The U.S. economy depends on its citizens buying things. While they’re more than happy to oblige, most Americans strive to be debt-free. Credit card debt isn’t inherently bad for the economy. When you use credit cards to pay for things, merchants get their money and credit card companies get their interest. Consumers, of course, get their goods. Everyone is happy. The problems arise when too many consumers have high debt obligations that they can no longer meet and have to restrict their spending.
Smart spending is the key to a thriving economy and financial independence, and that key can be found in minimalist living.
What Is Minimalism?
You likely imagine minimalism as a cold room with no furniture and no possessions, where you sit on a pillow on the floor and meditate. It’s sparse and boring. Minimalism doesn’t mean living with nothing; rather, it means living simply. It’s living an uncluttered life. By getting rid of the things that you don’t need or use anymore, your life can change in positive ways.
Clutter causes distractions and requires upkeep. Having too many things in your life can create a lot of noise. Minimalism can help de-clutter and decrease the noise, but it doesn’t have to be restrictive. You can make it what you want by keeping only the things that bring you pure happiness. It doesn’t have to be rigid; it just means living with a little less, which has many benefits.
- Lowers stress
- Saves money
- Is easy to maintain
- Leaves you with more time
- Makes it easier to organize the life you have
- Is more sustainable
- Means less clutter
Think about all the effort that goes into maintaining your current life:
- Putting things away
- Buying new things
- Fixing old things
- Keeping track of your all your bills
- Paying late fees because of missed payments
Think about how much time and worry you spend maintaining all your things!
Dr. Oliver Sacks, a renowned neuroscientist, eliminated the stress and brainpower needed to decide what his meals would be by having the same thing every day: soymilk, prune juice, Jell-O, tabouleh, sardines, apples, and oranges. He willfully decided what he should worry about and what he shouldn’t, which meant he could focus his energy on other aspects of his life, such as his career.
Steve Jobs used a similar approach by wearing the same outfit every day and having only a few pieces of furniture, in order to focus his brainpower on Apple. You can do the same with your life, but it doesn’t have to be so drastic.
Find Debt Freedom Through Minimalism
You don’t have to follow the strict regimen of Dr. Sacks or Steve Jobs to benefit from a minimalist lifestyle. You can focus your minimalism where you feel it’ll benefit you the most. Perhaps, no matter what you do, you never seem to have enough time, or maybe you have a lot of debt that you can’t seem to pay off. Minimalism can give you greater control over the important things by getting rid of the insignificant things.
Recognize There’s a Problem
To understand that you have a problem, you must first find the source. Look at your things. What do you have that you absolutely love? What do you have that you loved when you first saw it but now that some time has passed, you could take it or leave it? The truth is that people love impulse buying and hate being told where they need to spend their money. Having a collection of glass frogs is nice, but they may not be worth the money they cost or the time spent dusting them. Planting perennials in your garden will be cheaper than buying a bunch of pretty annuals and spending the time planting them every spring. You don’t have to hold onto books after you’ve read them; schools and libraries love donations. Better yet, don’t buy your books; get them from your local library. If you look around your home and consider those things that you use almost daily and those that you don’t, it’ll become apparent what things need to go.
Minimalism as a Solution to Your Debt
After you’ve decided what you can part with, have a yard sale or post your items on online yard sales or eBay. Make some money to pay down your debt by selling some of the things that got you into debt in the first place. You’ll learn that letting go of some things can be liberating. You’ll begin spending your money on what you truly need, not what you can afford, which will leave you with money that can be used to pay down your debt.
Do You Have What It Takes to Live Minimally?
Living a minimalist lifestyle isn’t easy at first. Letting go can be hard. To succeed, you have to understand a few truths.
1. Change Your Perspective
It may seem like, to become a minimalist, you must sacrifice a lot. You need to learn to let things go that serve no real purpose, paring down to the important things. It’s not about what you sacrifice; it’s about what you gain (less stress, more space, etc.).
2. Find What’s Truly Important
Our lives tend to have a lot of filler. Thanks to TV, video games, and social media, it’s easy to pass the hours not doing much of anything. By putting an important goal above all that, you push out the meaningless and get closer to your goal. You’ll gain focus and clarity.
3. Put Finances Where They Belong
When you learn that money can work for you instead of you working for money, you gain greater control over your finances. When you purchase anything, categorize it into a “want” or a “need.” You’ll begin to see how few of your purchases are actually “needs.”
By using a minimalist approach to spending, you can simplify your life as you pay down your debt. It’s possible to live happily with less.
“Do you really want to be happy? You can begin by being appreciative of who you are and what you’ve got.” Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh