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How to Save Money Effectively By Having a Minimalist Lifestyle

How to Save Money Effectively By Having a Minimalist Lifestyle

It seems that these days, everyone is talking about a minimalist lifestyle. From tiny homes, to possessing less stuff, to even minimizing the dependency on money, a minimalist lifestyle is very attractive to folks looking for a change. But how about saving money? It seems many assume that if you go minimalist, you automatically save tons of money. The reality is, the savings and budgeting changes. Today, I want to share with you how to save money as a minimalist![1]

Budgeting Until You Cannot Budget Anymore

Budgeting is key to saving money, no matter what kind of lifestyle you wish to have! Planning out your needs and having a clear picture in your mind about the road to savings is going to be your best friend. It’s a typical budget, just like anyone else. A focus on meeting your needs:

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  • travel expenses (gas, cab, bus)
  • rent/mortgage
  • utilities
  • food
  • clothing
  • healthcare
  • Toiletries & body care
  • Entertainment
  • Savings

Minimalist attitude is that you don’t use more than what you need. This budget can also help you figure out how to minimize your spending and making your savings bigger.

If you decide to ride a bike for transportation then you avoid spending on anything other than bicycle and bicycle maintenance. If your rent or mortgage is a big chunk of your money, look to a tiny house! Which means getting rid of a lot of “stuff” since you will have limited room (hello yard sale!). Even food can be minimized by growing your herbs and vegetables, rather than purchasing them in store.

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This is also where you can see if your goals for savings are realistic. If not, adjust them. You can change how you spend in other categories or adjust your savings to make it match what your real spending picture is.

Stick To Your Budget, or It’s Pointless!

How many of us have created a budget and then not looked at it again? Pretty much everyone! It’s not-so-easy to create the budget and if we are feeling overwhelmed by it, its easy to not look at it again. The reality is, follow it! Set aside 15 min each week to look at it and make sure you are on target. Yes, occasionally you will make a mistake. We are human! But the more we look at it, the less likely you will continue to do that. It can be very empowering after a bit to know you are in control of your money situation!

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Buy What Lasts!

Some items are a short term good (food, some clothing, etc) and that is okay. But other things are meant to last a long time. Focus on making sure you are purchasing items that will last you a long time! Sometimes this means you spend a little more than what you would expect. The idea is not to avoid spending money and being frugal, but rather looking at the larger picture. If you decide to fill your living room with plastic lawn furniture just because the price tag is cheaper, you will spend more replacing it over the years. Investing in solid furniture, that fits your space, and you will spend less because you won’t have to replace it. Quality vs price tag!

Buy What You Need, Not What You Desire

It’s easy to get caught up in fulfilling your desires for the latest phone or latest car. While a car is a need for some of us, and a phone is a necessity for everyone, it doesn’t have to be the highest priced and newest gadget. Marketers prey on folks desires, even leading us down the path of what they want us to desire. But the minimalist attitude is to focus on need rather than what we want.

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Let’s also acknowledge that what we own does not define who we are! While a style of clothing can reflect parts of our self, it is us who defines ourselves and not the style of clothing.

Savings for the minimalist, and just about everyone else, is an attainable goal. So many of us are accustomed to not saving and living hand to mouth that it can be an overwhelming endeavor. If you are living the minimalist lifestyle and are already struggling with savings, review that budget. Find the problem areas and figure out how to manage it.

Reference

[1] Simplicity Relished: 5 Minimalist Secrets to Saving Money

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Angela Kunschmann

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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