An interesting thing happened on my decluttering journey. After I decluttered my home, I started decluttering my finances.
I didn’t expect this. I didn’t undertake a minimalist lifestyle to deal with my money. But surprisingly, once you have a clearer home, you have the mental bandwidth to tackle other aspects in your life that might not be so clear. (And for me, that was definitely my finances!)
I’ve been blessed along this journey to get a chance to interact with others who are seeking financial peace and freedom. Many of those folks are members of the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) community.
At first, I felt intimidated by many of these people They just seemed so SMART, so sure of themselves, so confident discussing savings goals and investment strategies.
But as I got to know them, I realized something way more important. Yes, they were smart, but more than that, they were incredibly kind and generous.
I was honored to speak to a group of FI folks at a recent event called CampFI. I talked about how minimalism and simplicity made way for my financial evolution.
I’d love to share that talk with you today. It’s 20 minutes long, but if “clean up my finances” is something you’ve got on your New Year’s resolution list, I’d say it’s 20 minutes well spent!
If you don’t have time to watch the video, no worries. I’ll share some of the biggest takeaways below. 👇
Minimalism and simplicity improved my finances in three big ways:
#1: We Stayed In Our “Starter Home”
I actually get annoyed with the term “starter home” because it implies that the first home you buy is not good enough. This is, of course, an intentional message in a consumerist society. It encourages us to view smaller homes as “less than” and perpetuates the very American myth that we haven’t “made it” until we have a several thousand square feet (and the accompanying large mortgage payments) to our names.
The home I live in was built in the 1930s. It’s just over 1,500 square feet. It was created for a family of exactly my size: 2 adults, 3 kids, a couple pets. And you know what? Nearly 100 years later a home of this size is fully capable of meeting the needs of a normal-sized American family, if you’re willing to let go of the belief that you need more square feet to be happy.
Prior to my minimalist conversion, I believed Josh and I would upgrade to a larger home as soon as possible. When the triplets were little I remember saying, “It’s fine now, but there’s no way this house will be big enough when they’re teenagers.”
Well, they’re all teenagers now and even though their bodies (and attitudes😉) are bigger, we’re doing just fine.
A smaller home has smaller mortgage payments. And eventually… Maybe no mortgage payments at all. Which is exactly where we’re at. We made the decision to stay put, so a few years ago we paid off our mortgage early and enjoyed the incredible sense of freedom that comes with that. I’m not saying this to brag or encourage anyone to pay off their mortgage early if that’s not a goal for them. I just like to let people know what’s possible if they’re willing to embrace a “less is more” mindset.
#2: We Stopped Mindless Shopping
I can’t even tell you the tens of thousands of dollars we’ve likely saved over the years by shopping intentionally. I no longer stop at the Dollar Spot and clearance racks every time I go into Target. (Heck, I hardly ever go into Target anymore anyway!)
When you declutter your home, you naturally lose the appetite for acquiring things you don’t need.
(And let’s be honest… Target is full of lots of things we don’t need! 😉)
Decluttering creates a more intentional consumption habit, which means you will spend less money if you declutter your home.
#3: We Had Mental Space to Pursue “Hard” Things… Like Budgeting
You wouldn’t know it if you engaged me in a conversation today, but I used to be terrified of numbers and spreadsheets. I’m an English major. I like poetry. I want to talk about metaphors and symbolism. To me, numbers always felt cold and calculating and yucky.
But the truth was… I was afraid of them.
I was afraid that I wasn’t smart enough to create a spreadsheet or stick to a budget or invest in the stock market on my own.
But guess what?
When I created more mental clarity through decluttering, I had the mental space to tackle hard things, figure out where my money was coming from and where it was going, and create more structure and accountability around it.
As a result, I still have a monthly budget meeting with Josh where we go through our spending and make sure we’re on track. This habit, more than any, has created a sense of freedom in my life.
I hope this post inspires you to declutter your home. It’s good for your mind and it’s good for your money. And hey, if you’re reading this while strolling through Target, put those clearance items back on the shelf. You don’t need them, friend. 😉