Today we’re going to be talking about minimalism and specifically four ways minimalism saves me money. I have saved anywhere between 35 and 70% of my annual income over the last several years with these strategies.
The jig is up. Most of the systems that we have in place don’t work for the majority of people. 2023 has been an expensive year and we’re all living through once-in-a-lifetime events like every five years. More and more people are rejecting the traditional forms of work relationships and power structures because we’re able to look around and say: “Hey this world that we’ve created these systems that we’ve created don’t really work for the vast majority of us– what else is there?”
People are turning to movements like minimalism, slow living, community building, and sustainable living in order to try and find or create lives that actually work for them and their money. So let’s talk about minimalism, let’s give it a definition.
What is minimalism?
When I say minimalism, a lot of people are probably thinking just like a closet filled with only black t-shirts and a kitchen with one table, one chair, and one plate. But that’s not what minimalism is. It’s not about getting rid of absolutely everything you own, except for the bare minimum minimalism.
It’s really about aligning your lifestyle with your values and getting rid of the clutter both physical (literal clutter) and the mental and emotional clutter that stands in your way.
You can make minimalism work for you.
I definitely consider myself a minimalist. But if you walk into my home you’re going to see a bookcase filled with books, art on the walls, and candles on my coffee table. It’s not about having literally nothing in your home, but it is about getting rid of clutter.
In the years that I have spent practicing minimalism, it has helped me save a lot of money. Specifically, it’s helped me save anywhere between 35 and 70% of my income annually.
Those numbers vary so much because I have variable costs like rent and health care. I don’t own my home, so I move usually once a year. Chasing cheap rent and my health care since I am a chronically ill girly can also drastically change.
Now, I work with people one-on-one as a money coach to help them create a budget, create a debt payoff plan, start investing and one of the questions that I always ask my clients is: what does financial stability mean to you? Never once has someone said I need $5 million in a 26-bedroom house. Every single person has said some version of financial stability means to me being able to spend my money without anxiety and to be able to live a life that I love.
How have I been using minimalism to save so much of my income? Well here are four things that I do.
4 Ways Minimalism Saves Me Money
1: I have patience with money.
Learning patience with money is incredibly difficult to do, especially because we live in a world of buy now, shop now, one-day delivery. We live in a world of instant gratification, so it makes a lot of sense that we would apply that mindset to our money. To quote Ariana Grande, “I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it.” That’s how a lot of us approach our spending. But I practice patience with my money by taking a step back. When I see something I like, I think “hold on let me give myself a couple of days before I go ahead and pull an Ariana Grande.”
This allows me the chance to look around my home and ask: do I really need this? Does this actually fill a need in my life? Is this going to make my life easier and better in some way? It also gives me a chance to look around my home and ask: where am I going to keep this thing? I live in a rather small apartment. We have very little storage space and if I bring more stuff into my home that doesn’t have a designated place to live, that means my house is going to be messier. I’m already a messy person!
I do not need any more stuff that can live in little piles on my floor because I don’t know where to put it. Stepping away from this instant gratification mindset allows me to decrease my overall spending which of course means I’m saving more money.
2: I focus on community, not clout.
I work online and it’s very easy to get caught up in chasing subscriber numbers, follower numbers, and income. Working in the financial space, a lot of people share their personal financial journey and use that as their marketing. A lot of people claim: I’m a millionaire, here’s how I did it. Or, here’s how I got to 1 million followers on Instagram or YouTube. But, I also think to myself what am I really trying to do with my online presence? Am I trying to build clout or am I trying to build community?
Time and time again, I find myself coming back to the idea that I want to connect with people around money. I want to talk to people about money, and help people with their money and I also want to have conversations about the economics of our world. So that means I don’t need to focus my energy on just increasing followers. I need to focus my energy on actually building community and being in communication with people.
Taking that offline, I try to do the same thing in my day-to-day life. I host book swaps and I host cookie swaps. These are low-cost ways for people to come and engage with me and low-cost ways for me to be able to build community. By building these community-centered events into my life, it allows me to meet people, get my social battery charged and it allows me time to connect with people. And connection is the thing that I truly want in my life.
3: I shop secondhand.
Shopping secondhand can have an impact not just your finances, but on our world. We are simply making too much stuff. We’re making 100 billion new pieces of clothes per year. We’re making 80 million new cars per year. We are depleting the earth’s resources faster than we can refill them. That’s not good for the planet.
It also puts us in this financial situation where we’re constantly having to buy, buy, buy. But by shopping secondhand we’re utilizing what’s already been made. So we are lowering our need for virgin resources. I also think this secondhand mindset is also very helpful when it comes to our money and to being satisfied with our current lives. Looking around and being grateful for the things that we already have helps us be more content on a day-to-day. It stops us from feeling like we need to go out and constantly get more or that we need to change ourselves to constantly be something else. To me, shopping secondhand saves US money, but it’s also an opportunity to practice contentment.
4: I cut out comparison.
I block, mute, or unfollow people who make me feel like I am in competition with them. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a competitive person by nature. I was an athlete all through high school and college. I don’t think that competition is necessarily a bad thing. But I do think that when your competition leads you towards the negative, it’s time to check yourself before you wreck yourself.
It’s very easy for us to hop online and look at someone else’s home and say why doesn’t my house look like that? Or to look at someone else’s children and say why don’t my kids behave that way? Why don’t I have that amount of money in my bank account? Or, why am I not living in Brazil? Why am I not vacationing in Greece? Those feelings of competition and resentment can lead to overspending in an attempt to catch up to this other person. We can see someone’s beautiful home, hop online, buy the same rug, the same lamp, the same chandelier, and now have a carbon copy of that room.
You have to make financial choices for you
But do I have their life? Do I have their money? Do I even have their satisfaction is this room that I’ve just spent $800 creating? Is it even my style? Does it make me happier? These are the types of questions that get lost when we are in competition with other people. Then, we end up with a lot of stuff that we don’t actually like or we don’t really need. Because we thought that it would give us the life that we see other people live online.
Cutting out feelings of competition is so important to your wealth-building journey. Then, you can focus on building the life that you want. You can make the financial moves that make sense for you. It’s not about mimicking what you see other people doing. It’s about finding the right financial tools and finding the right satisfaction for your own life. Honestly, when it comes to online competition, sometimes we’re in competition with people who literally don’t even know we exist. It’s a one-sided thing.
We feel competitive with the influencer who has a lake house in northern Michigan, but that influencer doesn’t even know we exist. They don’t even know that they are competing against us. That’s not a healthy mindset.
These are four ways that practicing minimalism has helped me save between 35 and 70% of my income over the last several years. If you practice minimalism, please drop some of your tips tricks and habits in the comments. If you’re more of a visual learner, check out this post in video form below and be sure to subscribe for new content.