Minimalism and Money: A Winning Combination

minimalismOne year ago, I made a decision that changed my life forever. I sold all my belongings, bought an international plane ticket, and moved to a Caribbean island to be with my husband who was attending school there.

Of course, when I put it like that, it sounds a bit more like a fairytale than the grueling decision it actually was.

However, while making that decision was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, it became easier once I embraced the concept of minimalism. Moving to another country was filled with uncertainty. I had to quit my job with no prospects. I wanted to build my writing business to a higher level but was nervous and unsure if it would be enough to support us. However, I knew one way I could guarantee a fighting change was if I made some major changes in my financial life.

Before I moved to the Caribbean, we were a two-car family. We had a townhome with three bedrooms. We went on dates frequently, had a plasma TV, and purchased the things we needed like clothes or items for our home without concern.

Now, we live in 270 square feet, an apartment that is smaller than most hotel rooms we have stayed in together. We do not have a car in the Caribbean; we take the bus, sometimes two or three busses, to get where we need to go. With my husband’s demanding study schedule, we don’t have as much time for dates but we try to take walks together, which are free, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Thoughts of a plasma TV are history. We actually go without a TV completely and watch shows on our computers. The smart phone that once acted as my extra limb has now been replaced with a cheap $20.00 version.

And here’s the thing: Even though I make about $10,000 less per year than I did in the United States, we have eliminated almost all of our credit card debt, created an emergency fund (something we never had before), and are well on our way to combatting the student loans that we have both accrued.

So what’s the difference?

Shouldn’t we be struggling more if we’re making less?

The answer has been the winning combination of minimalism and money or rather being extremely selective about what we spend. We went 10 months straight without buying an article of clothing, we make very inexpensive meals, and we actually think about what we spend every day. We tell ourselves no❠a lot and we tell our friends no❠even more, all in the hopes that one day we will be 100% financially independent.

While our certain situation is definitely unusual, these lessons can be applied to anyone regardless of income level. Here are a few steps you can take:

  1. Try to turn off your TV at a certain time each night. Then, turn it off an hour earlier the following week. Keep going until you no longer watch it anymore. If you miss it, you can always turn it back on. If you don’t, you can save a significant amount of money per year by cancelling it.
  2. Visit your cell phone company and see how much of a price difference it would be if you got a plan with less extras.❠Then, consider what else you could do with that money, how much you could save in a year, and what you could spend it on. If your desire for the cell phone plan outweighs those goals, then keep it. However, if other things sound more enticing, try going without it.
  3. Have a talk with your significant other to see if you could be a one-car family.
  4. Meal plan so that you don’t overspend at the grocery store and aren’t tempted to eat out.
  5. Take pleasure in life’s simple gifts. Go for a walk. Have a picnic. Cook a nice meal. Enjoy the sunset. All of these things are either free or relatively expensive.

Even one of these changes can make a big impact on your life and set you on the path towards minimalism and financial freedom. While I am still working towards that goal myself, I can attest to the fact that leading a minimalist life has made me much more peaceful and much more confident that I’ll achieve my future financial goals.

photo by sodaniechea