Minimalism defines a lifestyle different to what advertising campaigns sell us. We get up, exercise, commute, work, commute, eat, sleep and repeat the process five times a week. Our weekends are spent recovering. Cleaning our homes, washing clothes, grocery shopping, meal prepping, seeing friends and family and getting ready to start over again. But what if it didn’t have to be that way? The Minimalists preach a different life than the one advertising campaigns sell us. A smaller house, fewer possessions, rich relationships and better health. Today I will delve into three important messages I got from The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus’ book, Minimalism that have fuelled my financial journey.
1. Minimalism – analyse and name your anchors and figure out what you really want
2016 was one of the most unhappiest years of my life, to deal with the deep pain and the sense of loss that I felt with my Mother getting sick again I shopped. Consumer goods: expensive shoes, handbags, wallets, clothing and meals out.
I sat in a meeting room with my colleagues at the beginning of 2017 talking about how I wanted to buy a house with a $50 Lorna Jayne drink bottle (have since lost it running to catch my flight Abu Dhabi airport in April 2017), $380 sunglasses (lost them out day drinking in February 2018) and a $120 Mimco wallet sitting in front of me and it became abundantly clear why I didn’t own a house – my spending habits were out of control. People with houses would have allocated $50 towards those three items and $500 towards their mortgage to buy their financial freedom.
When I got to the bottom of my issue I realised that I didn’t want consumer items: I wanted my own family, I wanted my future kids to spend time with my parents, I wanted to have people in my life that would provide me with love and security. I was feeling grief for something that hadn’t happened.
Fields Millburn and Nicodemus in their process of minimalism identify things holding us back in life as anchors. The story we are all told are not items in live that actually fulfill us: large houses, promotions, material possessions and awards. For me my anchors didn’t align with debt or consumer possessions but instead aligned with my ultimate fear of being alone.
What were my anchors?
Anchor one: societal expectations
I came to terms with the fact that I might not meet someone or have children. My life might look different to the normal journey that I had been sold my whole life. When I realised that my life is different and that was okay I started to feel better.
Anchor two: husband
I spent so much time believing I could not buy a house without getting married. I realised that I didn’t need a partner to move to the next step of my life a big weight came off my shoulders.
Anchor three: being alone
I realised that even though I might be alone I would still be okay another anchor fell away. My fear was on the nights that I worked late that someone would run me down on the way home and no-one would notice, that I would get out an Uber, walk up to my house and get attacked and I would lay injured on the concrete and someone would not know, that my parents would pass away and there would be no family left.
- I didn’t get married in my 20s but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen at some time during my life, relationships happen at all times of your life
- Because you do not have kids but that doesn’t mean you are less worthy and cannot live a meaningful life or achieve different milestones single people achieve financial security all the time.
- The sooner you learn to be alone the better, we all die alone.
In essence the ultimate things I wanted? Financial security, a safe place to live and meaningful relationships.
The way I would get there was the process of minimialism: saving more and spending less and spending more time with special people in my life.
2017 meant my should became a must in the words of the minimalists. Rather than thinking, “I should own a house by now” I thought instead I thought,
“I must change”
“I must spend less”
“I must change my circumstances”
For me that meant selling or giving away the equivalent of a two bedroom house worth of possessions, packing up my clothes and bikes and moving into my friend’s house to live, rent for the last time in my life and save what I needed for my first house.
2. Minimalism – prioritise your health
For me, 2017 was still a year where I put everyone else before myself. I worked 50-60 hours a work when I was paid for 37. I was a yes-woman. I thought hard work would mean a promotion (it didn’t). I thought if I had a promotion I would somewhat be worthy in one section of my life. I felt that because I did not have a husband, I did not have children and I did not have a house that I somehow needed to prove myself to everyone with my career.
Instead my health suffered:
- I collapsed at work one night in the toilets in February 2017 when I was working late and was hospitalised with a flare up of my Crohn’s disease
- I was spending a lot money getting Ubers from home late at night because it was too dangerous to cycle
- I still spent a lot of money on unhealthy food and takeaways because I did not have time to cook
- I spent more and more time at work sacrificing physical activity and my mental health was impacted
- I was run down and developed a really bad Staph infection on my face and eye
With the process of minimalism and the redefinition of myself as a worthy person my behaviour had to change:
- I went to my yoga classes
- I decided I would never Uber to work and biked or walked to and from work – this meant I had to leave work on time
- I decided I would only pay for restaurant food when it was part of a meaningful experience
3. Minimalism – focus on incremental improvement
Fields Millburn and Nicodemus define the Simple Success Formula as:
Success = Happiness + Continuous Improvement
I realised I was not going to reach my house deposit in a hurry, but perhaps this was for a reason. There were things I needed to learn and incremental improvements I needed to make within myself before this happened.
I have already spoken about how I have had to come to terms with being alone and redefining what my life looks like.
I have had to give myself value and carve out a stake for my health.
I have had to learn to budget: like a boss.
I have realised a whole lot of other elements matter to me:
Charity, Ethics and the Environment – Something this year I wanted to do more of was giving more to charity, reducing my carbon footprint and eating more ethically. My solution to make this happen was to use minimalism to look at my grocery budget and the process of grocery shopping to increase my fortnightly charity payments from $20 a fortnight to $40 a fortnight. This has made my charitable giving very achievable and it has been great to see my improvements in this area this year. I became more intentional about the products I purchased to reduce my food and disposable waste. I also realised I could choose more ethical products. With this change I feel pride in my daily actions. I have stepped this up further recently looking more carefully around my plastic consumption and trying to buy all products without packaging.
Joshua Fields and Ryan Nicodemus taught me to identify and address my anchors, take back my health and focus on daily incremental improvement. All of these have helped me with my steps towards owning my own house.
The Economiss is a single, female, millennial on a mission to buy her first home in Australia. A Kiwi by birth, she jumped over the ditch after she finished her tertiary qualifications in search of employment. The narratives quite often showing up online overshadowed her thoughts of buying a house alone changed in 2017 The Economiss started super charging her finances and saved over 30% of her after tax income towards her house deposit as well as cash flowing four overseas trips. In 2018 The Economiss decided to create a new narrative and share her journey saving 36% of her after tax income for a $60,000 house deposit by December 2018. Do you have some tips to share or want to be featured on the blog, please get in touch!