When people think of minimalism, they often picture families living an almost zero-waste lifestyle, meticulously composting and recycling so they only have a single bag of trash per year. Or they think of selling their possessions and heading off into the great unknown, with only a single suitcase and a laptop.
While these are versions of minimalism, you don’t have to live this way in order to apply minimalist principles to your own life. It’s possible for you to improve your finances by grasping a few of the basic tenets of minimalism and adapting them to your situation.
I’m not a “true” minimalist in the way that many expect minimalists to behave, but I do strive to apply some of the principles of minimalism in my life. Here are some of the things you can do that can bring greater contentment — and even help you improve your financial situation:
One of the basic tenets of minimalism is simplicity. Everything from simple meals to simple clothing can help make your life easier. And, in many cases, these simple things cost less than more complex products.
You can also improve your finances by simplifying them. Automatic savings and investments, as well as automatic withdrawals, can help you stay on top of your finances without too much trouble. Consolidate accounts so that your cash flow isn’t as complex, and it’s easier for you to manage the situation.
Add a little simplicity to your life and your finances, and you could save time and money.
Cut the Clutter
A key to minimalism is getting rid of clutter. Not too long ago, my husband and I went through our possessions and got rid of quite a few things. We were tired of the clutter. Once we made the decisions to get rid of a lot of our possessions (we donated them to the thrift shop), we also decided to be careful about the amount of clutter we brought back in to the house.
Not only did we get a tax deduction for our donations, but we also adopted a plan that prevents us from spending on things that will simply clutter up our home again. This saves us money, as well as allows us to create an environment that feels more open. We have greater contentment with our home now that it has less clutter.
We also work to cut the clutter from our lives. My husband recently realized that there were certain meetings that stressed him out, and took him away from other important things. He decided that these meetings weren’t important, and cut them out. He’s much happier. We also say no to excessive activities for our son, and I say no sometimes to other obligations. We save money on transportation when we’re not running everywhere, and the benefits of having more time for stress-free activities and family time far outweigh the meetings and “busy-ness” of a cluttered lifestyle.
One of the best things you can do for your life — and your pocketbook — is learn how to be content. When you are always certain that you have to keep up with someone else’s version of success, you keep reaching for things that you might not even want.
Instead, look at your own preferences and values. Be content with what you have, and with who you are. This can take a lot of work. However, when you learn the point where “enough is enough” and you learn to be happy with what you have, things get easier. You are less stressed about what others think of your lifestyle, and you spend a lot less money trying to buy things designed to make you happy (but that somehow never quite bestow happiness upon you).
While there’s nothing wrong with striving for goals and improving yourself, ask yourself why do the things you do and spend the money that you spend. True self-improvement and increased quality of life on your terms are great goals. However, if you constantly compare yourself to others, and are unhappy with how you “measure up,” there is a good chance that you will expend a lot of time, energy, and money on a futile quest.
What do you think? Are there ways to incorporate minimalist principles in your life?