Financial Experiment: The Minimalist Vacation

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Financial Experiment: The Minimalist Vacation

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This is the first in a series of financial experiments: seemingly abstract exercises that are intended to reveal financial insights.

The "minimalist vacation" will help you see your home more objectively; clarifying what you need, and clearing out the rest.


Have you ever moved? It's in the top three stressors, and the more stuff we have to move, the more our stress compounds.

Getting tied down by stuff actually limits our life choices. A minimalist vacation is intended to help you see what you need - and then generate some income in getting rid of the things you don't.

I've lived out of a bag for the last seven years, so I've taken this experiment to nearly epic proportions.

The Minimalist Vacation

Take an experimental week-long vacation. Don't worry about time off work; it's a theoretical vacation - life continues as normal. But you still have to pack your bag! 

What do you pack for a trip? You can't take everything; so you're limited to things you need to be comfortable and occupied. Remember this, because during your minimalist vacation, your closets and cupboards don't exist - you can only use what's in your bag.

You can use items in your home that you would likely find in accommodation abroad (appliances, food, supplies, etc); so focus on personal effects: clothes, toiletries, and entertainment devices.

Pack One Bag

To do this exercise in earnest, pack just one bag or suitcase. It's only a week - surely you can fit everything you need into one bag. Right?

And actually pack the bag. Although you don't have to live directly out of the bag for the week, you do need to ensure it will all fit and make the "trip" official.

Remember the little things...

What would you take on vacation to pass spare time? Perhaps a deck of cards, your laptop, and a book. You can watch tv (since you would find one in a hotel room), but your shelves and drawers are off-limits for the week.

Stick To It

Since you're "vacationing" at home and surrounded by your stuff and routines, you'll feel temptation to use the face cream you didn't pack, or turn on your PC since you only packed your iPad.

In mastering temptations and objectively observing your desires, you'll get the most benefit and clarity from the experiment.

If you need to make some exceptions in order to fulfill the requirements of daily life and work, then you know what you need to do. But aside from these necessary modifications, stick to what you've packed for a whole week.

At the end of the week...

You're home! Observe which items from your home you immediately incorporate back into your routine.

Also look around at the things you don't use, and perhaps haven't used in ages. Do you need it? Will you use it before it becomes obsolete? Or is it dead weight?

You can make some money by recycling many items, and there are all sorts of unusual ways to sell your other stuff.

And remember your "minimalist vacation" when buying things in the future. Would you pack it in the bag? And if it doesn't have a place there, do you still need it?


Ways to Make Money by Recycling

How to Conquer Impulse Shopping Syndrome

Vacationing Without Traveling: Taking an Effective Staycation

Nora Dunn, travel and lifestyle expert guest blogger for leading provider of debt relief, CareOne Services, Inc. Nora Dunn

Nora Dunn is The Professional Hobo: a full-time traveler and freelance writer. She is a contributing writer under the CareOne Debt Relief Services A Straight Talk on Debt blog. Having sold her business and belongings to travel, she has been on the road since 2007. She travels in a financially sustainable manner, taking advantage of creative volunteering positions. As a former certified Financial Planner, she is financially responsible for her actions along the way. She believes there is a fine balance between planning for tomorrow, and living for today. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

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  • We kind of started a family tradition four years ago. We go on family vacations. I mean BIG family vacations. The group consists of 4 families (mine and my 3 brothers' families). We rent a vacation home large enough to host 20 people (adults and kids) for a week. We love these week-long vacations, but the funds are a little low this year. I don't know if my family can afford the vacation but I don't know how to break it to the other families. Any ideas?

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