Minimalism – How Owning Less Stuff Will Save You Money

charlie_imageIn 2008, I first heard of this crazy concept called “Minimalism“. It was where people were purposely removing unneeded stuff from their lives, because they didn’t want their possessions weighing them down. “Who were these strange people?” From reading Unclutterer.com I’d came upon this way-of-life, which was completely contradictory to everything I’d been taught as an American. I was living life thinking I needed to buy a bigger house, more toys for my kids, more decorative items in my living room, and the latest and greatest TV. Pretty much a never ending list of consumption. 



After starting on our family on this new minimalism journey I’d realized there are a lot of benefits. It felt so freeing to not be weighted by all our possessions. Then in late 2010 I interviewed Joshua Becker from BecomingMinimalist.com and it put our minimalism into overdrive! It’s at that point that it became about not how much I could possess, but how much I could get rid of. Through talking with Joshua and watching him speak at our local church I watched him layout examples of how Jesus practiced a minimalist lifestyle. It was one of those “ah ha” moments.

As I’ve been on the slow but steady journey of minimalism I’ve realized there are a lot of financial implications as well. Here are a few ways practicing minimalism will save you and your family money.

Repairs

The less stuff you own the less the amount of repair bills you’ll have! In 2009 I bought my first iPod touch (on sale for $235 – normally $299 – love using coupons! :) ) and was very proud of my new tech-savy gadget. However, in 2011 while my son was playing a game of AngryBirds he decided to take the frustration of losing out on the iPod! He chucked our sacred possession into the cement driveway. By owning this possession in a damaged state then I’m subjecting myself to the possible need for repairs, which ranges anywhere from $25-100 to repair a iPod touch screen.crackedipodtouch

Replacement

In 2001 when I was married we possessed a 19″ CRT tv. That TV later proved to be “not good enough for our family”, which is why in 2005 we bought our first HD capable 27″ CRT TV – paid $944. After finishing our basement we thought we needed a new flatscreen tv, and I searched all over for the best deal until I landed a 50″ Samsung plasma TV for $925 (pretty good deal at the time). All along the way as new and “better” products come out it pushes us to want to replace our old possessions. By not owning it in the first place, then you have no need to replace it.

Storage

Do you every have the problem where your home doesn’t have enough space to store all your possessions? What do most people do when they have this problem? Yep…put it in storage. Along with that comes monthly fees to store your extra needed possessions, but the reality is most people don’t touch those stored possessions for years and rack up unnecessary costs. A rule we’ve been trying to live by over the last few years is if you don’t use it in a year, then get rid of it. Try it, and save yourself the expense of storing all your extra stuff!

Maintenance

I have a neighbor who is married (just him and his wife) and owns a nice house with a two car garage. Problem is every time I drive by his house he has a car sitting in his driveway. I came to find out that his family of two owns three cars, and for some folks that isn’t a problem. However, with that comes extra fees for maintenance and upkeep. To name a few – title, taxes, oil changes, tires, batteries, and other automotive repairs. By owning more stuff you subject yourself to the need to repair those things.

Like I said earlier these are just a few of the ways how owning less stuff can save your family money. What ways do you think practicing minimalism can save your family money?

 

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11 comments

  1. Shovellicious says:

    “Replacement” is something my boyfriend considers. No, no, he doesn’t want to replace his girlfriend (I mean-me), he just thinks about buying new tv (Am I the only one who saw a rhyme here?). The old one is CRT too but it still works, we can play Wii on it, there is nothing wrong with it. He can afford it, he doesn’t have debts or things like that and wants one. He’s been talking about it for some time but the best proof it’s not so needed is the fact that he hasn’t bought one yet ;)

  2. Christian L. says:

    Charlie,
    I’m trying to get rid of my car because I simply don’t need it. My town is small enough that I could just get around by bike, eliminating insurance, gas and maintenance costs.

    I’m also working on selling all of my DVDs and CDs. With all the “cloud” or streaming options online, I don’t need them!

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

  3. Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle says:

    Right now my house looks more like an episode of Hoarders than someone attempting minimalism.

    I am having a yard sale and I will be getting rid of tonnes of stuff (junk) much of it was given as very thoughtful gifts that I don’t want or need but I would like to get a dollar for. It is filling my dining and living rooms.

    This will be a secret yard sale. Can’t have family or friends seeing what I have put in the sale. There are two top secret boxes of yard sale stuff in a closet that will come out the day of the sale and I hope that a few certain well meaning but misguided people don’t see that I am selling things they have given to me.

  4. Great post, Charlie. We are thinking more and more about the minimalist lifestyle. I am truly starting to be amazed at how much “stuff” we possess! We’re not huge buyers of stuff, but still somehow we’ve managed to accumulate more than enough. When we moved last year from our 3600 sq ft suburbia house to a 2000 sq ft hobby farm, we got rid of TONS of stuff. The problem: we still have way too much to fit into our current living situation! Big garage sale for us this year too. It’s just gotta go! I love your reference to Jesus too, and how He practiced a minimalist lifestyle. It gave Him alot more time for helping and blessing others, that’s for sure. :-)

  5. I’m in the process of getting rid of plenty of stuff from my apartment. I basically have three piles: “to donate”, “for resale shops”, and “for Craigslist”. We figure we’ll make a little bit of money to put towards our student debt. But the main goal of getting rid of all of these items and practicing minimalism is to create more space in our apartment. My wife and I have a seven-month-old son and a one bedroom apartment now. It will be tight, but if we get rid of enough stuff, I think we can stay in our apartment for at least another year and not have to find a bigger, more expensive place to live once our lease is up. That could save us anywhere from $200-$400 a month next year.

  6. Charlie says:

    @Christian – getting rid of your car in larger metropolitan areas is a lot easier than rural areas! Getting rid of your car would definitely accelerate your savings! Also good idea about getting rid of all your cd’s/dvd’s! I haven’t done that yet, but maybe soon.

    @Jane – my home growing up literally did look like a house from hoarders. It taught me a lot about how more stuff makes for more complexity in my life! Remember to start small…try a closet or drawer.

    @Laurie – stop thinking about minimalism and do it! Go for it! You won’t regret it. I too grew up on a farm, and know how easy it is to have too much clutter on a farm! Especially in those smaller/old farmhouses! :)

    @Ruser – keep up the good work! Sounds like you’ve got a great plan to stay small and ultimately help your family save money!

  7. I need to get rid of a lot of junk my my home. Mostly, the things I don’t need are decorations and wall hangings. It ends up looking junky. We had a large home at one point and all my decor fit just fine. Then we moved into a much smaller one (as we didn’t need the extra space), now it’s hard for me to say bye to all my little friends. But, I think i’m going to have to. It will make me feel better living in a less cluttery home too.

  8. gail says:

    I only buy books if I am going to refer to them often. A novel can be taken out of the library. I do want my children/grandchildren to love books, so I get children’s books at yard sales.
    Also, we have never felt the need to keep up with the Jones’s, and neither of us is a clothes horse. When you don’t go hog wild on buying things you have more money to give away.

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