There is a way to live rich with less stuff and end up with more money, more time, and more freedom to do the things you love; it’s called minimalism, and it’s becoming more popular every day. Most of us have way more stuff than we actually need to live, much of it sitting in closets, stored in garage rafters, and stacked in storage units we pay for by the month, but never access. If you have been trying to save money to no avail, may we suggest you try minimalism? Living as a minimalist can save you money in so many ways, including:
- Spend less on clothing. Minimalism does not necessarily mean tossing out your entire wardrobe and keeping just one or two outfits that you wear until they are threadbare. Minimalism is less about the number of things you own and more about how those things add value to your life. If your closet is full of clothes that don’t fit, don’t feel comfortable, don’t make you look good or feel good, then those are not items that add value to your life. When you cull all those items from your closet along with anything you haven’t worn for the last year or more, you’ll get your wardrobe down to things that look good, make you feel good, and you enjoy wearing. You will actually spend less money shopping for new clothes because you love everything in your closet. As an added bonus, getting dressed in the morning will be so much easier and faster, because you won’t have to filter through a mass of stuff that you don’t really want to wear, anyway.
- Pay less rent. As you begin to unload yourself of some of your unnecessary things, you may find that you can move to a smaller place. When you have less stuff, it follows that you need less room. When you get rid of things you don’t use on a regular basis, you are practicing minimalism. When you rent a smaller home, you’ll save on rent every month, and you can still have a nice space that you love. In addition, you’ll have more money to save or spend on the things that really matter.
- Buy less stuff. Once you do the closet purge, you’ll be inspired to move on to other areas of your home and get rid of anything that is broken, outdated, unused, or just doesn’t serve your lifestyle anymore. Once you lighten the load, you’ll feel mentally and physically lighter, too. It’s amazing how decluttering can have a positive effect on so many areas of our lives! Set yourself a challenge the next time you’re tempted to buy something – anything – and bring it home. Ask yourself where you will put it, how often you will (realistically) use it, and if the money you will spend on it will equal the joy it will bring you. Consider giving yourself 7 days to live without that item. If, after asking these questions and waiting a week you still believe it will add value to your life right now, go ahead and buy it. Statistics show, however, that most of the time when we delay a purchase, we end up not ever making it…and our lives are not made worse by the decision to let that item stay on the shelf.
- Pay less for utilities. With a smaller living space comes less utilities. Since this is one of the biggest monthly expenses after rent or mortgage, any time you can cut your utility bill you can free up that money to go elsewhere. If you own your home, you can save for high efficiency appliances or even solar panels, which will save you even more in the long run.
- Save on subscriptions and memberships. Do you know what you’re paying for every month? Are you using those subscriptions enough to justify their expense? Consider ditching one or more streaming service or sharing the cost with a friend or relative if you really can’t live without it. Take inventory of all your subscriptions and cut the ones you like the least. Try it for six months; if you simply can’t enjoy life without it, you can renew your subscription after that time period. And, when it comes to that gym membership you were so sure you’d use, be honest. If you’re not going at least once a week, you’re paying for something you’re not using like you should. Cancel the membership and pick up a used bicycle, set of free weights, or treadmill at a local thrift shop. It’s not the gym that determines whether you get in shape, it’s your decision.
- No more storage fees. When you have divested yourself of all that isn’t currently useful, you may find that you really have no need for that monthly storage unit housing all the other things you’re not using. Sell what you don’t need, use, or really want. List anything that will get you more than $20 on eBay, Craigslist, or an app like Offer Up or Let Go. Anything worth less than $20 deserves to be donated to a worthy cause. If you have enough of those items, you can get a receipt and write them off as charitable donations at tax time.
- Save on groceries. Statistics show that the main reason we spend too much on groceries is simply that we make too many trips to the grocery store. There are several ways to avoid this. Meal planning is a great way to spend less at the store and make fewer trips. By planning your meals out in advance, making a list, and only shopping for what you need to make those meals, you will avoid impulse buying and overspending. Another way to control your food costs is to take advantage of any one of a number of meal delivery services. These services deliver everything you need to make dinner, along with a recipe card with full instructions. This keeps food costs down by only using only what is required for each meal, right down to the spices, and it saves you the trip to the grocery store, where you might deviate from your list and buy things you didn’t plan or budget for. There are several meal delivery plans that include vegan and vegetarian options, and you can choose from a wide selection of recipes, snacks, and even desserts.
- Drive a used car. One major expense for many households is the cost of the car they drive. Add up car payments, insurance, gasoline, maintenance and repair, and it can run into the thousands of dollars every year. The average American car payment is upwards of $500 every month, with insurance adding another hundred or two, and variable gas, maintenance and repair costs. Consider selling your car and purchasing an older model vehicle in good condition. There are many options for buying used cars; car rental services like Hertz, Avis, and National, a used car dealership, or a private party. If you can eliminate just the car payment alone, you’ve just saved yourself upwards of $6,000 per year. That kind of money can go a long way toward paying off credit card debt, saving for a nice vacation for the family, or starting a retirement or college fund. Don’t get caught up in “keeping up with the Joneses” and succumb to the thought that your car must look as good as the neighbor’s car. If you’re out of deb and the neighbors are still paying for that nice car, who’s really coming out on top?
As you can see, there are many ways becoming a minimalist can save you money, and reward you with more cash in your savings account, less stuff to look after, and more time and freedom to spend your days doing that which truly makes you happy…and you can’t put a price on that!