Minimalism is a lifestyle that promises to help us escape clutter, live simply and inexpensively, and look zen while doing it.
But despite the simple, even austere lifestyle minimalism is supposed to espouse, some people manage to get it wrong and end up spending tons of money on Muji furniture and white bedsheets.
Living a minimalist lifestyle isn’t about having the quaint wooden furniture and neutral fabrics, or looking like you stepped out of an APC catalogue. Spending tons of money to achieve the “look” is, in fact, far from minimalist.
Here are five ways to practice minimalism that will actually save you money.
Declutter by throwing out, selling or giving away unused and unnecessary items
Decluttering is a cornerstone of the minimalist lifestyle. When we have fewer belongings, we have the clarity of mind to focus on the few things that do matter. As a bonus, we usually realise we didn’t need all that junk anyway.
So it’s time to divest yourself of all those items you’ve been holding onto for years because they just might come in handy someday, or become fashionable again. Sell everything you have not used in one or two years on Carousell, and give away everything else, whether to charity or other people. Still have stuff left over? If they’re not fit to be sold or given away, they probably belong in the trash.
Be much stricter when deciding if you should buy new things
Getting rid of your unwanted old stuff is one thing. But if you immediately replace it with shiny new items, you are certainly not living in a minimalist manner.
Rampant consumerism is a huge problem in Singapore, and simply stopping yourself from buying new things for fun already puts you ahead of the curve.
To dramatically cut down on the number of belongings you accumulate, have very strict criteria for buying something—from now on, it has to be something that would actually make your life consistently better, and that none of your other belongings can substitute, before you’ll hand over your money.
Eat meals that are similar and simple
The easiest way to simplify your grocery shopping process is to ensure that your meals for the week are all somewhat similar. That doesn’t mean eating the exact same thing every day, but using simple recipes that have many ingredients in common.
That way, you cut down on waste—you don’t get left with tons of leftovers of one particular ingredient that you only have one recipe for. Your grocery shopping process also becomes quicker and more straightforward.
And simple recipes are also less stressful and less time-consuming to prepare, which makes it easier for you to improvise if something goes wrong or if you run out of an ingredient.
Simplify your wardrobe
Clothes and fashion are a huge spending category for Singaporeans. No matter what Budget Barbie might tell you, being a fashionista will cost you money and lots of precious wardrobe space in the long run.
Aim to simplify your wardrobe by sticking with a few key pieces that match almost everything else. This doesn’t have to mean wearing only neutrals—they’re certainly easier to match, but you shouldn’t have to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe. Just identify the pieces you love and wear all the time, and then when you need to buy new clothes, build your wardrobe around these pieces.
Pare down your schedulePhoto: Pexels
Living a minimalist lifestyle isn’t just about having a home that doesn’t resemble a pathological hoarder’s. It’s also about giving yourself the breathing space to enjoy the things in life you consider essential or enriching, and leaving out all the useless busy-work.
So if you’re feeling burned out or chronically exhausted, it might be time to be less ambitious and pare down your schedule, leaving only the things that really matter.
For most of us, that means learning to say no to certain things and not being afraid to ruffle a few feathers. You might have to skip your secondary school classmate’s baby shower, opt out of your company’s sports day or accept that you cannot go for yoga classes every single day. But if skipping out on a few things gives you more time and energy to savour the remaining activites in your day, that might not be such a bad thing. Plus, lower key days are also generally less expensive.
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This article was first published at Moneysmart.