Stuff I own

Omnia mea mecum porto. – Cicero

All the stuff I own fits in a carry on backpack. I mean this literally: there is nothing else in this universe that belongs to me (except perhaps my own physical body).

It wasn’t always like this.  I used to spend countless hours per week at second-hand bookstores. My personal library had over 3,000 books. During the year I spent as a graduate student at the University of Toronto, I bought so many books that, when it was time for me to leave the country, I had to have them shipped to Oxford in a cargo container. The whole operation cost me more than a thousand dollars, and much stress and anxiety. In retrospect, it seems clear that owning all this stuff was a major liability, but at the time I was like the character in Bertrand Russell’s Autobiography who, when asked whether he would destroy the world if he had the power to do so, replied: “What? Destroy my library? — Never!”

My attitude to stuff began to change when I read Paul Graham’s essay three years ago. Since then, I have become increasingly aware of the virtues of minimalism.  And now that I’m a digital nomad, I have developed an aversion to the very idea of standing in a relation of ownership to parts of the world.

There are people out there who advocate minimalism for ideological or philosophical reasons, such as anti-capitalism or asceticism.  For me, however, living with less stuff is all about having more fun.

When my friends learn I own so little, they become curious. They want to know which things I have eschewed, and which I can’t do without. The list below is an exhaustive inventory of all my worldly possessions. To give as accurate a picture as reasonably possible, I adopted a rather fine-grained and inclusive criterion of object individuation. Thus, I count each credit card or supplement as a separate item, and include even food that I don’t immediately consume.


  1. T-shirt
  2. T-shirt
  3. Shirt
  4. Shirt
  5. Boxer briefs
  6. Boxer briefs
  7. Pair of socks
  8. Pair of socks
  9. Jeans
  10. Belt
  11. Blazer
  12. Coat
  13. Boots
  14. Tango pants
  15. Tango shoes
  16. Towel
  17. Cap


  1. Ring
  2. Necklace


  1. Laptop
  2. Laptop charger
  3. Smartphone
  4. Micro SD card
  5. USB to micro-USB cable
  6. Headphones
  7. Fitbit
  8. Fitbit cable
  9. Electric shaver
  10. Universal adapter


  1. Credit card
  2. Credit card
  3. Credit card
  4. Credit card
  5. Debit card
  6. Student card
  7. Driver’s license
  8. Frequent flyer card
  9. Frequent flyer card
  10. Metro card
  11. Metro card


  1. Italian passport
  2. Argentine passport
  3. Birth certificate


  1. Backpack
  2. Small backpack
  3. Ziplock bags
  4. Water bottle
  5. Supplement organizer
  6. Dental guard container
  7. Card holder
  8. Travel wallet
  9. Headphone case

Sleep aids

  1. Eye mask
  2. Ear plugs
  3. Dental guard


  1. Bowl
  2. Fork/spoon
  3. 1 tsp measuring spoon
  4. 1 tbsp measuring spoon


  1. Shampoo
  2. Conditioner
  3. Deodorant
  4. Cologne
  5. Toothbrush
  6. Toothpaste
  7. Dental floss
  8. Nail clipper
  9. Razor
  10. Sunscreen

Pills, creams & potions

  1. Vitamin D3
  2. Vitamin B12
  3. Phosphatidylcholine
  4. Iodine
  5. Lithium
  6. Menatetrenone
  7. Taurine
  8. Acetyl-L-carnitine
  9. Beta-alanine
  10. Amineptine
  11. Tetrinoin
  12. Tazarotene
  13. Ferulic acid
  14. Melatonin
  15. Nicotine gums
  16. Caffeine pills
  17. Secret pill
  18. Another secret pill


  1. Green tea bags
  2. 100% dark chocolate
  3. Nut mix
  4. Flax seed
  5. Olive oil


  1. Pen
  2. Marker


  1. Xaphoon
  2. Cash
  3. AAA battery
  4. Mom’s flat keys
  5. Dad’s flat keys
  6. Dave’s flat keys

With thanks to James Evans and others for useful discussion.

  • 5566hh

    I wonder if you can say anything more some time about all those pills and potions – such as reason for use, frequency of use, satisfaction with use etc.? Also do you drink alcohol e.g. red wine for its possible benefits?

    • Hi,

      I expect to write a post about my supplement regimen soon. As for your second question, yes, I do drink one glass of red wine per day. Note that the benefits of alcohol on mortality are dose-dependent: a glass is better than no glass, two glasses are worse than one glass, and several glasses are worse than nothing. See this graph.

      • 5566hh


  • Anonynym

    No contraceptives?

  • Andrew Sanchez

    What kind of backpack do you use? What are the dimensions? Thanks for the inspiring post! Going to give away and sell all my shit, ASAP! :D

    • Hi Andrew. I have a Tom Bihn Synapse 25 backpack. The dimensions are 508 x 340 x 230 mm. It weighs 770 grams. Its comparatively low weight is the main reason I chose it.

      Good luck getting rid of your stuff. :)

      • Andrew Sanchez

        Impressive! I’m going for a slightly bigger pack, mostly because I want something with good hip support. I’m probably going to go for the Osprey Kestrel 32, which I should qualify as a carry-on bag for budget air lines.

        Have you heard of Darn Tough socks? They have a life-time warranty. They are also made of wool which means you can wear them several days in a row without them stinking.

        I’m going to email you soon about some things related to how I originally found you, which was via Anki sharked decks and less wrong. Cheers! :)