On minimalism and frugality

For more background information about this post, and to see where I'm coming from, see previous post on this subject, Meditations on minimalism.

As I ponder about minimalism, its advantages and what it brings to one's life; other promises start to show themselves. One of the biggest secondary promises is saving money.

Saving money is a desirable action all in itself. It enables one to have a bigger buffer for darker days, allows greater freedom to try more things, or provide better opportunities for your youngsters while they're growing up. However, does being minimal automatically enable these things? I'm not sure.

There is another mindset which is focused on saving money: Frugality. Its primary concern is saving money, and reducing influx of goods or expenditure of money is both the method and the target itself. This is where it contrasts with minimalism, which is concerned with reduction of goods, but not the expenditure itself directly. While frugality has a secondary promise of less belongings to deal with, this promise is a subject for another day.

During my quest for reducing physical goods and minimizing the number of belongings, a pattern has emerged. I was replacing these physical goods with their digital equivalents. Books are replaced with ebooks, bulky storage devices are consolidated and pushed to cloud with backup plans. This migration also required a couple of new software purchases and service subscriptions. As a result, this process is costing me both time and money.

While the cost looks grim at first, there's an important catch. I'm saving future time by going through this migration and transformation. Reducing the number of computers, storage systems and services I use has a net positive effect on my free time and efficiency, even visible today. Normally, writing this blog wouldn't be possible if I was continuing my old ways of doing things.

Today, I can say that frugality is not a given secondary effect of minimalism, at least in the initial stages of transformation. However, this subject needs further evaluation as the transformation progresses, things settle and new ways become the new norms. At that point, a logical next step may be another service level consolidation to eliminate unnecessary subscriptions. But, it's important to ensure that the elimination won't destabilize the established ways and shouldn't create a slippery slope towards extreme frugality, which affects one's quality of life for the sake of saving money.