Less is More: Tips for Living a Minimalist Lifestyle
Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by having too much stuff, too many commitments or maybe even too many financial obligations? If so, adopting a minimalist lifestyle may be the solution for you. Minimalism is about living with less. Whether it’s by removing and decluttering excess items from your home, simplifying your social calendar or paying off debt, minimalism can have a profound impact on your overall happiness, stress levels and even your bank account. If you think a minimalist lifestyle is for you, here are a few tips to get you started.
Understand why you want to minimize.
The first thing you need to do on your path to a minimalist lifestyle is to understand why and how you want to live with less. If your ‘why’ is about stuff, your home may be full of unused items, full of clutter or maybe you find it difficult to find things. If your ‘why’ is about time, you may be constantly running late to appointments or are overwhelmed by your social calendar. If your ‘why’ is about finances, paying your monthly bills may be stressful for you or you might find it difficult to save money or pay for the things that matter most to you. No matter what your ‘why’ is, understanding it will help you develop your plan to leading a more simplistic life.
Set a timeframe to achieve your minimalistic goal.
Now that you understand why you want to live with less, it’s time to develop a timeframe for when you want to reach your goal. Getting rid of all the excess can take time so make sure your timeframe is realistic. For instance, going through all of the extra stuff in your home can take days, weeks or even months. Likewise, paying off extra debt can take months, if not years to accomplish. Don’t get discouraged by how long it will realistically take to reach your goal. The longest journeys start with a single step, so the important part is to simply get started.
Define how you will reach your goal.
As stated earlier, living a minimalistic lifestyle can be about many things, so there are many different ways to go about living with less. Here are some simple tips to get you started depending on your ‘why’.
Stuff: If your goal is to get rid of excess stuff, here are some easy tips for buying less and/or deciding what to keep, sell or donate. In the end, you will be left with the stuff you value the most and hopefully a little extra cash in your wallet:
- First things first, stop buying stuff you don’t need. Fewer purchases means fewer items in your home. Before making a purchase decide if you truly need that item. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. Your wallet and your home will thank you.
- When is the last time you’ve used or worn the item? If it’s been longer than a year, chances are you don’t need it. If clothing is your problem, Project 333 has been gaining popularity in recent years. It challenges aspiring minimalists to live with 33 items in their closet for 3 months. It may sound impossible but it’s worth a try.
- Is the item a duplicate? Do you have more than one of the same item or maybe you have three pairs of similar black dress shoes? Chances are you don’t need all of them. Decide which ones you utilize the most and part with the rest.
- Does the item have sentimental or monetary value? This can be tricky. If an item has sentimental value but you don’t use it or see it because it’s stored away in a box in your basement, it might be time to determine how necessary it is to keep. If the stress of keeping the item outweighs the joy it brings you, consider selling or donating it to someone who truly appreciates it. Likewise for an item holding monetary value, if keeping the item causes you stress, consider selling it and putting the extra cash in your emergency savings account.
Time: We live in a society where continually doing more is the benchmark by which we measure our success. But doing more comes with a price – more stress and fatigue and less time doing what we really enjoy. Follow these tips to take more control of your time so that you can spend it doing what you value the most.
- One of the easiest things you can do to take control of your time is to learn to say no to additional obligations. This can be hard for many people. We don’t want to disappoint the person who invited us to a party or to participate in a book club so we say yes out of guilt. If the new activity doesn’t excite you or it makes you more stressed, it’s okay to say no. There will always be another party.
- If your social and activity calendar is overwhelming you, simplify it. Running each of your kids to three different sporting events each week can be tiring. Limit the number of sports they play each season to a more manageable number. Are you working full time, coaching little league, serving on boards and the PTO? You’re an amazing person, but if this stresses you out, determine which activities are most important to you and transition out of the rest.
Finances: Managing your finances is an ongoing process and can be very stressful at times, especially if you find yourself with too many financial obligations and not enough extra cash. Many feel that if they only made more money they would be less stressed. But the truth is, it’s not always about making more money, it’s about making the most out of the money you currently make. Here are some easy tips to help minimize your financial stress:
- Getting out of debt is one of the most impactful things you can do to minimize financial stress. Not only will you have fewer payments to keep track of each month, you will also have more money to set aside for savings as well as short- and long-term financial goals. Paying off debt is a win-win situation for your mind and your wallet.
- Building your emergency savings fund will help minimize the impact of unexpected expenses. The general rule is to have three to six months of living expenses saved to ensure that you are covered in the event of a job loss, major repair or health setback, just to name a few. You can start building your emergency savings fund by setting a small amount aside each paycheck, selling unused items and taking advantage of financial windfalls.
- Maybe you need to minimize the impact of a less than perfect credit history. If so there are many things you can do to improve your credit score such as making your payments on time every month and not opening or closing too many credit accounts each month.
- Monthly subscriptions have really gained momentum over the past few years. In addition to that monthly gym membership that you may or may not use, we have monthly subscriptions for clothing, make-up, wine and even the ham of the month. If you find yourself subscribing to these items but not using them, it’s time to let them go. The result is less stuff in your home, more money in your wallet and less financial obligations to manage.
Not only does minimalism help you live a less stressful life, it can also lead to have more money in your wallet. If you are looking for a safe place to store that extra cash, a Personal Banker from FNBO can set you up with an account that meets your needs. Call or stop by a branch location today.
The articles in this blog are for informational purposes only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations. When making decisions about your financial situation, consult a financial professional for advice. Articles are not regularly updated, and information may become outdated.