Eight years ago I moved to Florida, where the living was cheap and easy. This move occurred directly following the recession. Florida had become a true buyer’s market! Homes were super affordable, but times certainly have changed. Fast forward a few years and the prices have rose and moving to Florida may seem like a distant dream. Fear not! You CAN still live in Florida or any other dream destination. It’s all about making the most out of your money by budgeting and deciding what are your necessities. For me, becoming a minimalist is what it took to create the life I wanted and you can do that too!
Downsize Your Home & Space
I’ll be the first to admit, the trip to minimalism isn’t always easy. But if you’re not on the minimalism train yet, you will definitely want to look into it. It’s an ideal way to save money and value the items that you already have. Stretch your dollar by deciding what is really the most important to you. Can you get by on living in a smaller space? I’m currently living in a 896 square foot condo with 2 bedrooms. It IS tight, but when you really start to go through your stuff you’ll realize what is really the most important and also what you really don’t need.
Everybody has different values and there is no right or wrong way to approach minimalism. No two minimalists are ever the same. There is no wrong way to become a minimalist! For myself, I found that deciding how to comfortably eliminate the excess from my home was the most important rule. The idea is: if you haven’t used it or wore it in at least one year, then it’s time to donate it, sell it, or trash it. Once I started going by that rule, I realized it felt refreshing to have less clutter. It wasn’t just about downsizing and getting rid of stuff. It became about eliminating stress from my life by feeling thankful for what I already had. You will save money because you’re not buying more and it also saves time, because you’re doing less cleaning. You can feel confident living with less and it will feel good.
When I moved into my condo, I also saved so much money by buying used and taking my old items with me! There are few favorite furniture pieces that I kept from when I bought them new – like my beloved white bedroom set, but other than that, most of my things are used! You don’t need to buy everything new, and at the same time, you don’t have to bring everything with you from your previous space.
No one knows that the items in your house are used. That’s the beauty of it. My side tables are used, my Florida style TV stand is used, and so are so many other things. Heck, about three quarters of my daughter’s toys and clothes are used. And I’m the only one that knows that! She doesn’t know or care. She likes going to the “kids store”, aka, the resale shop when we’re shopping! My daughter is a future minimalist in training!
Purchase Only Necessities
Another easy way to save money is to cut the cord. If you haven’t already done this, I highly recommend it. Get rid of cable and stop paying for TV you’re not watching. I haven’t had cable in about 10 years and have saved so much. We pay for internet only. If you’re hooking up internet for the first time, the providers often have reduced rates on basic internet plans. Sometimes they don’t even advertise them. Both Comcast and Century Link offer these plans in our area. Don’t be shy! Ask them about it. Don’t just expect them to offer it to you.
We paid a one time fee of $30 to get a Roku and now pay only about $8 a month for Netflix. So I’m paying for just my internet hookup and Netflix. If you’re really into sports or the news, you can also get an antenna for around $30-$50 and watch local stations. Just be sure the antenna’s signal extends far enough for it to reach the nearest large city where your local TV stations would be.
Another way to save money on your road to minimalist, is definitely on your phone. I understand that it’s easy to be sucked into all-the-rage fancy smartphones, but do you really need all that? After several months of research, I decided on a smartphone that was just $40. No, I don’t pay $40 a month for it. I paid $40 once for it, because it was a cheap smartphone. It takes pictures, gets online, has apps, and everything that the fancy smartphones do, but maybe without all the fancy bells and whistles.
I now pay only $40 a month for my minutes and data plan and nothing for my phone itself. I can’t even fathom renting or paying on a smartphone month to month. Just get a phone you can afford today with just the amount of minutes and data that you need, nothing extra. That’s what it comes down to when you’re becoming a minimalist. Think about whether you really need it. I like to give it the overnight rule. If I’m shopping and want something, I’ll sleep on it, and decide if I want it the next day. Usually it’s something I really don’t need. Sometimes I do long for a fancier phone – maybe one that takes better pictures – but I have to remind myself – is that really necessary?
Live Within Your Means
One of the best ways to save money is to, obviously, watch how much money you’re spending. Shop at the affordable stores: think Aldi for groceries. Cut coupons when you can if you need to shop at more expensive places. Wait for the sales before shopping. These are all important things, but one of the biggest ones for me is to pay off my credit card every month. Sometimes it’s a lot. Sometimes the balance is large. But, if you’re not paying off that balance every month, then you’re honestly living above your means and you’re also paying a lot in interest. You can work on getting your bills reduced by spending and buying less. Less bills equal less stress. It’s not always easy, but it sure does make a difference, especially as you work towards becoming a minimalist!
Another thing, one that’s difficult even for me, is being happy with the car you drive and the home you live in. As people in a very competitive and busy world, we’re constantly expected to keep up with the Joneses in every aspect of our lives. Media is constantly throwing marketing schemes in our face – making us believe we need bigger, faster, and newer than what we had before. But, if you look deeper into those advertisements, you’ll realize something – they’re advertising because they want you to buy their product and replace what you already have, even if it works well. Don’t buy into that! You have what you need. Does your car run safely? Is it paid off? If the answer is yes, then you don’t need that fancy car like your co-worker has!
These are just a few of the ways that you can save money by becoming a minimalist. Just remember that it’s about your necessities. Value time and family over money and items. If you’re not using it, then you don’t need it. Instead of buying new, use the money on experiences that will make you feel good about yourself. If you truly want to live in your dream destination, then make the changes to make it happen. Rent a room for a while while you’re saving money and creating connections. Take those extra side jobs if necessary. Do whatever it takes. Make your experiences count by being thankful for what you already have and use your resources wisely to create the life you deserve. That is true minimalism at it’s finest.
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