We talk a lot about money on this blog.
You sometimes get the pleasure of following me wax on the philosophical and mundane. Today I’m going to reveal my top 25 minimalism tips. Learn how this lifestyle change can boost your bottom line and day-to-day living.
I am a firm believer that minimalism and early retirement are a match made in heaven. I think you’d agree that owning less stuff and living a less cluttered life allows you to save money and avoid some stress.
Think about this: We live in a consumerized, shrink-wrap and cardboard society. The temptations to spend are tough to avoid when you’re bombarded by peer pressure and marketing at every turn.
According to World Bank researchers, the Washington Post recently shared that the world generates at least 3.5 million tons of solid waste a day, 10 times the amount a century ago. If nothing is done, that figure will grow to 11 million tons by the end of the century, the researchers estimate.
Is minimalism the key to making early retirement a reality? Is it more meaningful than that oft-abused (and ugly sounding) term, “frugality?” I believe the answer is clearly “yes!” Let’s run down my top 25 tips for becoming a minimalist so you can get started on a path of clutter-free living.
My Top 25 Money Saving Minimalism Tips
1.) Get a smaller trash can.
In many communities, including Minneapolis, the smaller the trash can, the lower the fee you pay each month. And the less room you have to toss stuff, the more likely you are to minimize waste.
2.) Reduce your hygiene products. (But stay clean!)
Shower gels and loofahs generate more waste than a simple bar of soap and cost more too. Avoid the temptation to buy that electric toothbrush too. Your teeth will be fine – centuries of human history with low-sugar diets prove THAT.
3.) Don’t go overboard on engagement and wedding rings.
Make time and effort your investment, not $10,000 on a diamond that came from God-knows-where. This also eliminates the need for an insurance rider on expensive jewelry. We paid $75 a year for almost 10 years before canceling our rider policy.
Consider a Qalo ring (shown below) as a low-cost option for travel or active pursuits as a bonus tip. We have a set of these and appreciate the option of leaving our fancy stuff secure at home.
4.) Get rid of your cursed Keurig machine!
First of all, it’s environmentally wasteful to use a Keurig with disposable pods. There are reusable kits, but the coffee tastes godawful either way. Instead, try the AeroPress and be environmentally sound, while saving countertop space AND enjoying good coffee.
5.) Say bye-bye to cable television.
That cable box collecting gobs of dust and cluttering up your living room? It eats electricity like a hog, even when it’s not in use. Just cancel cable altogether and follow this cord-cutting manual to get started.
Free up that space and free up some dollars from your electric bill, and a lot of dollars from that cable subscription. If you have to watch the tube, pick up one of the newer RCA (outdoor) or Mohu (indoor) digital antennas.
6.) Sell your luxury car or all-hat-no-cattle truck.
Opt instead for something useful, like a hatchback Honda Fit or Prius. You’ll help the environment and free up space in your garage. Girls won’t dig you because you drive around in something like this:
All minimalist tip lists should trash obnoxious trucks.
7.) Swap your incandescent light bulbs for LED.
Your electric bill will thank you. USA Today reports that a typical home can save roughly $1,000 over 10 years. Oh, and it’s better for the environment too (less energy to power, and fewer bulbs in the landfill!)
8.) Cancel your home dry cleaning delivery service.
Save money by doing your pressing. Save yourself some time and effort by cloaking your wrinkles with a sweater or sports coat. Besides, dry cleaning shops are known to leave contaminated zones within a few block radius. Who wants to contribute to THAT?
9.) Bike to work. And ride your bike to do your errands.
Discover whether your new biking habit allows you to reduce to a one-car family. That’s our goal come 2019. And no whining about winter weather. Bundle up!
10.) Get your haircuts at home.
Avoid yet another trip or detour in an automobile. Pick up a pair of Wahl trimmers and give your wife (or husband) the confidence she needs to butcher (err, trim) you up. This saves time, money, and gas, and creates more bonding opportunities.
“Haha, Honey, you just clipped off my eyebrow my mistake. Sigh…”
11.) Use the Little Free Library for your reading habit. Or the library.
Avoid Amazon and the urge the buy new books you may or may not read, enjoy, or share. Little Free Libraries are a wonderful addition to our neighborhood. Both kids and grown-ups can enjoy it.
12.) Reduce gift exchanges on birthdays and holidays.
We’ve managed to agree with siblings to only get gifts for the kids at Christmas. It’s a start! For birthdays, we treat each other to a meal at a fun restaurant. The experience of time together is what counts. If you’ve got little kids, set the example when you host birthday parties – and ask that parents not bring gifts!
13.) Ditch your landline phone.
We’ve relied on our cell phones for nearly 10 years now. No more clutter with phones and phone cables. We save a bit too. It was costing us about $20 a month for local service only on that dinosaur.
14.) Clean out your closets!
Donate old sweaters, shirts, and slacks. Limit your wardrobe to essentials that are durable and timeless. Some minimalists opt to create a “uniform” for their corporate jobs. Would you consider that?
Not only does this clear clutter in closets, but it also allows your brain to focus on more important decisions. President Obama was known to wear two primary suit colors while in office. He had some pretty big decisions to make.
15.) Switch to cloth napkins.
16.) Use a cloth diaper service.
Check out this ditty if you’re curious about how much money the diaper switch saves: Cloth Diapers – Massive Money Saver
17.) Donate your China sets.
You should focus on the food anyhow, not the fancy metallic edging that disallows microwaving and dishwashing. NO THANKS!
18.) Recycle your user manuals!
Keep .pdfs of them on DropBox in the event you ever need to reference how to use your blender or microwave in the future. With the prevalence of these materials online, you may not even need DropBox. In my experience, it was a relief to free up that square foot of space loaded with piles or rarely reviewed guides in multiple languages.
19.) The most painful part of becoming a minimalist for this author is: Dine out less often.
Cook at home MORE. This could create more clutter in your kitchen, but your body will thank you for the effort. You get more sugar, fat, and salt when you dine out than you would be cooking your meals. Minimalism isn’t just about the environment you live in. It’s about your health as well.
Twenty: Workout with kettlebells. After bodyweight exercises, nothing beats the simple, elegant kettlebell for all-around strength and cardio. Do 50 swings per day to start with, and work your way up to 100 using a weight that gives your hips a challenge. No need for fancy gym memberships and Nordic Flex. For those looking to bump up their body-weight routine, try pull-ups.
21.) Live in a smaller house.
So many benefits here. As minimalists, the less stuff you own, the less temptation to live in a palace. Because you’re a minimalist, you choose to live most of your life outdoors and be engaged in your community. The financial benefits are incredible. You save on mortgage, property taxes, utilities, and maintenance. Learn to live small, and you’ll avoid significant financial stress.
22.) Donate or recycle your unused items to keep your house healthy.
That pile of crap in your basement? It could be hiding a water problem, that could eventually turn into a MOLD problem. Those clothes stacked up you’ll never wear again? There could be mice making nests in there. Clear out, and keep your home from becoming a source of bad health! Ever seen “Hoarders”?
23.) Sell or replace unnecessary appliances.
That extra fridge in your garage or the deep freezer you keep less than half full? Craigslist, baby. You can save a few hundred bucks a year in some cases, depending on how inefficient your spare fridges and freezers run. This can be a difficult proposition if you have a large family. But if you’re just keeping beer cold out in the garage, do yourself a favor and unload that beast.
24.) If you need to have a pet, consider adopting a rescue pet.
According to the U.S. Humane Society, each year, 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States, simply because too many pets come into shelters and too few people consider adoption when looking for a pet. Save some money on your next pet, but more importantly, save a life!
Our old cat, Henrietta. Rest in Peace!
25.) Blow off the leaf blower.
One of the most obtrusive creations in the history of mankind is the leaf blower. No longer can we enjoy a peaceful fall Saturday walk without someone blaring their godforsaken lawn hairdryer. A better alternative? Rake your lawn. Burn some calories without burning bridges with your neighbors. Sonic minimalism counts too…
These 25 Minimalism Tips Saved Us Nearly a Million Bucks
Bringing the focus back to relationships and personal growth is what makes Minimalism such an enticing lifestyle choice. The monetary aspect is a sweet byproduct. Nevertheless, if you add up a list like the top 25 ways above, throughout a couple of decades your opportunity cost could easily top $1M.
If you’re interested in learning more about Minimalism (and more minimalism tips), check out Joshua Becker at Becoming Minimalist.
Cancel your magazine and newspaper subscriptions. This not only saves you money but solves a tremendous clutter problem in your house. All the information you need can be found in digital sources and is usually free.
Reduce your alcohol habit. Make smart substitutions, like boxed wine (we prefer Bota Box) which lasts practically forever and is infinitely less costly than the bottled stuff. Limit your habit to one drink a day. Mix your cocktails. As someone who enjoys the craft beer boom in this country, the temptation is obvious.
Do you have your own tips on becoming a minimalist? Please share in the comments below!
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Team CF says
Darn, close to ticking off all 25 of these boxes. Just the last two…..what can I say, it was a free leaf blower 🙂
Turkey! 🙂 I didn’t think those were allowed in NED? Since you know, you already have windmills to blow that stuff around?
Team CF says
You got me, might need to put in windmill in the yard…..
Susan Bee says
I would add one thing to your list – if you already own a Nook or Kindle, there are several FREE online sites where you can download FREE ebooks! I prefer Book Bub. I like an e-reader because I can take multiple books when I travel in one compact package!
Good catch, Susan. For sure – A great way to save space that would otherwise go to piles of books! We keep a dedicated book case that when it gets filled, we start to donate the lesser books. I think it’s nice to keep some timeless, real books around for the kids.
I like your style Cubert. More than a few of these made me chuckle. Great writing. I had to smile at #21, reduce alcohol. I personally recommend going with Frontera – its cheap and has a great taste. Check it out and let me know what you think!
Thanks man! Can’t take this stuff too seriously, right?? That Frontera stuff just doesn’t agree with me. I had the worst headache after just two glasses of their white zin at a wedding once. Swore it off entirely!
Interesting! This hasn’t happened to me, but hey, we are all different!
Maybe it was the white zin? What’s your preferred variety?
I usually like the Merlot or Cabernet, but it’s been harder to find that lately. They usually have a Cabernet-Merlot mix in stores now.
Dave @ Married with Money says
#23 love that you guys have the silicone rings – I’m wearing mine today! It always gets a reaction from people 🙂
#21 Found a new wine from Target (California Roots brand, the red blend) that’s $5/bottle that we like.
#8 I need to do this! Especially just having moved and gotten married I’ve got tons of manuals for stuff. Sometimes I just want to Ctrl + F but can’t! This would solve it. Great idea.
Aren’t those little rings sweet? I like mine for cycling and travel. I’ve also had a few questions about it.
Target vino, eh? I might have to give that one a try!
Accidental FIRE says
God bless the Aero-Press!! Best coffee ever and it packs easy on backpacking trips.
And HALLELUJAH on the leaf blower thing! I despise those things. No peace and quiet during the autumn muchless many other times of year with the noise-polluting drone of those things everywhere. “Sonic minimalism” – I love it man!
Great list here and lots of good nuggets to chew on – thanks for posting!
Matthew in Michigan says
My comment was going to be pretty identical……absolutely LOVE my aeropress, such good coffee and feel pretty fancy when using it, hand pressing and all :-).
And on the leaf blower, hell yes I’m with you. Can’t stand those dang things. I’ve got a retired guy next to me that has that noisy, stinking P.O.S out almost daily once the leaves start falling!!!
I’m pretty minimalist and it’s a constant struggle with a wife who isn’t and 3 young kids, especially this time of year with Christmas coming up.Sometimes I just feel like giving up, it can be so frustrating and I’m not always good at explaining things, I tend to come across kinda bossy sometimes, it’s a constant battle………. Really good post though!
Blast those leaf blowers! Full confession: I used one for two years. Not anymore though. I will offer up this – a mini blower for gutter cleaning is VERY handy. Limits how much death-defying ladder jockeying you have to do every year.
Good luck with your not-so-minimalist wife – we have some struggles from time to time too.
PS – Airbnb should be ready for booking the third week of Jan. 🙂
Aero-Press works great for us. The biggest upgrade we made was grinding whole beans a few times a week as opposed to buying pre-ground. Huge difference.
Thanks for the kinds words, AF!
Mr Defined Sight says
Oooh you are going to get my wife with the pic of Henrietta. She had a cat named Henry when she was young. I mean growing up. This is going to get me in trouble….. Anyways, a great list. While I can’t get on board with driving a Prius, I do love the home haircuts and also working out at home. Huge money savers.
Henry, R.I.P…. Do you have a new cat or other pets?
No worries about the Prius, my friend. You can always ride your bike! 😉
Mr Defined Sight says
Our dog died last year. That was a tough one to get over. We haven’t got to the point of getting another pet yet. Down the road I’m sure we will.
Miguel (The Rich Miser) says
Hey Cubert, awesome list! I especially love no. 24 (personal hygiene products) – I’m an Irish Spring man myself, no froufrou soap cream collection.
I think a huge financial benefit of a more-active and healthier lifestyle is the reduced medical expenses. Given how expensive US healthcare is (even if you have insurance), to have less of a need for healthcare could save thousands per year. And that does not even include the other benefits of being healthy!
Irish Spring – They had a catchy little jingle back when I was growing up. Clean as a whistle? We get our bar soap from Costco – Dove.
Financial Panther says
Still going strong on the bike scene (especially today, since it’s freakishly warm). Most people get way too scared by the cold – the way I see it, if you can get somewhere in 20 minutes or less, you can handle the cold. This past weekend, I biked home from the Wisconsin-Minnesota football game and it was awesome – everyone was stuck in traffic and I just zoomed past them all.
Hi Kevin! I’m ashamed to admit I drove in today, despite the balmy temps. On the way in though, I started to plan for some make up rides, come what may with our unpredictable weather.
I bet you were glad to get away quick from TCF after THAT showing by the Gophers. Yeesh…
Dang Millennial says
That is a great list, I can’t claim all of them but I think I am doing pretty dang good. I have dealt with so many people giving me a hard time for my 2006 Subaru legacy. Truth is I still enjoy driving it and get a lot out of the money it saves me. It has also taught me how to actually maintain a vehicle a lost art on my generation!
Thanks, DM! Those older Subarus hold up very well. Good thing you’re connected with the Handy Millennial — looks like he’ll be a very helpful resource for your car and mine as well!
Josh Haste says
Awesome list, I am going to share this on my Facebook later! 21-17 discount double check!!! haha
I want to bike to work but the roads here are not conducive or safe that my school is located on. I am going to LED all my lights for sure!!
Thanks for the list
Darn those non-conducive roads! Better to play it safe, my friend.
Discount Double Check? Aaron Rogers???
I used to cut my own hair. I did it for several years, but I hated it and I wasn’t that good – and it showed. I know consider it a luxury to have my hair cut (although I’ve been thinking about having my wife cut my hair. Didn’t have her when I used to cut it on my own!)
I think it makes a big difference to have someone do it for you. Give it a shot, Joe!
Amy @ LifeZemplified says
Fantastic list. Got most of then down but need to get on #8.
NoSidebar.com is another great site on minimalism.
Thanks, Amy! I’ll have to check out NoSideBar.com. Don’t worry about #8 too much. For us, we’d just accumulated way too much crap. Better to sell off much of it (like the leaf blower!) than to archive manuals. 🙂
Living in a smaller house was the key to me for becoming more minimalist. I actually moved into a 23′ RV and sold most of my things and couldn’t be happier. I cut my cost of living down by 75% and do not miss cable, magazine subscriptions, etc. Great Read!
Thanks, LifeGuider! I don’t know if I could do it – living in an RV full time. That’s some balls right there. I’ll have to check out your blog – love the name!
craig hill says
Full time Rving is certainly not for the faint of heart and not for everyone. If you have young kids I do not recommend the RV lifestyle. Come on over, welcome the feedback and commenting. We also have an active self improvement forum.
I’m finding that full time living in a 1400 square foot house is no cake walk! Christmas decorations (especially the tree) along with out of town guests and an impending pile of presents are sure to stress me out when I should be a content little clam.
Mrs Groovy says
We’ll be downsizing from 2000 SF to about 1500 SF. In anticipation we’ve been tossing and giving away stuff (and we’re not big accumulators to begin with). It feels so good! The less clutter I have around me, the less brain-clutter I have.
I love the Aeropress! HOWEVER, I packed mine away for a rainy day because I was using the inverted (or upside down) method and I burned myself one too many times. Since then I’ve been through two coffee makers. I think they’re all timed to break after 13 months. But I buy them at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and exchange them for a new one when they die.
P.S. I hope Henrietta is playing with our Groovy Cat at the Rainbow Bridge.
Hey, Mrs. Groovy! Yes yes yes — That clutter just adds to the stress, doesn’t it???
You need to get back to your aeropress and try it the original method – it’s just as good. We experimented with the inverted method and it really didn’t do much for us. It seems the annual aeropress champions go back and forth year to year on inverted v. traditional.
Thanks for the kind words on good ol’ Hank. She was a great cat. As I’m sure was Groovy Cat. 🙂
Susan @ FI Ideas says
Nice list. For us, as we have more savings, we have switched to high-deductible insurance for our home, auto, and health insurance. Like you mentioned about your roof, yeah, you get hit now and then, but in the long run it pays off. Your leaf blower assessment, oh my, I truly think about moving sometimes, especially on Saturdays!
Thank you, Susan!
Those leaf blowers. For the longest time, I complained about them. Then I got one for a gift and used it to suck up and chew piles of leaves. After a few seasons of that, I was like, really? Our lawn is so small, and what an obnoxious audible intrusion. Hate those darn things! :-/