Furnishing the Room

Furnishing in a Minimalist Way

Furnishing a room or home must be done right.  We want our places to be decorated, comfortable, and just nice.  The older you get, the more stuff you end up with.  George Carlin had a good piece in the 1980s where he said, “Your house is a place for you to keep all your stuff while you go out and get……more stuff!”  He went into more detail about dragging your stuff around with you, and it is probably on YouTube.  He is right in that our houses let us collect stuff to the point they are filled, at which point many people upsize, and fill all kinds of new space with new stuff.  Ever see how much stuff needs to be disposed of at the average estate sale?  That is after the relatives took all the stuff they wanted and added it to their stuff.

Say “NO” to Too Much Stuff

The first step is deciding you will not accumulate junk.  Don’t do the female knick-nack thing.  In the end they just collect dust.  This goes for too much sports memorabilia.  These days we do not really collect DVDs and CDs anymore, don’t try to build a huge collection.  I used to collect books I had read like trophies, to sit on the shelf and show how much I had read.  I looked at perhaps 10% of them ever again.  3-4 big boxes, the used bookstore gave me about $3 for them all!  Dragged them across the country twice, why?  Are you doing this?

What if I Have Too Much Junk Now?

I had a great plan on this earlier this year.  One thing a day went on eBay, in the trash, or to the donation bin.  Did it for around 100 days, will try it again this winter.  It felt so good to see space open up.  It amazed me what I thought was worth it to save that I never, ever used.  One thing a day, for 50-100 days.  Up to you what is a “thing.”  Try it out.

I’m Just Starting Out, How Do I Avoid It?

Avoiding collecting too much junk is clearly the best way.  Not as much junk to dispose of, and less money wasted buying it in the first place.  The best way to start is stick to the”rent a room” plan when you are young instead of getting a full apartment.  When you rent this way you don’t have the space to collect junk in the first place.  Get yourself a decent mattress and bed frame.  The frame might be free if you look even half hard.  If you buy a mattress and box foundation they will likely throw a basic frame in.  Notice I did not say a full headboard and fancy frame.  Frame, box, mattress.  Set of sheets, just one at first.  Simple bedding that fits in that PU/SUV.

People renting a room sometimes throw in some basic furniture.  Wait to see if they do.  If so, your dresser is set, and the closet will be part of the structure.  Should you have to get a dresser, hit whatever thrift store is near you.  There are always a few there, if not then craigslist.  $50 buys most all of them.  Buy a friend a beer to help you load and unload.  You do not care what it looks like, the idea is function, function, function.  When you move you may take it, sell it, give it away, or just leave it behind.  The bed you will take for sure.  Along with your clothes.

You will need minimal kitchen equipment to complete yourself during your rent-a-room phase.  You need to cook of course, but you will not be able to make a huge thing of he kitchen.  Get a small and large cast iron skillet, learn how to season and clean them.  They are not treated as you treat cheapo teflon pans.  Get 1-2 pots, a small and a large.  Get some utensils: spatula, mixing spoons, etc.  Get cheap silverware and cups/glasses.  use paper towels for napkins.  Keep at the thrift store.  Chances are you will be given or take one cupboard in the kitchen of your rental room house.  This will force minimalism on you.

How Long and What is the Point of All This?

How long depends, but try to keep this half-a-monk life up until age 30ish, a few years longer if you can.  The problem with the roommate thing is the older you get, the harder it is to get in a room situation.  Remember what I said, Fair Housing laws do NOT apply here.  When I moved to Phoenix the three of us were 36 (me), 47, and 54!  We all mentioned resistance from some people looking for roommates.  The 47 year old arrived on a motorcycle, people thought he was a “biker” and were shy.  The oldest guy just got resistance.  All three of us were trading down to renting rooms.  When you get older, it will happen to you.

The more pragmatic reason to live small this long is it matches your employment prospects.  Ideally I hope you follow the advice of going your own way totally, freelancing or starting your own business.  Should you do this, it is going to be a few years before you get really rolling.  I have known people who took 5 years to really have their business rolling.  If it gets rolling sooner, use this time to build your stake to buy your pad and graduate from tenant to landlord of one type or another.

Most of you will take a job of some sort.  Nothing wrong with this kind of career,  just keep out of the rat race.  Renting a room is the path to take because one of the following will be what greets you, and do not expect anyone else to tell you!

  • You will get a low-level job with lower pay and years to advance.  You have few skills and your pay reflects it.  Rent-a-room is all you can really afford and keep your percent-0f-pay-to-rent in line.  Employers do not take people very serious until age 30-35 for the most part, wait out the time.
  • They seem to take you serious when you are young, and bounce you all over the place.  This happens when you take a management training program, as I did.  Chains of any type need a supply of managers to fill positions opened by turnover or expansion.  They have to have steady supply as it could take 1-4 years to develop someone.  You enter the program knowing your job will move you around with little to no notice.  Why have a full apartment?
  • A variation on the second.  You may be made a “Road Warrior.”  As many as 5 nights a week on the road.  In the 1990s I knew a few guys left on Sunday night and got back home mid-day Friday, which they were allowed to have “off.”  If you are never home, why have a fancy home?
  • A second variation.  You may be “local” but “on-call.”  Railroad Conductor is a good job, great path, but plan to have no life the first few years.  Again, why have a great place if you are away or asleep so much of the time?

So, What Happens When I Do Get a Place?

Imagine, you live so small age 22-32 that you can save $1,000 per month!  This is not hard to do if you never get into debt.  The numbers I am showing prove it.  You would have $120,000+ at age 32 to buy your home.  Even an average mutual fund you could have $150.000!  Imagine buying cash or setting up auto-debit while the rest of the investment works for you!

Get into your house and start slow.  The next article is for you!