A product or a service‏

SneakersAll of our purchases are generally thrown into two categories: a product or a service. That is what we have been led to believe. But the truth is that everything in fact, is a service. Or at least, the products are used to provide a service. Either way we look at it, it’s the service that is the end result we are looking for. Much of the time, it is necessary (more cost effective and /or convenient) to own a particular product to get a service we require …… but not as often as we think (or they would have us believe).

As minimalists, we should keep in mind the services we require, and determine if the purchase of a particular product it really the best way to acquire the service. Or conversely: As minimalists, When interested in purchasing a product, we should be determining if there is a better (more efficient, convenient) way of acquiring the service it provides without having to purchase said product. To help illustrate the mindset I am speaking of, I have created the table below to show some examples of things we might own, what their service/function is, and potential alternatives of acquiring the same service that may be more efficient then owning the item ourselves (It all depends on our lifestyle).

Owned Item Service/Function Alternatives
House Shelter/Storage Rent
Automobile Transportation Public Transportation (bus, train, subway, taxi), Rent a car, Lease
Dish Washer Sanitary eating Do it yourself
Computer (too many functions to mention) Membership at a local public library. Internet cafe
A Yard Outdoor Recreation Local Public Park
Washing Machine & Dryer Clean Clothes Laundromat
Refrigerator Food Preservation  and Storage Shop and eat fresh every day
Stove and Range Cook Food Eat only living food


Example: It is usually significantly less expensive to rent ones residence, than to purchase ones residence (but not always). While home ownership more often times than not, yields far greater long term profit, it’s often not worth suffering a lesser quality of life now for potential profit in the future.

Example: For someone who may only require the use of transportation once a week to the grocery store (an elderly recluse perhaps), the purchase of a vehicle may be a completely unnecessary expense when considering loan payment, gas, insurance when for less than $30 a week they can have a taxi take them to and from their local grocery store.

Example: For a bachelor who’s entire flatware comprises of 2 forks, 2 knives, 2 spoons, 2 plates, 2 bowls, 2 glasses, and a cup, a dishwasher is completely unnecessary (I don’t think I have to explain why).

Example: To my surprise there is actually still people out there that don’t have much interest or use for a computer (I don’t get it), but maybe once a week they like to check their email to stay in touch with family that lives very far; they like to send digital pictures, poems, etc. Those people may have a public library very close and could use their computers. Expenses avoided: Computer purchase, anti-virus software, internet access, and potentially many others.

Example: A yard must be maintained which is both time and cost intensive. Unless we get some sorta joy in doing these maintenance activities (and many people do ….. not me), it makes far more sense to have outdoor recreation in a public park if there is one reasonably close. The grounds are already well maintained because our tax money is already taking care of that. We’re already dumping money in the parks, might as well use them.

There are three more items in the table , but I think we see where this is going now.   In a nutshell, minimalism is all about efficiency. So with all the services we require, we have to decide what the most efficient way to acquire those services is. Often times we will find that acquiring a new product is not the answer.

BTW: The attached picture is a photo of my brand new running sneakers ……. it has nothing to do with the subject of this post really. I just think they are fierce and wanna show them off. Running sneakers are an example of a product which offer a service that can’t be acquired by any other means. That is “optimum comfortable running.”