As a kid, I showed signs of minimalism in at least three ways. One was each time I cleaned the kitchen I had to have everything off the counters. Second, I got a lot of satisfaction out of finishing all of the food in the pantry. And third, I loved the feeling of getting rid of stuff.
Today, I still do this (I think it drives my wife nuts)!
In a way, I’ve always been somewhat of a minimalist but I’ve never defined myself as a minimalist. I consider myself more of an “aspiring minimalist.” I don’t rank up there on the minimalism scale but I do love living a simple life, with a neat and clean home, and trying to get rid of stuff I don’t need.
It wasn’t until I watched the documentary on Netflix about minimalism that I was able to recognize it as a life optimization strategy.
Since then, I’ve learned more about it and discovered that when you’re trying to get the most out of your finances there is a natural progression towards minimalism. You start to ask yourself, “what do I value and what am I willing to spend my money on?”
The great thing? Most people that actually reach financial independence do it by adopting some level of minimalism in their life.
What is Minimalism?
First off, what is minimalism?
“Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.”- The Minimalists
It’s about eliminating clutter in your life. Both physically and mentally.
Minimalism is cutting out the unnecessary stuff in your life so you can focus more of your time and effort on the things that really matter. When some people first learn about minimalism, they think, “why on earth would I do that to myself?” But as they learn more and adopt this way of living, it’s hard to go back to your normal way of consuming.
Minimalists search for happiness not through things, but through life itself.
Other than when I was in high school when I had to have the nicest pair of basketball shoes, I’ve never been that interested in having nice and fancy things. I’ve always driven an old car paid for in cash, had few possessions, and tried to put my money towards savings or just watching my stash of cash grow.
Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.
When you call a person a minimalist, you’re describing their interest in keeping things very simple.
What it isn’t
Minimalism is not about deprivation. My purpose in living a simple life has never been to get rid of everything in my life.
- Getting rid of everything you own
- Intentionally making life harder
- Being cheap
- Not wanting to have fun
- Getting rid of your hobbies or collections
- Having a house that is cold and uninviting
- Being a part of some crazy cult
- Not having kids
- Just getting rid of your stuff
It comes down to getting rid of what you don’t value in your life and adding in what you do value. One way I heard it described is a “valuist.” So if you have a ton of crap, get rid of it. If you have destructive relationships figure out how to make it better or get rid of that person. If you find yourself mindlessly wasting time and scrolling through social media, place limitations. Your future self will thank you for doing all of these things.
Minimalism and money
Money is absolutely related to minimalism. People who find themselves living a simpler life are not worried about keeping up with the Joneses and typically have more money and more peace of mind. Here are eight ways they are related:
- Helps you prioritize your spending. Spending money is a huge determining factor of reaching financial independence. When you have a clear goal in mind you’re less likely to spend money on things that you don’t care about.
- Spend less money on things. It’s scientifically proven that people who spend money on experiences are happier than people that spend money on stuff. By having less “stuff” and more money, you’re going to be able to do more.
- Save money on housing. Because you decided you don’t care about other people’s opinions you buy a house that actually fits your needs. Not just a house or apartment to impress your friends. This is going to have the biggest impact on your finances.
- Clearer goals. When you apply minimalism to goal setting you delete all the goals your not committed to and you focus on the two or three goals with an insane amount of intensity you’re more likely to reach those goals.
- A focus on living debt-free. This is probably one of the biggest benefits of living a simple life. You do everything you can to shake off the chains of debt. That way all of your extra money at the end of the month isn’t going to pay off things that you already experienced. You actually get to keep the money and have the peace of mind of knowing you’re 100% debt-free.
- Making money selling stuff. Looking to make a little extra side income. Maybe you’re looking to make a quick $500 this weekend. The best way that I know how to do that is to sell your unwanted stuff. Old computer, old phone, clothes, etc.
- Simplifies your money. If you live a minimalist life you’re most likely going to apply it to managing your finances. There’s a ton of tools out there to help you get out of debt and stay on top of your money.
- Give you more time to spend on the things you value. Money is great, and we all want more of it. But it’s not the actual paper that we like. It’s what we can do with it that makes us happy. By having more money, less debt, less stuff, you’re automatically going to have money to spend on things that you value.
Financial independence is largely controlled by your expenses.
What do you get when you combine simplicity with your finances? You get financial independence.
No one becomes a minimalist after one day of learning about it. It’s a constant gradual progression into weeding out the unnecessary and replacing it with what you value.
How to get started.
Or you can do what we did and just have a big garage sale and get rid of a bunch of things at once.