The road to being a minimalist is not easy, but has its pleasures. When you look at a branded item and see the price at X and decide that you will not have it because it is ‘2 months effort’, it means you are that much closer to financial freedom if you do not buy it!! Not many people translate every amount of money to ‘time saved in the office’. Sad, but true.

And funnily we get impressed by a few wrong things too…or we think they do. Lets see what has changed:

  1. In the early 1990s you needed to buy branded shirts because the ‘less’ branded ones would fail at a crucial time. Not any more. Color Plus, Arrow, Van Heusen, Peter England, Cambridge – the functional utility is the same, and the quality of workmanship has gone up. I remember a 1990s conversation with a gora who was wearing a shirt..another banker looked at that shirt and said nice shirt..good finish..I am sure you got it from Marks and Spencer! It turned out to be an Indian shirt. Zodiac. Kill the branded shirt, today the brands are all equal, and the gap in pricing is hardly justified.
  2. The carats in the jewellery: Well, less that a man speaks about it the better. I am still searching for the ordinary woman who can find out the difference between artificial diamonds and real diamonds. Gold, at best is a wasting asset. Who is impressed? Not the kids who are in their 20s. They prefer cheaper stuff which can be used carelessly. So forget the carats and the gold tonnage!
  3. The brand of the car: Again a lot of technology and manufacturing catch up have ensured that the ‘brand’ of the car does not really matter much. If you must get a car (Uber, Ola, Meru,..have ensured that you do not need it, right?) go for a car that suits your need. If you need to make long journeys regularly get a big car so that you get adequate rest on the back seat. However, if you are planning to make short trips in the city a smaller car easy to park may actually make more sense. Not too many of the youngsters are impressed by the brand. On the other hand these kids do pick expensive bikes (oops contradiction, did you say). In fact as responsible citizens of the world we should move towards a better public transport instead of seeking this personalised private transport.
  4. The square feet size of your house: Since the day the caveman was considered a better provider if he had a bigger and better cave, we continue to judge success by the size of the home! Stop being carried away by the location and size of the house. Honestly it is a completely wrong ‘social success formula’.
  5. The amount of money in the bank: I keep feeling that if God had an ‘auto publishing’ of your net worth on our foreheads, we will stop pretending! To the outside world how should it matter how much money you have? or even to your family? or friends? Most of us have more than what we require. So what? What changes or what gives? Just forget this number. Only your CA should be interested in this number for your taxation.
  6. The number of stickers on your suitcases. Did you know that there are some people who love to keep the various hotels, and airports stickers on their suitcases for a long time? Whom are you trying to impress? the fellow co-passenger? the taxi driver in a location that you may never visit again? Gimme a break.
  7. A new status symbol is to ‘Retire Young’: Frankly if your retirement is a push retirement (your job is boring so you want to quit) and not a pull retirement (your hobbies are demanding) the chances are you will get bored soon. Keep the job as long as you can keep it for. Retirement is a function of many things, one of them is money. The rest is attitude. Nothing to do with ego / pride / an item to show off.
  8. The number of friends on Facebook, LinkedIN, Twitter – unless you are converting all this to an income stream, forget it.

Lets impress people with our lives, not our things. Believe me, nobody is busy judging you. They are busy wondering how YOU are judging them!!

my most read post of 2015 has been this: http://www.subramoney.com/2015/06/advantages-of-simple-living/

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  1. Dear Subra,
    Precise and impactful as usual. Please keep adding value like this.

    Now, how do I get my wife to read this article without making it look like I have an agenda?!!

  2. sir the main goal is to be happy and everything we do is for that only

    what you say is from a person in 60s point of view. i believe
    a person in 20s 30s has to go through all these and finally attain that stage. then only wisdom will come.

    it is a maturity process. directly a baby cannot become adult

    if a person in 20s does all these things what you told it is not normal he or she will be miserable only.

    all these frugality minimalist gangs and half baked scholars talk about denying pleasures. we have to be in control of them. suppression is not good.

  3. Aren’t u smart , absolutely brilliant writing (while being deceptively simple). Thanks for your contribution to my life (follow ur blog regularly). Respect !!!

  4. @lakshminarasimm, Knowledge has nothing to do with Age. This idea of enjoying life by buying stuff has been fed to us by Corporates so that we buy their stuff at extreme prices.
    Swami Vivekananda or Adi Shankaracharya didn’t attain wisdom when they were 60 years old. They attained it at a very young age.

    It is better we learn sooner rather than later that happiness comes from other parameters and not from buying things.

    And for the denying pleasures part. Our Vedas and holy texts have all extolled the virtues of denying pleasures and gaining control over our five senses which are the doors through which we seek pleasure. So it is age old wisdom and not being preached by half baked scholars. Though it seems that these people have just discovered it and are promoting as their own insight which is not the case.

    Sorry to point you out but i felt that Subra is doing a good thing by educating us and we should counter arguments like yours with proper logic to ensure his message is clear

  5. to bhushan:

    anything done in moderation and not in excess should be ok. too much of good also is bad.

    i expected some quotation to vivekananda or adi shankara.
    this is exactly what i told about half baked scholars.

    vedas and holy texts never told you to deny pleasures. they only told about being in control of them.

    if desires are not holy, you and i and everyone are not holy and we won’t be born.

    read the climax of ramayana. mandodhari after ravanan’s death will cry that in your youth you suppressed all desires and did penance. (ravana was a great shiva bakhta he knew what was right and wrong.) finally the desires suppressed you and got killed desiring another man’s wife

  6. one point got left out about vivekananda or adi shankara

    if their parents decided to follow the so called veda teachings about suppressing desires there would not be vivekananda or adi shankara in the first place

    that is the beauty of karmayoga and why it is proclaimed as the best in gita compared to gnanam bakthi or rajayogam

  7. Atleast in jeans there is a lot of difference between branded & unbranded (comfort, fitting etc)and branded once justify their price if you use for long time. I see all branded jeans were made by some Indian companies and am sure brands are just stickers on them., but don’t know what’s stopping those companies directly coming into market!!!

    Like a bigger house is showoff., same goes for renting a small cramped house to save a few extra bucks (although you can afford it) doesn’t come under frugality

  8. Kung fu panda got inner peace at very young age. I too try to attain like that.
    As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry says, ‘perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to throw’. Being a minimalist helps in making every day life easier and peaceful.

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