Americans now live in an age where consumerism has become the norm. Yet at the same time, more and more people struggle just to get by. Perhaps as a response to this, minimalism is gaining momentum as a lifestyle choice — one that not only promotes simplicity but also offers potentially significant financial benefits.
Minimalism encourages individuals to focus on what truly matters and eliminate unnecessary possessions and expenses. In its simplest form, it can be understood as a tool to help you prioritize what’s most important in your life. There’s no strict definition of minimalism — you aren’t required to live in a tiny home or get rid of all of your possessions. It’s more of an ongoing process, and since that process is defined by each individual, it will look different for everyone.
Those who advocate minimalism as a lifestyle will often point to the mental, emotional and perhaps even spiritual benefits — it can also save you a lot of money. While minimalism may seem extreme to you, you don’t have to adopt it as a lifestyle to reap some of the savings. Here are eight minimalist practices that anyone can follow to save money.
No-spend challenges involve setting specific periods during which you commit to not spending money on non-essential items. Michael Chen, growth director at Notta, recommends these challenges as an extreme but accessible saving technique. “During these periods, I avoid any non-essential purchases and focus on free or low-cost activities like hiking, reading or exploring local parks. It’s a great way to reset spending habits and save money,” he said.
These challenges can vary in duration, from a weekend to an entire month. By participating in a no-spend challenge, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of your spending habits, learn to differentiate between needs and wants, and ultimately save a significant amount of money. It’s a minimalist exercise that encourages mindfulness and intentionality in your spending choices.
Stop Eating Meat
Isla Sibanda is a cybersecurity expert and ethical hacker who’s been managing her own finances since she was a teenager. One of her top tips for saving money is to go vegetarian or vegan. Animal products, and red meat in particular, are often significantly more expensive than plant-based options — beans and rice are a complete protein, and they’re as cheap as it gets.
By reducing or eliminating meat from your diet, you can lower your grocery bills while also contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Minimalism often extends to making mindful choices that align with your values, and choosing a vegetarian diet can be one such choice.
Turn Off the AC
Another money-saving tip from Sibanda: reduce your use of air conditioning or eliminate it entirely. “I know this might sound extreme, but believe me, a large part of the world lives without having ACs installed in their homes. Even in extremely warm countries such as Spain, rarely do houses have air conditioners,” she said.
Minimalism encourages you to simplify your life, and this can include energy consumption. In warmer months, instead of relying heavily on air conditioning, consider turning it off and embracing natural ways to stay cool. Open windows for cross-ventilation, use ceiling fans, and take advantage of cooler evening temperatures. This minimalist approach not only reduces your energy bills but also lowers your carbon footprint.
Optimize Home Energy Use
If turning off the air conditioner sounds too extreme — it may even be dangerous in places where it gets very hot — that isn’t the only way to cut down your energy bill. Invest in energy-efficient appliances, unplug devices when not in use, and reduce your water heater temperature a bit. Even simple habits like turning off lights when leaving a room can help.
Rick Chahal, a licensed paralegal at Kahlon Law, highly recommends this minimalist tip. “It’s not just about the money — it also aligns with the minimalist principle of using only what you need. This strategy is something anyone can implement, and it’s the little changes that end up making a significant impact,” he said.
Build a Capsule Wardrobe
A capsule wardrobe is a minimalist’s dream when it comes to clothing. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, it consists of a small collection of versatile, high-quality pieces that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of outfits. By curating a capsule wardrobe, you reduce the urge to constantly buy new clothes and accessories. This approach not only saves you money but also simplifies your daily choices and declutters your closet.
Andrea Hubbert is a public relations expert who loves her capsule wardrobe. “I’m not weighed down by endless choices whenever getting dressed, because I have a set number of pieces that all work well together. It’s like having a greatest hits album of your style that saves time and reduces waste. Plus, I always look like I’ve got my act together, even if I grab the first thing I see,” she said.
Travel Like a Minimalist
Minimalism encourages experiences over possessions, and travel is an excellent way to create meaningful memories. Consider adventurous travel options like camping, hiking or backpacking, which often come with lower costs than traditional vacations. Embracing adventure travel allows you to explore new places while staying true to minimalist values by keeping your travel plans simple and cost-effective.
Jackson Groves, a professional photographer and travel expert, backpacked across the Philippines on a budget of just $800. “I had a backpack weighing 14 kilograms and a smaller daypack that held my camera equipment, electronic accessories and laptop. That’s all I needed to enjoy the 7,500 islands that make up this beautiful country,” he said.
Buy 1, Get Rid of 2
A fundamental principle of minimalism is to declutter and maintain a clutter-free environment. This doesn’t mean you have to give up on owning anything — even collectors can still follow minimalist principles. Michael L. Moore, a writer and the owner of the website Devoted To Vinyl, realized his spending was getting out of control — so he imposed a rule on himself.
“For every new gadget I wanted, I had to let go of two. This made me pause and truly consider whether I needed that shiny new toy. Surprisingly, most times, the answer was no. The feeling was liberating. I found myself content with what I had and truly appreciating the devices I chose to keep,” Moore said.
This approach ensures that your possessions remain intentionally curated, preventing unnecessary accumulation and impulsive spending. Plus, donating items you no longer use can benefit others in need.
Buying secondhand or used items is not only cost-effective but also reduces the demand for new products and lowers your environmental footprint. From clothing and furniture to electronics and kitchen appliances, there are many opportunities to find high-quality used items that can serve you just as well as new ones.
Jessica Carrell, co-founder of AnySoftwareTools, embraced the secondhand market as part of a minimalist lifestyle. “Thrift stores and online marketplaces are treasure troves for affordable, high-quality items. I’ve found amazing deals on furniture, electronics and even clothing by buying secondhand. It’s a win-win — I save money and reduce my environmental footprint,” she said.
Have Less, Save More
Minimalism offers a refreshing perspective on life, emphasizing the importance of intentional living, experiences over possessions, and mindful spending. By incorporating these minimalist ways to save into your lifestyle, you can not only reduce financial stress but also simplify your life, declutter your space and live in alignment with your values. Embrace the minimalist mindset and discover the joy of living with less while enjoying the financial benefits that come with it.
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