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I’ve done a few pretty wild experiments over the last few years that have saved me a heap of money. From trying not to buy anything brand new to taking extraordinarily long bus rides instead of flying to save on fares, I’ve tried it all.
What has ultimately resulted is a lifestyle that’s pretty cheap, but that allows me to splurge a little on expenses that are truly worthwhile. I’d love to share the mentality and resources that have helped get me to where I am.
What Is Minimalism?
Minimalism is a set of principles that encourage people to purchase with purpose. It doesn’t mean that you have to own a total of fewer than 100 things or that you can only wear one outfit every day. No, it’s a mentality that allows you to save money and gain time.
The Minimalists have amassed a small fortune and cult-like following with their intoxicating promises of freedom, cash and time. They’ve started a podcast, released a documentary, and changed countless lives with their 21-day journey and 30-day minimalism game.
The premise is essentially that you should only purchase and keep material things that bring value to your life. They argue that owning less means that you’ll spend less money on stuff to begin with and that you’ll spend less time dealing with the stuff you have – freeing up more time for whatever else you’d rather be doing.
They don’t promote giving up hobbies or not buying stuff that would genuinely make your life easier. Nor do they encourage shaming people who own more ‘things’. Instead, they provide pointers that will help you simplify and streamline your life.
What Does My Part-Time Minimalist Life Look Like?
Now, my apartment is by no means spotless or clutter-less, nor do I only have a handful of outfits to choose from. But I have managed to adopt a lifestyle that has afforded me the freedom to live abroad, study, and pursue things I am genuinely passionate about without going into debt.
I work online from an older, slower computer that I borrowed from a friend – I sold mine a while ago. When it falls to pieces, I’ll look online for a second-hand computer or see if I can find another friend willing to part with their ‘spare’.
I’m lucky enough to be a position where I’ve drastically reduced my housing costs and I don’t spend much on accommodation whilst travelling either. I previously wrote about 15 ways on how to get free accommodation whilst traveling.
I buy second-hand clothing where possible or grab stuff that my friends or family would otherwise throw away (only if I like it though), and I don’t buy clothes that I won’t wear. I don’t tend to scrimp on underwear or running gear and I am obsessed with candles (though making my own stuff saves me a small fortune annually)!
How Can It Help Me Save Money?
Sell Some Stuff
If you’re in the process of ridding yourself of the things you don’t use, sell them! It is possible to sell anything if you get creative and find the right market. It’s much better to leave the stuff with someone who will use it than to have it sitting on a shelf gathering dust.
There are increasing numbers of people who are successfully turning a profit selling second-hand gear that they buy from op shops and then resell online at a higher rate. What this means, is that you can definitely make up some of the money you spent on your surplus stuff by selling it online.
Yerdele is a peer-to-peer second-hand store that gives you credits which you can use to purchase goods on the site for giving away your stuff (and for signing up!).
Buy Second-Hand Stuff
When I say buy second-hand that you should just start splurging on second-hand junk. What I mean is that if you need something, you should try to find that item (or something comparable) second-hand instead of just buying it new.
In fact, it’s often really easy to get second-hand stuff for free. Someone usually knows someone else who has a bag of clothes they’re about to donate. Ask them if you can go through it and grab items that you need before they put it in the charity bin.
I’ve already mentioned that I borrow ‘spare’ computers from those around me – and I make my living working online as a writer!
You can reverse the logic use all of the resources that I mentioned when I was talking about selling stuff online to find the stuff that you need.
(Remember when you’re taking stuff that you’re preventing someone in need from accessing it, so don’t just take for the sake of taking – take if you’ll actually use it!)
Taking Advantage of the Shared Economy Gig
The ‘Shared Economy’ concept is showcased by companies like Airbnb, Uber and Lyft. The concept is basically that resources owned by one person can be shared amongst communities via digital technologies or word of mouth.
The aforementioned companies emphasize the ‘economy’ aspect, but there are many resources you can use that really stress the ‘sharing’ component.
The Little Free Library allows you to set up community libraries where books can be exchanged. The program promotes access to reading materials but is also designed to help forge community connections.
Close5 is an app that can be downloaded to source goods and services locally. Streetbank helps people to give things away, share things and share skills. Fon encourages the sharing of your wifi signal in exchange for free access to any of the other Fon wifi networks around the world.
Admittedly, it can be difficult to organize shared economies digitally (depending on your area), but there is no reason that you can’t set something up locally if you’re passionate about it.
Set up a community Facebook page or newsletter where people can advertise work, sell items and generally stay informed about the comings and goings in the neighborhood. You’d be surprised at how friendly people can be if a sense of community is created.
More Spare Time
One of the major minimalist ideas is that if you reduce the amount of ‘stuff’ in your life (including gadgets and apps on your gadgets), you’ll increase the amount of spare time you have. Consider how much time you spend dealing with things that pop up on your phone that could otherwise wait, or might solve itself.
You might be surprised how much time you spend on your phone every day. When you consider that time really is money in the digital age, it really adds up.
You can use apps like Moment, Checky (free), and Menthal help you to track your smartphone usage. The general consensus amongst users of these apps is that they really did not appreciate how much time they were spending on their phones!
I’ve deleted the Facebook app from my phone and have limited my social media time and am shocked at the amount of time I seem to have gained.
As for what you can do with all your newfound spare time, why not make some extra money? Check out our posts detailing how you can make money by writing in your spare time and where you can find some surveys to do when you find yourself with some extra minutes on your hands.
Make Your Own Stuff
I save so much money by making my own body scrubs, facial care products, household cleaners and chocolate. The number of things you can make from bi-carb soda, various kinds of vinegar and different oils is outrageous.
This article outlines how you can make your own laundry powder, dishwasher liquid, toothpaste, oven cleaner and various other household items.
Candles, herb mixes, apple cider vinegar, herb gardens, hand sanitizer – your search engines are filled with recipes and tips for making your own household items. Consider anything that you probably over-spend on and see whether the internet has a cheaper, homemade alternative for you.
If you feel like getting really creative, you can even make your own clothing at home. All Free Sewing is a website with tons of tutorials and tips for beginners through to expert sewers.
The greatest thing about this is that you can sell the stuff you make to your friends or online after you’ve gotten a bit of practice. It’s an easy way to make a few dollars and cover the costs associated with making it!
Shopify has published a detailed article that outlines how you can turn your candle-making into a successful online business. The same logic can be applied to the other household items that you create – although candles really are all the rage at the moment.
Repair Stuff Instead of Replacing It
Whilst I certainly favored cheap items that were easy to replace when I was studying, I’ve since discovered that it’s often so much cheaper in the long term to buy higher-quality stuff and then repair it when the time inevitably comes. It’s much more convenient than constantly replacing cheap stuff as well!
Experts suggest repairing cell phone screens (assuming the phone will last long enough to offset the cracked screen), anything fabric, luggage and purses, shoes and wooden furniture.
You can get bonus marks if you DIY the repairs, but it’s usually still cheaper to have these items professionally repaired than it is to find a suitable replacement.
This is doubly true if you consider that you’re likely to grab a few extra items if you’re in a store trying to find something new! You’re much less likely to find something at the cobblers than the shiny local mall.
There’s no hard or fast rule that can help you choose when to repair and when to replace, but you can weigh up how worn out the item is generally, the costs associated with repairing vs the costs associated with replacing the item and the amount of time and effort you’ll need to put into repairing or replacing the item.
If it’s going to be cheaper and easier to replace it, by all means. But you should certainly do the math before heading to the store!
Simply Stop Buying Stuff
One incredible way to save money is to simply not buy things you don’t need! We’ve already published 10 Ways on how to stop careless spending. There are so many free alternatives that you can take advantage of and reduce your spending too.
- Drink water from the tap instead of purchasing soda or bottled water.
- Go to the library and borrow a book instead of buying books or movies.
- Go to the park or a free museum exhibition instead of the movies.
- Meet your friends at home and do a ‘potluck’ dinner instead of paying for a restaurant.
- Organise a closet trade with a similar-sized friend instead of going shopping.
- Rearrange your house. People often buy stuff simply because they want a bit of a change (a change is as good as a holiday after all). Rearranging your house is a great way to switch things up without spending a thing!
BONUS: You can repurpose or sell the stuff you realize that you’re not really using as you rearrange.
- Take advantage of technologies that make your life easier! Always consider whether there’s something that can achieve the same thing AND something else (that you need) and get one thing instead of several.
For example, if you invest in some digital frames – second-hand if possible – and display your photos digitally, you’ll avoid having to update frames as your display needs change. You’ll get to reminisce about the memories as you organize as well!
You’re really only limited by your creativity when it comes to creating new ways to not buy something new.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on how adopting aspects of minimalism can help you save money. See something that’s not here and should be? Let us know how minimalism has helped you in your life.