At first glance, the minimalist lifestyle has a simple goal, “Own fewer things.”
However, below the surface, minimalism is about something more. It is about re-evaluating our pursuits, our habits, and our motivations.
My family was introduced to minimalism eight years ago and immediately began removing unneeded possessions from every room in our home. As a result, we quickly found more time, more energy, less stress, and more opportunity to focus on things that matter.
As you might imagine, we also experienced financial benefits.
Excess possessions are a drain on our finances. (tweet that)
Here are eight ways minimalism can help put more money in your pocket:
1. Selling Unneeded Clutter. The L.A. Times recently reported the average American home contains 300,000 items. That’s a lot of clutter and that’s a lot of money sitting around—probably more than you realize. Bob Lotich, a personal finance blogger at Seedtime, even reported making more than $2k his first month selling off clutter.
2. Buying Less Stuff. Minimalists routinely spend less on retail purchases than their consumeristic peers—this should come as no surprise. What is surprising is how easy that transformation occurs for some people. Once a person experiences the freedom of owning less, they routinely become more and more attracted to living with less. At that point, the grip that consumerism holds on their checkbook begins to break.
3. Maintaining Fewer Belongings. Too often, when we purchase an item, we only look at the sticker price. But this is rarely the full cost. Our purchases always cost more in the long run. They also require ongoing energy and focus. And because everything eventually fades, breaks, or becomes obsolete, many of our existing possessions often require additional financial investment. This can clearly be seen in large items (houses, cars, appliances). Small fixes and maintenance costs also tend to add up.
4. Storing Fewer Possessions. The structures we build, buy and rent to store our ever-increasing number of possessions is quite unbelievable. Our houses have tripled in size over the last 50 years, off-site storage is the fastest growing segment of commercial real estate, and only 33% of Americans can park both cars in their two-car garage. Those who choose to live a minimalist life return all that added expense of storing possessions back into their pocket. Just imagine how different your finances might look if you lived in a smaller home.
5. Taking Tax Deductions from Donations. As people begin to experience the benefits of owning less, they are drawn to remove even more clutter from their home. This almost always results in more possessions being minimized than can be sold. But even in this case, the financial gain remains as the IRS provides opportunity for taxpayers to deduct the fair market value of donated clothing, household goods, used furniture, shoes, books and so forth.
6. Experiencing Improved Emotional and Physical Health. Every possession adds increased anxiety into our lives. Recently, the New York Times referred to our generation as the most stressed, tired, and rushed generation of all-time. Many of the statistics cited in the article can be traced back to the fact that our generation simply owns more physical possessions than any generation in history. Minimalism brings greater emotional health to our lives. Emotional health brings physical health. And both are among the greatest investments we can possibly make.
7. Finding Increased Intentionality in Spending. Minimalism brings greater intentionality in all areas of life. It begins by forcing us to evaluate our possessions—why we own what we own. But often times, the principle of keeping “only the best” extends to other areas of life too: schedules, relationships, health and habits. Once we begin to practice healthier habits in other areas of life, wiser decisions are easier to implement in our spending as well.
8. Freeing Up Time for Extra Income. One of the greatest benefits of minimalism is the amount of time that is returned to our lives. When we have less to clean, organize, maintain, and repair, we have more time for other pursuits. Whether you are working hard to reduce debt, build up a savings account, or fund an early retirement, minimalism allows you the opportunity to direct that free time towards extra income—if that’s how you choose to use it.
Maya Angelou once said, “We need much less than we think we need.” This truth lies at the heart of minimalism. And it may be an important realization to maximize your pocketbook as well.