A lot of us get into minimalism as a lifestyle because of financial concerns.
But as we stick with it, most find that freedom and peace of mind are the greater benefits.
Financial improvements never hurt, but money issues can also be symptoms of an altogether cluttered and unintentional life.
Minimalism tends to increase happiness by addressing that mindlessness which we so easily fall into.
Simplify life and lighten your mental burden
A minimalist budgeting strategy turns every financial decision into a simple, even child-like test. “Do I need it? If not, is it really valuable to me?”
That might require some difficult self-denial until your discipline muscle gets stronger.
But there’s no denying that simple choices make for a more peaceful life and peaceful mind.
Compared to that, the “pain” of denying things we don’t need — and were often just told to want — is nothing.
Fast(er) track to financial stability
Think of the route to financial stability as train tracks, where two rails run parallel to the same destination. Both are necessary but neither is sufficient.
One track is earning and the other is saving. A hit to one can undermine improvements to the other, just as it only takes one damaged rail to derail a train.
Budget is the rail that we damage more often. Impulse purchases derail our progress, and failure to track real spending sends us down a line we didn’t seek.
An honest, conscientious, and personally meaningful budget helps us build the discipline that keeps us headed in the right direction.
Own your money, not the other way around
Minimalist budgeting makes financial choices few and simple. Not necessarily easy, but simple.
Those who want it easy spend impulsively, and chip away at their hope of stable, sustainable finances.
Lo and behold, after a few months or years, their money owns them.
Perhaps you’ve been there, or are there right now, and ramifications of past spending constrain your life in ways you never anticipated.
But those who want simplicity make the tough choice day by day to uphold the budget. To trust the process. And in the process, they find that money remains their tool. They own it, in every sense.
Be ready for life’s unexpected events
When we simplify personal finance to its essentials, and build the discipline to keep it that way, the bumps in the road seem to matter less.
Obviously, that’s because the discipline has led to greater financial cushion, such as the all-important emergency fund.
But there’s also a distinctly minimalist twist, which applies to budgeting as much as to clutter, clothes, hobbies, and all else.
It’s this: energy and concentration are limited.
They’re renewable, but limited at any one time. If we follow the mainstream financial advice of separate accounts for every goal, several credit cards to maximize points, and so on, it sucks up that energy and concentration.
Then, when the unexpected happens, there’s a web of financial implications way beyond money in and money out. It’s not only a matter of affording it, but of figuring out how it affects so many dependencies.
Instead, a minimalist approach to personal finance — especially in budgeting and account management — puts us in a better place to deal with these bumps in the road.
Sure, we might leave a few credit card miles unearned or sign-up bonuses neglected, but is maximizing them really worth the stress?
More certainty amid tough times
The world goes crazy every now and then.
There is always turmoil somewhere, and always will be. But once in a while, it feels like everything is up in the air at once.
That’s stressful. It is to me, anyhow. But it’s also beyond my control.
However, things are infinitely worse if your own messy finances coincide with general chaos.
What happens when times are tough…
…and you don’t know how much you need to live on?
…and you haven’t diligently built an emergency fund?
…and you aren’t used to living with less?
It sure doesn’t help.
However, if we’ve addressed all those things when it’s (relatively) easy, then the hard or crazy periods are that much more bearable.
Knowledge of your real needs
A lot of what I’ve shared here comes down to a simple goal: know what’s necessary, know what’s really valuable, and cut out the rest to save money (and time) for what counts.
When you maintain a minimal budget day-in, day-out, a little magic happens. It feels that way, at least.
It takes time to produce money, so you figure out what’s really worth your time. Is the new X worth Y hours of your life to pay for it? Or would Z, at the same sticker price, be worth far more of your money-earning time?
If financial minimalism brings one thing to our lives, it’s peace of mind.
Nothing in our power can calm the entire world during troubled times, nor prevent many of the personal mishaps life throws our way.
But with a minimalist budget, and the willpower to take seriously, it’s amazing how many gargantuan obstacles end up more like speed bumps.