The Minimalist Budget by Simeon Lindstrom
Money is a tool and how we spend it is an expression of our values and what we think is important. Just a few changes to spending habits can make a large impact. Bottom line: you must spend less than you make.
My Highlights and Notes
minimalism is about finding what you need and fulfilling that need exactly, without excess.
minimalist budgeting is more about conscious decision making and less about stinginess and trying to endure a lack.
Mindful consuming means having principles set firmly in place before going into this fray.
Avoid going to shops and malls when you feel tired, sad or bored
Advertising doesn’t appeal to your highest self; it speaks to your weakness – your emotions of greed or fear.
Spur-of-the-moment style decisions can work out OK sometimes, but more often than not, choices made spontaneously only serve to increase confusion and dim focus in your life.
A bag of bulk, unwashed and unpeeled potatoes may save you a little money. But before you reach for them, add into the price your time and effort it will take to cut and peel them yourself. If you can earn more money in your job during the time it would take you to cut and peel than the money you save by buying the cheaper version, then you haven’t really saved anything. In fact, you’ve lost money and purposefully chosen to fill your time – your other precious resource – with potato peeling. Sometimes time really is money – strike a balance.
Perhaps you’re familiar with Oscar Wilde’s advice: when you only have two pennies left in the world, spend one on bread and the other on a lily. Oscar may have been a bit flamboyant, but he understood something about budgeting and value.
there are two other resources that people routinely forget to factor into their budgets: time and value.
All we know is that we are alive right now – how much time we still have is anyone’s guess, and we could suddenly run out in an instant.
Money can be made and spent, but time is more fixed.
Rather than begin with money, a solid minimalist budget begins with time, the most absolute and precious of your resources.
Budgeting your time is asking yourself this deliberately: is this the best way to spend your time?
For the most part, money is a stand-in for “value”. It is a symbol of worth that we attach to things, and entire economies are built on the patterns that emerge when we all agree on how much an item is worth.
The only one that can decide an item’s real-life value is you – the person living the life. Money is a stand in only – we need to learn to consistently ask ourselves what value things bring to our lives, regardless of what the market tells us they are worth.
You cannot add more time to your day or your life, but you can enhance the quality of the time that you do have
The simple way to find out how to factor value into your budget is to become aware of what really matters to you. What is the point of your life? When do you feel most energized, happiest and most fulfilled?
the difference between regular budgeting and minimalist budgeting: we are not attempting to remove everything, but to remove that which doesn’t serve us or is unnecessary to our deep sense of value.
Only eat at restaurants when the food is something you can’t easily prepare yourself – e.g. sushi or complicated exotic dishes.
Throw out, sell or give away clothing that you plan to wear when you are thinner, more daring etc. A good rule: if it hasn’t been worn in a year, it’s just taking up space and needs to go.
Really research your vitamins thoroughly and make sure you aren’t throwing away money on useless supplements. Homeopathic remedies and special “superfoods” like goji berries have all been shown to have little effect. Save your money. An Omega 3 oil and a general multivitamin are usually more than enough.
If you live in a country where you need to buy health insurance, comb over your policy and see if you might downgrade to a smaller plan. Healthy bodies under forty seldom need a full, comprehensive medical plan, as unpopular as that opinion may be.
Give away or sell appliances that you use less than once a week. You could likely put their cash value to better use.
When you’re trying to decide whether to buy something new, give yourself a mandatory “cooling off” period. For smaller purchases, this could be a week, and for larger, up to a month. If you still want it after this time, then go ahead.
For younger children, practice “toy cycling”. Let your child play with one or two main toys and put the rest away. Children can’t focus on too many things at once anyway, and when they tire of their current toys, switch them out and it’ll be as if they were new. Have a few cycles of toys and you’ll encourage more focus and appreciation for each one.
Give children aged from five up household responsibilities and chores. This builds their sense of competence, keeps them occupied and takes a little off your plate. For instance, delegate feeding the pets to your 6 year old, and they’ll learn responsibility as well as give you one less thing to worry about.
Don’t give children too many options. Child psychologists have shown that too much variety can be stressful for younger minds. Tone it down and you’ll likely be surprised by how children naturally gravitate towards simplicity when given the chance.
Even if you can only manage a small amount, save it. Saving puts you in a special frame of mind. You are telling yourself that no matter how small your goals are, they are worth pursuing diligently.
Minimalist budgeting takes a broader look and asks you to consider what it really means to have “less” or “more”, and why you should care. One man’s suffering is another man’s luxury living, so it pays to get to the bottom of this value judgment first, rather than simply assuming less is always more, and in always the same way.
People can be strange about money. Something about our culture ties self worth so strongly into the number value of how much we earn and own, that your social class becomes as much a part of you as your hair color or occupation.
Minimalism is about being mindful of material things and how they interact with your world and your happiness. Though we all come to minimalism with a different background, set of values and goals, the principles are the same for us all.
Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time based goals are the only ones you’ll be able to achieve, so take some time making a good, solid goal.
Money is a resource, and a very important one, but it is not the only metric of success or efficiency. You can change your life entirely without saving a cent by learning to think of what you have differently.
My Rating: ★★★☆☆
Date Finished: 2018-05-28