Taking a Minimalist Approach to Your Personal Finances

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There’s nothing minimal about the worldwide popularity of this movement. Everything from clothing to music has been influenced by the classic adage: “Less is more.” The selling point that turns many into minimalists is the principle of doing everything with intention and eliminating the unnecessary. Minimizing confusion is ideal when money is in the picture as well, which makes this approach a great fit for managing personal finances. When it comes to spending, especially, the idea of less is definitely appealing. Here’s how you can apply minimalism to improve how you manage your wallet.

Before you switch gears completely, you should map out your current financial practices and systems first. One way to do this is to ask yourself reflective questions. A good starting point is: “Where does my paycheck immediately go?” This question, when answered honestly, can tell you a lot about your priorities and how your money flows.

If you’re not one for self-reflection, another strategy would be to assess these four aspects of finance management individually and see which ones you could adjust to fit a more minimalist—and, hopefully, more efficient—approach.

Planning

Hindsight is always useful. There are two ways to put that into practice in this regard. First, you must identify and set the right saving goals for yourself. Whether you’re planning to start a family soon or going back to school, you need to give yourself enough time to bulk up your savings account. Second, get all the financial safety nets you can get for your and your family’s future. This includes all applicable types of insurance and, if necessary, even a will.

If all this seems quite difficult to absorb right now, don’t worry—a trusted accountant and family attorney could keep you on track. The bottom line is that knowing what’s important is a crucial element in planning. To get there, you must gradually learn how to cut out anything that doesn’t serve you and your happiness.

budget

Budgeting

You’ve probably heard it all by now—hacks, best-kept secrets, and strategies for creating and sticking to an expense plan. In the spirit of minimalism, however, all you need to remember is this one principle: Spend less than you earn. The logic is admittedly straightforward, almost obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy this is to overlook once you already have money in the bank.

Consistently spending less than you earn guarantees that you will not fall into any sizable debts that will put a kink in your saving and lifestyle goals. So when you draft or revise your budget, just make sure to keep this in mind, and everything else will follow.

Income Sourcing

Everyone had a dream job when they were a kid. The innocent rarely consider compensation when they say that they want to be an astronaut or a ballerina. But now that you’ve got some miles in your review mirror, you’re a bit more willing to compromise. This doesn’t mean that you have to put your space suit or tutus in a dusty box in the attic. Minimalism is big on the basics because it highlights the few essential things that would bring you pure, unadulterated joy. In other words, don’t be afraid to factor in your passions and dreams when you look for a source of income. Give yourself a chance to refocus on the things that matter in terms of your career. In the long run, you’ll find that you won’t need much else.

Expense Tracking

There’s always a shiny new mobile app that promises to shadow your every move so that you won’t have to manually plug it in whenever you buy a cup of coffee. Although these tools may help some people save time, nothing beats the simplicity and value of pen and paper. When you write things down, you’re giving your brain more time to thoroughly think things through.

Joshua Fields Millburn from The Minimalists also shared a powerful way of looking at spending, which is simply equating it to your freedom. You spend a fixed number of hours a week to get a regular income, so, in a way, you agree to spend your freedom when you spend money. Remember this every time you make a purchase and see if this mindset will change your life the way it changed Joshua’s.

People have learned to equate happiness with material things. While this isn’t necessarily bad, it does run the risk of distracting you from what’s truly important. Hopefully, by seeing how minimalism can be applied to planning, budgeting, income sourcing, and expense tracking, you’re more inspired to be a wiser spender and saver.

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