I love being a New Minimalist.
I love the feeling of lightness that comes from walking into an uncluttered room. I'm obsessed with how easy it's become to pack for trips, do laundry, and go shopping with a minimal wardrobe. There is nothing that relaxes me more than a calendar with nothing planned for a day or three.
But all of those happy results are secondary to the real reason I became a minimalist a few years back.
I started minimizing because of money.
Specifically, I minimized in order to stop spending money and to start saving money.
Oh, and I did all of this because I was broke.
If we're drawing lines and telling truths, that's about as direct as it gets. I was a starving entrepreneur who'd grossly underestimated the amount of time it would take to build a profitable business.
But I was also an entrepreneur in my soul and knew this journey needed and deserved everything I could do for it.
Which left me with 2 options, either:
- go back to work for someone else so I could afford my lifestyle, or
- change my lifestyle so I could afford to do the work I love.
Between myself, the voices in my head (joke), and the voices of my friends/parents/peers, I knew option #2 was the only real choice for me.
Which meant it was time to get minimizing.
Minimalism gets strategic.
In order to make up for the significant gap in between my income and spending I knew I would have to cut a lot out of what I normally purchase. We're not talking about lattes and packing a sandwich. We're talking serious life changes.
Like austerity measures or partial government shutdown, but less dickhead-ish.
I ended up saving almost $1,000 a month by cutting some areas of spending out of my life. I also had a few deal-breaker areas that I refused to skimp on.
Read below for tips on how I did it and how to make it work for you.
WHERE I CUT:
1. Shopping: I quit buying clothing/shoes/accessories cold turkey. Literally I purchased not a single thing for almost 6 months. Much like cutting out sugar or carbs, cutting out shopping was painful in the beginning, then boring, then freeing.
Now my first thought is to borrow, thrift, or repurpose when I have a clothing need. But I also don't have to restrict myself or have any rules in place around shopping anymore. Since my addiction to shopping was cured, I can now intentionally and thoughtfully buy a few things that I love whenever I want.
2. Eating Out: I know that every money guru on the planet recommends this step since it's clear, easy to measure and offers very real results. But, it's also kind of hard for me. Ok, really hard. Most days by the time I am finished working all I want is a run by the bay, a beer, and some nonsense tv. The idea of getting my butt to the grocery store and chopping/peeling/stirring for the next 30-60 minutes sounds terrible.
So how did I make it work? I got really good at making shit up. For example, I often make quinoa with curried veggies. I do this with no grocery shopping and it's done, from start to finish, in 20 minutes. Steps: cook quinoa, empty veggie drawer/cans of beans/cans of diced tomatoes into a pot, add Trader Joe's sauce and a few spices, done. My other trick: cook like the Von Trapp family is coming over for dinner (ie: for a small army) and then crush leftovers for lunch all week.
3. Cosmetics + Toiletries: For sure I want to be pretty like all the other ladies around, but I'm done dropping stupid amounts of money on cosmetics and toiletries. I used to have acne cream, face moisturizer for day time, sunscreen, moisturizer for night time, under-eye creams for days when they were puffy, cream for the not-yet-existent wrinkles ("It's only a matter of time!" threatened the sales clerk), face lotion, hair serum and straightening mousse and curling mousse, heat protectant spray, and more...
Since beginning to minimize, my eyes have been opened to the brilliance of multi-taskers. I now use coconut oil for my eye cream, to remove make-up, to moisturize my face, to moisturize my body, and to keep frizzies from my hair.
I know half of you are rolling your eyes waiting for me to expound on the virtues of hemp and orgasmic birth, but I swear this stuff works. Oh, and it costs 9 bucks for a huge jar of the organic variety. Try it.
WHERE I DIDN'T CUT:
There were also several areas of my life I was unwilling to change. I decided that having to give up any of these areas would be worse than going back to work.
1. Groceries: Health is my number one priority for myself and my husband. The top way I support our health is through eating (now cooking for us) healthy, organic, veggie-based meals.
Due to allergies and preferences I don't eat much meat or dairy, which means that while my diet may be particular, it's also pretty inexpensive. Not purchasing the steaks and chops we used to means we have a lot more flexibility when it comes to purchasing fresh, local produce.
2. Hosting friends: I am a natural born hostess, it's one of my lucky traits in this life. I get the gene from my mom and see it expressed in my sisters as well. I'm no 50's housewife, but having people feel welcome and taken care of while in my home is one of the greatest joys of my life. (Also, wearing slippers while socializing is the Best. Thing. Ever.)
My husband works in the wine industry, so we get bottles of great wine for less than cost of single glass at a bar. All of which is to say that it only makes sense to have my closest ladies and their men over for dinner and drinks a few times a month -- I get to wear slippers and we all get buzzed on the cheap. Win-win.
3. Travel: This is the number one life priority for me at this stage. My parents, sisters, brother, brother-in-laws, nephews, niece, grandma, cousins, aunt + uncle all live in the Chicago area. So while San Francisco is without a doubt the home of my soul, the Midwest is the home of my heart.
It's crucial for me (and I'd like to believe for my family as well) that I visit often. Especially now, given that my nephew/godson is the cutest thing ever as are his little TWIN BROTHER AND SISTER. I know, like a nuclear explosion of cuteness (see below for proof).
For me, this means three $300 flights plus another two flights using miles from credit cards every year. And I wouldn't have it any other way.