Being Minimalist when your family is not

Being a minimalist in a void would be so easy. There would be no peer pressure to spend money on needless things. There would be no need to explain your minimalist ways and budgeting to people.

It’s not the reality, though, and as a result, being minimalist isn’t always easy.

For me, the biggest obstacle on my path to less is my family. It might seem weird, especially when you take into account how supportive my mother was when I wanted to modify my diet to be more sustainable.

Nonetheless, there seems to be a big difference between trying to be sustainable and trying to be minimalist, when it comes to my family.

I’ve written before about my family’s history and the money situation I had before embarking on my path to less. Once I started earning my own money, I started spending them senselessly. Having stuff felt good, especially when I was painfully aware of how much it sucked to not have stuff. It took me a long while to calm down and reassess my priorities.

I had to do a lot of thinking and looking inside, as I figured out what really mattered to me. It was a relief when I finally arrived at the conclusion that I didn’t care about stuff.

My family, my mother in particular, never got to that place.

For my mom, who is very much part of the older generation, having material things meant that she could afford them. They were proof that she had money. Having money, whether real or just perceived, meant security and safety. Being able to buy her kids things, buy her grandkids things, it always meant everything to her.

When I stopped wanting things and actively started to declutter, there was a moment when my mom didn’t really know what to say or do. It not only meant I didn’t actively talk about getting new things, but I also did my best to discourage her from buying things we didn’t really need.

It’s been a journey. Sometimes it’s easy to convince my mother to be more conscious when spending money. I’m slowly showing her I’m saving, and she is slowly learning to save as well. Though I have to accept that she will never be a minimalist because material stuff will always be a status and safety symbol for her.

I try not to push my minimalist ways onto her and hopefully, as time goes by, we’ll find a balance where she doesn’t ask me to buy new things and I don’t feel guilty about fighting all the spending…

How do you talk to your non-minimalist family members? What’s the biggest struggle?

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