Words to Live By: The Parsimonious Life

Here’s your market research moment for the day: in statistics, the term parsimonious generally refers to the idea that the simplest interpretation of the data is best. Also referred to as Ockham’s razor, the law of parsimony reminds us not to get unnecessarily distracted by flashy analysis methods or excess information.

The first time I heard the word parsimonious, the definition I internalized was this: a solution so simple that it becomes elegant by virtue of its simplicity. I latched on to this meaning and the word became a cornerstone in my life.

If you look up parsimonious in a dictionary, you’ll probably get a definition such as “frugal, miserly, cheap.” While I hope I’m not a miser, this aspect of the word resonates as well. Growing up, my mother modeled smart shopping behaviors, and I have always been one who enjoys the art of finding a deal.

So what does living the parsimonious life look like? Here are a few principles and practices that I implement:

  • When working to achieve a goal, understand that the simplest, most straightforward solution is often the best. When I’m trying to lose weight, I eat less bread, drink more water, and spend more time at the gym. When trying to save money, I buy less or look for ways to spend less on the things I need. No magic pills or silver bullets. Keep it simple and effective.
  • Stay focused. There’s a lot of information out there, and a lot of voices that have a lot of opinions. Staying focused on what I know to be true and definite about myself reminds me that it’s ok to trim down the unnecessary distractions vying for my attention.
  • Define what is enough. When faced with a purchase, ignore the price tag for a minute and ask yourself, “What is this item worth to me?” Put a dollar number on what your limit is, and don’t compromise if the item costs more. When feeling overwhelmed by items in your closet, try a capsule wardrobe experiment (such as Project 333 or the Unfancy 10×10) to expand your idea of what is enough for you.
  • Less is more. It’s the old minimalist adage, but it’s true. Having less places more value on the things we choose to bring into our lives, forcing us to become curators rather than collectors.

What are some words or phrases you live by?
Anna Signature

One thought on “Words to Live By: The Parsimonious Life

  1. Great post. Love your style of writing and intellect.
    I’ve always considered myself “practical”, concerned with the actual doing of something and staying efficient. And I also consider myself a “perfectionist”. This word is very meaningful… It basically means that one has passion, and actually cares about things rather then living a sort of nonchalant lifestyle. (If this was rich text I would emphasize *cares* using italic.) I think that being sensible is important, and being as efficient as possible, and constantly improving your skills and understanding. Basically think for yourself – don’t just go with the crowd.


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