Have you ever noticed the commercials were something is on sale and the person acts like they will lose money if they don’t buy it? Have you ever thought of the irony?
How can we “save” a certain amount of money when we’re actually giving our money to someone else? It makes me think of Jim Gaffigan in his “Mr. Universe” special (5:00 mark) “Some of those deals are insane. 2 Big Macs for $2? Well, I wouldn’t want to lose money on this, I’ll get 80 of them…”
But Minimalism does put money into your wallet- simply because you stop forking it out. Having found contentment with my belongings means I’m not always pining for something better, which means I’m not spending money like I used to.
It also means I can invest in higher quality items, that last longer. I’m not always replacing cheap gadgets and I’ve really narrowed what I have down to what I actually use, so it’s not as easy to pull me in to “time saving or space saving” devices.
Here are a few keys to keeping the money in your own bank account:
1. Pay off debt. Years ago, Brian and I listened to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and decided to pay off our debt. We owed on 2 cars and had Brian’s student loans. Paying off debt can be challenging, but, like anything else, if you set your mind on it, and take steps to get it done, it will get accomplished.
That was over 10 years ago, we had 3 children and made $19,000 a year. And even with a low income, we managed to pay off all $11,000 in debt in about 2 years. At that point in our lives, not having to dish out $500/mo in loan payments made a huge difference in our lives.
2. Don’t purchase with debt. How many times have you heard “You will always have a car payment.”? Well, I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to always have a car payment. Having a nice car is often times a status symbol, so you have to ask yourself what you are comfortable with. Are you willing to let people just see you without having your value based in your belongings?
We have an old minivan- but it runs good and we’re planning to keep it until it dies. (It’s a Toyota, I hear they live forever!) In the meantime, it’s a super ugly, but it doesn’t matter, because we don’t have a car payment! That’s freedom! It’s not hard to “pretend” we have a car payment and set aside the $400/mo so we can get a new vehicle when this one dies and I’d much rather set aside that money in a mutual fund and earn interest on it until we actually need to purchase a new one.
3. Have a smaller house. We purchased a “starter home” after we paid off our debt and of course, planned to only have it for 5 years and then upgrade. But one of the many benefits of minimalism is not needing so much space. Granted, I’d love to have 2 bathrooms, but the rest of the house is fine. We’ve made it this far with what we have, if we move now, in a few years we’ll be left with a big house that’s empty. Instead of spending more money on a “bigger, better” house, stay where you are, pay it off, and go do things with your family.
When you don’t have a house payment, that again, is freedom! Buy the cheaper, smaller home, do a 15 year mortgage and then be done with it.
4. Avoid recreational shopping. Bored? What to hang out with friends? Need a “pick-me-up”? Good! Do it without shopping. If you are a shopper, then sit down and start writing out a list of all the things that you find fun, we can have fun without spending money.
Here are a few ideas to get you started: be creative: photography, painting, knitting, etc., invite friends over and cook dinner together: pizza night, taco night, even if you want to experiment with a gourmet dish, having everyone in the kitchen working together is fun. Plan a game night: learn some new card games (we recently learned how to play golf) or scrabble. We love The Settlers of Catan and have had many friends over to share a game with us. Plan a movie marathon. Go for a walk. I have a couple friends that walk with me- we go to a park and let the kids play at the playground while we walk around the park, which is a city block. The kids love it and the moms get to visit plus that exercise is good for mood balancing.
5. Spend less than you make. If you have a 2 person income, whittle the budget down to only spending one income. Save the other. It may take paying off some debt to be able to live that way, but it’s so worth it. Socking away that much money means you can do things that you’ve always wanted to, but never dreamed were possible. That trip to Hawaii? Plan, save and go!
For many, when they look at their spending habits, they are discouraged by how much money get thrown away. Daily Lattes, going out to lunch, purchasing new clothes every month (How about trying a capsule wardrobe?!), going to the movies or dining out. Just making a few changes each week can make a huge difference.
Image credit goes to 401kcalculator.org