Many people have heard of the minimalist movement and its desire to help people think about possessions in a different way. It is seen as a tool that can assist you in finding freedom–freedom from fear, from worry, from guilt, from sadness, from being overwhelmed and overworked. It also includes freedom from our need to own possessions and from focusing on “stuff” to the exclusion of other things that bring value to our lives.
It is marked, then, by clarity, purpose, and intentionality. As Becoming Minimalist indicates, “minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.” As a result, minimalism forces us to make improvements in every aspect of our life. Thinking purposefully about how we organize our day, plan our time, gather resources, engage with others, develop relationships, and spend our money means that we make decisions more consciously and more deliberately.
Adopting a minimalist perspective is not easy. Being raised in a capitalist society and with a consumer’s mentality means that we often place a great deal of significance on appearances and ownership of “stuff.” We spend a great deal of our time working and earning money for this purpose. But the value of money lies in what it can afford you, and most people are driven to amass wealth in order to not stress about daily decisions and to have the luxuries that it can provide for yourself and your family.
What if we approached finances from a minimalist perspective? What if we adopted a minimalist financial lifestyle that cut out as much unnecessary spending as possible and automated finances as much as possible? If we did so, would the fears and worries and guilt and overwork we often experience in our daily life be lessened?
So how do we do adopt a minimalist financial lifestyle?
Set up monthly payments and stop worrying. If you’re tired of the endless bill juggling act and financial responsibilities have interfered with your ability to enjoy your time, you can easily automate your life. Bills that are due on the same day each month can be set up with your banking institution or the company to whom you’re paying them. You can also automate retirement contributions and savings account deposits. The only thing you will need to do is to ensure that your checking account always has the balance required to avoid overdrafting, and let your account do the rest.
Combine multiple accounts. Another important thing to do is minimize the number of accounts you have. It’s not necessary to have multiple checking and savings accounts at several banking institutions, so find a way to combine them. Once you only have one checking and one savings account, you only need to worry about one monthly statement, one username/password, and one account that holds the key to all of your payments. You may also want to consolidate the many credit cards you have. Keep only one or two credit cards that represent the best of the best with regard to rewards, limits, and credit history ages. Close all the others and declutter your wallet.
Stop shopping online and making impulse purchases. Speaking of clutter, clutter in your home can lead to chaos and indecisiveness. Declutter your home and sell items that are unwanted and unneeded. There will be less time spent cleaning it, shuffling it, and organizing it. Buy only what you need, not what you want so that you do not re-clutter your already decluttered home! Curbing your spending might be the most difficult rule to follow, but if you’re constantly spree shopping and impulse buying, you raise the risk of missed payments and over-drafts that will lead you back to worry and guilt. This rule of financial minimalism will also encourage the growth of a fatter bank account, which ultimately leads to a reduced level of stress and worry over money.
Eliminate non-essentials and use what you have. Minimalism is not about deprivation, but it is about focusing on what matters most. If time with family is a priority, then maybe you don’t need the premium cable package that offers over 1000 channels for your viewing pleasure. Finding ways to repair and repurpose home items will also lead to a reduction in expenses and worry, and may ultimately provide opportunities to enjoy the people in your life through the time spent on DIY projects.
Living by these two principles means that a financial minimalist creates the time and resources to intentionally focus on those things that matter most. These things might include family, friends, free time, and pleasant experiences. Before long, the financial minimalist might find that the benefits of the lifestyle are significant and lead to a happier, more productive, and more fulfilling life and far more freedom than could have been imagined.