Real Life Minimalists Update: Francesca of Tasmanian Minimalist

Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.

This week, we have an update from Francesca of Tasmanian Minimalist, whose original feature appeared in July 2011. She tells us how she strayed from the minimalist path, but has returned with renewed vigor and determination.

Francesca writes:

It’s been two years since I had my minimalist life under control. Where my house was only inhabited by useful, practical and well loved items. My debt was almost cleared, my wasteful spending a thing of the past. Miss Minimalist honored me as a ‘minimalist of the week’ and national newspapers, and international magazines had done a feature on my downsizing.

I was queen of my own decluttered life.

For a while anyway.

I can not pinpoint the moment things began to change, but I do know it involved small parcels of cheap jewellery ordered from eBay arriving in my mail box. I had begun shopping again.

Many more parcels began to arrive. The post master of our village PO lifted his eyebrows in wonder, and my credit card started to wilt. I spoke to a chum at work, he too raised his eyebrows at my spending, lifting them higher and higher as my spending spiralled horribly.

Where was Tasmanian Minimalist? Some had even called me their role model.

My credit cards and bank balance began to cry out and I realized in all my years of attempting to downshift my behaviour I was back at square one. Had I learned anything?

Well perhaps I had, because second time round I am more armed and hopefully slightly more dangerous with my ardor towards debt repayment and minimizing my possessions.

Possessions never made me happy, but I still could not stop buying. I finally realize that everything I see on TV, magazines, shop windows, bill boards is all about separating me from my money. It’s never about making my life better.

To that end, I have just stopped spending on anything other than food and debt repayment. It’s now a game and I am the winner.

Thank you for reading, please visit and follow me at http://tasmanianminimalist.blogspot.com or my clothes reduction blog at http://closetblitz.blogspot.com.

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

16 comments to Real Life Minimalists Update: Francesca of Tasmanian Minimalist

  • jo

    I can so relate to returning to your old spending habits, brush yourself down and start again,we live in a world of such vivid temptation,thanks for sharing your story ,it shows we all have lapses,but we can do it, we can beat consumerism.

  • It really is easy to stray from the minimalist path. We are bombarded with so many advertisements. I even found myself in a ROSS store last week. Thankfully, I only purchased soap and a hair brush. Welcome back to the light side (pun intended). For the record, I cannot stand polyester either.You are so right that all the ads, commercials, etc. are just trying to separate us from our money. When we refuse to allow that materialism to control us, we become stronger in many ways.

  • It is so easy to fall back into old patterns of consumption! For me, I know a few areas of weakness (like bargain stores where I find things I never knew I needed). I try to avoid these type of stores and when I do go because I have a need, I’m armed with a list and stick to it!

    So glad you’re winning the game of beating your debt!

  • Sometimes you can feel like a fraud when make a stand, change your life for the better and then backslide into old behaviors. I know this first hand in the areas of money, minimalism and weight.

    The truth, however, is that forward and backward movement is a reality for us all. We’re not frauds; rather, we are human. Being human usually means we’re taking steps forward AND backwards we just hope that it’s two steps forward and one back…you get incremental improvement over time like that.

    Thanks for being brave and honest because we can all resonate with your story and it takes the sting out of our own small “failures.”

    Ree ~ I blog at EscapingDodge.com

  • It is easy to fall back into old habits that we with us for years. But, look at how you got yourself back on board and it will be easier this time. Two steps up, one step back…. you are still progressing and next time you will be even better at recognizing and nipping it in the bud. Thanks for sharing.

  • old habits die hard.. actually, minimalism is a continues learning experience.. it’s great to know that you are back on track.. if you are able to do it before, you can do it again :)

  • Celia

    We learn more from our struggles than from our successes. I am proud of you for acknowledging your struggle and taking steps to regain the life you want to live. You inspire me to keep struggling. :-)

  • Clothes reduction is a huge factor that many people simply refuse to give up. Very admirable!

  • Brian

    Minimalism – where we have grown up in a consumer society – is just like dieting/losing weight. We are constantly surrounded by temptation and it is so easy to say that it won’t hurt to just eat one peice of cake, or just buy one new shirt. Well that is probably true, but how many of us actually stop at the ONE piece of cake and the ONE new shirt?! It is a hard path that we tread, so good on you for “fessing up”, again realising that ‘stuff’ does not make us happy – it simply parts us from our cash! – and for getting right back on track! :)

  • This path down simplicity is never going to be a perfect one, but it is fantastic that even though you slipped, you brought yourself back.

    Awesome work!

    p.s. My fiance, Jess, and I are fellow Australians, living on the central coast, NSW.

  • Diane

    It took courage to admit you backslided (backslid?) but at least you recovered from it and are now conscious of all your thoughts and spending. I too had a similar experience and will be posted on July 22 as a profile. Good for you for getting back on track and aiming to be debt-free. I see debt as just another form of a non-minimalistic lifestyle that can be overcome. Just cut up all the credit cards and keep one for emergencies or when travelling (some people say to keep it in the freezer where you’ll be less tempted or in a safety deposit box). It’s not easy when we’re targetted by so much advertising. I don’t feel all that affected because I don’t watch tv nor buy magazines but I do see in my family how we’re judged by what we have. My sister-in-law only buy brands (imagine $350 for a casserole dish just because it says LE CREUSET on it!) and probably thinks the reason I don’t have much is because I don’t earn enough. Well, my mortage will be paid off in the next three years (I had a 25-year mortgage being paid off in 8 years!) and I’m retiring in the next four and a half years MORTGAGE PAID. Meanwhile, my brother and his wife just bought a more expensive home in a more upscale neighbourhood (yes, they care about being in the rich anglo section of their city) and will be paying off their mortage forever. Meanwhile, I’ll be in my new 400-500 sqft Vancouver condo enjoying the retirement life at 60 and biking, volunteering and travelling (using my one carryon luggage, of course!

  • Patrice

    Diane: I love what you had to say here: “My sister-in-law only buy brands (imagine $350 for a casserole dish just because it says LE CREUSET on it!) and probably thinks the reason I don’t have much is because I don’t earn enough. Well, my mortage will be paid off in the next three years (I had a 25-year mortgage being paid off in 8 years!) and I’m retiring in the next four and a half years MORTGAGE PAID.”

    Having the mortgage completely paid off will be a huge accomplishment. You will then have freedom to pursue other things that satisfy the soul.

    And I have seen for myself that when a person gets to the stage of life where they are downsizing (usually when the kids leave home) they suddenly find they do not “need” all those casserole dishes, table linens, and two closets of clothes. It is then that they realize just how much hard earned money they have spent that could have gone into the retirement pot.

  • rhino tee

    You should be very proud of yourelf. We all relapse in some way. The great news is that you are back on it. I have done that at times and when I realize I am falling into old habits, I get even more dedicated. This spring, I am selling all of my spring/summer shoes and wearing only a few pairs that will fit my needs. I chose black because I wear only black Old Navy stretch pants. It is easy and simple. I tell myself that the purpose of shoes is to protect my feet. I have stopped worrying about “fashion” and I am focused on what is practical and comfortable. Be proud of your continuing efforts♥.

  • Tina

    Count it as a learning experience. I have 4 pairs of slacks, 2 jeans and 2 black slacks. I have been clearing out drawers and bins used for storage. I can get what I need into a small suitcase and a tote bag. The next project is to get rid of some silverware I inherited.

  • Tina

    The only things I have left that I need to sort through are some bins of hobby stuff and some things I put away for my kids. I have 2 bags for Goodwill to get rid of this week. A cousin was telling us about packing up her car to evacuate in case of wildfires. What choices she made and how other people had to move faster.
    That was a new spur to make me get rid of more stuff.

  • Tina

    I still have dishes for my daughter-in-law. My daughter got wedding china and it has been here ever since. We don’t entertain unless everyone brings a dish. Never anything fancy. So much we don’t use. Most of our folding chairs live at my son’s house. Just gave away some DVD’s and books.

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