Financial minimalism is, quite honestly, the opposite of what most people WANT to do. But if you are doing it for a reason like getting out of debt or saving for a big trip, the payoff is totally worth it. Plus, you might find that it does your soul some good along the way…a purge of some of our society’s over-the-top necessities….
The key? Discipline and self control. Yuck.
Below are boil the key elements to financial minimalism compiled for you here:
First, we need to be on the same page – what is financial minimalism and why would you want this? Financial minimalism is a lifestyle choice to be as minimally obligated to expenses as possible.
Why? The reason why will vary from person to person, but whatever the motivating factor, it will often be what determines how hard you work towards this.
You may choose to seek financial minimalism as a way to save money, or maybe as a way to gain freedom. Or maybe even as a way to break free of an over-indulged lifestyle in need of a purge. You may find yourself asking, is financial minimalism different from being debt-free?
Yes, it is different, it is a different focus really. While you MAY be able to accomplish some of the same freedom with being debt-free, minimizing your financial obligations can go much deeper. For example, being debt-free means that you work really hard to pay off your house, your car, your credit cards.
And yes, that is one heck of a relief! But even those folks working on a debt-free lifestyle don’t necessarily find the motivation to REALLY review regular expenses that aren’t necessarily debt…things like the Lawn care, Netflix, and . . .eeek . . .daily Starbucks stops.
In my opinion, if more people focused on financial minimalism first, it would make paying off debt MUCH easier.
I WISH I was in a position to pay off my house, or work towards it, but instead, I’ve chosen a combination of financial minimalist approaches that I find to be more fulfilling and less frustrating than seeing my mortgage principle go down at a snails pace.
First, Simplify your life – What is it about your daily grind that is the busiest, the craziest? Take a hard look at whether or not there are factors that can be removed.
Whether it is a taxing commute to work, or on over-commitment to social functions, or signing your kid up for every extra-curricular your town has to offer – whatever it is, as you sit here right now, your first thought is probably.
NO WAY, no, No How, not possible! I get it, these things are serious, they are life. Are you asking me to give up Trivia Tuesday? Are you asking me to pull my kid from Tuba lessons? HA! You are crazy!
I know, I know, maybe I should have saved this for last . . . but it really needs to be the first thing you take a hard look at. You can come back to this.
Put it on hold; digest the idea; see what your possibilities may be. But at the end of the day, just consider letting one thing go. Minimizing your time commitments will help you put you first. Having more time for you means time to re-visit priorities. Hey, I mean we all know it, Time is Money.
But time can also be memories. More time for the simple things can sometimes be the best for your soul as well. If you find yourself in a daily rat race, start here. This may be the hardest decision, but you will never regret minimizing.
Second, Evaluate what REALLY matters – Do we HAVE to have Amazon Prime? Cable? Could Netflix time be spent in a more productive way? Can I drive an older car to avoid the monthly car payment that I currently have?
Yes, this one goes back to basic debt-free lifestyle decisions, but combined with a few non-debt related expense cuts, you will be well underway to getting back to the basics. When you step back and you ask yourself what really matters, you are probably thinking family, friends, health.
At least if you have read this far, you are probably thinking along those lines! Getting back to the basics and dropping that upgraded Pandora account just to avoid having to listen to ads will quickly become a faded memory.
If you can find a way to part from the expenses of your all-too-upgraded lifestyle, you will find it to be not only good for the purse strings, but more importantly, good for the mind as well.
If you want some real inspiration from two guys that really epitomize minimalism you may want to check out Josh and Ryan. They have a site called The Minimalists and teach the philosophy behind…leaving it behind.
They each only own a handful of things and are quite content because of it. Their story is an interesting one and there’s even a Netflix documentary on it. Check them out here.
Next, Stay focused – cutting monthly financial commitments and spending habits is incredibly difficult. But once you’ve made these commitments, don’t turn back.
Since many of them are most likely rather superficial like a Hulu subscription or Spotify upgrades (Assuming you didn’t decide to do away with your city water bill!) you will be surprised at just how quickly you can forget about certain amenities – if you stay focused on your goal.
Be picky about your purchases – diligence pays off….while there is no avoiding the need to spend money on certain things, remember to be diligent about WHAT you spend your money on. How critical are the name brand groceries?
Can you eat dinner with friends at someone’s house rather going out to eat? Are you clothes shopping because you NEEEEED clothes? I’m not suggesting to be cheap as much as I am suggesting that you slow down and really consider what you are about to swipe your card for, before you swipe it!
As Americans in particular, our culture tends to be gluttonous in may ways. Spending is one of those ways for sure. Purge your tendencies to be quick on the card swipe, it will be a habit that pays off year after year.
Lastly, Patience – every tip thus far is one that takes self control, diligence, and patience. These adjustments won’t come overnight. They will be a long time coming before they feel good.
But they WILL feel good! In the meantime, while you wait for the Starbucks caffeine withdrawals to subside, you can practice some tangible Money Saving tips to help pass the time.
The bottom line here …. simplify, you’ll be glad you did.