Why I Became A Financial Minimalist
I used to love spending money on things. It gave me a rush of excitement. I was so happy to acquire that shiny new item be it a clothing item or a new toy with no real regard to what was going on with my bank account. Now don’t get me wrong. By no means was I going into debt in order to acquire these things. I made sure that I had the money in my account before making a purchase.
Slowly but surely I began to realize something. I would be excited about my purchase for a good amount of time, but after a while the effects wore off. I had a sudden realization, and I started doing research as to why this was the case, and it is because we get accustomed to having it.
When I buy something now it is with intent. I am not so worried about the price, although I do find ways to be frugal. With a quick search online there are usually discount codes that can be applied. If I want something which I hardly have much to begin with, I buy it after sleeping over it for a couple of days. If after those couple of days I still want the item then I will buy it. Most times we make impulse purchases and don’t slow down to even think what sort of impact or actual joy it will bring to our lives. By waiting to purchase an item it gives us an opportunity to slow down and think why am I getting this, and if it still makes sense afterwards then that is a green light to go ahead and make the purchase because by then you know it will have some sort of a use in your life.
So this begs the question. What led me to become this way? A shift in my mindset. You see when I find ways to discount an item, I look at it the discount in percentage terms and not dollar terms. Thinking like that has made a profound affect on me. So many times the savings can be insignificant on a dollar basis, but when it is broken down to a percent the significance is seen a lot more clearly. At least in my mind that is.
Now being a minimalist I by no means deprive myself of experiences or things. I still enjoy my money on things that I want to do but I make sure to invest first. I actually learned a hard lesson in this around two years ago now.
Back in 2018 I was working and in school. I was so busy during this time that I literally had no time to spend any money. As a result my bank account grew, and fast. This was the first time I had seen real money in my life. I had amassed around $8000 by the end of the school year. It was a proud moment. I graduated and went back home.
Then came the downfall. The money was there sitting in my bank account ready to be used at a moments notice. There were so many things that I looked up online that I wanted to experience, and during this time I was looking for a job. So I had a lot of free time on my hands, albeit no more cash flow. But hey I was rich right? There is no way I can blow throw $8k that quick. Boy was I wrong.
Inevitably, I took the plunge and started spending money. I bought new clothes, dined at expensive restaurants all over the city of Philadelphia, went on a couple of vacations, and partied during the weekends. So the money was just dwindling down. Until I went broke, and suddenly everything stopped. Three months. That is all it took to go from rich to broke. I was shocked. It went so fast. I spent all of that money in the blink of an eye. Sure I had some amazing experiences, but damn. That was quick.
I learned an important lesson with this experience. You see I was internally without knowing it depriving myself of taking a break from work to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I was constantly busy with work and school that I had no time, which is in part how I saved so much in the first place. Then I stopped being so busy which gave me a chance to enjoy my money, and it quickly spiraled out of hand. I was depriving myself the entire time I was making money, and in this moment of time I was caving in to those suppressed emotions. Which in turn caused me to spend money to fill those suppressed feelings. And that is how I lost.
But this was a learning experience with a big teachable moment. Have balance. As long as you pay yourself first and invest, you should set aside some guilt free money every once in a while to enjoy. Whether that be a trip, or an item that you really want. If you don’t eventually your craving are going to intensify, and can it get out of control. Leading you to spend way more money in the long run. So I believe in balance. Life is too short. If you spend all your time chasing money without taking a step back to enjoy it you are going to live with regret and say I wish. Have a balance, save some, and spend some for peace of mind.
With all this in mind, I feel as though I have grown tremendously from my past experiences. They have in fact shaped my thoughts and attitude towards money as a whole.
My whole long term goal with money is being a financial minimalist. It allows for financial freedom. Too often we are fed the notion that one has to be a multi-millionaire to attain true financial freedom. But I beg to differ. The reason that that is a mindset is because we are so fixated on acquiring more “stuff.” Which of course requires more money, but if we take out the “stuff” you will come to realize that financial freedom can be achieved on a much smaller budget. Again it is all a mindset. It is the “stuff” that we acquire in our lives that forces us to work harder in order to “pay the bills.” If you take a step back and think for a minute, you probably can go without at least 60% of the “stuff” you own. Once you go without the “stuff” you are able to trim a lot of unnecessary expenses from your life, and double or even triple down on the few things and experiences that truly do bring you joy and meaning to your life.
At the end of the day go out there and live your life. Be happy and spend your hard earned cash, but do so responsibly. Like a minimalist.