Minimalism means more money. This is a reason in itself to embrace this lifestyle. However, if you are not fully committed to completing big life declutters yet, never fear. Today, I will be taking a flavour from my minimalist lifestyle to write about 5 simple strategies that have been a game-changer when it comes to saving money.
Step 1 - Assess the situation
Warning - this may cause cringing.
We've all been there. Unwilling to look too closely at our bank statements, through fear of the occasional shameful expenditures staring back at us in black and white. However, knowing exactly where you spend your money is the only way you can start saving. You will likely spot patterns. Perhaps you have been indulging in similar items, or brands/websites or you spend more at certain times of the month e.g. pay-day. The goal is to make a record of all the 'unnecessary' expenditures so you can fully recognise your problem areas. They may feel small at the time, but trust me, that £5.99 for a magazine can quickly add up.
Step 2 - Set limits and cut down
So, now you know what you spending your money on, its time to set limits. First, calculate how much you spend a month on completely necessary costs, like rent and bills. Depending on how much you have left, you can decide how much you would like to save a month. Divide the remaining into the different categories that you spend your money on, starting with the most important first e.g. food and fuel.
Look for any areas where you could cut down e.g. subscriptions you don't really use or reducing to a less expensive phone plan. The less outgoings the better. Be realistic with this. This is a long-term plan so don't punish yourself with penny pinching over toilet rolls. You know what is important to you. Its all about balancing this with your saving goals.
Step 3 - Save first
This is a ridiculously simple, but highly effective, habit to start getting into. As soon as money lands in your bank account, transfer a pre-determined set amount into your savings. For years I would endeavour to save a certain amount but find myself short by the end of the month. If the money is less easily accessible, you can't spend it. This simple trick will force you to live within your budget.
Step 4 - Set strong criteria
This is a very minimalist mindset. It essentially means that you create a set of questions that you ask yourself before buying any unessential items. I've listed some possible questions in a previous blog on how to avoid shopping here. It sets that extra boundary between yourself and potential expenditures which can make all the difference to your saving account.
Step 5 - Avoid temptation
How many times have you walked into a shop and ended up with a wealth of random items that you hadn't planned to buy? Or fallen into the trap of visiting an online store and buying items because of a sale announcement in your inbox?
If you didn't have a conscious thought that you needed something, that has lasted for a significant amount of time, you probably don't need it. Unfortunately, there are so many ways advertisers can influence us these days, but there are barriers you can put up. Stop shopping recreationally, whether in person or online and unsubscribe or unfollow brands or influencers that regularly tempt you to spend money. Use Step 1 to identify those that have the most influence on you and cut them out. If the temptation isn't there, saving becomes remarkably easy.
Budgeting and being careful with your money does not lead to a lower quality of life. As any minimalist will tell you, your quality of life soars when you are able to focus on what really makes you happy. This mindset has meant that my partner and I are now in the process of building our own tiny home. This will give us the freedom of owning our own home without being tied down by a mortgage (read about our plans here). For us, this freedom is priceless. Set your goals, adopt these steps and live a life that brings real joy.