Minimal Me. Minimal You.

This week I stumbled across The Minimalists!  Man, am I ever glad the interconnected roads of the world wide web brought me to their virtual doorstep.  If you haven’t heard of them, please use the link to check them out.  They are the epitome of the minimalism movement.  They demonstrate maximal minimalism through simplicity.  It is a pleasure to read their essays and listen to their contemplative podcasts.  I highly suggest you try them on for size.  Their thoughts allowed me to think more about my own life and journey towards financial independence.  It turns out, minimalism breeds wealth.

I like minimalism

Minimalism Breeds Wealth

This is true on so many levels.  Not only does minimalism breed monetary wealth, it also breeds personal wealth.  Let me remind you…money does not equal happiness or contentment.  Money allows us the freedom to pursue our true passions.

Oh my God, is this another post that isn’t about building financial independence?  Nope.  It IS about building financial independence.  Guess what.  Financial Independence is much easier to build if you’re a minimalist.  Minimalism comes in all shapes and sizes.  You don’t need to live in a cardboard box with your cat.  All you need to do is examine what kind of STUFF you are allowing into your life and examine whether or not it is making your life better or worse.  That is part of being a minimalist.  You don’t need to slip down the rabbit hole of consumerism to be happy.

STUFF doesn’t make us happy.  Pursuing our passions makes us happy.  Spending time with loved ones makes us happy.  Increasing our intellectual prowess makes us happy.  Financial Independence allows us the freedom to engage in all of the above.

Minimal Me

I was a minimalist before I even knew it was A Thing.  It wasn’t until I started dating someone quite a few years ago that I realized I was a minimalist.  He walked into my house and the first thing out of his mouth went something like…wow, i think you’re more of a minimalist than i am.  Minimalist?  Me?  Why would he say that?  Was it because I have absolutely NOTHING on my kitchen counters?  Was it because EVERYTHING in my house has a place and is in its place?  Was it because my house looked like it was a model home, ready for the next potential buyer to walk through?  Hmmmm…he may have been on to something.  After laughing at his vocal observation and acting like I knew what he meant, I carefully thought about what he said.  And, after much consideration I came to this conclusion…YES…Minimal Me.

Peaks & Valleys

Despite being mostly a minimalist, I have experienced peaks and valleys over the years.  I haven’t always been true to my minimalistic nature.  I have made good decisions and I have made really bad ones.  Last year I was in another valley.  I wanted to validate my highly-educated, highly-paid self with a huge mortgage to prove to others that I was successful.  Stupid.

Things fell through at the last moment.  Thankfully.  At that moment, I decided to get back to my minimalist roots and allow it to infiltrate every facet of my life.  And let me tell you, I have a fantastic life.  I have a wonderful husband and engaging daughter, 4 animals that drive me nuts, and plenty of time to enjoy my passions.  I still have the high-paying career, but we have decided to stay put in our modest-sized home and enjoy each day without the need to spend a ton of cash on a ton of stuff that ends up living in the darkness of our cold basement.  Instead, we’re focusing on stashing enough cash so that I no longer need the high-paying job.  Minimalism at its finest.

The Minimalists walked away from six-figure salaries, and I plan to give myself the same option.  I have committed to focusing on my relationships instead of amassing more stuff.  Because, stuff doesn’t make me happy.  I have proven this concept to myself time and time again.

Minimal You

minimalism 2

Is this you?  If so, STOP IT.

Does this meme describe you?  It described me at various points in my life.  I think, now, I have solidly come to the realization that STUFF doesn’t make me happy.  I know many individuals who have big jobs, with big paychecks, and very little time to themselves to enjoy their loved ones and other passions.  They buy the biggest houses, the best cars, and the most expensive toys to validate their self worth and prove to the world that they are successful.  But, is that true success?  Or are they just living for the next vacation?

So, the question is…Minimal You?

Bailey Gato BW

Mad Money Cat – Minimalist Style

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Lisa is the creator and resident writer at Mad Money Monster. She's a mother, scientist, and financial guru on a mission to save Generation X from working until they die!

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15 comments… add one
  • Sam @ Startup Housewife Jan 18, 2016, 10:26 am

    Funny, my husband and I are quite minimalist as well, and we have started hearing about it a lot lately without knowing we fell into this category.

    I also think minimalism is the way to go for environmental reasons. I hate the thought of buying something just to use it once or twice and then throw it out. Everything is either recycled or donated, where possible, or borrowed from someone else if we only need to use it for a handful of times (like a palm sander we borrowed recently – I can’t see us needing one of those on a regular basis, and my parents own FOUR). This saves us money and helps us reduce waste.

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 19, 2016, 9:49 am

      Yes! Being GREEN is another great thing about minimalism! I always purchase something with the idea that I will have it for the rest of my life, or until it breaks/falls apart, whichever comes first. Unless my curtains are way out of fashion, I’m keeping them FOREVER. I’m a firm believe in buying things one time. Great comment!

  • Mrs. Paradise Jan 17, 2016, 3:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing this link! I’m really enjoying reading your blog. It’s obvious you write about things you really care about. I feel the same way about having lots of “stuff”. Somehow the bigger space you live in, the more it accumulates by accident. Throwing things away can be very cathartic. Have you read Marie Kondo’s book?

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 17, 2016, 6:19 pm

      Thanks so much for the kind words! I have not read Marie Kondo’s book, but I can tell you that I will definitely check it out, on your recommendation. I love living a clutter-free life. It’s amazing at how quickly things like garages and basements can get out of control. Yikes.

  • Claudia @ Two Cup House Jan 17, 2016, 9:44 am

    While there are many, many things I love about our small house, one of my favorite things is that we can’t have a lot of stuff. When we moved in, we brought more stuff than our house could handle and have been slowly decreasing the amount of stuff we have. After four months of being here, we’re in the midst of donating more of the stuff we thought we needed four months ago. Ha! You’re right about minimalism and wealth. We are much closer to FI today than we were in a big house with lots of stuff. And to think it all started with a goal and the willingness to change. 🙂 Great post!

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 17, 2016, 6:17 pm

      Thanks! Yeah, we’re definitely getting in touch with our minimal selves lately. Although we’re nowhere near a tiny house at 1300SF, it’s still way smaller than most houses, especially houses with small children. We love that having a smaller house gives us freedom from more “stuff”, high taxes, high utility bills, more maintenance, etc. It really does have a trickle down effect. Here’s to another year of small-ish house living! 🙂

  • londonminimalists Jan 16, 2016, 4:27 am

    Very interesting , I’ll be following with interest. Good luck! M

  • Mike @ Tip Yourself Jan 15, 2016, 9:24 am

    So true!! The less you want… the less you need! Life is not about money, life is about happiness. Cheers!!!

  • ouellettem Jan 15, 2016, 9:21 am

    I am truly a shallow person with a low self esteem? I absolutely love the stuff I have. The things I purchase no matter how long I need to wait in order to save the money for them are usually the best I can afford. For instance I found a TV I really liked and it took me about 10 years to save and pay for it in cash. I so do not care about impressing anyone and I do not think my stuff shape who I am but it does reflect who I am and what I appreciate. I am one that needs little but loves the best of what I can afford. Such as my bike, its a Parlee (http://www.parleecycles.com/) with electronic shifting. It is a very expensive bike but I cannot tell you the joy I receive by being able to ride that bike each time. It represents my hard work and gives me the ability to do something that brings me some happiness in life. I feel it is a measure of my own personal success. Is this wrong?

    • Ernie Jan 15, 2016, 9:28 am

      Absolutely not! There’s nothing wrong with loving the stuff you have. I think that’s the core value of minimalism – loving and valuing everything that is in your life. If you don’t love it or value it, why keep it around? You’re all good ouellettem!

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 15, 2016, 9:46 am

      It doesn’t sound to me like you are a shallow person at all. Buying things that bring joy into your life, on purpose, is what minimalism is all about. I, too, own an expensive bike that I wouldn’t give up. It provides me with the ability to enjoy nature on a cool, crisp autumn morning or a memorable ride through the neighborhood with my daughter. Valuing and owing things doesn’t make you shallow. Buying things to impress others is the slippery slope. It sounds like you have the right balance to me 🙂

      Mrs. Mad Money Monster

  • Ernie Jan 15, 2016, 7:14 am

    I’m a big fan of The Minimalists, too! I discovered them and Joshua Becker last spring and began the process of decluttering my entire life. I love the idea of minimalism that you pointed out – that it looks different for everyone. Whether it’s physical possessions, money, time, whatever, minimalism allows me to only pursue that which I truly value…and that has been life-changing for me.

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 15, 2016, 8:35 am

      It is different for everyone. I’m astonished at what it has done for me. I love that you’re decluttering your house. We’re working on this process, as well. Each item tossed or donated is one step closer to a more organized and purposeful life. Enjoy the journey!

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