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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 4 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY, NPR, TIME, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Day 17 | Car

Ryan Nicodemus, photo by Adam Dressler

Today Ryan is weighing his options regarding his car:

Jettison the Car. The more radical option, but doable if you live in a city with ubiquitous public transit (New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Portland, etc.). Our friend Tammy Strobel did this, and she even wrote a book about living car-free.

Minimalist Car. If you must own a car—which Ryan decided he must because of his long daily commute—then today we will focus on reducing the stress of having a car.

First, Ryan sold his new car which he purchased earlier this year, and then purchased a decade-old car without a monthly payment. By eliminating this debt, Ryan rid himself of the stress associated with it.

Now, without a car payment, Ryan is turning his ride into a Minimalist Car with a miniature one-day Packing Party: Ryan grabbed a few empty boxes, and then took everything out of his car—spare change, owner’s manual, extra napkins, the complete contents of the overstuffed glove box, and all the junk that’s been in the trunk for months. Everything.

Then, once everything was out of the car, he held each item in his hand and asked a few questions:

Why was this in my car?
When did I use this last?
Does this need to go back into my car?
If so, why?
If I didn’t put this back into my car, what might be the consequence?

These five questions allowed Ryan to reduce more than 90% of the things that were cluttering his car.

It’s a tedious exercise to go through, but it’s worth it: once complete, you will have a much cleaner, less cluttered vehicle.

“Car” is Day 17 of Our 21-Day Journey into Minimalism. Move on to Day 18. Read Ryan’s journal entries from this entire journey in Everything That Remains. You can also subscribe to The Minimalists via email.