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Humans have an innate ability to collect. In some ways, it’s a part of our DNA. We collected livestock for future food security or stored dried food in a dark, dry place. Then there were small collections of decorations worn as jewelry or displayed on colorful containers. Then there is the collection of friends and family that contribute to a lengthened lifespan.

As a millennial minimalist, I collect things too. My items aren’t cowering in cupboards, brimming containers, or cluttering a linen closet the size of a medium teenager.

Instead, the things I collect are bigger and broader than stuff stuffed in a storage unit. The things a minimalist collects doesn’t demand a mortgage, garage, or cleaning schedule stricter than West Point.

A minimalist collects education.

Insurance for instant bankruptcy is education. 

Money can be taken away since it’s physical. That’s the problem with physical things. Whereas education and skills can’t be taken away.

Even if a diploma is turned into kindling, that doesn’t change the 4 (or more) years of education. 

I prefer to collect skills because sometimes learning a new skill can influence future finances.

I learn a new skill every year. One year, I decided to pitch myself into the unknown and uncomfortable land of investing.

I started small because the knowledge gap was as broad as a balloon in the Macy’s Day parade.

So, I started by viewing the stock market every day. I didn’t try to figure it out with its sharp lines and weird acronyms. I just exposed myself to a raw, new world and tried to scrub the newness away with exposure.

After many, many days, the anxious overwhelming feelings I started with began to shift to a casual comfort found with puppies and strangers who smile and make brief eye contact. Soon, I became curious about reoccurring terms and started searching the unknown words. Often, I would have to search the same word again and again before the concept would stick. 

Once I felt comfortable with what I saw and read, I started reading library books because free flows to financial freedom. Then, I started free online classes. 

After many months of collecting investing knowledge, I began making small moves like asking my bank about my brokerage account and researching brokerage companies. By the end of the year, I had enough understanding and confidence to roll over IRAs, 401(k)s, and establish new brokerage accounts. 

Collecting skills, like investing, is a collection that holds more than dust, it holds a future of unlimited possibilities.

A minimalist collects memories. 

A hot cup of coffee in the morning with a good book, hugging a friend, and standing in a cold, dark ice cave is a cascade of recent memories added to a collection.

If a collection needs tending, I’d rather it be with times well spent than lamenting where all my money went.

Ironically, I’ve been on both ends. In my youthful years, I had many moments of wondering where the heck my money went. In my wiser years, I don’t have to wonder because I have a budget that tells me down to the cent where my money went.

Also, if I look back at my memory receipts (my journal and digital photo album), I can see the growth of my memory collection. 

Memories are easy to keep clean, don’t require a mortgage, and are easy to find! 

My favorite memories are:

Traveling to Hawaii with my grandma as a high school graduation gift;

Going to South Africa with Mr. BuLL;

A honeymoon in Paris;

Dogsledding and skjorring;

Northern lights in Iceland;

Graduating college; 

A destination wedding in Cocoa Beach;

Hot air ballooning in California; and

Spotting my family in a crowd when I graduated boot camp.

And so many other big and small moments. They’re all welcome in a collection more beautiful than the the fanciest purse or the fastest car.

A minimalist collects hobbies.

I love a good time. Hobbies are habitual good times. While some hardy folks would say cooking and cleaning is their hobby, I’m not one of them.

Instead, I enjoy a range of hobbies for high or low-energy moments. 

If I’m full of coffee-induced energy, that’s when I go for a run or a hike. If my energy wanes, that’s when I drift towards reading or drawing.

What a minimalist collects depends on the minimalist. 

I’m a textbook quiet thriver, goal digger, and super saver. Am I a textbook minimalist too? The jury is still out to lunch.

I have a home bigger than I need, a junk drawer, and more plastic than I care to think about. Despite my shaking standing in the minimalist club, I define my values on things that can’t be contained in a decor box, resold on Facebook Marketplace, or pawned in a pawn shop.

Instead, what this minimalist collects is education, memories, and hobbies. To date, this trio has provided more happiness than any of the clothes, stationary, or travel trinkets I used to collect.

A minimalist collection is more than a barren landscape of white walls and paltry possessions. It’s bursting with life and vigor and no credit, debit, or savings accounts were harmed along the way. 

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