When I finished grad school I was a mess. In debt and disorganized, it looked like I was just climbing a mountain of problems with no end in sight. Luckily, I since have found minimalist living. It’s enabled me to save money and come up with a focused attack on my debt. Let me walk you through some of the ways that minimalism has helped me save that you can do, too!
7 Ways to Save Money with Minimalism …
1. I consolidated my hobbies
We live in an age where just about every imaginable hobby or pastime is at our fingertips. No longer do we have to wait for our local theater to show our favorite play; we can catch films at virtually any time in theaters, on our home DVD players or over the internet.
For me, this excess of choice led to endless indecision. I was flooded with options. I never knew what to choose. So I ended up wasting my money on services or items that I almost never used. I took time to really think about my hobbies and lock in on the things that I really enjoyed spending time on.
I also tried finding more activities that I could do without spending money. Hiking and biking since have become some of my favorite pastimes!
2. I consolidated my pantry
Similar to my situation above, I had an ever-shifting interest in different foods. I wasn’t quite at the point where I was eating ramen every night, but I definitely had to watch my food budget. What I did that definitely helped me the most was coming up with a meal prep plan. On Sunday I prepared a full set of meals for lunch, and sometimes dinner, for that week. Using cheap ingredients such as rice or pasta and making flavorful and healthy dishes with a wide variety of vegetables has saved me tons of money. Last week, for example, my menu for the entire week was delicious rice with grilled veggies. An entire week’s worth of lunch cost me $14 total. This is a great way to save money around the house.
I also save a lot by growing my own supply of some expensive items that I use fairly often. I use a lot of basil for salsa verde plus pesto for pasta and plenty of other Italian food. This used to cost me $4 for enough basil to get me through two or three meals. Sometimes I wouldn’t even use the whole container before the leaves had wilted, so it felt as though I was overspending by a lot. This spring I planted my own basil plants along with a few other herbs and for about $10 I’m set to go through the whole summer.
3. I used fewer appliances
A lot of people I know have two or more refrigerators or freezers. Some kept a lot of frozen food and such, which is fine, but others just needed space for a wide range of desserts and snacks. My parents even kept two washer/dryer sets around just because it was a pain to move things that heavy. I since have learned that was a bad move in more ways than one. Not only do old appliances take up space, things such as old refrigerators can have chemicals in them that can seriously harm the environment if not disposed of correctly.
4. I got a minimalist roommate
Like pretty much everyone I had my share of roommates in college to help save money on housing. With each new roommate, though, came a whole host of problems, virtually all of them poster children for the case for minimalist living. I remember one roommate used to eat almost nothing but delivery food. Chinese food, pizza, or a sandwich, he always paid way too much for virtually every meal. Then he would leave his leftovers out all over the house, making this habit both expensive and unsanitary.
I’m happy to say I’ve since done a lot better and found a minimalist roommate. When everything is clean and orderly, ninety-nine percent of the problems that I could have with a roommate just disappear. By doing this I’ve saved a lot of money on rent without all of the hassle.
5. I tried thinking smaller
For me this step came a bit later in the process and it makes sense that it did. When I had a ton of kitchen gadgets, a few too many hobbies and wasteful appliances, I convinced myself I needed a big apartment to keep all of this stuff. The truth is that once I cleared up other aspects of my life, it was a natural step to move into a smaller (and cheaper) apartment. This also had the unexpected effect of keeping me honest in my minimalism. Impulse purchases always are checked by the thought, “Wait, do I have room for this?”
6. I got careful with buying on credit
I get it. A credit card is super convenient. I’m not here to tell you to get rid of your card. I didn’t get rid of mine and there have been times when, used correctly, my credit card has been super convenient and helpful.
Now, what I mean by “used correctly” is I tried being responsible whenever I used it. So I used it only when I needed to do so or when I would benefit from a rewards program. I’m very careful to keep it far, far away from the things that you should never buy on credit.
7. I changed my mindset
All of the practical advice in the world won’t help you if you don’t adopt a good mindset. These days I try focusing on the good that I can do for myself and for others by decluttering. My old apartment had this great system where you could leave items that you no longer wanted or needed on a table in the laundry room. I got rid of tons of clutter this way and picked up a few nice items myself, including a beautiful set of plates that I’m still using.
From the outside minimalist living used to look to me like sort of a weird cult. It was comprised of people who weren’t like me at all. People who could just give up everything at the drop of a hat. I’ve since learned that this isn’t the case at all. For me, minimalist living is fueled by a series of gentle attitude and lifestyle changes, by tackling problems one at a time with a can-do and charitable mindset.
What about you? What ways have you saved money after adopting a minimalist lifestyle?
Nick Cesare is a professional violist and freelance writer. When he’s not practicing he loves to cook healthy food and go mountain biking. You can connect with Nick on Twitter at @cesare_nick.
P.S. Looking to declutter and minimize? CLICK HERE to learn about the Fearless Minimalist Guide