Minimalist Family - BEST Frugal Tip - OMG!

February 26, 2013

Oh my gosh! Funny, but practical frugal tip!

Many are curious about our minimalist family ways and how we live cheaply and do super frugal travel as we have traveled the world non-stop these last 7-plus years on only $23/day per person.

We took the calculated risk to retire early in 2005, so we could world school our child and have more freedom and fun together, thus we became experts on traveling cheap even in expensive countries and eating healthy and cheap in Europe and everywhere. We don't believe in debt and always live under our means.

Almost teen model in size 12 months shorts and T-shirt

We've written before about our best advice for RTW travel, best packing tip for world travel, best tips for family travel, slow travel benefits and much more, but some tips like this one, are practical, but also amusing.

We recently moved our base to a new location in Penang, so we got a chance to purge ( which we do with every move and trip) and we FINALLY threw out my 12 year old fashionista daughter's favorite shorts. What is OMG funny about my 25 kilo/55 lb. model?

These GAP shorts are size 12 months, so she has been wearing them for 12 YEARS! You can see her wearing them in Italy in 2008, in ancient Pergamum in Turkey in 2007, more Italy and through out the blog.

She is healthy as a horse, but inherited the skinny genes, so only seems to grow up and not out, thus wears her clothes for a long time, but sometimes it makes us giggle at the absurdity. Thankfully, she is also very neat by nature, so that helps too as well as never using a dryer. The top is also a baby gift that Grandma bought long before we left.

"You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need."  -  Vernon Howard

"Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like."  -  Will Rogers


DON"T SPEND! Buy few things, but buy quality that you love ( I got these at an extreme off-season sale when she was a baby) and then keep them until they wear out or are outgrown. Some of our favorite things on this trip, we had for years before leaving and are still happily using them!

If you want freedom, avoid over consumerism and teach that value to your children, as happiness does not come from things! We save a small fortune with our minimalist frugal wardrobes and less stuff makes travel and life easier.

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We are planning on starting to travel long-term (as in 2 years minimum and hopefully forever) in 18 months with our 6 and 4 year old boys. The hardest part will be convincing my oldest one to leave behind many of his toys, since he seems to have the pack-rat gene! We're starting to bring it up gently now, to allow him time to get used to the idea since the last thing I want is to force him... I'd rather he agree to it as a worthwhile trade in exchange for going on a "world adventure" and getting to see and experience amazing things that he'd never get to see/have at home... we'll see if I can pull off getting him to buy into this idea!

I know some people will say he's just a kid and we're the parents so just tell him you're doing it and that's that. Well, honestly, if it comes to that, we'll have to do it that way... I'm just saying I'm hoping to avoid him bawling his eyes out about leaving so many toys behind... surely people can understand that, right :)

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Interesting comment and questions Sheralyn! I have a kid who has that pack rat gene as well, so I understand.

She was a kid with her own HUGE playroom filled with toys and a gigantic kids library. When we ended up selling some of her toys at a flee market, they thought we had a huge family, not just one kid.

We have always lived a simple life, but we had a big home and lots of things for her...she was a long awaited child who was very bright and super busy, so perhaps we over indulged, thus, I do understand.

Kids tend to have so much today, one of the reasons I wanted to travel is to keep her away from a life filled with stuff as it is hard to do that in America or most of the first world. I actually wanted her to learn to live with less and not get attached to stuff, so we continue to work on this area as she is a material girl (with a shopping gene too) living in a material world.

We've done LOTS of things to help her and I will write a post addressing the issues you are talking about.

The good news? She has managed just fine with MUCH, MUCH less...and she has also increased her creativity by MAKING toys out of nothing!

Kids and all of us, actually need MUCH less than one imagines while living an American life. One gets a little brain washed about what one "needs". Long term travel gives one a very different perspective on that.

The more we travel, the less we need and the more mindful we get about what we keep.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

OH, and big key? Already, start thinking tiny for toys and multi-use.

It was hard for Mozart to give up her big American Girl doll that she was very into because of the books, but she could wave to her when she talked to Grandma on Skype and we brought the little ones.

Think in terms of compromises like that as well as the big adventure ( geared to their needs) ahead to excite them. ;)


There's still a couple of years left in those "hot pants" LOL! Our eldest child is also Mozart's shape and we often keep trousers (pants) and make them into Capri pants/long shorts/hot pants! It's funny, both my daughters get attached to certain clothes and wear them over and over. Saves us a ton of money. :) Gorgeous photos as usual. By the way Sheralyn, I think you are being a great parent taking the gentle approach; try taking photos of a couple of his toys and put them in storage/Grandma's house; he might surprise you!x

Jeanne @soultravelers3

HA! You are a kick, Melanie! I think you are right about those hot pants, but I thought I'd better grab then while I could. ;)

We grabbed the camera for one last full-of-laughter photo shoot with them before they were thrown out, so we'd always remember them. ;)

I hear ya about skinny kids who like to wear the same things over and over! ;) It really does save money...and it's sometimes amazing how long some faves will last.

Thanks for the kind words and tips for Sheralyn too!

Jenny@CT Limousine

This is so funny, I am not particularly frugal however, I do prefer minimalism.

I showed this post to a couple of my friends and they were dying, because that is them all the way. They do the exact same thing for their children with clothes haha!

You know greed and money and name brands are such a huge thing in our society but I feel the moment you travel, set sail, have a family and see how the rest of the world is no longer a major importance.

But saving being frugal or being a minimalist (which is HIGHLY needed when you travel, especially with kids) is actually fun!

Thanks for the post, I love your blog and it is always a good read. When I hop on and see that Nelson Mandela quote it always makes me smile :)

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