Minimalism vs. just in case

One rainy Friday before a long weekend, we laundered our bed sheets. After washing them, we discovered our dryer was broken. It did not heat. We were not prepared to pay for appliance servicing during a long weekend so we hung our wet sheets in the basement with a fan blowing on them. They were still not dry by nightfall. Fortunately, I had a second set of sheets stored in the linen closet.

As much as I strive to be a minimalist, I was glad I had the extra set of sheets “just in case.” Some minimalists argue that you need only one set of sheets per bed — you simply wash the set and put it back on the bed immediately. If I had followed that suggestion, we would have been sleeping in wet sheets!

Storing and maintaining an extra set of sheets took almost no effort and it saved us having to run out to a laundromat on a Friday evening. Mr. Justin Case saved us!

Balancing minimalism with “just in case” isn’t always easy. You have to calculate the probability that you will actually urgently need the item with the expense of owning (storage and maintenance) the item. You might also want to factor in the original purchase price and the cost and hassle of renting or replacing the item.

There are plenty of things I have been thankful I have kept “just in case” including spare batteries for the smoke detectors, light bulbs, an extra set of headphones, and an extra dog leash and collar.

On the other hand, we don’t own a table saw “just in case.” For our family, a table saw is used in a planned project and can be easily borrowed or rented. However, my friends who live on a horse farm own a table saw just in case they need to repair a stall a horse has kicked through — which happens more frequently than one would think.

How are you balancing minimalism with just in case? What items can you honestly let go of?

10 Comments for “Minimalism vs. just in case”

  1. posted by ELIANNE BRAVO on

    Interesting point. I myself have 2 sets of bedsheets for each bed. I do not consider this “just in case”. I consider this, as theminimalists.com would say, “just for when”. This bedsheet example is just for when I have unexpected guests over and I have not washed the bedsheets; which, in my case, happens more often than you would think. “Just in case” feels like a bit of a slippery slope. It leaves room for uncertainty and keeping things you dont actually need or value. Thinking about it as “just for when” has helped think about exactly what scenario I would use this item in which puts a more defined boundary around it.

  2. posted by Sarah on

    Finally, some common sense in the stuff-shaming arena!
    I realized that I like a fair amount of things around me; I like variety in my furnishings and will change them out as I like with my extra items. It’s also not a good option for me to need to go out and buy new stuff when I want/need something… also bad for the environment, etc, etc.
    Also, because I don’t get rid of everything, I’ve been able to supply items for people in need – on a temporary or permanent basis.
    I’ve found a balance that’s working for me; it may not work for everyone else, but I’m not going to try to shame anyone else into being like me.

  3. posted by Carla on

    ” Some minimalists argue that you need only one set of sheets per bed — you simply wash the set and put it back on the bed immediately.”

    That type of lifestyle works if you have a washer and dryer in your home. For those of us who live in apartments, simply washing is not always possible due to time. Doing loads of laundry takes time due to having to pack laundry, go to a laundromat, wait, etc. I definitely need more than one set of sheets and even more pillowcases.

  4. posted by SkiptheBS on

    After losing my home and residing in a pickup truck topper, I learned to love a stripped-down multifunctional lifestyle in non-mobile housing.

    Just in case, though, I have a small tent, three so-help-me sleeping bags, and plenty of camping gear. I love to camp but I can’t get away from my disabled boss long enough to actually do it.

    My other just in case hoards are digital: a retirement library of e-books for the future, and a huge assortment of recipe screenshots awaiting the day when I can cook with spices and garlic (loads of garlic!) again.

    If I run out of sheets or heat, I will unroll the sleeping bags and be snug.

  5. posted by Dianne L. on

    I have friends who have been minimalists for a very long time. Who do you think they call when they have a problem? What I have done is to have two sets of sheets for each bed. Why? I do not always have the time or energy to do a load of laundry just to get the sheets back on the beds. I doubt that these minimalists have ever tried to raise children with just one set of crib sheets… I sometimes wonder if they have problems figuring out storage solutions…

  6. posted by Pat on

    Like Dianne L, I have raised children and kids get sick (and adults can too!). Having to change sheets in the middle of the night is a pain in the neck, but I can’t imagine what you would do if there were no clean sheets to put on the bed.

  7. posted by Courtney Horwitz on

    Having only one set of sheets, even for a minimalist, seems awfully extreme. There are items that are needed frequently enough that multiple sets are a good idea. And something like an extra set of sheets is so easy and small to store that it seems dogmatic to not have it.

  8. posted by Lori Jepson on

    I have a hard problem getting rid of any materials or tools. I do a lot of DIY projects and I’m so cheap, that I love being able to scrounge something out of my “hoard”. I think the main thing is to keep it under control and organized. It doesn’t do any good if you can’t find what you need! I built shelves in the barn for my lumber pile, and I try to sort my screws, bolts, hardware, and other bits and bobs into containers.

    I actually have 4 sets of sheets, 2 thin sets for summer, and 2 flannel sets for winter.

  9. posted by James on

    Minimalism does not mean, having only one of what you need, it means getting rid of the things you don’t need.
    Do you need 7 sets of sheets, maybe, if that is what you want to spend your time and space on.
    However, do you need single bed sheets, when you have no single beds?
    Minimalism is about understanding what you do need, and getting rid of what you don’t.
    What minimalism is, is different to everyone, but at its core, is creating physical and mental space, from getting rid of what you don’t need and having just enough, to achieve what ‘you’ want to achieve.
    The minimalists’ whole ethos, is 99% of people have things they don’t need (too much), so have a packing party or dump as much as possible, to get to the basics, and then build from there if that is what you want, but keep in mind, that what you are comfortable with is what is needed.
    Its a fundamental psychological change to realising there are things you do not need, not a competition to see who can own the least.

  10. posted by Karen on

    I’ve read that certain things need to ‘rest’ in between uses. Shoes for one to dry out and relax between wearings. And if you used fitted sheets with elastic they say that sheets last longer if you rotate between 2 sets. Same with bras, prob sweats with elastic waist bands. Etc.

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