when they flew me out to Columbus, OH for a job interveiw they put me in a suite with two bedrooms and of course a living room and I went nut just running between all three rooms watching TV in each room :slight_smile:

In a real pinch, I could be out of the house with everything I need or really want in about 30 minutes and MAYBE get it all strapped on my Harley. Like most people who live in the same house 30 years or more, we were accumulating stuff without really seeing it and not long ago we started dumping most to the Thrift shops or on eBay. We still have WAAAAAAY more than we need or want - but we are getting better.

I don’t know if this counts, but I don’t have any keepsakes, mementos or old stuff. If I’m not actively using it, it’s out. I don’t even have a single family photo, nothing belonging to my parents,etc.

Other than a few books, my oldest possession is my bong, which recently passed it’s 30th birthday.

For a decade I could move my worldly possessions in one backpack and one suitcase. Marriage, kids and a corporate job have expanded that considerably but much less than the average American.

I lived for up to 6 months at a time out of one p
backpack and a camera bag.

Back in the late 80s I was burgled, and everything I owned was stolen. After the shock wore off, I found I didn’t really care about anything I lost - except my grandfather’s violin.

I’ve travelled a hell of a lot, and find that the lack of material possessions doesn’t faze me. I’ve lived out of a backpack for a year, a couple of times. A couple of good books (which are like expendable currency when you’re on the road) and a good shortwave radio are all I really “need” when I’m in travelling mode. And I don’t really even need them.

I’ve got stuff now, but I don’t need it. I have some shit from my marriage that I really don’t need (a house, a dishwasher, a PS3 and a huge flatscreen TV that get used once or twice a month), and then some stuff that I really value. My modus operandum is that once I’ve got something I think is great, I have no desire to upgrade. I have a 10-year-old car that does the job. Years ago I found the ultimate £30 watch that is perfectly adequate. I love cooking, so my kitchen has all the gizmos I want (except a KitchenAid, that I can’t afford), but most of my equipment is years old.

The majority of my elective disposable income is also spent on international travel rather than anything material.

I am very much a mimimalist.

If I have something, its often because I’ll USE it. I do/did much shade tree car work and if I REALLY needed a special tool to do the job I got it. As oppossed to the tool lovers that use the smallest project as an excuse to buy out the hardware store.

Same for activities. I’ve ended up with a decent collection of cold weather and camping gear thats seen plenty of use. I wouldnt say I have the absolute minimum needed, but neither do I have the equivalent of a camping store. I’ve been into paddling a few years and I have two boats. Each has a specialized function, both are cheap but functional rather than top of the line and very expensive. If I DO buy something expensive, its because I am going to use it alot and its actually measurably and noticeably BETTER than something cheaper.

As an example. I started with a 20 dollar kayak paddle that came with my first boat. Now that thing is HEAVY. Within 6 months I ended up with a 125 dollar give or take kayak paddle that probably wieghs a third of that one. I COULD go out and get a 300 to 500 dollar one that would be lighter still, but you’d almost have to do a side by side comparision to tell the difference and what I have now is light enough for me, so the expensive one aint happening.

And like someone else said, once I have something I like that does the job, I’ll keep it till it wears out as oppossed to looking for the next biggest betterest thing. I have a bottom end GPS thats three years old. About all it does is tell you where your at and records where you’ve been. No fancy maps, big color screen, or software. It will be with me for awhile.

Same with my camera. Had a good quality but point and shoot 3.5 megapixel camera. I am a pretty good photographer and with a little care I could get some pretty darn nice photos outa it. Its 5 years old and finally died, so I’ll see what Santa’s bringing this year.

Long story short, I don’t accumulate stuff just for the sake of having it either.

I don’t know. I think of myself that way sometimes- like when my birthday or Christmas comes around and people ask me what I want and I’m usually like, “um, nothing” and I mean it.

I don’t need trinkets. I don’t go shopping just for the hell of it, I don’t need huge amounts of anything, and I’m not terribly attached to the ones I have, specifically. I have a lot of friends who have to buy something everywhere they go and will cry if they lose something, even if it can easily be replaced. I’m not like that. I also don’t care if what I have is expensive or top-of-the-line, as long as it does what I want it to do. Like my phone is so old and craptacular that it’s an instant joke if I pull it out in front of friends, but I don’t care because it makes and receives phone calls. And I don’t go for designer things or diamonds or anything.

But I do like to have stuff. I like my ipod. When I think about being fabulously wealthy, I wouldn’t live in a huge mansion with a hundred rooms just for the sheer pleasure of having stuff, but I can think of a lot of material things I probably would have- like really soft sheets, a stand mixer, and a better computer. And for Christmas, I really do want donations to several charities and I really do want peace and love, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also hope for a really cute pair of boots and a book of fairy tales in French.

I was an “American Dream” kind of person: Had a big 4000 sq ft house. Three-car garage, In-ground pool, over an acre of ground, finished basement with bar and 72" hi-def TV. Boats, three cars, lanscaping everywhere, upgrade/custom everything (granite, heart-shaped, two-person Jacuzzi tub in Master Bedroom). Name it.

Got divorced and live in a 800 sq ft, 2 bedroom apartment that was last decorated circa 1975. I Love it. I can go anywhere and do anything – truly enjoy life and I suck the marrow out of it. I am not suffocating under my house and all its needs and am just free of all its ‘stuff’.

I like a nice car and still enjoy boating, but my house sucked the life out of me. I don’t miss it.

My SO and I are what happens when people who don’t care much about stuff find themselves with disposable income. Yep, we have stuff. Lots of stuff. But we don’t get new stuff just because it’s NEW. Our TV is almost 15 years old, both cars have over 150k miles on them. My last cellphone was probably 6 years old, and only replaced because it died.

My SO and I have talked about the stuff. “What would you save if you knew a wild fire was coming?” and it comes down to (in order) wallets, the hard drive with all our pictures on it, a painting we brought back from overseas, a couple of pieces of jewelry, passports.

I’ve heard good things about Vietnam and other SE Asian countries. Google ‘Paul and Vicki Terhorst’ and ‘Billy and Akaisha Kaderli’. Both couples are Perpetual Travelers and early retirees.

I seem to acquire stuff without actually wanting it, but I could do without most of it. I have been told I am unambitious as if that’s not a good thing, but I have no desire to have better things, so why work my way up just to get more stuff?

In my house, my Mig, my daughter and I all sleep in the same room, in the living room. His brother sleeps in one bedroom and my daughter sleeps in the other. I am perfectly content with this arrangement. I have no couch, just a bed with a mattress underneath we pull out for my little girl to sleep on. I don’t have cable or satellite, or a dishwasher or a clothes dryer. I had that last one for about a year, but eh, I can hang up clothes to dry just as well. I don’t need fancy foods or expensive cookware. Most of my dishes came from Goodwill or they were gifts. My '91 Corolla is a fine car. It has some dents and starts with a screwdriver, but it starts. Why spend money to get whatever the part is I need to use a key when I have a handy screwdriver right there in the glove box?

I think it sometimes bothers my oldest daughter. She thinks there’s something wrong with me because I have no desire to travel, or have nice things. I am just happy to be here, watching the world. I do love my computer and the DSL she pays for, but if she stopped, I wouldn’t pay for that either. Well…maybe I would. It’s gotten as cheap as dial-up I hear. I have to have my internet though. That’s my one requirement.

My Mig is like me, but he’s also one of those clever people who pick up old TVs up off the street and tinker until they work sufficiently. That’s how I got my dryer, my television and my microwave. He brings me jewelry he trades for things he’s repaired, so I have a few rings and bracelets, but I don’t buy jewelry. I have socks from my youth and my bra is from when I was pregnant five years ago. I only own the one and it’s a maternity/nursing bra. I have a few pairs of pants and shirts, some of those cheap croc knock-offs, and a few scrunchies for my hair. No makeup except tasty lip gloss, but that was a gift.

I have always felt weird, like I’m missing some important human trait because all my friends own nice houses full of lovely furnishings and they are constantly getting new cars. They go to nice places on vacation. I just don’t care. It’s not some religious thing, and I don’t look down on them for their choices. I’m proud of them for working so hard toward what they want. I just don’t want it. I am really satisfied with my life.

Markxxx, give others some credit. I’m sure if you found someone worth the effort, s/he’d be glad to “share” your one room flat and embark on the quest for (in the most Carlin-ian sense) some “stuff.”

I used to be very minimalist. If I didn’t need it, I didn’t buy it and if I did buy it, I often didn’t buy full priced.

I didn’t want much more than to be comfortable.

I actually have lost most of my possessions due to divorce and new digs and during this time, I realize how much I hate it, hate it, hate it, hate it. I will be satisfied with being minimally comfortable, but for the first time I want more than that. I don’t want have to go without again. I don’t want to be a crazy collector or hoarder or spendthrift, but I don’t want to remain lower/lower-middle class.

That pretty well describes me. There is a difference though in that I do have a family I cherish very much which compels me to provide for their material comforts. If I were to separate, all the possesions I need or want could be carried in the back of my 1987 Ford Ranger.

I have found it very true that the amount of stuff you have grows with the amount of space you have. 20 years ago I lived in a small NYC studio apartment. Then I moved to a 1-bedroom, then a 2-bedroom. Now I live in a 3-bedroom house, plus basement, attic, garage and enclosed patio. Every single room has more stuff in it than it should.

And yet, all the stuff I have is stuff that I personally use, either in my work or hobbies. There’s simply nothing in my house that is here because other people expect me to have it.

Is a Mig a persons name? Or a Soviet fighter jet? Or some abbreviation I am not familiar with?

I figure its the first, but if its the latter I’d like to keep up with the times. I missed out on probably a decade or more of being able to use the word MILF. I vow to never come up that short again.

I have had to move a lot over the years, and the necessary reduction in ‘stuff’ both of practical and sentimental value has made me less materialistic by quite a bit.

Like, if something I like gets broken, I won’t throw a fit over it. I would, a few years ago. Now I just shrug and say, “Hey, it’s just stuff”.

I feel like having less emotional attachment to physical things makes me less stressed, though.

If I could afford it, I would totally love to travel (like the OP). Sure, they’re not tangible items, but IMHO, the experiences are/would be worth it.

Excellent thread.

When I was younger, there were many things I wanted - or was brainwashed into thinking I wanted - and I didn’t have the money to buy them. I got a little envious of those who had more disposable cash than I did, although I knew inwardly that I was still quite fortunate and that I didn’t want for anything serious.

Years went by, and I was able to to buy the things I wanted, and I learned that… they didn’t make much difference to anything important.

More years went by, life became even luckier and easier through absolutely no effort or striving on my part, and now I don’t even have to buy the things I want… they just get sent or given to me all the time. I often tell friends that I have to be very careful what I wish for… and I’m not joking.

So I’ve been on a strange journey. I’ve ended up at a point where material possessions mean next to nothing to me, but for me this isn’t an expression of a virtuous outloook or any grand philosophical attitude. I’ve just been insanely lucky enough to be able to discover for myself, over time, how little material goods actually matter. I know there are many, less fortunate, who would like to be able to go through the same process. Want never feels good.

Experiences mean so much more than things, and can never be stolen (except by the ravages of time on the mind and the memory). I’ve been to Komodo Island, I’ve seen Ayer’s Rock at dawn, the Kilauea Caldera, Petra and the view from the top of a glacier in Milford Sound, NZ. I also know, and have known, a rich assortment of unusual and brilliant people with whom I’ve shared all kinds of golden moments and adventures. These and similar experiences mean so much more to me than any ‘thing’ that I own.