Hey there! My name is Anthony Ongaro and I’m the guy behind Break the Twitch, a website and YouTube channel about living an intentionally connected life through minimalism, habits, and creativity. I’m pumped to be sharing my tips on minimalism and intentional living on the Mint blog over the next year.
The benefits of making better financial decisions is undeniable: you can pay off more debt, add to your savings, and create more freedom and flexibility for yourself in the future. The problem is that sometimes, these decisions happen without even realizing it–without a framework in place, it’s hard to even be sure what the right decision might be. That’s where minimalism comes in.
What is minimalism, anyway?
“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.” —Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist
Most often, minimalism is associated with owning fewer physical possessions and having less clutter in our lives. This typically manifests in having less stuff to pay for, organize and maintain, thus giving us more time, freedom, and less anxiety from worrying about all that stuff.
At the heart of it, minimalism is about creating a framework for regularly making better decisions in your daily life. It helps you establish rules for what you want and don’t want and gives you clarity about what actions are most likely to give you those things.
The same thinking can be applied to each financial decision made throughout daily life. Making financial decisions like a minimalist would mean allocating funds for things that you most value, and removing the unnecessary expenditures that distract you from them.
It’s all about aligning your spending with your values and letting the benefits of that compound–and not just monetarily.
So, What Do You Actually Want?
The first step in making financial decisions like a minimalist is figuring out what you actually want more of and less of in your life. While it might seem as though I’ve just asked you to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, there’s an exercise you can do to help establish a baseline to start out with.
When we go out and buy things, we’re not really buying that thing–we’re buying how we expect that thing to make us feel. There’s a ton of technical budgeting tips out there, so let’s focus on the feelings instead.
Do The Light / Heavy Exercise
Divide a piece of paper down the middle and put light on one side and heavy on the other. While you may have a sense of these things in your head, physically writing them down (yes, on a piece of actual paper) really helps visualize these things and affirm your feelings about them.
You might put things on the list like: donating money, volunteering, playing guitar, enjoying dinners out, cutting costs this summer, paying rent on time, saving for a house, reading good books, having coffee with friends, or perhaps buying pints of ice cream at two in the morning.
For you, any of those above things might go into the light side, or the heavy side–really spend some time digging in and writing everything you can think of on each side.
Which list each thing goes on is up to you, but you might be surprised at what you find–there are likely things that you’re doing quite frequently that don’t add value to your life in ways you thought they did.
Keep in mind, it’s best to focus on the feeling you have after the activity is done–do you feel lighter than you did before it or heavier?
Design A Lifestyle Experiment Around Your Top Six Items
The beautiful thing about minimalism is that very few things about it are permanent–it really is about finding a balance that fits your own personal priorities. It’s time to implement some changes that reflect your lists and see how it affects your life over a period of time.
If you have coffee with friends on your light list because it leaves you buzzing and happy, and buying candy bars on your heavy list because they’re delicious but you feel like crap after eating them, schedule a coffee meet up to start off your week for an entire month and don’t buy any candy bars for the same period of time.
While that is a small example of what this could look like, you might be surprised at how much better your week goes by intentionally choosing how you spend your resources. Those little changes could even add up to a first class flight at some point.
Lastly, you never know when something that you truly enjoy will also open up a new opportunity in your life whether it’s earning more money or simply working on something exciting and different. When we’re spending more of our money on things that keep us feeling light, it’s hard to not be optimistic about finding opportunities that we didn’t know were there.
Whatever items end up on your list, experiment with them to see how you can positively change your life by making some related financial decisions like a minimalist.