Are you a minimalist? Or a maximalist? Probably you are somewhere in the middle. Or maybe you are on your journey from being a maximalist towards being a minimalist. That’s where I am.
Seriously, you may be surprised to hear this but I used to love collecting. My childhood room was covered with pretty little things that reminded me of things I loved and lots and lots of gifts I could never get rid of.
Becoming a teenager shot me right into maximalism. I was looking for anything to express myself. I think that’s really common as your discovering your interests and tastes.
Honestly, even now that I live a more minimalist lifestyle I am drawn to eclectic décor that expresses my interest in many cultures with lots of color!
So which is better? IF you are going to choose between minimalism vs. maximalism which one is right for you? Is it better to have too much stuff or not enough?
What is Maximalism?
First of all, what is maximalism anyway? To be honest it sounds like something that was invented to ride the wave of minimalism’s popularity in a contrary rebellious way.
But you know, I’m biased. I write a blog about minimalism.
When you look into maximalism it is mostly about decorating and style. It is a lifestyle in the ways that your home and clothing and how you spend you money affect your life. So It’s probably just as much a lifestyle as an aesthetic.
Maximalism is focused on surrounding yourself with things that make you happy. It is about having a curated collection of art and furniture, textures, colors, and nick-knacks that make you happy. It’s about a lack of simplicity but an abundance of visual interest.
If you are really good at this is can look really cool.
I can honestly say that my childhood room was maximalist.
As for the lifestyle, a maximalist will generally choose to have it all! The bigger is better mentality is appealing and they want the best of the best!
What is Minimalism?
Now what about minimalism?
I understand minimalism. What is minimalism?
Minimalism is the intentional subtraction of distractions. It’s about finding the things that are very meaningful to you and getting rid of the rest.
This idea of minimalism applies to not just decorating and clothes, but also to your schedule, your thinking, and the way you go about reaching your goals.
Some people think that minimalism is all about not having enough. That isn’t really true. Minimalism is about having less, having what you really love and need, and nothing more.
Is It Better to Have Too Much Stuff or Not Enough?
So if maximalism is about having “too much stuff” and minimalism is about having “not enough” stuff which is better?
Is it better to have too much stuff or not enough? Is it better to live life to the full by having a lot or is it better to live life to full by keeping it simple?
I’m going to try to be objective in my analysis as we go forward. You are welcome to add your own opinions in the comments section. I would love to hear them!
Minimalism Vs. Maximalism -What’s Your Style?
Let’s start the minimalism vs. maximalism battle in the style department. That is what most people think of first with both words. Look at these lists to decide on minimalism vs. maximalism for your personal style.
- Less stuff and more open space
- A few meaningful pictures
- Statement pieces
- Natural light
- Simple color schemes
- Simple versatile clothing
- Classic or Modern Lines
- Colorful & Vibrant
- Visually stimulating
- Dim lights or candle light
- Trendy clothes
- Lots of accessories
As you can see in this minimalism vs. maximalism list the styles are pretty much opposite. That’s not to say you can’t be a minimalist who enjoys color and some eclectic vibes. But if you are, you will still keep it simple.
Interestingly though, your preference may have a lot to do with your natural temperament. If you are introverted you will seek a calm environment and a more minimalist aesthetic because of the all the stuff you already have running around in your head.
Extroverts on the other hand thrive on external stimulation and find it exciting and energizing.
I would say that I might actually fall somewhere in the middle as far as minimalist vs. maximalist style. What about you?
What Does Your Wallet Have to Say? Is It Better to Have Too Much Stuff or Not Enough?
So what if you are more into maximalist style? Does that mean you could never be a minimalist?
If you are a minimalist in style does that mean you will have the mentality to keep your whole life simple?
Not necessarily. It’s time to push beyond aesthetic in our conversation about minimalism vs. maximalism.
How will each lifestyle affect your finances? Let’s look at minimalism vs. maximalism and see what that will look like:
- Spend less on stuff.
- Spend more on experiences.
- Save money.
- Pay off debt.
- Live in a smaller home cause you have less stuff to store.
- Travel more.
- Buy things when needed.
- Buy lots of decorations and clothing.
- Spend money regularly to keep up with trends.
- Work more to have money to spend.
- Buy a bigger house to store the stuff.
- Travel less. Money is spent on stuff.
- When you travel go big or go home.
- Get into debt.
- Live paycheck to paycheck.
- Buy on impulse.
Now I’m not trying to be harsh here. I’m just picturing the road that maximalism requires you to travel in comparison to the road that I know I’ve traveled with minimalism. There is no way that maximalism doesn’t cost more money than minimalism.
Actually, if you are a minimalist who wants to travel and have a lot of cool experiences you could plausibly spend just as much money as your maximalist counterparts. The difference is that you are spending money of experiences and memories instead of stuff.
It’s really up to you how you want to spend your money and what you want your financial life to look like. I am definitely a minimalist in this department. Are you a minimalist or a maximalist?
Minimalism Vs. Maximalism & Your Work
Your financial life and your work goes hand in hand of course. So how will you approach your work? How will your choice of lifestyle affect your career and work ethic?
Are you a minimalist or a maximalist in the way you WANT to work? What is maximalism in regards to your work life? How would minimalism affect it?
Let’s look at this list and see what fits you best.
- Fewer expenses = less work
- Less debt = more flexibility
- More likely to be an entrepreneur or follow “passion” work.
- Looks for most effective work strategies.
- Takes on fewer tasks at once.
- Lots of expenses = more work
- Deep debt leads to more dependence on job.
- Needs high paying job. Works for large company or institution.
- Accepts big projects and extra work.
- Takes on a lot of projects at once.
I am definitely a minimalist as far as work goes.
“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”Thoreau
I believe that and often think about my purchases in direct correlation to how many hours of work they cost.
That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy my work. Every single job I have gives me joy in some way. But that doesn’t mean I want to work all the time.
I want to have the freedom to work less and pursue my interests in my entreprenuerial pursuits. I also like to have plenty of time to chill with friends and family.
When I do work I want to focus on the essentials and do it in the most efficient way possible.
What about you? Is work your life? Do you want it to be? Are you a maximalist or a minimalist in your work life? Would you like to change or is the speed you are going just right?
Minimalism Vs. Maximalism and Having Fun!
What about having fun? Surely the maximalist lifestyle leads to having more fun than the minimalist lifestyle! I mean, bigger is better right?
Well let’s look at another comparison list and see what we glean from it.
- Working less because of fewer bills means more time for fun.
- Having fewer bills and buying less means more money in savings.
- Smaller toys make it easier to go play!
- Less home maintenance on the weekends.
- More focus on social time with friends and family.
- More likely to have work that is fun!
- More overtime work to pay the bills.
- Less savings in the bank for vacations.
- Big toys bring lots of work and more bills.
- Bigger vacations bring debt.
- Lots of work to do at home on the weekend.
- Less time for friends and family.
- Less likely to enjoy work.
It’s interesting when you look at those lists.
You may say that I am obviously biased but I’ve heard seen it first hand. Our friends with big toys have to have big trucks and insurance and payments on everything. These fancy toys break also break down and cost a lot to fix!
Maximalist players go all out but they tend to have to work a lot harder to obtain, store, maintain, and pay for the fun they have. They also tend to have it less often because they are so busy working.
On the other hand, while my husband and I have a lowly tent and a simple kayak we are ready to go quickly. Because we don’t have a bunch to get ready we have more time to have fun!
And because we don’t have a house we don’t have much else to do on the weekend.
Last but not least, when you aren’t wasting money on lots of random junk, you have money in savings for fun trips!
I have got to say, I think minimalists have more fun!
How Being Minimalist Vs. Maximalist Affects Your Family
So far it’s easy to see that minimalism vs. maximalism is a big choice that will affect your whole life.
Is it better to have too much or not enough? It’s really a matter of what you want “too much” of.
For example, let’s look at another list. It’s very similar to some of the ones above but think about it regards to your family life.
How will minimalism affect your family life and relationships? What about maximalism?
- Careful spending means less debt, less work.
- Fewer bills means less stress and work.
- Minimalists focus on experiences instead of things as gifts.
- Focus on relationships and personal development.
- More flexibility in schedule, commitments, and work.
- Spending more means more debt and more work.
- Lots of bills means lots of stress and work.
- Focus on collecting things and giving things costs money.
- Maximalists focus on acquisition & collection not relationships.
- Tighter schedule, more commitments, and more work.
To me this is glaringly obvious. If you want to have a life with “too much swag” and “not enough” time for family you are going to choose the maximalist lifestyle. And that’s totally up to you.
If you choose maximalism, you are choosing the type of life that our consumer society is pushing you towards. It is very very easy to choose this route because it’s what almost everybody is doing.
On the other hand if you want “too much” time with family (is that even possible?) and “not enough” stuff that will become clutter, choose the minimalist lifestyle!
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Minimalism Vs. Maximalism & Your Mental Health
What about your mental health? The battle of minimalism vs. maximalism gets very complicated here. You will be drawn to one or the other based on what makes you feel excited.
Here’s the list. Find yourself in it.
- Reduce decisions and decision fatigue.
- Lower cortisol levels with less external stimulation.
- Have more room in your schedule and less stress.
- Introverts prefer minimalism because of their internally energized minds.
- More options for everything.
- Higher cortisol and dopamine from more external stimulation.
- A packed schedule that keeps you around people and “needed”.
- Extroverts tend to prefer because they thrive on external stimulation.
Isn’t that interesting? While I would argue that having fewer financial obligations will always lead to less stress, you may not be drawn to minimalism because you enjoy a lot of external stimulation. If you are an extrovert it may keep you energized to have lots of choices and lots to do!
On the other hand, if you are like the 1 in 4 people in the world who is introverted you will definitely thrive on having less stuff to manage, fewer commitments, and more time for creativity and personal development!
To learn more about extroversion vs. introversion I highly recommend The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney PsyD.
Is It Better to Have to Much Stuff or Not Enough in Your Home?
So if you choose the maximalist lifestyle and you have tons of cool “curated” artifacts all over your house you are probably thinking what’s the downside?
On the other hand, if you are a minimalist you might wonder why someone would ever want to have “so much junk.”
The thing is, what makes a house a home goes a lot deeper than your decorating style.
Let’s look at another set of comparisons to see where you want to stand in this question of “Is it better to have too much or not enough in your home?”
- Less stuff means you can probably rent or buy a smaller home/apartment for less money.
- An easily available guest room.
- Easy to move.
- Much faster cleaning.
- Less home maintenance.
- Lower insurance and utilities.
- Easier to tidy up for company.
- Find stuff with easy.
- More stuff requires a bigger home or apartment for more money.
- Your spare room is full of junk.
- Every move is a BIG move.
- More home maintenance on the weekends.
- Higher insurance and utilities.
- Panic cleaning for company!
- Spend half your life looking for stuff.
Well, anything in life is about how much you value one thing over another. You can look at those lists and decide what is most valuable to you.
Will you choose more time, money, company, and ease or more stuff? It’s really up to you. This is your life! The choice of whether to be minimalist vs. maximalist is totally yours to make!
Minimalism Vs. Maximalism & Your Goals
Last but not least, when you are choosing a lifestyle you should consider what your goals are.
Will the maximalist lifestyle take your towards your goals or will minimalism help you achieve your goals?
Again, the comparison list will repeat some of the things mentioned above but think about it in terms of your goals.
What do you really want your life to look like in about 5 years? In the battle between minimalism vs. maximalism which one fits the life you imagine for yourself?
- Fewer bills = less work and fewer commitments
- Less work = more flexibility & time to learn new skills.
- Less debt or debt free = easy to change your work, home, or city.
- More time with family and friends.
- Time to relax, be creative, and take care of your health.
- Less stuff to clean, maintain, and use.
- Less stress, more mental space.
- Spending more means higher bills and more work.
- Tied to your work to pay the bills.
- No spare time to learn new skills.
- Heavy debt = afraid of change in work.
- Less time with family and friends.
- No time for rest, creativity, or your health.
- Lots of stuff to take care of and “get your money’s worth” out of.
- Lots of stress, no extra mental bandwidth.
As you can see, if you want to stay in one place, climb the corporate ladder, have a fancy house and car, and enjoy success in the eyes of your peers you may prefer maximalism.
But it comes at a cost. It will drain your energy, take you away from your family, and prevent you from learning new things or being creative.
If, on the other hand, your goals are less focused on the “ideal” manufactured by the consumer society we live in, you may find that minimalism is for you.
Having less will allow you to be a responsible adult who pays your bills without losing all your spare time and flexibility! Who knew?! You can have a regular job and work on your passion job and have time to go kayaking with your husband on the weekend! (I am living proof!)
Is it Better To Have Too Much Stuff of Not Enough?
So we have looked at minimalism vs. maximalism from all sides. What do you think? Is it better to have too much stuff or not enough? What do you want?
Did you notice that minimalism (which may seem like “not enough” at first) often leads to more. More time, money, flexibility, and peace.
And maximalism (which may be “too much”) might lead you into having less of all those valuable assets. Isn’t that ironic?
That’s not to say there isn’t balance in everything.
Maybe you are more maximalist in your decorating style but more minimalist in your schedule. Perhaps your minimalist in your work but more maximalist in your spending.
Balance is good. It’s okay to have some of both traits.
But in the decision to follow a lifestyle, minimalism vs. maximalism, I hope the lists above have helped you see what you lean toward and where you really want to go.
In the end, it’s a question of what you value more.
Do you want lots of stuff or lots of life? Are you looking to chase your dreams or make lots of money for your boss? Does your family deserve your time or would you rather buy the boat? Is it better to have too much or not enough?
It’s up to you!
Minimalist Vs. Maximalist -Do You Want to Be a Minimalist?
If you have read this article and decided that you would like to choose a simple minimalist lifestyle good for you!
But how do you get started? What can you do to drop the maximalist lifestyle and make like more minimalist? What are the principles of minimalism you can use in your life?
Don’t feel overwhelmed! It’s easier than you think! You can learn all you need to know to simplify your home, streamline your schedule, automate your chores, and go for your goals!
Let me help! I wrote Doable Simplicity (minimalism for normal people) JUST FOR YOU! And it will help you jumpstart your minimalist journey the right way! Learn how to use minimalism as a tool that makes your life easier!