The definition of a minimalist is someone who practices moderation. They escape the excesses of the world of consumerism, material possessions, and having too much debt. It is a way of focusing on what is really important – what gives life meaning and joy.
You might think this lifestyle sounds empty, boring even unexciting – but is it boring or empty to be completely debt free? What about having a savings account that you could be proud of? How about leaving your family with memories instead of clutter and a house full of things that don’t really matter?
Minimalism means clearing the way for just the essential things – clearing away the distractions and obligations that keep us bound to consumerism and material objects. It makes way for more happiness, peace, and joy because these are the things that matter most, especially with our loved ones.
What can we do to clear debt, and live a more minimalist lifestyle?
Benefits of minimalism:
Lower stress, less expense and debt; less maintenance and in its simplicity, it opens up space for more quality time with loved ones, for doing things that give you joy such as taking a hike with the kids – focus on true health and become much more organized because life is much simpler.
There isn’t the need to run out and buy that new DVD because it’s not as important as the time spend making bread with the kids, or fixing a healthful meal.
Clear debt via simplicity:
The basics of clearing debt are simple, really. Stop buying things – period. Of course you need food, water, shelter and heat. And most of us need a vehicle, but beyond that, nothing is really essential.
Keep a simple wardrobe, drive an older car and live light. No need for all of the little things that most people think makes them happy – because they cost money and create a burden. Most of the technological items require upgrades and maintenance regularly, costing even more.
Clearing debt can be liberating in itself and put you on a path that is much more meaningful. Grabbing a piece of the consumer pie can keep you in debt for the rest of your life. Is that really how life is to be lived? Is that new car or television really worth the debt?
Being frugal is not some cheap persons way to escape paying for the check. Being frugal is not going to that expensive restaurant in the first place. It is sticking to essentials and not going out on a limb to have that new pair of shoes that are slightly different than the ones you already have. It’s about simplifying your needs to only the things that keep you warm, and keep you dry. Minimalists don’t spend money on material things – and have learned that an attachment to material things will not bring true joy, but just instant gratification for a short period of time.
Paying off that mortgage:
By becoming minimalist – you find that more cash is available. Yes – all of those crazy nights drinking with friends spending a hundred bucks or more, or having nice dinners out have been replaced by a nice meal at home with friends, or meeting in the park for a picnic. Many people choose to get rid of credit card debt first – but that could happen in months if you begin to downsize your material obsessions and costly city adventures.
Can you imagine paying more on your mortgage every month with the goal of paying it off in 15 years verses 30? How awesome that would feel? When you cut down on unnecessary items, you find that your paycheck has plenty left over.
Building an emergency fund:
How good would it feel to build a serious emergency fund in the amount of hundreds of thousands of dollars? What do you think your level of security would reach?
Interviews of people who have chosen the minimalist lifestyle have had success doing this – some saving half a million dollars. They talk about the feeling that short-term excitement or materialist things bring, and how much more exciting and fulfilling saving this kind of money brings. There is no comparison.
This means eating close to nature and not settling on processed or unhealthy foods. Many minimalists are vegan, for the health benefits and an effort to do the least harm to earth and its animals. Getting your nourishment from beans and rice, vegetables and fruits, whole grains and lots of pure water can save thousands per year. Not only in food costs, but in health costs as well. No need for fad diets or crazy weight loss pills that cost a fortune – because you will be naturally slim, just like most vegetarians/vegans.
Downsize your home:
If you are living in a home that is much too big for your needs – downsize. Moving to a smaller place can cut the costs that you incur living in a big home literally in half. Not to mention allow you to sell off the things that clutter that big home. Consider moving into a house in the country where you might be able to cut costs by growing your own vegetable garden – and have a few fruit trees. Maybe a wood stove to save on heating bills. Building a greenhouse… there are a lot of ways to downsize and save.
You can be on your way to a more frugal and minimalist life in no time. All it takes is the realization that nothing that is factory made or is materialistic brings joy. The true joy in life is being frugal, eating minimally and healthfully, and saving money on the things that really don’t matter bringing a joy that nothing else can.
Kristy Ramirez is a frugal mom and personal finance guru who currently writes for Life Insurance Finder Australia, a free life insurance comparison site. She helps answer questions such as: “What is considered trauma insurance?”