4 MIN READ
If you were to shut your eyes and walk a few feet in any direction, you’d likely run into something to do with minimalism. It’s everywhere—the internet, books, popular television shows. At every turn, people are raving about this “less is more” concept.
But what exactly is minimalism anyway?
At its core, minimalism is a movement that focuses on getting rid of the clutter in your life (both physical and abstract) and focusing on only having the things that truly bring you joy. However, because it means different things to different people, minimalism can be interpreted in a number of ways.
Minimalism isn’t about giving away all your possessions and living out of a backpack. It doesn’t mean depriving yourself of the comforts of a nice home or car. You don’t have to stop spending money. Minimalism places an emphasis on identifying what’s important in life—which, again, is different for every person—and spending time and money on those things. Minimalism is about living intentionally.
And minimalism can help your finances.
You Learn to Prioritize Your Spending
Minimalism encourages you to live intentionally and determine what’s most important to you. Those concepts apply to what you do with your money as well. When you’re not fixated on acquiring more “stuff” just for the sake of having it, your spending priorities do an about-face. And as you discover what carries meaning in your life, it becomes far easier to choose when and how to spend your money.
You Pay Off Debt Faster
Buying less means you’re not constantly adding to your bills each month, and that means you have extra money to put towards what’s important—like getting out of debt. Of course, it follows that the more money you put against your deficit, the quicker you can get out of the vicious debt cycle.
Once you’re free, your money can do so much more for you. You can build up an emergency fund, add to your 401(k), travel, donate to charity—whatever brings you happiness and security. The choice is yours!
You Shop Smarter
Minimalism teaches you to consider each purchase carefully. Do you really need another plain white tee? Can something you already own serve the same purpose? Can you borrow it from a friend or family member if you only need to use it occasionally? Will this item bring you joy?
When every purchase is well thought out and intentional, the temptation to impulse buy is greatly reduced.
Minimalism also encourages you to do your research and buy quality items. Inexpensive items are usually lower quality and more likely to break or wear out quickly. High quality items are more expensive upfront, but save you money in the long run by lasting for years.
Unfortunately, the expense vs. quality equation doesn’t apply to all items. As consumers, we’re often faced with planned obsolescence—the sneaky practice manufacturers use to keep you buying. They produce goods that become obsolete on a schedule, and as a result, require replacing. Items that are often prone to planned obsolescence include vehicles, appliances, and tech (e.g. computers, smartphones, televisions). Be sure to do your research and buy from manufacturers who offer lifetime warranties and quality products.
You Need Less Room
After your initial decluttering, you may find you need far less space to store all the things you’ve amassed over the years. You may be able to move into a smaller home, which saves on rent or lowers your mortgage. Smaller spaces also have lower utility payments, which frees up even more money to spend on the things that matter most to you. Plus, let’s not forget that living minimally makes organization and cleaning a breeze. The less time you spend cleaning, the more time you have to follow your passions.
You Love What You Do Have
Even though it may sometimes feel like the opposite is true, a rich life is about more than just money. Minimalism can help you realize that. Being surrounded by the things you love—the items that truly bring you joy—means you’re likely to be happier and calmer than if you stockpile items that cause you stress to maintain. It’s so much better to have a handful of quality items you love than a mountain of stuff you don’t particularly care about.
Minimalism isn’t for everyone. In fact, it can be difficult to achieve. It takes a lot of time and energy to get rid of excess items in your home, and if you live with someone who has hoarding tendencies, it can be hard on your relationship. And if you live on a low income, you may not be able to afford “quality over quantity.” We all have different financial situations, and minimalism doesn’t fit into all of them.
However, if reading this article has you intrigued about the minimalist lifestyle, consider decluttering one closet or room in your home and see how you feel afterward. If you feel good about it, try going an entire week being intentional in your spending. You may just find the minimalist lifestyle is right for you.
About the Author
Liz Greene is a makeup loving, dog hugging, anxiety-ridden realist from the gorgeous City of Trees, Boise, Idaho. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene or catch her latest misadventures on her blog, Instant Lo.