a Better Way to Spend Money

by Frank Martin

Minimalists don’t spend money.

Everyone knows they don’t. Or at least they think they do. And while that might be true for a very small percentage of minimalists, its certainly not true for me, and its not true for the vast majority. What is different is HOW minimalists spend.

Business likes to sell us the story that whatever bullshit product they’ve come up with will change your life, hand you whatever it is they think you want on a silver platter. Its a pretty safe assumption that any time there’s something like “real customer, not actor portrayal” or a dude in a labcoat extolling the product’s virtues, they’re pulling wool over our eyes. I’m not arguing that none of that stuff is useful, just that it won’t improve things because its special in any way. You don’t even need a study to tell you this. Just think back over the past few years and honestly look at whether anything you’ve bought outside of necessities has actually been worth it and not just ended up in storage or a landfill, forgotten and collecting dust.

It might seem weird here, but I rather like Epicurus’s suggestion of the four part cure (tetrapharmakos). I won’t go into details, though I highly recommend doing a search for “Epicurus on Happiness” on YouTube. In essence most of us think of Epicureanism as almost the exact opposite of what it is. Instead of indulging in all the things all the time, Epicurus focused on learning to get by on the basics: simple food and water, friends, simple clothes, and a roof over one’s head. Learn to be content with these and happiness is assured. Alain De Botton’s book “Consolations of Philosophy” has a great chapter on Epicureanism with a great explanation of the Tetrapharmakos. In short, Epicurus, as far as we can tell, would be just as disqusted with Futurama’s Hedonism bot as most of us likely are.

Why bring this up? Ever since reading about the Tetrapharmakos a week or so ago, I’ve been putting it to the test, and finding that its pretty darn effective and cuts costs quite a bit. Am I making corporations happy? Probably not. However it would do us all good to remember that we got along for the majority of human history without partaking in shopping as a major past-time and find happiness, and we could certainly do so again.

Call to Action:
If you feel so inclined, take on the Tetrapharmakos for a week. Think of it as an experiment. Cut out the extraneous stuff, focus on enjoying and being grateful for the basics and see what happens. Either way, no pressure to keep it up any longer. Feel free to head down to comments to share any thoughts, experiences, etc, whether or not you give this a shot.