Full Interview with the Minimalist Mom

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The following is the full text from our interview with Rachel Jonat, better known as the Minimalist Mom. The interview was used in our The Rise of Less, the Story of Minimalism article.

Wand’rly
You state that you managed to cut your debt by some $60,000 by simplifying your bills, ditching your car and following minimalist principles. That’s really impressive. Was there one big thing that you cut that contributed the most to that?
Rachel
We cut a lot of small things that added up to a lot of savings but our biggest help in paying off debt was simply not buying things. I had been purchasing baby clothes and popping into stores if there was a sale. No more. I also shopped with a list and stuck to it. This really cut down on impulse purchases.
Wand’rly
At the same time (or perhaps shortly thereafter?) you moved from Vancouver, Canada to the Isle of Man. I think most people would see a move across a continent and an ocean as pretty expensive. Did minimalism help you keep your costs down during that transition?
Rachel
We sold all of our furniture and got rid of even more of our possessions before the move so it wasn’t that expensive. The 14 boxes we shipped overseas cost under $1000 to go by freight. Of course, the biggest savings was the my husband’s new employer paid for our move!
Wand’rly
How do you deal with extended family, particularly with a young child and another on the way, who want to shower their grandchildren, nephews, etc. with tons of toys on a regular basis?
Rachel
Our family has been really supportive of our choice to live with less. They ask if there is anything that we need or that our son is interested in so their gifts are usually well loved and used. We also don’t buy our son much because we know his grandma’s gift him great toys and clothes for his birthday and holidays.

The other thing we do is donate or return anything we don’t use. That way another family can put some use to the gift instead of it sitting around our home collecting dust.

Wand’rly
When you decided to go minimalist, was it difficult to convince your husband to do so as well? How about friends and family, what did they think of your new pursuit?
Rachel
My husband was taken a back when I started radically decluttering. But he soon saw all the benefits of it and has been really supportive. Our bank account, our tidy home and our increased contentment is proof enough for him.

Our family has been supportive but sometimes skeptical. Particularly when we got rid of our car. Our style of minimalism isn’t for everyone but I think they see that we’re quite happy and it’s working for us.

Wand’rly
Do you think you’re instilling minimalist values in your young son? Do you think two parents input stands much of a chance against an entire world of TV commercials, shopping malls and cereal box promises?
Rachel
Well we don’t have cable television, we live in a town that doesn’t have shopping malls and we don’t have cereal in our home. So I think we have a good chance of instilling some traditional, non-consumer based, values in our son. Of course he will be influenced by his peers and I expect as he gets older we’ll have more discussions about why we don’t have a car, watch much television and have a lot less toys than the average family. I’m excited for those talks and ready for the challenge.
Wand’rly
Have you found it any easier to live this lifestyle in the British Isles than it was in Canada (or vice versa)?
Rachel
It’s been easier since our move overseas because we live in a small town on an island. There aren’t any shopping malls and choices are limited. There are fewer options for activities and entertainment. The attitude here is different: people work less and have more vacation time than in North America. It’s been a great move for us and we really like this slower pace of life here.
Wand’rly
Is blogging an important part of your journey? Is it therapeutic or do you do it to keep yourself in check…or just for fun?
Rachel
Blogging is therapeutic, keeps me in check and it’s fun. All three. I really like the community I find at my blog and the discussions. I’m always learning something new about simplifying from other bloggers and readers.
Wand’rly
Do you foresee any difficulties as your son enters school and sees kids with iPods and PSPs and then laptops and cell phones, and might begin to want those things for himself?
Rachel
School and more awareness (my son is just three) will bring new challenges for us. I’ve already seen how older children have cell phones, GameBoys and what not. Perhaps I’m naive but I think we can curb a lot of that by being firm about what electronics my son can use and have. I didn’t have an iPod until I was in my 20’s – I think my son can survive until his teens without one.

Follow Rachel on Twitter for what she deems “moderate minimalism” @racheljonat.