” I’m a big believer in minimalism. Not materialist minimalism, although that’s part of it, but time and energy minimalism. The body is given only so much energy a day.”
James Altucher, Author
The Pros and Cons of Minimalism
Minimalism (sometimes also referred to as simple living) can be defined as a lifestyle that aims to exclude everything that is unnecessary in order to simplify one’s daily life and to focus on what really matters in life.
This often includes getting rid of any material stuff that is not urgently needed to be happy. Minimalism has become increasingly popular over the past decades since people begin to value time over money much more.
However, apart from its many advantages, minimalism also implies some problems. In this article, the pros and cons of minimalism are examined in detail.
Advantages of Minimalism
- You can save money
- You can save resources
- Reduction in pollution levels
- Slowing down global warming
- Minimalism is sustainable
- You get to know a new lifestyle
- Room for discretion
- You can focus on inner values
- May increase your spiritual knowledge
- You may need less living space
- Easier to move
- Development of discipline
- Getting rid of toxic materialistic friends
- Property requires time investment
- More time for leisure activities
- Less financial pressure
- Material goods require maintenance
- Your happiness will no longer be dependent on material goods
- You can take a stand
You can save money
One advantage of a minimalist lifestyle is that you can save plenty of money with it. You might notice that the average person in our nowadays society, especially in our rich Western world, spends thousands of dollars every year on things that may be convenient but will likely not improve their quality of life too much.
Therefore, if you are one of those people, imagine how much money you can save by refraining from buying those things. This will sum up to a small fortune over time and you could use this money to donate it to charity or to do other things that help our global society instead of spending it on unnecessary material stuff you actually don’t need.
You can save resources
Apart from the money you can save over time, you can also protect our precious natural resources from depletion. The production of material goods on a global scale requires the use of large amounts of fossil resources like oil, gas, coal or metals.
However, at one point in time, those resources will be depleted. Thus, it is crucial to save natural resources whenever possible. This also includes refraining from unnecessary consumption so that everyone of us can protect our natural resources on a daily basis.
Reduction in pollution levels
A reduction in consumption also implies a reduction in pollution. For the production of our material goods, plenty of resources have to be processed and in those processes, large amounts of harmful gases are emitted into our atmosphere.
Moreover, large amounts of industrial waste are produced and those waste products are often shipped to poor developing dumping, also known as the process of environmental dumping.
Thus, by switching from a material to a minimalist lifestyle, you can contribute your part in order to avoid those adverse environmental consequences.
Slowing down global warming
Since our production processes also imply the emission of harmful greenhouse gases into the air, our consumption also contributes to the climate change issue. We all know how dangerous global warming will be for humanity and we should all take appropriate measures in our daily life in order to slow down climate change.
Thus, one measure that everyone of us could take is to engage in minimalism since less consumption also implies fewer greenhouse gas emissions, which in turn reduces the global warming issue to a certain extent.
Minimalism is sustainable
Another upside of a minimalist lifestyle is that it is far more sustainable compared to a materialistic lifestyle. Since fewer material goods are consumed, less harmful gases are emitted into our atmosphere and fewer resources have to be used. In turn, we could practice this minimalist lifestyle much longer since it is much more in line with protecting our planet from all sorts of problems.
You get to know a new lifestyle
It is always good to explore and to learn new things. This also includes getting to know new lifestyles and what they can do for you. Even though you might be skeptic regarding whether the minimalist lifestyle is suitable for you or not.
However, if you never try it, you will never find out. Thus, I suggest if you are interested in minimalism, try it out and you will see if it is for you or not. Anyways, what do you have to lose?!
Room for discretion
People practice minimalism in several different ways. Some are much stricter than others and there is always plenty of room for discretion. This gives you the opportunity to choose the level of minimalism you want to engage in.
For instance, you might just lower your consumption in small steps in order to make the whole process not too painful for you. Thus, this room for discretion gives you quite a lot of flexibility regarding how you want to practice minimalism.
You can focus on inner values
Many people talk about how important inner values really are. But take a look at our current society. Do you feel there is much compassion, empathy or other important inner values left?! I don’t think so.
We as society have completely lost those values to our materialistic attitude. Today, everyone is in a rush, working long hours, stressed all day long. There is simply no energy left to take care of each other.
Thus, by avoiding materialism and focusing on your inner core values through minimalism, you might be able to strengthen those values, which may greatly benefit our society.
May increase your spiritual knowledge
Minimalism and spiritualism are somehow connected since if you refrain from materialistic consumption, you will naturally focus on your mental state and on spiritualism instead.
Thus, you may be able to increase your knowledge regarding spiritual practices like meditation and other things that could greatly improve your quality of life.
You may need less living space
Since you will have a quite limited number of material things if you engage in minimalism, chances are that you will also need less living space.
In our flats and houses, our cupboards and other storage take up plenty of space.
Thus, if you don’t need too many of those storage spaces, you might be able to move to a smaller flat and save even more money on rent.
Easier to move
In case you have to move to a new home, this will also be much easier if you only have a few material things. It should be clear that you have to move every material item from your old to your new location or at least you have to dispose of part of it somewhere, which may cost additional money.
Thus, minimalists will have it much easier to move since they only have to carry around a quite limited number of things.
Development of discipline
Minimalism will also teach you a certain amount of discipline. Over time, you will often have the wish to buy certain things. However, since you want to practice this minimalist lifestyle, you will have to refrain from buying things you actually want to buy. At first, this may be quite disappointing.
However, over time, you will notice that you will not actually need those things anyway and might therefore even be quite happy that you have not bought them. This will give you the level of discipline that is needed to maintain this kind of lifestyle for a quite long period of time.
Getting rid of toxic materialistic friends
You might not have noticed it yet, but your quality of life and in which direction you develop will be greatly influenced by the people you spend the most time with.
Thus, it is crucial that you spend your time with people with a strong character instead of people who just front with their newest material shit and are secretly insecure and broken inside.
Therefore, minimalism also gives you the opportunity to get rid of toxic false friends which are only with you due to the nice material things you can offer to them.
Property requires time investment
Another issue with materialism is that it requires plenty of time to take care of all your material things. If you have more material things, chances are that you have to spend more time on organizing stuff and also have to figure out where to store it properly. Thus, on average, your material things will cost you precious lifetime which you will never get back.
More time for leisure activities
Since you have to spend less time organizing your material stuff and you will also have to work less since you will not buy too many expensive things, minimalism will also allow you to spend more time with your family and friends instead of working your ass off.
Thus, even though you might not be able to enjoy many material things, your overall quality of life might still be much higher since you can spend more time on things you really like.
Less financial pressure
Many people also suffer from plenty of financial pressure. They buy a fancy house and will get a huge mortgage for it. For the rest of their lives, they will try to pay off their debt.
However, this also implies serious financial pressure, which could translate into mental problems since people often have to worry about losing their homes.
This is especially true when a person with this kind of debt will become unemployed and may no longer be able to pay their monthly loan payments.
Thus, by refraining from buying big houses, people who engage in minimalism will not have this level of financial pressure and may be much happier on average.
Material goods require maintenance
Nothing lasts forever and also our material goods often need repairs and other sorts of maintenance in order to work properly when you need them. Thus, if you have many material things, chances are that you will have to spend plenty of time and/or money for maintenance purposes.
By engaging in minimalism instead, you will not have those issues since you will have fewer things and much less work.
Your happiness will no longer be dependent on material goods
Another pretty important aspect when it comes to minimalism is that your level of happiness will become independent of your material consumption. This is probably one of the most important advantages of minimalism. You will learn that you will not need that many material things in order to be happy.
Most people in our nowadays society are actually quite miserable and insecure since they hate their jobs and their lives and try to cover this fact by buying all kinds of unnecessary stuff in order to feel better for a short period of time. However, buying those things will not make them happy in the long term.
The only thing that will be able to do so is to completely separate your level of happiness from your material consumption. If you are able to accomplish this through minimalism, chances are that you will be able to live a much happier life since in case you lose a material item, it will not matter too much to you and you will still be happy.
You can take a stand
It is also crucial for your personal development that you take a stand and fight for your values and your beliefs. If you believe that minimalism can improve the lives of many people on our planet, you should feel obliged to express those thoughts in order to help others and to encourage them to change their lives for a better future.
Disadvantages of a Minimalist Lifestyle
- Transition from materialistic to minimal lifestyle may be hard
- Fear of missing out
- Not broadly socially accepted yet
- Lack of a clear definition of minimalism
- Minimalism is not a secret bullet to solve problems
- Minimalist lifestyle is hard to live for families
- Requires a strong character
- Fear to lose amenities
- Artificial pressure
- Social isolation
- Mental problems
Transition from materialistic to minimal lifestyle may be hard
Although minimalism has many crucial advantages, the minimalist lifestyle also implies some downsides. One disadvantage of materialism is that the transition from a materialistic to a minimalistic lifestyle may be quite hard. We get used to all our material convenient things quite fast and it may be quite hard to change our lifestyle.
Therefore, going small steps every day towards a minimalist lifestyle might be more promising than changing your daily life behavior too rapidly.
Fear of missing out
Some people might also suffer from the fear of missing out (also referred to as FOMO in our nowadays society). This fear arises if we think about all the things and activities we can’t be part of when engaging in a minimalist lifestyle.
You might also see pretty pictures and videos on social media of your friends having fun. This may make it quite hard for you to stay on the minimalist track since you fear missing out on something fun in life.
Not broadly socially accepted yet
Even though the level of tolerance towards alternative lifestyles increases slowly but surely, there is still plenty of skepticism towards minimalism, especially in quite conservative areas where people are still used to social status that depends on the number of material things one can afford.
Thus, depending on where you live, you may also have a hard time being accepted as a valuable member of society if you engage in minimalism.
Lack of a clear definition of minimalism
Opponents of the minimalist lifestyle often claim that there would not even be a clear definition of minimalism. Thus, if there is no definition, it would not make too much sense to engage in this kind of lifestyle.
Therefore, some people may also refrain from taking part in the minimalist lifestyle since they simply do not understand it sufficiently.
Minimalism is not a secret bullet to solve problems
In our current age, there are all kinds of gurus out there claiming to have the magic bullet to solve all your problems and to ensure a happy life for you.
However, as you might know, life is not that easy and your problems will not magically disappear just by living a minimalist lifestyle. You should rather consider minimalism as a tool to give you more leisure and mental capacities to solve your problems over time, which may translate into higher levels of happiness in the long run.
Minimalist lifestyle is hard to live for families
Especially if you have kids, it might be quite hard to practice a minimalist lifestyle. In our nowadays society, especially in our rich Western world, parents often buy their kids fancy toys and other things.
Therefore, your kid might expect you to do the same and might be quite sad if it didn’t get the things and toys he or she wishes as birthday present. In turn, you might not want to make your kid unhappy and make exceptions to your minimalist lifestyle sooner or late.
Requires a strong character
In most cases, minimalism and character development are closely related. It requires a pretty strong character to refrain from buying all the nice material things.
Thus, you will only be able to practice minimalism if you have this strong inner power to do so. However, maintaining this attitude may be quite mentally exhausting and many people may not be strong enough to practice minimalism in the long run.
Fear to lose amenities
Another problem with minimalism is that people may fear losing their amenities. It is true that buying all kinds of things can solve many problems and can make life easier to a certain extent.
Thus, it might be hard for people to radically change their consumption behavior since they fear that their quality of life may drop significantly.
This fear may prevent many people to try out minimalism, which is a pity since many people might actually profit from downsizing and living a humbler lifestyle.
Some people might also take the concept of materialism too seriously. In order to perfect their lifestyles, they might want to do everything the right way and only small deviations may make them quite unhappy.
This may lead to serious levels of artificial and unnecessary pressure, which may rathe harm instead of improving the quality of life.
Thus, if you want to try out the minimalist lifestyle, don’t expect too much from yourself in order to limit the pressure you might feel.
A minimalist lifestyle might also lead to some kind of social isolation since you may not be able to take part in activities with your friends. For instance, if your friends want to take fancy trips, you might not be able to join them due to your minimalist lifestyle.
If you have a circle of friends who are heavily dependent on those kinds of fancy activities, chances are that you might get socially excluded by switching to a minimalist lifestyle.
Some people might also not be able to adjust to the minimalist lifestyle in a mentally healthy manner. For those people, minimalism may not be the way to go since it might cause serious mental health issues. For instance, some people might suffer from depression or other mental problems since they miss their material lifestyle too much.
Top 10 Minimalism Pros & Cons – Summary List
|Minimalism Pros||Minimalism Cons|
|Save money||Transition to minimalism may be difficult|
|You can save resources||Fear of missing out|
|Focus on inner values||Difficult for families with children|
|Learn a new lifestyle||Not socially accepted in some regions|
|You may need less living space||Social isolation|
|You have to earn less money||Artificial pressure|
|Lower stress level||Mental problems|
|More leisure||Not a magic bullet to solve problems|
|Happiness doesn’t depend on material things||Fear to lose amenities|
|Less financial pressure||Not suitable for everyone|
Minimalism has become pretty popular over the past years. Many people have become aware of the fact that material things do not actually make you happy and that it might be a good idea to reduce overall consumption, also to improve our ecological footprint.
However, as we can see from the previous argumentation, there are also some problems related to the minimalist lifestyle. You should evaluate all the pros and cons by yourself in order to decide whether you want to engage in this kind of lifestyle or not.
If you want to learn more about the opposite direction, check out my advantages and disadvantages of materialism.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.
As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.
After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.
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