We talk a lot about money on this blog. You sometimes get the pleasure of following me wax on the philosophical and mundane. Well today, we’re going to talk about 25 minimalism tips and how they can boost your bottom line (and your day-to-day life.)
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 is tough to avoid, when you’re bombarded by peer pressure and marketing at every turn.
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, according to World Bank researchers. 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 minimalism tips to get you started on the path to a life of less clutter, and more meaning.
Minimalism Tips: My Top 25
- Get a smaller trash can. In many communities, including Minneapolis, the smaller the trash can, the lower the fee you pay each month.
- Reduce your personal hygiene products. 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.
- Agree on a reasonable engagement and wedding ring combination for the love of your life (<$2,000.) 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 cancelling our rider policy.
As a bonus tip – Consider a Qalo ring (shown below) as a low-cost option for travel or active pursuits. We have a set of these and appreciate the option of leaving our fancy stuff secure at home.
- 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 on digital sources and is usually free. (Even the fake news!)
- 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 own cocktails. As someone who really enjoys the craft beer boom in this country, the temptation is obvious.
- Here’s one of my all time favorite minimalism tips: Recycle that cursed Keurig machine! First of all, it’s environmentally wasteful to use a Keurig with the 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.
- Say buh-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. 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 tube, pick up one of the newer RCA (outdoor) or Mohu (indoor) digital antennas.
- 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:
- 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 a 10-year period. Oh, and it’s better for the environment too (less energy to power, and fewer bulbs in the landfill!)
- Cancel your home dry cleaning delivery service. Save money by doing your own pressing. In fact, save yourself some time and effort by cloaking your wrinkles with a sweater or sport coat. Besides, dry cleaning shops are known to leave contaminated zones within a few block radius. Who wants to contribute to THAT???
- Bike to work. Bike to 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!
- 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, gas, and creates more bonding opportunities.
“Haha, Honey, you just clipped off my eyebrow my mistake. Sigh…”
- 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.
- Agree with family to reduce gift exchanges at 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.
- 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.
- 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, 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.
- Switch to cloth napkins. And if you have babies or plan to procreate anytime soon, use a cloth diaper service. Check out this ditty if you’re curious about how much money the diaper switch saves:
- One of the minimalism tips few have heard of: 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.
- The most painful of minimalism tips: Dine out LESS. 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 dining out than you would cooking your own meals. Minimalism isn’t just about the environment you live in. It’s about your health as well.
- Workout with kettlebells. Next to body weight 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.
- 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 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.
- 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”?
- 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 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.
- If you absolutely 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!
- 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!
How these (and other) minimalism tips helped us save nearly a million bucks
Bringing 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, over the course of 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 and Cait Flanders. Their blogs are very insightful. You’ll notice the lack of clutter and super clean design – making for an even better reading experience.
Additionally, the Netflix documentary film, The Minimalists is an inspiring way to spend 78 minutes. Check it out!