I have recently taken a long, deep look into my life and I have started to figure out what I want and what is most important. I keep having “ah hah!” moments as I begin to make sense of health, money, love, and my own mindsets. I blog about these insights and more at Living Life Happier.
For years I didn’t want anything to do with minimalism. I love my stuff and I had no intention of getting rid of it all. On the other hand, personal finance was infinitely interesting to me. I love numbers and I knew I could be doing better with my own savings. So I started down the rabbit hole of personal finance books and web sites, learning all I could.
Intro to Minimalism
I’m not sure exactly when or where I began reading about minimalism, but I’m pretty sure it was because of a link on a personal finance site. I came across a web site that emphasized the idea of getting rid of the extra stuff, but not getting rid of everything. On this and other sites, the idea was that minimalism was about having the least amount with which I would be happy.
So if that birthday gift from my mom makes me happy every time I see it, and I use it often, then I should keep it. If it’s just collecting dust, not being used or noticed, then it should go. This actually made sense to me.
It’s not surprising that I found minimalism through personal finance because they’re really so connected. Buying unnecessary stuff is not good for the budget, and saving money often involves buying less unneeded stuff. See how that works? It seems obvious to me now, when it’s written out like this, but for a long time I didn’t see it, even though I’d unknowingly begun to do it.
Practicing minimalism began when several friends, separately and over many months, commented on how small and cluttered my apartment felt. While my place isn’t huge, it certainly isn’t too small for one person! This was the wake-up call I needed.
After yet another person made this comment, I slowly began to get rid of stuff I didn’t want, clutter, and unused items. After a while, I promised myself that I wouldn’t buy anything unless I really needed it and would use it. Shortly after this, I decided to start saving more money.
Since I had already cut out entertainment shopping (shopping out of boredom, as a way to spend time with friends, or just to see if there was something interesting I might want to buy) it was so much easier to save. I never bought expensive items, but $10 here and $15 there can still add up. Now, between trying to keep the clutter out and trying to keep the dollars in, I found I was doing very little shopping. In fact, just about the only shopping I did was for groceries, toilet paper, and similar perishables.
Now here’s the part that surprised me: I didn’t miss it! I really thought I’d miss shopping but I now see what a time- and money-waster it was. I was buying things that I didn’t truly need. In fact, I realized that I dislike shopping.
I’ll admit, every now and then I’m tempted to buy something I don’t need. I’ll be at the pharmacy or in a box store buying paper towels, and something will catch my eye and I’ll think that I want it. Then I’ll remember that I really don’t need, I wouldn’t use it, and I’d rather have a less cluttered home and save the money for early retirement.
Suddenly it’s so easy to walk away from that unnecessary thing. Instead I put the money towards my real goals and then I come home to an apartment that finally doesn’t feel small and cluttered but homey and calm. It took me many years to really understand minimalism and personal finance, and I’m still figuring out how best to applying them both, but it has been worth it. They work so well together and have made my life so much better.