FIRE Pillar 8: Embrace The Minimalist Lifestyle
Achieving your FIRE aspirations does not mean that you should deprive yourself. By embracing a minimalist lifestyle and adjusting how you view your possessions, you can get rid of unnecessary ‘stuff’ and live a more meaningful life, at the same time as saving money for your future.
What does a minimalist lifestyle mean?
Living a minimalist lifestyle does not mean that you have to make radical changes to how you live. It is not about sticking to rigorous rules.
Minimalism is about removing possessions and distractions from your life. Unnecessary things that you just do not need.
It does not necessarily mean you have to say goodbye to your laptop or your car…
The aim is to live a more meaningful and fulfilled life
What’s great about minimalist living is that anyone can get involved; whether you are in a couple or single, whether you have children or not, you can work towards living with less.
Why live with less?
Choosing to live with less can have a multitude of benefits. As well as saving money by not buying things you don’t really need, you may also feel less stressed as a result.
As American novelist Tom Robbins once said: “Any half-awake materialist well knows — that which you hold holds you.”
While the minimalist lifestyle does involve living with less ‘stuff’, this does not really illustrate the whole point of minimalism. Minimalism is a mindset. You look at what is important to you, what you really value, and then make more time for it. By taking unnecessary ‘stuff’ out of the equation, you are creating more time (and space) to focus on what you enjoy.
According to The Minimalists: “Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom”.
Living with less is better for the planet, too.
Some other benefits of the minimalist lifestyle include:
- Feeling more ‘at peace’ – having less means you won’t have as much to worry about and you’ll also have less to lose
- More time to spend with your nearest and dearest
- Escape the consumerism treadmill
What does a minimalist lifestyle look like?
The focus is firmly on your quality of life, rather than on material goods. After all, possessions can be replaced.
Minimalism is simply about living with less. But not in a way that you deprive yourself of the things you need. It’s about getting rid of unnecessary possessions.
It doesn’t mean that you need to live in a tiny house with only one hard chair to sit on and no television. It’s about questioning what you really need in your life – and what you could do without.
How to live the minimalist lifestyle
Living a ‘minimalist’ lifestyle should start with a list of ‘whys’. Why do you want to be a minimalist? What are you aiming to achieve? You may simply want to save cash by spending less on things you don’t need. Or you may want to create more time for a hobby.
Having a list of goals should help you to remember why you don’t need to a new shiny piece of technology or the latest model of car when temptation rears its head.
Clear out unnecessary ‘stuff’
Start small by decluttering a kitchen cupboard or your TV cabinet. Ask yourself when you last used an item and when you’re likely to use it again.
You may surprise yourself by the sheer amount of stuff in your home that you never use. If you haven’t used it for 3 months, it’s time to get rid of it.
Do I really need that?
Often, we buy items out of habit, rather than necessity. Whenever you head to the shops or start browsing online, ask yourself if you really need what you’re intending on buying, or is it just more clutter to add to your home?
Will that new smartphone really make you happy or will it just demand more of your time?
Take a moment to reflect before buying anything.
A ‘one in, one out’ policy, where you only buy something if you are replacing another item (not adding to your possessions), can work really well.
Think quality, not quantity
When you need to buy something, invest in an item that will last longer. This doesn’t mean you have to spend more. For example, instead of buying lots of cheaper clothes with your money, buy a few more expensive items for the same amount.
Place more value on experiences and making memories
As we progress through life, the things we cherish the most are often the experiences we have Stuff is just stuff. In the end, it won’t make you happy.
Minimalism is about taking away the unnecessary ‘stuff’ and placing more value on making memories with your friends and family.
Summary: Give the minimalist lifestyle a go
Minimalism is about breaking free from consumerism and not placing too much value on your possessions. It’s about adding value to your life by achieving this freedom, rather than depriving yourself of items you need and making yourself unhappy.
The minimalist lifestyle is very personal to each of us. Only you know what you really need. What may work for you, may not work for someone else.
By not placing too much value on your possessions and thinking before you spend, you will, at the very least, be saving money for your early retirement (as well as learning how to live a less expensive lifestyle in preparation for retirement). At the most, you will be working towards living a happier, more fulfilled life.