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Can Boomers Become Minimalists?

Can Boomers Become Minimalists?

Boomers get a borderline comical reputation for holding onto possessions. Children of boomers are cringing at the looming inevitable house full of junk they will inherit. Inspiring a new era of boomer minimalists will ensure priceless items don’t get thrown in the trash heap after their passing.

What boomer hoarders don’t realize is that the next generation won’t be able to distinguish between a family heirloom and the old photo frame you bought at a yard sale. The sheer volume of things makes it impossible to know what’s really important.

If loved ones around the beloved boomer generation could inspire a massive purge, by all means, the next generation will take care of the priceless family heirlooms. The resistance to even speak about money or items of value in essence leaves their heirs in the dark.

Why Are Boomers Hoarders?

While there is no one-size fits all answer to why boomers are hoarders, we can make some solid generalizations. It is important to recognize that there are genetic, neurological, and psychological factors which could be contributing to their inability to let items go. If there are more serious or traumatic causes for a loved ones hoarding, please seek medical assistance.

Economic Instability

Baby boomers grew up during a time of economic uncertainty. Children born into this era were entirely helpless as they watched their parents suffer through the difficult financial situations of the mi 20th century.

boomer hoarders

In the 1930’s the Great Depression caused mass unemployment, poverty, and loss of community. While their parents struggled to find adequately paying jobs many local businesses around them closed for good. Families had to become very resourceful with using every scrap of food, soap, and toothpaste leaving no waste.

Additionally, world war two affected the supply chain and sometimes lead to rationing. When scarcity of necessities plagues your childhood it becomes ingrained in your behavior.

Rapid Societal Changes

Society needed to change and the boomer generation fought for many important movements during their adolescence. However, adapting to the changes has proven to be another issue entirely.

Boomers are rolling back decades-long movements like civil rights, feminism, and worker protections due to their discontentment. Their feelings of traditions and antiquated values unfortunately outweigh acceptance of the new era.

Loss and Trauma

From family businesses shuttering because of the Great Depression to the death of loved ones during the war, boomers have had their fair share of trauma. Boomers use holding on to items as a coping mechanism.

Boomers subconsciously hold on to items in case resources become scarce again. It’s almost as if they are holding their breath until survival mode is activated again.

can boomers become minimalists

Technology Takeover

Adaptation to rapidly changing technology has left boomers at a disadvantage. The new generations are happy to have every photo digitized while boomers have boxes and boxes of tangible photos filling their basements. Inspiring boomer minimalists means getting them on board with new technology to reduce physical possessions.

Looking into a boomer home is like visiting a living museum. You could stumble on 6 different ways to watch a movie. They’ve got the Super 8 projector, Betamax, VHS VCR, laser disc player, DVD player, and now the modern day smart TV with apps like Netflix. Holding on to he technology from every era is a boomers specialty.

Boomers Who Minimize

You might be reading this article hoping to find some way for your boomer parents to adopt minimalism. Basic psychology tells us that demanding that our parents comply with our wishes is unlikely to sway them. Instead, you have to appeal to their reasons for clinging to these items.

There are three justifications people use for hanging on to items. They are keeping it for financial reasons, practical rational, or emotional excuses.

Understanding why they are holding on to their items informs the strategy you will use to help them minimalists. If they use financial justifications you can be pitching garage sales and preserving the value of items they don’t want broken. On the other hand if they are using practical justification you can appeal to their sensibilities of how impossible it is to access the items they need. Emotional justifications are the hardest to contented with because of the heightened stress of conversations about those items. >> Read: Minimizing Sentimental Items <<

turn boomers into minimalists

New Era of Boomer Minimalists

“Swedish Death Cleaning” is a great concept for boomer minimalists, but the name may turn them off. I wish there was another name because I can see how a boomer would be immediately turned off by the name. The concept is about purging and telling stories during retirement years.

Be mindful of the thought process behind a boomers clinging to items. It might not be as simple as nostalgia but it could be as simple as sending them to this blog. Boomers don’t want to be the butt of hoarding jokes or make life harder for their children after their death.

Choosing to downsize a lifetime of stuff takes courage and commitment. If a step by step strategy would inspire them to take action, be sure to tell the boomer in your life about my Messy to Minimalist E-course. I provide room by room instruction, strategies for overcoming justifications, and support for maintaining minimalism after the initial purge.


  • Veronica Hanson

    Veronica Hanson blogs from whatever country she happens to be in at the time, currently she's hanging out in Japan. She's been living as a nomad remote entrepreneur with her family since 2020.

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