We shared our vision and our plans with our parents last week.
My parents already knew we had begun to purge items from our house. I don’t think they knew the full depth of the purge, so we shared how much we had been getting rid of, and we shared our initial successes with eBay.
The Big Reveal
Then we shared our plans to sell our house and move across town to a 2 bedroom 2 bath apartment. I’m sure this bit of news was shocking and unexpected. Although shocked, they were supportive to a degree.
We discussed the reasons behind the planned move. How we’d be saving $12,000 a year that could go towards experiences instead of towards the accumulation and maintenance of stuff. We told them of some the vacations we hoped to take. We talked about the extra free time I would have due to a shorter commute.
And they were mostly supportive. I think they had a hard time grasping the minimalist ideals. They have spent a lifetime accumulating stuff, and a change to that line of thinking seems very abnormal.
We actually have some experience with hoarders in the family. I have an uncle and aunt that have a house full of junk. I haven’t been there, but my parents have shared the story of navigating piles of newspapers and other junk during their last visit. Most of the floor and seating surfaces were covered in stuff.
Now, my parents aren’t hoarders, but they do have a lot of stuff, and are avid consumerists. They don’t keep old newspapers or items that most would consider trash. They do have boxes and boxes of stuff though. In fact they recently built a 16×8 shed to store all their extra stuff. All this stuff is neatly stored in plastic bins and stacked wall to wall, floor to ceiling in this storage shed. It’s mostly clothes, household items, and collectibles. My dad also has a workshop that has shelf upon shelf of spare parts, nuts, bolts, and various other things that may one day serve some purpose.
They enjoy hunting for bargains. They often make trips to harbor freight tools and big lots on the weekend to find good deals on stuff.
I would venture to say that they love consumerism. They love to buy things and they love to get good deals. Even if it’s on stuff they don’t really need.
We went to Minnesota with them a few years back to visit family. It had been at least 15 years since I had been there last, and my wife and daughter had never been. Normally when we travel we like to see the local sights and places of interest. We enjoy museums, parks, historic houses and buildings, and anything else that might be interesting or unique to the area.
Since my parents grew up in that area, we relied on them to show us around. We did end up visiting a couple of local parks, but take a guess where the majority of the touring ended up.
We ended up going to multiple Fleet Farm stores, Menards, and an REI. We also visited several other small stores and of course made a trip to The Mall of America. I think half of our entire trip was spent inside retail stores. But that’s what they do for fun. They love seeing all the different things for sale and they love finding bargain deals.
Now that you have a little background, you can see how they may not be able to fully grasp the idea of living with less stuff.
How about a Brand New Car?
During part of the discussion, I mentioned that I’d be saving $200 each month in gas by living closer to work. He suggested that we purchase a more fuel efficient car, or maybe a minivan. I’ll tell you right now, I will not be purchasing a minivan. We already have three vehicles. One of these is a pickup truck which I’m planning to sell soon. All are paid for, and have a lot of life left in them. It totally wouldn’t make sense to dump more money into a vehicle in order to save on gas.
You Need More Shirts
A couple of days later they came over to our house for the day. We had some activities planned and had a great time. While they were there, I showed them the closet that I recently purged. It looks quite baron, with only 5 polos, 2 longs sleeve button ups, a sweatshirt, and a jacket hanging from the rack. I also have some jeans, khakis, and dress pants on the shelf. My dad’s response to seeing the closet was “you need more shirts.” I have one for each day of the week. I only wear polos at work and laundry gets done once a week. I have exactly the right number of polos. In fact, the ones I kept were the only ones I was wearing anyway because I liked them the best.
Again, Maybe a New Car?
At one point later in the day, he mentioned the fact that we’d be saving $12,000 a year. Shortly after, he mentioned that maybe I should get a newer version of my current vehicle. “Those new ones sure are nice.” I agree, they are nice, but I only have 114,000 miles on mine, and it should easily make it to 200,000. He likes to buy things though, so of course if I have any extra money I should consider buying something new.
I don’t think he grasps the idea of experiences over stuff. I’m sure my actions have them thinking though. I’m not sure if it will lead to any changes in their life, but I’m hopeful that it will. I have more parent stories to share, but I’m going to save some for another day. I also have the inlaws reactions to share, but I’m going to save that for another day also.
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