We live in a materialistic culture. We see an ad on TV, and it causes us to buy what’s being sold. Some of the things we need, but most of it fulfills an impulse, desire, or addiction that we have. What would your life look like if you lived with less and became somewhat of a minimalist?
I am not here to say we need to consume less so that we can save the planet. If you want to build wealth, you need to buy fewer things. You need to have money so that you have some to save. Spending all of your money keeps you broke. You don’t need to be a hardcore minimalist, but you do need to quit buying things and live with less than you are right now. This way, your money can work for you and grow.
Living with Less
When my wife and I were engaged, we had a hard time filling out a wedding registry because we figured we would have enough when we combined our possessions after we were married. Some friends encouraged us to have a wedding registry because our friends would want to buy us wedding gifts. We ended up completing a registry, and our family and friends were very generous to us as we knew they would be.
Fast forward almost 10 years, and we still have a few of the wedding gifts in their original boxes. We didn’t use a couple of the items. It’s not that we were ungrateful, we just didn’t need everything because we had something that already worked for us.
When we moved to our current house, my wife and I were discussing what to put on the walls. What was the point of displaying some of our decorations on the walls? We concluded that hanging some of our travel items was only to brag, so we did not hang them, and we donated them. This was the first time we discussed that we should be living with less in our house.
We stored items we weren’t going to use in a closet. After a year, we were going to donate them or have a yard sale to get rid of what we didn’t use. Out of a whole closet full of stuff, we used a handful of those items over the course of a year.
Over the last few years, my wife and I have wondered what the point was with buying all those things. It’s possible that they brought us some joy over the last 10 years, but we have been just as happy the past few years after we got rid of a lot of our stuff.
Being a Minimalist
I am not talking about a minimalist living in a tiny house with a maximum of 50 items, no vehicle, and giving up all pleasures of life. You can do this if you want, but maybe there is some middle ground that works. Can you live with less than you have now?
There are two main reasons my wife and I choose to live with less. The first is to keep the clutter down in our house. We are not quite what I would consider minimalists, but we try not to buy anything that we would only use a few times a year. We also don’t keep multiples of the same item around.
The second reason we live with less is so that we can build wealth. We have goals that we are achieving and making random purchases or buying items we do not need is not part of our goal. If you wonder why you cannot save money, look at where you are spending your money. Stop impulse shopping and get on a budget!
My wife and I own plenty of things. We have bought each other gifts for our birthdays and Christmas and still do. However, we have noticed over the past 10 years that many of the gifts we have given each other are not being used. We both wanted to make each other feel special so we bought each other something for those occasions.
We do appreciate what each other gives us, but we also discuss that we don’t need anything. She knows she can always buy me consumables that I would already buy, mainly coffee and beer. I get her dried fruit or some other healthy snack item. We spend $20-$30 at Christmas on each other. We always have gifts for each other and are content.
Some older friends of ours don’t buy each other gifts at all. Instead, they use the money they would have spent on gifts to go on a cruise or another vacation once a year. My wife and I like this idea, too.
You can be content with a lot or with little, but make sure all those purchases you are making are not because you are trying to chase happiness by spending your money. You will never become happy this way.
The opposite is true for most people: Spending money will keep you stressed because you stay broke. When emergencies arise and you go further into debt because you don’t have an emergency fund, the stress of that debt stays with you. In order to try to deal with your stress, you spend more money on impulse purchases.
You don’t become content by having money in the bank. You end up having money in the bank when you are content. Having no savings and being stressed about money is just a symptom of something else. It’s a symptom of your financial behavior and your discontentment. It’s a product of not living with less.
Learn how to live with less and be content. You don’t need to be a tiny-house-50-item-no-car minimalist to build wealth, but you cannot expect to build wealth when you spend all your money and don’t have a plan. Unless you are a high-wage income earner, you need to give up some things and live with less if you want to build wealth.