I live a fairly frugal life, but the minimalist lifestyle movement has always intrigued me. You may think that you live a frugal life, but people of the minimalist mindset really focus on saving money at a different level. Minimalists adopt any activity that saves time, space, resources, money, the planet, or individual health.

Hardcore minimalists go to extremes by selling their homes, engaging in dumpster diving, and living off the grid. However, most people won’t take on those types of radical changes. To give you a glimpse into the life of a minimalist, I broke the concept down into the four main traits that define minimalists. If you can incorporate even one of these traits into your lifestyle, you can live more frugally.

1. Rethink Your Necessities
Minimalists rethink what defines needs vs. wants. If you can rethink the necessities in your own life, you can improve your finances. The basic necessities in your life to survive include food and water, and a roof over your head.

If you begin to focus on your necessities, you can redefine them, and begin eliminating non-essentials. For example, do you really need a cable TV package with 600 channels and every premium movie channel? Do you really need an unlimited text and a data plan for your phone? Do you really need a home phone landline? Once you rethink your necessities, you can begin taking action to declutter your home and downsize your life.

2. Downsize
In addition to canceling cable TV and your landline, take a look at the items in your home and begin to get rid of what you don’t need or no longer use. Donate or sell the items on eBay to make some extra cash. This might include unneeded clothes and unused electronics.

Open up every drawer and closet in your house and begin to de-clutter. After you’ve finished this first attempt to downsize, determine if you can downsize in other ways. For example, if you live alone in a two bedroom apartment or in a three bedroom home, think about what you could eliminate in order to move in to a smaller home.

Also, acknowledge your emotional attachment to furniture and other belongings in your home and ask yourself if you can move on without these items in your life. In addition to downsizing, you can also benefit by simplifying your life.

3. Simplify
Although it may take some time, simplifying your lifestyle saves you money, and additionally leads to a life with less stress. Take an approach that focuses on reducing consumption, accumulation, and spending. By focusing on the necessities in your life, including food, electricity, water, and gas, you can save money and improve the environment.

Walk to places close to your home and ride your bike to work instead of driving. Try eating less and eliminate junk food and fast food to decrease expenses and improve your overall health. Buy less stuff in general; borrow items that you only need a few times a year and look into the many items†that you can get for free.

4. Go Green
Consider the effect you have on the environment by driving your car excessively, using non-energy efficient appliances and light bulbs, not recycling, and filling your life with electronic gadgets.

Try consolidating all driving trips for errands, seriously consider investing in energy-efficient CFL light bulbs, recycle everything you can, and reduce your reliance on electronic gadgets that cause e-waste†if not disposed of properly. Granted, some of these ideas have upfront expenses involved, but they save you money in the long run and they help to reduce your carbon footprint.

Final Thoughts
These four basic traits only scratch the surface of minimalism. I don’t advocate selling your home or dumpster-diving for food. Minimalism is about so much more than the salacious stories you see on the news. Minimalists have common-sense, easy-to-implement ideas that can save you a lot of money.

Minimalism means living a simpler life. You can find a number of ways to rethink your necessities, downsize, simplify, and go green to save money. In addition to saving money, minimalism has many other benefits, too. I’ve found that as I continue to aspire to a minimalist lifestyle, my life has become more peaceful, less stressed, and more rewarding.

What are your thoughts on minimalism? Is it something that you strive for on a daily basis?


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