The minimalist movement has been in full swing for the past several years. More and more tiny houses are popping up, people are pledging to do without and a communal approach to life seems like the new “It” thing. Yet this trend isn’t new and it isn’t a trend. So what exactly is minimalism? Well, to sum it up, minimalism is the idea that what we have in our lives is enough and acquiring more material items will not equate happiness. To give a small history lesson that won’t put you to sleep will bring insight into this whole thing. In the last century, society was told that you were defined by what you possessed in material items. If you drove a BMW-wonderful! If you had a house that was over 3,000 square feet and there were only two of you living in it-ideal. And if you could take out another credit card-no brainer right? Wrong! It turns out the push to buy more and more makes people sadder and less fulfilled. Scratching your head? You’re not alone. Many people wondered the same thing. If I buy all of these nice, shiny things then shouldn’t I be happy? Research is now proving that this isn’t the case. What started as a way to look hip and cool with new designer clothes, fancy cars and heating a house large enough for three families rolled in the “new” wave of minimalism. Oh and in the meantime there was a financial crisis that caused people to lose their jobs, move back home with mom, dad and possibly grandma and grandpa and cut coupons to make ends meet. Put all of that in a bowl and you have a recipe for do more with less. So how can we as individuals continue on this train of minimizing our life so that we can maximize our financial future? Here are five top ways I do this in my everyday life:
Stop going out to eat ALL OF THE TIME! Yes, the caps towards the end of the sentence were deliberate. I encourage going out to eat once in while but for every meal, or even for one meal a day is way too much! Instead, go out to eat for a special occasion, this by the way, is what it was intended for in the first place. On average a person can spend anywhere from $10 to $30 going out to eat for one meal. On the other hand $10 to $30 can get you a full week of lunches and better yet dinners. Now, that’s something to chew on. Aside from maximizing your wallet by dining in, it will most likely minimize your waist line. Yes, I said it. Even though many restaurants are required to post calories many people just look at them and say, “um, okay well I’m still going to order.” If you really, really, really need social time then be creative. Invite friends over for a brunch or dinner at your house-buffet style. You get social time, good food and you’re saving money.
Save up for things that matter. What? Did I just use the word save?!?!? Yes, I did and it’s because you should. Want to go on a vacation? Find out how much it’s going to cost and what you can save out of your monthly income to determine how long it will take you to go on that trip. Yes, you will have to wait, and save the money but how fun it will be to plan and prepare for your fabulous vacation. I know it would be easier to pull a Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, “I want it NOW!!!!” But guess what happened to her? Yep, down the chute as a bad egg. We are not bad eggs so we will save for the things that matter.
A $5 latte is a rip off. I’m not sugar coating this one. It costs about .30 cents to make this cup of coffee the other $4.70 is a convenience charge. I used to leave the house, frazzled and in a hurry to get in a line that would take 20 minutes every morning before work for a coffee shop to make my drink wrong-about 90 percent of the time. I would even pay for this. It wasn’t a complicated drink either. Hot latte. Yep, that’s it. Finally I wised up to this and began buying whole coffee beans from a local coffee shop-buy local, keep local- and started to get up 20 minutes early to make and enjoy my very own, uncomplicated cup of coffee every morning. Over the year I have saved over $1200. What am I doing with that savings? It is going into a vacation fund. :)
Unsubscribe from marketing emails. All this does is serve as a carrot that is coaxing you into buying something you don’t need. The email will claim that it is the best, limited time pricing such and such item. It’s a scarcity tactic and they love to use it. How about this approach: I will let the store know when I need something on my own terms and not in the ones that they are dictating to me. I did this a few years back and I am no longer bombarded with marketing emails about limited time, sales and other jargon that would only influence me to spend money.
Lastly, but not least, before buying something look around your house and determine if you already have something like it. Maybe you would wear a certain dress but it needs to be altered in some way. Take the items you own and give them a little TLC. Shine your boots, alter your own pants, steam iron your clothes. You will be amazed at how far a little elbow grease goes. The same goes for your house. Put on some music, get out your cleaning supplies, set the timer and get to work! It’s cheaper than a housekeeper, no one will ever clean as good as you do and it serves as a workout.
Try these five things out for one month. Keep track of what you would have spent. When you realize how much you’ve saved put that money away for a vacation, to pay down your mortgage or invest it into a 401K. Whatever you decide to do, I am sure it will make you believe that if you minimize your spending you can maximize your financial future!