Minimalism is a way of living that centers on finding contentment with less. Becoming a minimalist can benefit many aspects of your life, including your finances. You may be inspired to purchase less stuff, consider quality over quantity, and declutter to create systems that keep you organized.
If you are interested in taking on a minimalist approach with your money, here are a few tips to get you started.
Establish your personal and financial priorities
Everyone has different values. What is important to one person might not be important to you. Your values should drive your spending. If you are working to become more of a minimalist, you’ll need to be very specific about what is valuable to you and cut out everything else.
Often, people spend money on things that are of little to no value to them. This is partly because of the world around you, which can influence your money decisions if you aren’t careful. Aggressive marketing on television, social media, and other platforms is constantly trying to convince you to purchase something. Unfortunately, many people fall into this trap and end up spending money on things that add no real value to their lives.
What’s truly important to you and your finances? For instance, some common financial priorities include paying off debt, saving for retirement, or putting 20 percent of your income aside for savings. By setting your priorities, you can better determine how you should be spending your money.
Simplify your budget
Now that you have a better understanding of your financial priorities, the next step is to take a hard look at your budget. Where is your money going?
Carefully observe your spending patterns. Do all of your purchases align with your financial priorities?
After analyzing your expenses, you are likely to find you are spending money on material things that you don’t really need or for experiences that aren’t adding value to your life. For instance, is shopping or eating out every week really bringing you joy? Would you be just as happy if you cut back on some of your spending in these areas?
Don’t forget to consider the value of your typical expenses. When you are billed for something every month, it is easy to accept that it is a bill you will always have. All too frequently, people find themselves paying regular monthly fees for things that are not truly important to them. Maybe you’re paying for a membership to a club you no longer participate in, or you’re paying for subscription cable that you don’t watch. Take the time to cancel those subscriptions now to help simplify your financial picture. (See also: Build Your First Budget in 5 Easy Steps)
Limit shopping trips and consider every purchase
One tactic to avoid overspending on needless purchases is to limit how often you go to the store. By doing this, you can better plan for what you actually need and remove a lot of the temptation to spend altogether. It can also help you save time, which is always a welcome benefit. (See also: How to Shop for Food Once a Month and Save Big)
If shopping is your weakness, try limiting your visits to the grocery store to once a week and your trips to the mall to once a month. Purchase everything you need in one trip. Any time you want to buy an item, ask yourself if it is really worth it. It is an absolute necessity? Will it add value to your life? Is it useful? Do you really love it?
Often, when you take the time to honestly think about each purchase, you’ll find the answer to these questions is no.
If you forget something during your planned shopping trip, wait until the next planned trip to make the purchase. By then, you may discover that you can live without it. (See also: 7 Effortless Ways to Prevent Budget-Busting Impulse Buys)
Clean out your home
What’s the best way to become a minimalist in all areas of your life? Start by cleaning out your home. Sort through all of your drawers, closets, and cupboards. Sell or donate anything you don’t like or that you don’t use anymore.
You’ll likely find that you can live with much less stuff than what you’ve been holding on to. This step is important because clearing out your home will also help you to better evaluate future purchases. In order to prevent cluttering your home again, you’re more likely to evaluate an item before buying it to decide if it’s something you really need.
Push your savings goals
One simple way to spend less is to encourage yourself to save more money. By creating lofty savings goals, you may find that you are more likely to consider the opportunity cost of a potential expense. When you are thinking about buying something new, you’ll not only have to consider if you truly need it and how much you’ll use it, but you’ll also need to think about whether or not the purchase is worth putting less into your savings account.
Automate your bills
Bills piling up on the counter do nothing but contribute to the disorganization of your home and your money. If you’re constantly losing bills, missing payments, and racking up fees and penalties, take some time to set up e-statements and autopay for all of your accounts. When the statement comes due, the money will come straight out of your bank account without you having to think about it. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check to make sure everything looks correct, but autopay can be a huge help in a minimalist approach to money management. (See also: 5 Ways to Automate Your Finances)