close up photograph of white rack with books and succulent plant
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

Ever heard of minimalism? Minimalism isn’t a bad word as it is often believed to be. Being a minimalist could actually save you a lot of pressure and stress not to mention your bank balance. What if you didn’t have to live paycheck to paycheck. Did you know that 8 out of 10 Americans live paycheck to paycheck? How much worse in other countries? It is basically because of our pursuit of “stuff”. But this “stuff” that we get that causes momentary happiness also causes us long-term stress.

Minimalism is essential, having what you need and a little of what you want. Subsequently, you end up having less stress and more money in your bank because you’re not spending all of your paychecks on crap you see while you have your head down gazing at your phone. Have you ever just browsed on Amazon because you were bored and then ended up buying a few items because you like the idea of having that item but deep down you know you won’t use it. let’s say, for example, you saw a fountain pen ad pop up on Amazon and you like the mystifying idea of a fountain pen. Thoughts of Asian caligraphy pop into your head, or maybe just the writing styles of the olden days and you buy the pen. You just spent $20. You spent $20 on a pen, that you will rarely if ever utilize and it doesn’t offer you anything that a $1 pen couldn’t. This is a small example of course. Let me provide you with a better example, a more personal example.

I pulled my Amazon purchase history for the year before I started practicing minimalism. The amount of money I spent in that year was $4,237.21 (Vomit.) I bet if you pulled your purchase history up through Amazon or eBay, it might show something similar. The funny thing I noticed when I pulled that up is, more than half of the items purchased, I no longer used or I threw out for one reason or another. I would say, that I only use still, on any form of a regular basis, about 5% of what was purchased. FIVE PERCENT! But even though I may only use 5% still, I am still without that $4,237.21

It was at this point when I saw that (prior to pulling it up for example purposes) that I decided, I was going to delete my Amazon account and eBay account. Honestly, I deleted just about everything. (I never did check my other app purchases.) If I have placed those same funds into my investment account under my S&P 500 ETF, I would have made an additional $847.43 by now. That would have meant I would have over 5K still, instead of having still only 5% of what I purchased from Amazon.

More than just the spending aspect, knowing I lost money, I started looking into other things in my home that I didn’t utilize but often had to dust or clean. This meant BOOKS, my sacred books, oh how I love them! It meant kitchen utensils that were never used, even the pots and pans, throw pillows, blankets, I mean I pretty much went through the entire house like a wild rabid dog. (Goodwill loved me that weekend.) I went through my closet and started pulling out so much! I noticed I had at least 50 dress shirts when I only utilized 5 which were my favorite. At least a dozen pairs of jeans that I bought but never wore because I didn’t ‘really’ like the way they fitted once I got them home but at the store, it felt like a good idea. I had three pairs of boots when I only wore one. Four pairs of dress shoes when I only utilized two. Do you see where I’m going with this!? This wasn’t just for me, it was for the kids, my wife, even our dogs had more than was utilized!  Yes, even down to the dogs chew toys that my wife seemed to bring home every payday. They had to go. It all had to go!

Before I made that trip to the Good Will donation Center, I sorted and figured out what my favorite outfits were, such as my favorite shirt styles, favorite pants and I made a decision, I would actually go out and buy more of them. Maybe a few different colors or the shirts but still the same shirt itself.  I bought until I had a total of three different pairs of jeans all same style and actually the same color. I bought 3 colors of shirts and got 7 of them. That gave me 21 shirts total. I found my favorite dress shirts and got 5 blue and 5 white (all same style.) Dress pants, two pairs blue, two pairs khaki. That was it to my wardrobe. (Not including my underwear because let’s face it, a man has to have clean man panties.) Everything else, I just donated it. I did the same thing for the kid’s closets. I discussed with the wife about downsizing and she did, drastically but she could still do with fewer outfits.

We drastically reduced it all. The result was, we stopped shopping for clothes and the many accessories that went with each of the many many outfits we had before, this saved us money and in turn we decided to remove all the extra plates and bowls, pots and pans that come with the sets and the result was we had more cabinet space and fewer dishes piled up because we had to wash the ones prior before we could use them obviously. So we really began prioritizing on not buying things. We went by the rule, if you bring one thing new in the house, you had to remove something. It was that simple. The result was in the end, we ended up saving not only the $4,237.21 that we had spent on Amazon the year before, but we compared our food budget, clothing budget or spent total from the year before. (You can do this by pulling bank statements) and the result was, that we had spent over $9,000 less than just the year prior. We use those savings to just nearly fully fund both of our ROTH IRA accounts for the year, and that’s on top of the monthly investments we make into our ROTH IRA’s and Brokerage Accounts.

I will share more later. If you have some ideas on how we can further minimalize our lives, I would love to hear about it. Leave a comment. If you haven’t tried to minimalize things in your own life, all I’ve got to say is, don’t knock it until you try it.