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How Minimalism Can Help You Save Time and Money

Purging what you don't need or want, and only investing in what matters the most to you can help you live a more fulfilling life. Here's how minimalism can help you save time, money, and help you get in greater alignment with your values.

Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels

As we head into 2022, instead of end-of-year checklists and New Year's resolutions, one can consider living more deeply. In other words, going deep with a few hobbies, clearing your life of social and mental clutter, and saying "no" to commitments that are unnecessary. In turn, this can help you save money.

As we kick off the new year, we might be excited to hit the "reset" button and commit to a new year's resolution. Maybe we want to eat healthier, be fitter, or mend our spendthrift ways.

Instead of making a new year's resolution, why not consider a Depth Year? According to David Cain, founder of Raptitude, a Depth Year is "a year in which you commit to deepening your skills and knowledge, appreciating and using what you have instead of acquiring more stuff and deepening relationships with the people already in your world." Let's take a look at how adopting a minimalist lifestyle can help you save time and money, and how to go about being more minimalist.

You're spending less money and time on things you don't enjoy or need

Since the start of the pandemic, Americans seem to be taking fewer shopping trips but doling out more per trip. Plus, we've been flashing more cash throughout the year, and not just during major sales events, such as Black Friday, Amazon Prime Day, and Cyber Monday. To curb that spending, consider adopting minimalism.

A key tenant of minimalism is to get rid of things that you don't need, enjoy, or aren't serving you. Oftentimes we spend not out of necessity or even true enjoyment or desire. We might buy something out of compulsion, boredom, habit, or from group frenzy. For instance, everyone else seems to have that cool gadget or kitchen appliance. You should get one, too.

When you only purchase things you need or cherish, and use what you already have, you end up spending less money. In turn, you're also spending less time shopping. That can free up your time so you have more time to spend with family and friends, on your hobbies or personal projects, or simply relax and do nothing.

Next, let's take a look at how to go about being more minimalist:

Go through a purge

Start by taking inventory of what you currently own, use, and enjoy. Everything else, consider donating or selling. There are a few ways you can go about purging. The first is the Marie Kondo method. Marie Kondo recommends sorting your belongings according to category. Then, you simply touch each of your possessions, and see if it sparks joy. If it doesn't, consider getting rid of it. Beyond feelings of joy, here are some other ways to gauge whether to keep or toss something:

  • Guilt factor. Whenever you walk by and see a said item, does it incite a pang of guilt? As they say, "should" is "could" with "shame" attached to it. Typically, items that can rank high on the guilt scale are exercise equipment and musical instruments. They usually require you to either learn something new or require an investment of time and energy to use it.

  • Clutter factor. Unless you live in a 20-room mansion, you most likely are constrained by space. If there are areas in your abode that are nearing hoarder-level status—think piles of indistinguishable junk and items covered in cobwebs. Consider tackling these clutter areas in 30-minute spurts.

You can also go through those long-forgotten mementos stowed away in dusty closets, shelves, and obscured nooks and crannies in your home and see what you don't like, need, use, or want. I go through a purge several times a year. When I do, I donate them to my Buy Nothing Group. A Buy Nothing Group is a great way to get rid of things you no longer use. You'll know that your item will go to someone who will make use of it, and it also builds community. Plus, you might score a few items through the group, which can prevent you from needing to step foot inside a store or overspending online.

Look for versatile ways to use a single item

Finding multiple uses for your belongings can also help you be more minimalist, purchase fewer things throughout the year, and spend less money. For instance, opt for a three-in-one body wash that also serves as shampoo and a bubble bath. Or instead of buying 10 different bottles of cleaning supplies, see if you can concoct your own household cleaning solution with some baking soda and white vinegar.

Do a quick inventory check before heading to the store

Often we experience a temporary memory lapse before we head to the store or when shopping at our favorite online retailers, only return with, say, sticks of butter when there are already two unopened boxes lurking in the back of our fridge.

Open your kitchen cabinets and fridge and do a quick look-through to see what you already have. And consider using something you have versus going out and spending money. Sure, you might want to get some keto-friendly cauliflower and egg wraps to go with your tuna salad. But why not pair them with some multi-grain crackers you have in your pantry.

Minimalism frees up your time, too

Besides shopping and accumulating things you don't need, think of obligations and commitments that are a time and money suck that aren't fun or useful. This can be anything from gym memberships that you don't really use, to book clubs you sign up for, only to buy the book and never finish reading it. Make a list of your current commitments and see which ones you can drop.

Minimalism might seem like a dramatic lifestyle change, but it doesn't have to be. By doing it in a way that makes sense to you, and gradually testing out the waters, you can find an approach that works best for you. And in turn, you'll be making choices, financial and beyond, that are in greater alignment with your values.

Jackie Lam

Jackie Lam is a personal finance writer whose work has appeared in Salon, Business Insider, and GOOD.