I recently watched the movie, The Minimalists on Netflix. If you’re unfamiliar with the film, it follows Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus who pursue the minimalist lifestyle. As a result of this change in lifestyle, their quality of life improved and now share journey to whoever will listen.
I’m going to overly simplify things here, but basically being a minimalist means simplifying your lifestyle. That in turn means getting rid of your “things” and only keeping things that matter to you. As you can imagine, by practicing this lifestyle, you can save a lot of money. Again, this is a very simple explanation, and I am by no means an expert on the subject.
Why keeping things simple can make you happier
If you think about it, being a minimalist is nothing new. How far people will go has changed, but it’s really not much different from Keeping up with the Joneses.
Back in 1996, author Thomas J. Stanley wrote The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy which really changed how people viewed their money.
Stanley found that many Americans who appeared to be wealthy e.g. big house and fancy cars really weren’t that well off. It was the everyday person who kept their lifestyle simple and didn’t worry about appearances who were the real millionaires.
Since these people were never worried about keeping up with neighbours or accumulating things for status, they were happier (and richer).
Another recent movement that’s similar to minimalists is the Konmari method from Japanese organizing consultant and author Marie Kondo. The basic idea is to only keep things that bring you joy.
It’s more about decluttering with the Konmari method, but once you’ve done it; you’ll be less likely to accumulate stuff and go back to your old ways.
For me personally, I follow certain points of each of the three methods above and am quite happy. Some people think I do it to save money, which is partially true. But, the main reason I do it is because I don’t like having a ton of stuff.
Why I don’t bother with shopping bans
I don’t want to generalize, but many people practice the above methods to save money. It may not be the main reason, but it often is one of the reasons.
To help get their spending under control, they implement their own spending ban. That’s where you basically only buy the necessities with no exceptions. This requires a lot of discipline, but if you can get through it; you usually realize that spending money no longer brings you joy.
Here’s the thing, I love to spend money and that’s why I’ll never do a spending ban. I know it sounds odd coming from a personal finance expert, but hear me out.
It’s not like I blow all my cash, but I personally believe in saving first and spending what’s left over guilt free. Could I save more? Sure, but I like eating out, I like buying (some) things, and I enjoy spending on experiences.
I understand that shopping bans aren’t just about not spending money, but I also think it makes no sense to work hard and to not spend any of your money.
Some people may want to put all their money towards their mortgage and that’s totally cool. I just know I don’t have the discipline for a spending which is why I’ve found a system that works for me.
Find what works for you
The overall theme here is that if you want to take control of your finances – you need to change the way you handle your day-to-day spending.
Being a minimalist and implementing a spending ban may sound extreme, but anyone can practice the Konmari method or prioritize their savings.
The point is, you need to find a system that works for you and start taking the steps to implement it. It’s not even a matter of picking a system and practicing it, you need to do the research and figure out what fits your lifestyle and personality.
Embrace a system and hopefully, you’ll be happier and richer because of it.