After decades of shopping until we drop, many are finally turning deaf ears onto the "less is more" proverb, in the form of minimalist living. Committing to a minimalist lifestyle requires the following: one must get rid of almost all materialistic items and intentionally focus only on what matters. Removing any distractions that stops one from doing what they love, or requires extensive upkeep, is essential.
Most minimalists sell their homes, downsize, and possess little items. They value the freedom of being liberated of worldly possessions and unhealthy cultures. It invites the idea of consuming less but enjoying more. As a result, minimalists have fewer bills, stress, responsibility, and ultimately, they save more money. Nevertheless, transitioning from a regular lifestyle to a minimalistic one might feel a little extreme.
Although there is no harm taking on some practices that might benefit you in the long run, you might not be ready to commit to the minimalist lifestyle in its entirety. However, it is never too late to practice minimalistic spending habits. After all, learning ways to spend less means having more money when you really need it.
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1. Multi-Purpose Items
Instead of single-purpose items, buy multi-purpose items for your household. With multi-purpose items, you can reduce spending by stretching items that have multiple purposes; especially cleaning products and household items. Common household items, such as vinegar, dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, cinnamon, and baking soda, can be transformed into cleaning supplies that are just as effective (if not more) than the expensive ones they sell in the store. Mason jars can be used for storage or as cups. Peppermint leaves can be brewed as a tea for relaxation or repel bugs.
Having multi-purpose items in the home will reduce your need to spend money on the same products week to week. One of our favorite multi-purpose items is Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Liquid Soap (Target, $11). The 18-in-1 product has multiple uses and can clean your home as well as it can clean your body (just be sure to dilute it with water first).
2. Become Frugal/No Spend Days
One of the easiest, yet hardest, ways of becoming a minimalist is spending less of your money. Sit down and create S.M.A.R.T goals of your monthly budget. Decide what rational number you can save monthly and devote the rest of your money towards bills. Of course, it is OK to indulge every now and then and buy that item you've truly wanted. But the whole purpose of minimal spending is to spend minimally. If you have an item you desperately want, consider what you'll allow yourself to have and consider saving the rest. If it is not essential than it is unnecessary. In addition, consider having days where you refrain from spending at all. This will stop you from spending the money simply because you have it. It'll also force you to budget in the short-term to prepare for a day without a swipe.
Let's be honest: I see you there with your packages of bottled water on the kitchen/laundry room floor. We've all been guilty of buying packs on packs of water bottles instead of the more expensive Brita filter. In our minds, we'd rather spend the $5 on the pack of water than the $30 and up on the Brita filters. But what if I told you that spending the $32 once will be cheaper than the bottles of water over time?
It's time to invest in a water filters and a reusable water bottle. The average American spends about $100 or more on water bottles every year. Reduce your carbon footprint and the hole in your wallet. Say goodbye to those endless plastic bottles and hello to your new and improved pitcher.
4. Do Laundry in Cold Water
Doing your laundry in cold water is not only great for the color of your clothes, but it works wonders for your energy bills. According to the Smithsonian Magazine, 75% of energy in laundry machines are devoted to the heating of water. Add that 75% to the many loads you'll inevitably have, it tacks on $60 and up onto your utilities bill annually. Save your clothes from shrinkage and color fading, and save yourself from wasting your money: clean your clothes in cold water. It'll save on water consumption, energy usage, replacement of clothing items, and your bills all around.
That sounds like a win-win-win situation to me.
5. Pay Credit Cards Off in Full
Most of our big bills resides in the repayment of loans. This stops us from ever being able to save properly because we are spending most of the time trying to stay out of the debt collectors' call lists. Take some time to budget out all of your debt, especially credit card bills. Then, pay that debt off as quickly, and as reasonably as possible. Keeping your credit utilization low by keeping your balance low and/or paid off each month will also aid in attaining and maintaining a healthy credit score. The faster you pay off debt, the more money you'll be able to keep in your pockets and bank accounts.
6. Pack Your Lunch
Now, I know when I say pack your lunch, you read: meal prep. Though they have a similarity in the preparation of meals, it is important that you do not confuse the two. More often than not, meal prep results in the waste of food. Either the meal become redundant, therefore less desirable and more likely to remain in the fridge, or you end up failing to properly store the food. Regardless, consider getting items that can double as dinner ingredients and lunch preparation. The average American spends close to $3,000 ($2,746) a year from buying lunch. Save yourself $3,000 by making your own lunch at home and spend it on something you really care about, or better yet save it for a rainy day.
Rent the Runway
There is a special place in everyone's closet. One that holds a very dear place to us all. The place where we have clothes that we only look at, but never wear. Yeah, it's about time we make that place scarce. Reduce your wardrobe by selling gently used clothes to local stores or online. Instead, opt for keeping clothes you wear often, or clothing that you can turn into reusable items. Buy clothing only when it is necessary, rather than when it is a want. Similar to multi-purpose household items, invest in building a capsule wardrobe where you can mix and match items to wear in multiple settings. The more you use your clothes, the less you'll have to give away.
Pro Tip: If you are someone who likes to wear new clothes often but prefers not to rewear items, consider investing in renting your clothes through services like Rent the Runway. You can downsize your closet while revamping your wardrobe for a fraction of the price it costs to do closet overhauls for one and done fast-fashion clothing items. The subscription fashion service has plans that start at $69 a month. Click here to learn more.
8. Become Handy
I know it is easier said than done, but becoming handy might be the best tip you've ever received. Often, when we are paying for work to get done, we are paying for the equipment and the worker's time/business. This can often result in reasonable payments becoming downright difficult to obtain. So, instead of paying someone to complete all of your household repairs, learn how to repair them yourself!
There are free videos online that inform you of the best tools to use and equipment to get. Buying the equipment will already be inevitable, but if you do the services on your own, you'll feel more fulfilled and capable of doing anything on your own. Warning: If the repair is extreme, like an electrical repair, consider leaving it to the experts.
9. Buy Essential Items in Bulk
For a minimalist, being frugal and owning less is the smartest thing to do. Nevertheless, it's about the amount of money you spend over the course of the time and the amount of money you save as a result. Buying in bulk is expensive at first, but it pays off in the end.
Buy essential items, such as feminine products, tissue, paper towels, detergent, and soap in bulk. This will stop you from having to spend $5 to $10 on each item on a month to month basis. If you buy in bulk, you can save 20% on all your purchases and up to 83% on most items. If buying all bulk items make you uncomfortable, consider buying one bulk item at a time.
10. Get Rid of Pointless Memberships
Finally, get rid of pointless memberships. Whether it is a lack of motivation or a busy schedule, going to the gym was difficult before the pandemic. Now, it's damn near impossible. Instead of keeping your gym membership, decide to create your workout routines from home. There are plenty of fitness YouTubers and Instagrammers who have fitness videos at home that are effective and helpful. Instead of holding onto the gym membership and wasting money on a place you rarely visit, consider creating a gym at home that's free and more often visited than not.
Also, consider cancelling some television subscriptions, or you can pause them, when new episodes of television are not provided. Instead, keep one streaming subscription and let the others go. When you're ready to get them back, the same shows and music will be available.
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