Live Well, Spend Less With Minimalism

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People often associate spending less money with living a frugal life involving deprivation and frugality. For chunks of my life, I also shared this view as I chased after money rather than what was truly important to me. However, every time I had ‘had it all’ on paper, I was generally miserable. In fact, I had to seemingly lose it all twice to really understand how you can live well and spend less.


What is minimalism?

At its simplest, minimalism is about focussing less on material positions by opting out of the incessant need to continuously purchase the next big thing; the bigger house, the better care, the nicer suit, the more expensive holidays.

So it is about deprivation – right?

Wrong!

The reason some people decide this way is actually to have MORE! More time freedom, more peace,

more calm. When your life is not cluttered with buying unnecessary possessions, that cost a lot to buy, clean, tidy and maintain, then suddenly there is less need to work 24/7 in a career that you hate.

When you really sit down and think about what makes you happy, and what possessions that you own are making a positive contribution to your life, quite quickly we see just how much junk is weighing us down. Minimalism doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of everything and live like a monk. It simply means being intentional about what you buy and what you keep in your home.


How does minimalism help us to live well, and spend less?

Twice in my life, I have reached nice six-figure plus earnings; that holy grail that so many people seem to aspire towards. Both times I have ended up cutting myself off from many of the things that are important; family, friends, self-care, exercise, rest and hobbies.

I had to chuck money at problems because I had zero time to do anything myself.

I went on fantastic holidays but I was still in the office, just in another location.

On paper I had everything. Inside I was empty.

Then both times my body suddenly said STOP! And I had no choice but to stop everything. My health had broken down completely and without that, you realise there is very little you can actually do.

In both cases, my earnings dipped dramatically and I wondered what I would do. Then both times as my health improved, I realised that my simpler, and dramatically cheaper lifestyle was somehow more fulfilling. I was spending so much less, but living a lot more. I was seeing friends and family and enjoying the simple pleasure of being mentally present as a I walked my dog, rather than being focussed on a work call or my emails.

Obviously old habits die hard, and the fact I’ve been through this cycle twice shows just how easy it is to stop living well and spending less. For many of us, the COVID-19 lockdowns showed, in a dramatic way, how it is possible to live while spending a lot less. We suddenly found joy in spending more time at home, on walks, reading and all those things we often forget in the blur of our hectic lives.


Trading your life for possessions

There are some very sobering statistics across the world about the very low percentage of people who have enough money in savings to weather the simplest of financial emergencies. Advertising, peer pressure and the general desire to keep up with the Joneses has so many people living paycheck to paycheck.

The strategy I have found most effective to deal with overspending is roughly calculating how much of my life I am selling when I make a specific purchase decision. You can do this with a simple equation:

  1. Calculate your monthly salary
  2. Divide that by the typical number of hours you work each month to get your hourly rate
  3. Divide the cost of that new shiny item you want to buy by your hourly rate and see how you feel about giving us that much of your life to bring the item home

Strategies to stop overspending

Other effective ways of curbing tendencies to overspend include:

  • Setting yourself a strict spending budget each month. Put that money into an account and once it is gone, it’s gone.
  • The financial guru Dave Ramsey recommends the ‘old school’ approach of using a cash in envelopes system. Break your budget into elements such as food, clothing, toiletries, entertainment etc, and put the allocated budget in cash into each separate envelope. Studies show you feel more pain if you pay in cash than by debit card, let alone credit card, so you are less likely to overspend.
  • Put the credit cards away! If you don’t have a cash balance to pay for something, then don’t spend it.
  • Save up for big purchases over time.
  • If you feel an impulse to buy something, wait 24 hours and see if you feel the same afterwards.

Support to live well, spend less

For me, the journey to live well and spend less has been a long one and I am still learning. I’ve found the following resources super helpful:

Minimalism Documentary


Share your story!

So have you tried minimalism? What are your top tips to live well, spend less?

I’d love to hear your story in the comments below.

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8 thoughts on “Live Well, Spend Less With Minimalism”

  1. Thank you for a beautiful and timely post. I needed to hear this. There is definitely a fine line between minimalism and denying yourself which is kinda of painful. I understand that minimalism does not have to come with a bitter aftertaste of lack.

    I will sure check the documentary that you have recommended because I need to understand this well and find a good balance. I appreciate this post.

    Reply
    • Thank you for your message Bogadi. Yes, I absolutely agree that it’s about finding the right balance for you as an individual; one where you are not distracted by possessions, but equally don’t feel like you have stripped back to the point that you don’t have enough to meet your needs.

      Reply
  2. Quite good here to see something as quite Great and unique as what you have shared here. You know a lot of people have zero to no idea about this here. This minimalism content here actually seems to be the very best thing to enage in for anyone out here and to make the very best of how we do and see things and how much value we place on the things that really matter and worth our attention to keep our budget at low on everytime. Thanks

    Reply
    • Thanks for your message Maddie. I’ve found that minimalism has really helped me to connect with what is important in life, and has saved me a lot of stress and money in the process.

      Reply
  3. With so many ads vying for our attention to buy, it is no wonder we live with a ton of stuff in our house and most of it we don’t really need. This article shows that there is a balance between the things you love and must have and the things that you just want.  Minimalism isn’t something new but it is something we must strive for. Thanks for a great read. 

    Reply
    • Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment! It’s great to hear that you enjoyed the article.

      Reply
  4. Hi there, I really enjoyed your article and I can definitely relate to it. After losing a well paid job overseas a year or so ago I consolidated my life and worldly possessions of 12 1/2 years in that country down into the contents of a suitcase. Now material “stuff” means very little to me and I am actually a lot more content and happy as a result. 

    I too now cherish more meaningful things, like those that you mention – friendship, family, exercise, nature, experiences, personal growth, etc..

    Sadly, the world has been conditioned to believe that we need material things to be wealthy in life, but in reality being wealthy can mean having an abundance of so much more that doesn’t require a credit card to obtain.   

    Reply
    • Wow Paul, what a powerful story. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your journey. I completely agree with your comments. So much of what is most important in life does not require money.

      Reply

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