I was a minimalist long before minimalism was trendy. My entire life, I thought carefully before I chose to spend money. Yes, I splurged on the occasional Spice Girls CD or Beanie Baby, but I always focused on spending money on the essentials to leave room for what was truly valuable to me.
At its core, minimalism is all about living intentionally. Minimalism and saving money go hand-in-hand. So, I'm going to give you five questions to ask yourself if you want to spend like a minimalist.
1) Is this in line with my financial goals?
For example, if my goal is to save 20% of my income each month, have I already done that? If so, I can consider the purchase. If not, not even in the realm of possibility.
Your financial goal could be to live debt-free. If that's the case, ask yourself if you can make this purchase and still pay for it without using debt.
This question is a gatekeeper to whether or not you can even consider the purchase.
2) Is this aligned with my values and priorities?
Now, this requires first knowing what your values are. And for most people, their values are pretty obvious, but sometimes it takes some soul-searching to narrow it down. Two of my top three values are fun and connection, so when I was considering buying a new board game last week, I asked myself if it was in line with my values, and the answer was a clear yes.
One thing you can do is write down your top three or five values and put them on a sticky note in your wallet, as one brilliant Million Dollar Year member did. That way, you see your values every time you go to make a purchase.
3) Do I really need it?
Think about whether or not you already owns something that serves a similar purpose. Or you could ask if you're going to use it enough times to make it worth owning it versus borrowing it from a friend.
I especially think about this when it comes to books. Sometimes I'll get a book from the library, read it, and then if I loved it and know I want to own it and reference it, I'll buy it.
4) How long am I going to use this?
Is this going to be something I'm sick of in a short time? Or can I imagine keeping this and using this for 5+ years?
I put on a dress the other day and realized I bought it 10 years ago. I realized that purchase fully aligned with my values of minimalism and saving money.
Given my personal values around minimalism and environmentalism, I'm trying to minimize my consumption, so the longer something will last, the better purchase it is for me. So, even if it's a bit more expensive, I know I'm paying for the longevity of the item, which is what I care more about.
5) Can I borrow this or buy it used?
Again, not only is this question in line with my personal values of minimalism, environmentalist, and anti-consumption, but it's also in line with my financial goal goals.
I'll often comparison shop. I'll look for somewhere I can buy this item used or borrow it from a friend.
There's a really great Facebook group, called “buy nothing.” So, just hop onto Facebook and search “buy nothing” and then the name of your town. It'll bring you to a page full of things that your neighbors are usually giving away or trading. You never know — you might find exactly what you're looking for. We have a Million Dollar Year member who did that to furnish her entire house.
Developing intentional spending habits will help you save money, eliminate stress, and live in a way that fully aligns with your personal values. If you're trying to spend like a minimalist, just ask yourself these five questions before you make a purchase.