I’ve always been fascinated by minimalism and simplifying. On a recent trip, I picked up Cait Flanders’ memoir, “The Year of Less,” and devoured it in a day. In the book, Flanders recounts her journey to get rid of things she no longer wanted or needed, to stop shopping, pay off her debt and save more than half her paycheck each month.
I was utterly inspired to live with less and save more. I was reminded that saving money isn’t about how much you earn, but how much you keep. I knew I needed to be more strategic and intentional with saving money and make it an integral part of my life.
Click to read more about how one woman adopted a minimal wardrobe and saved thousands.
The True Meaning of Downsizing
This year, I noticed my income was up and I was in a pretty good spot financially. I could’ve moved into a bigger apartment or planned a few vacations, but I decided now was the best time to downsize so I could achieve my financial goals faster.
Downsizing didn’t just mean moving into a tiny studio with less stuff. I wanted to align my finances with my values, simplify my lifestyle and focus on what’s important: friends, family, financial goals, experiences and adventures.
Not everyone understood this decision, and friends have asked why I would move into such a small space when I could afford something better. I’d smile and tell them it was a well-thought-out decision and not to worry. I think change makes people feel uncomfortable and no matter what, there will always be naysayers — but that’s OK. As long as it makes sense to me, that’s all that matters.
1. I Created an Action Plan
After figuring out the “why,” I listed my financial goals. Creating a plan gives you an outline of what needs to be accomplished. It also helps make future decisions (including purchases) a lot easier. I don’t enjoy wasting brain space, agonizing over decisions that could easily be put on autopilot.
This was a brief outline of my plan:
Save $35,000 for a down payment on a house
No more buying stuff: clothes, furniture, electronics
Focus spending money on experiences, friends, loved ones
Get rid of 30-40 percent of unwanted stuff before I move
2. I Slowly Let Go
When I returned home from Spain, I slowly started letting go of clothes, shoes, books, furniture, accessories and things that I had been holding on to for no real reason other than I envisioned myself somehow needing it in the future. If I hadn’t used it in the last year, I’d probably never use it again.
Each week, I made trips to Goodwill and donated two or three bags. I also got rid of my bookshelf, coffee table, couch and dresser. There’s no way these things would’ve fit into my new space anyway.
3. I Moved
I almost couldn’t believe it, but after letting go of 30-40 percent of my stuff, everything fit in a 350-square-foot apartment with very little closet space.
The process of letting go of my things, being more intentional with my money and moving out of my apartment took about two months.
More on This Strategy: The Upside to Downsizing: How to Save Money by Living Minimally
Rent costs $125 less than my previous place and includes utilities, which saves another $50-75 a month.
In total, I’m saving $2,100 a year in rent and utilities. I immediately put that $2,100 into savings just to give myself a mental, motivational boost before embarking on my downsizing journey to save more and spend less.
Smaller Space Equals Freer Mind
It’s now been a few weeks since I moved in. So far, I’m thrilled with my decision. I always thought a smaller place would make me feel claustrophobic. But it’s been the complete opposite. I’m reminded of why I’m doing this each day when I wake up in my new surroundings.
The feeling of only having what you need and spending intentionally has completely changed my life in a positive way.
Maybe it’s time to ask yourself how you will live an intentional life with your money.
Click through to read more about how decluttering can make you money.
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