WHAT IS A MINIMALIST BUDGET?
A minimalist budget is a powerful formula that will help you gain control of your spending habits with almost no hustle. Its simple principles makes it an invaluable help for those who are struggling with money problems and wanting to cultivate minimalist spending habits.
Use the following tips to get an honest view of where you stand financially, learn how to keep more money than you spend, and finally enjoy more freedom by wisely directing your income towards wealth.
Spoiler alert: this is not the scammy type of building wealth but the no brainer, most effective, and long approved type of achieving financial independence.
Stick around for some straightforward and worry-free budgeting tips that helped me pay back my mortgage faster and allowed me to lay the foundation for more financial freedom.
IN THIS POST
1. Set a financial goal
2. Make a list of your fixed monthly expenses
3. Evaluate your variable expenses
4. Eliminate all unnecessary expenses
5. Tweak your spendings and set boundaries
6. Pay yourself first
7. Live thrifty
8. Avoid financial traps & distractions
9. Downsize if you need to
10. Plan for future expenses and build an emergency fund
11. FOCUS (follow one course until success)
12. Final thoughts
WHAT IS THE CORRELATION BETWEEN MINIMALISM AND MONEY
First, let’s get this out of the way. I often get asked, why do you even want more money if you are a minimalist?
Well, I think of it this way: Money is energy and a resource, and without it, you’ll simply have a hard time enjoying this limited life.
As a minimalist, I want to build up my so-called “wealth” up to an extent so that I can sustain my desired lifestyle for as long as I can breathe.
And while living a minimalist and frugal lifestyle, the number I am aiming for is most probably far less than for someone who may want an abundant life with numerous luxuries – which is totally fine – but nothing for me.
Money is not the most essential thing in the world, but if you don’t have enough, it inevitably becomes too important that and the topic around money will control your life.
That said, I know what I am aiming for, and I manage my money wisely. That’s why a simplified budget is paramount for staying away from money problems being in line with my financial values.
Foremost, reaching freedom for my family is my driving motivation to follow my financial principles until success.
MINIMALIST BUDGETING TIPS THAT WILL SAVE YOU A TON OF MONEY
We sacrifice a lot to make money. We use our time and work hard to sustain a decent lifestyle. After all, we all want to live our best life.
That’s why it is crucial to learn how to properly manage this powerful resource instead of wasting it carelessly.
Most of us are terrible at managing our finances and setting up a budget.
Usually, because budgeting sounds restrictive, complicated, and hard to stick to. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The secret is to apply a minimalist budget that doesn’t require a lot of time nor rocket science.
It requires a simple, easy to follow, and worry-free system that runs almost on autopilot, so that you don’t have to bother about always counting your dollars.
And concerning the argument of a budget is too restrictive. True, there are boundaries involved in minimalist budgeting, but for a good reason.
If you are not willing to stick to the boundaries, there is no way you are going to succeed with money.
And honestly, I rather stick within those boundaries than worrying about drowning in debt or having too little money to spend on my basic needs.
So what is the easiest way to budget and manage this resource?
Here come my simple minimalist budgeting tips that will help you save you a ton of money!
1. SET A FINANCIAL GOAL
The first and foremost task I’d like you to do is to sit down and think about what you want to achieve in life.
Ask yourself what type of lifestyle you would like to live and where you want to go.
Be honest with yourself, and don’t stop until you have figured it out.
It’s not easy to reach life goals, but it’s having no idea where to go at all will let you waste valuable time.
What do you want your financial future to look like? Do you want to finally live debt-free? If so, what do you plan on achieving it, and when do you want to reach your goal?
If you aim to build wealth, ask yourself what for? What would you do with your money?
If you can’t figure it out exactly, that’s fine. Even having just an idea of your financial goal will let you set priorities on your journey and have more financial control.
This leaves you in a far better position than someone who has no clue what to strive for. Instead of moving in circles, you can now move forward.
2. MAKE A LIST OF YOUR FIXED MONTHLY EXPENSES
Now that you have a goal, everything that follows becomes easier. Secondly, I’d like you to analyze your monthly financial liabilities.
Liabilities are your fixed costs that you are obliged to pay month after month to support your lifestyle, such as:
Those costs are also referred to as the largest chunk in your minimalist budget, as you cannot just skip them unless you want to get penalized.
The monthly payment amounts stay mostly the same, making it easy to write them down.
Use a simple budget plan to make it easier for yourself to track all your expenses and get closer to your financial goal.
3. EVALUATE YOUR VARIABLE EXPENSES
Now come the variable costs, which determine how good (or bad) your spending habits are. Those include:
As these costs do vary by definition, it’s easy to lose track of what you spend your money on a day-to-day basis. Money just tends to slip off our fingers within a finger snap, and by the end of the month, we are surprised that so little of it is left.
Be very honest and precise in noting down those costs and adding them to the budget planner. If you don’t, you will face difficulties in managing your finances correctly, and you’ll get lazy over time.
In the spreadsheet, you’ll now be able to see the sum of your fixed and average variable monthly expenses. You will either face the ugly truth you’ve been hiding from so far or breathe out if you assumed a higher sum.
Lastly, type in your income. You may have one or multiple income streams, but put them all in.
Finally, you’ll see the most important number, which is not how much you make, but how much you keep. This number should never have a minus in front of it.
That’s it, that is the secret of making your life easier from today on. The key message is to live below your means and never to overspend.
4. ELIMINATE ALL UNNECESSARY EXPENSES
If you spend more than you make, and you want to change this once and for all, or you aim to improve your overall financial situation, here is the way to do it.
Look at your spreadsheet and review your spendings. It’s time to make significant changes in both your fixed and variable expenses and minimize unnecessary costs.
That’s why it’s called minimalist budgeting. Eliminate useless expenses to save more money.
Look at your list and unsubscribe from unneeded or overpriced fixed monthly subscriptions and payments such as:
Online entertainment fees – you really don’t need Netflix and two or three other online video providers. Keep it simple, and avoid duplicate providers. Find better and free ways to entertain yourself.
Other subscriptions that you don’t use – if you have an expensive gym subscription or pay for other hobbies every month that you actually don’t like or even practice, then simply ditch it or switch to cheaper options. Or exercise at home or outdoors while enjoying the fresh air and save the money instead.
Bank account fees – today, there are tons of free bank account suppliers, so why choose the one which you have to pay?
Insurances that you’ve been keeping for ages and don’t even know anymore what you signed up for – Do your research and ask whether you really need them. If yes, compare them to other providers and switch to the cheapest with the same package.
High mortgage or car credit interest – The credit conditions change from year to year. And if you took out a loan when the lending rates were high, you should ask your bank for a new contract with lower lending rates. Compare their offer to other bank offers and do the math to figure out the best deal. This can seriously have an immense impact on how many years you can pay off your loan earlier.
Your daily spending habits are determined by how intentionally you treat money.
This is what most of us struggle with because we associate money solely with spending. The thought of saving shows up far later on our priority list, if at all.
Sad isn’t it?
However, saving money and generating wealth go hand in hand. Wealth is not seeing what material possessions you have. Wealth is something you don’t necessarily see because it’s money you haven’t spent. It’s money you have saved and invested.
Most of the ones who say “I want to be a millionaire” means they want to spend a million dollars. But that is not the real mindset of a true millionaire.
That’s the reason why most of us underestimate the force of frugality. So let’s practice its principles by cutting down useless costs.
5. TWEAK YOUR SPENDINGS AND SET BOUNDARIES
While the fixed costs are easily trackable and controllable, variable costs sneak in from many different angles and can easily get out of control.
Tweak your variable costs, and don’t be afraid of setting boundaries.
Eating out – How many times do you eat and drink out? It’s so much more comfortable than making your own meal, right? But from a financial point of view, restaurants and bars are real bloodsuckers. Try to limit those costs and learn how to cook, bring your homemade food to work, and invite your friends over for dinner. It’s still cheaper than the alternative.
Reduce accumulating stuff – It is natural to reward ourselves with stuff (house items, clothes, entertainment goods, gifts) for our hard work. Thus, it does not fill up our homes, it also hinders us from making wise money decisions. Buy only things that you really need and keep your wants few.
Compare the costs of your groceries – Another simple and easy thing to do is buying the right items for your household with the fairest price possible. You’ll see that you can easily save a hundred bucks just by purchasing the exact same things in another supermarket. Not everything that is packed nicer and is shinier is necessarily better. But it can easily cost double or triple the price.
Travel smart – There are many ways to reduce your travel costs. The first would obviously be to travel less. Especially when you are really struggling to pay your bills. Still, consider to either reduce your vacation costs by traveling to nearby places and avoiding expensive hotels and restaurants.
If you need to pay back your debt and are having a hard time getting your finances right, you sometimes have to find radical ways to achieve your goal. That’s just the way it is.
You will face hard times but when you’re done and finally can breathe, you will certainly be able to enjoy your life.
6. PAY YOURSELF FIRST
What does it mean to pay yourself first?
The meaning of paying yourself first is to transfer a fixed amount of money to your savings account. It’s like a mandatory payment, but for your future self.
This works counter wise to the traditional saving method: pay all your bills, enjoy yourself and save what’s left by the end of the month. This will get you nowhere unless you are really disciplined.
To make it easier and a lot more efficient, set up a monthly standing order so that your saving is taken care of first, automatically.
This may be just 50 dollars a month, but over time you can increase the amount, especially when you live below your means.
7. LIVE THRIFTY
Sticking to a minimalist budget gets more effortless when you live below your means, meaning that you simply spend less than you earn.
And when you practice the habit of living thrifty, it gets even better.
Do your research, try to make wise financial decisions, and to reduce your overall expenses. Use your items until they break or are no longer usable before replacing them.
Since I discovered minimalism, I have learned to live with less. In return to living thrifty, I was able to build more financial security.
It dramatically increased my savings rate and enabled me to pay off my debt faster than I could have ever imagined.
It felt amazingly freeing to get out of debt. And you can do it too!
Remember that small and unnecessary expenses add up but are easier to get rid of. Make use of frugality to get rid of them once and for all.
8. AVOID FINANCIAL TRAPS & DISTRACTIONS
In our present-day, It seems impossibly difficult to not fall into the consumerism trap. Every day we are told that we should buy more.
But stay focused and avoid financial traps like replacing things that are still ok or continually improving your lifestyle, also known as lifestyle inflation with more expensive stuff.
Stay away from things that you cannot afford in the first place. Those will only dig a big hole into your finances and make it hard for you to entrap yourself.
9. DOWNSIZE IF YOU NEED TO
One of the most effective ways to reduce your costs is to downsize your home.
It’s obvious that a bigger apartment or house also costs more than a smaller one. The rent is higher and so are electric, insurance, heating, and water costs.
Additionally, you will want to fill the spaces with more stuff, so that they don’t remain empty.
So, if you need to consider moving to a smaller home or to a cheaper area, to get your finances straight. You don’t want to stay in a house that you simply cannot afford.
This also applies to your car or any vehicle you own or lease. If their costs drill a hole into your pocket, either get rid of them or downsize to cheaper models.
10. PLAN FOR FUTURE EXPENSES AND BUILD AN EMERGENCY FUND
While it’s crucial to pay off your debts and other mandatory bills, it’s also vital to build a safety net. Life is unpredictable, and you will want to be able to pay for unforeseen costs. Those include:
Broken things (household, car, electronics,…)
Losing your job
Penalties (if you own a car, you know what I’m talking about)
Litigation & Lawsuits
Don’t neglect these points. They do happen, mostly when you never expect it. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how uncertain times can be. Build yourself an emergency fund of at least 6 months of your monthly income to feel safer in such situations.
11. FOCUS (FOLLOW ONE COURSE UNTIL SUCCESS)
The minimalist budget is not solely for ensuring that you won’t live paycheck to paycheck. It also serves as a wealth-building tool.
As said, it’s really not about how much money you make, but how much you keep. A doctor who earns a 6-figure income a year can struggle with money as well due to lifestyle inflation.
The last tip I want to give you is to think of money as a tool that can bring you freedom. The more you have of it, the more options you have.
The saying goes “The more money, the more problems”, but that’s total BS if you handle money with care and responsibility.
Build as much wealth as you can by saving and investing (stock market, businesses, real estate,…). The foundation is always saving money.
But don’t be impatient! You won’t get wealthy overnight. It’s a long-term game, and you need to follow one course until success (focus).
Make it a habit of tracking and tweaking your spendings, so that you make the most out of your money. Over time, it will feel like your budgeting is on auto-pilot.
So do your best to stick to the minimalist budget, and I promise you that you’ll save a ton of money down the road.
Following a budget should never require hard work. However, you’ll need to discipline yourself and stick to it.
It can feel like depriving yourself of the freedom to spend on whatever you want. But the fact is unless you have enough money that will never end working for you, then you are not in a position of buying whatever you want.
The minimalist financial planning will help you to reach financial freedom faster than you can imagine so that money will never become too important, namely when you are broke.
Focus on your goal of increasing your savings rate for more options and freedom in life.