I was talking to some friends the other week and we were talking about expenses. Inevitably the topic "minimalism" came up and I got the impression that a lot of people seem to think that "a minimalistic lifestyle" aims to have a luxury lifestyle for less money ("finding bargains", "minimal price").
For me, minimalism is not about affording a luxurious lifestyle for less money. It is about changing our attitude towards consuming. I have no interest in maintaing a lifestyle, where I followed fashions and trends "just because". Or about getting the extra "thing" or gadget, because I can. I don't really want to consume, unless it is adds long-lasting value to my life or my family's life.
I do this by carefully assessing, what I actually need. I am trying to concentrate on what I find important in my life. I don't want to own lots of stuff I hardly use. I find no long-lasting pleasure in following fashion or redecorating our place regularly (and dusting stuff...). I do find pleasure in reading a good book. Or taking a bath. Or going for a walk in the forest. Or drinking a really good cup of tea. Reading a story to my children. Or doing my yoga exercises. Or a kitchen tool that I can use regularly for years and years. I enjoy focussing on and appreciating the luxuries we've got, rather than striving for more possessions.
I would like to focus on what I feel "luxury" actually is.
If you think about the origin of the word "luxury" and its basic meaning (e.g. using en.wiktionary.org) it is clear, that luxuries are "desireable" but not really needed and usually "expensive". It is opposed to "necessity". You can also argue, that a luxury is everything that is more than the usual "standard of living". But what is "usual"? And what do you compare it to? If I compare the German standard of living to the standard of living of the majority of the people, then I have to say it is luxury. I can drink the water from the tap, I can walk anywhere I want, I have access to free education, I can choose my profession, I have freedom of speech, I have access to health care, to social welfare... the list is not complete...
Of course, I can also see flaws in our system, and I agree it is always good to try and improve, but per se, a life in Germany is well above the overall standard of living. And I think it is worth remembering this actively every now and again and appreciate the advantages we've got.
I don't want to go into all the details, again, standard of living is a vast topic. Understanding and defining what luxuries are is a very personal thing and I am not telling anyone else what to do or think. But I strongly believe that concentrating on what I've got that I find positive is a lot better than dwelling on what's I haven't got and what's negative.
PS: It is controversial, whether a minimalist lifestyle is cheaper - you can own less items and spend horrendous amouts of money. ;)