I could (and will) give you plenty of advice on how to manage your resources wisely and save money left and right. However, as I was planning this post, I realized that a large part of the minimalist lifestyle is about why you do it rather than how. Confused yet? Allow me to explain.
As previously mentioned, my family is quite the opposite of excited about my lifestyle. My grandmother in particular frequently regurgitates a list of “inconveniences” and “hardships” the houseless have to deal with. “I wouldn´t want to go to the gym to shower” or “Isn´t that so much trouble to keep food without a fridge?” are only a couple comments on her list. Sure, it isn´t always easy to live life houseless, but what kind of life is easy? She sees troubles, I see savings. She sees hardship, I see adventure. She sees a lack of “home”, I see freedom. What´s all this got to do with my initial statement? If you truly are a person who needs an air conditioner, new fashionable clothes, the latest smart phone, and cable television, then minimalism is going to very very difficult for you. If you, however, can do without these things, enjoy finding new ways to reuse and recycle, and feel proud when your self control kept you from buying unnecessary junk, then minimalism is an easily obtainable goal.
In other words, minimalism is a mindset.
I can´t remember the last time I purchased new clothes from a store. I almost exclusively shop at second hand stores and am amazed at the many dollars other people regularly spend on clothing. I can walk out of Goodwill with a pair of pants, three shirts, a belt, and a pair of shoes and still pay less than what others pay for a shirt at Kohl´s. Now, it is true that Goodwill doesn’t always have an abundance of fashionable clothes. For nicer clothes I typically go to stores such as Plato´s Closet.
- Shop second hand as much as possible
- Buy new clothes on sale
- Resist the urge to throw out old clothes simply because they are old
- Use old clothes as rags or make a blanket out of them
- Choose short and cool wash and dry cycles as much as possible; your clothes will last longer
- Let your friends and family know that you will take unwanted clothes
There are many ways to save money when it comes to groceries. I tend to save between $2 and $9 for each major shopping run just by using coupons from websites such as this one. Additionally, I save around $10 by purchasing cheaper brands and by only buying necessary items such as fruits, vegetables, and bread. Whether you´d admit it or not, items such as coffee, candy, soda, chips, dryer sheets, and energy drinks aren´t absolute necessities and should be viewed as little luxuries that can be purchased every once in a while (if at all).
- Buy items you have coupons for but only if you´d save money as compared to your usual buying habits
- Avoid buying well known brands; compare labels to ensure that the no name product´s quality is reasonably high despite the lower price
- If at all, buy unnecessary items on sale
- Avoid going grocery shopping when hungry
- Eat your leftovers (just do it)
- Don´t buy bottled water
- Don´t buy preportioned produce
- You don´t need fancy meals every day; a good soup once a week is healthy and inexpensive
- Avoid buying soda, iced tea, energy drinks, flavored water, and similar drinks; all your body really needs in terms of fluids is water
Although many people take their access to running water, electricity, and gas for granted, it is that thoughtlessness that could cost you a lot of money. Every household has at least some potential for great saving and resource conservation. Personally, I´ve been using community facilities for quite some time now and don´t pay for personal running water, electricity, or heat.
- Collect the cold shower water while waiting for it to warm up
- Treat your electricity, heat, and water like a valuable resource; remember your last camping trip and how precious every last bit of these resources appeared to you
- Avoid (over-)using large appliances such as dryers, dishwashers, and washing machines; wear your clothes until they are actually dirty, and hang them outside to dry
- Use candles for some evening light and reuse unused wax
- Get rid of/unplug unused devices such as DVD players, game consoles, that second fridge in your garage, and desktop computers.
- Regularly go to the gym? Shower there!
Check out this site on how to lower your utility bill.
Most of us own a whole bunch of stuff and by stuff I mean things that may be somewhat useful and nice, but aren´t a real necessity. Egg slicers, camping chairs, baby wipe warmers, phone stands, fancy dinner ware, jet skies, vases, automated air fresheners, and decorative everything are only a few of the many things we own, but don´t really need. However, more often than not, things are unnecessary simply because you already own one of it or it is overly fancy. Do you really NEED two or more can openers, pencil sharpeners, glasses, cars, purses, pillows, or hair brushes? Do you really NEED fancy shampoo, $200 bed sheets, or that expensive drill set?
Now, you might say, “Well, most of those things are pretty inexpensive”, which is true. As mentioned previously though, minimalism is a mindset. Not only does getting rid of stuff (and not accumulating more of it) free up your living space and your mind, it also teaches you to value your belongings. Imagine what life would be like without that one hair brush you own, and suddenly the $5 hairbrush lasts for years because you take care of it.
- Ask yourself “Do I really need this” before buying anything
- Avoid going shopping as a past time activity; there is more out there than the “joy” of consumerism
- Enjoy and appreciate what you own
- Unless an object is unusable, dangerously defective, or extremely difficult to use, it doesn´t need to be replaced
- If a knick knack doesn´t fit in the category “beloved” or fills your heart with an excessive amount of joy, it´s not worth having.
Reuse and Recycle
To me, this is the fun part about minimalism! Be creative and think outside the box! Pretty much anything you own can be reused in some way, shape, or form. An empty milk container can carry water for your camping trips, old shirts can be used to make a blanket, grocery bags can be used as trash bags, old socks can be made into stuffed animals and dog toys, old electronics make for great art projects, empty grape bags function as strainers, used tea bags still have enough herbs in them to be used for beauty products, and, and, and.
Recycling pretty much stems from the same willingness to get the most out of our resources. Paper, plastics, glass, and many other materials can make a come back instead of slowly rotting away in a landfill.
- Before throwing trash away, ask yourself if it can be repurposed
- Try dumpster diving! You wouldn´t believe what people throw out.
- Shop at markets and stores that allow you to bring your own containers
- Donate unwanted items to charities
Check out this website for 101 tips on reusing and recycling
That´s it fellow free spirits! Do you have more ideas in regards to reusing and minimalism? Comment!