True story: I’m a minimalist

Learn how having less can help you be more.

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Richard Reis embraced a minimalist lifestyle, which had some sweeping effects on his life: In one year, he saved more money than he ever had, lost more than 30 pounds, and started a blog. Here, he shares the concept of minimalism and tips for how you can incorporate minimalist practices into your day-to-day life.

By the end of this post, I have no doubt you will be a more focused person. I say this confidently because what I’m about to share has changed my life, along with the lives of many people.

What is it that sparked my transformation? Minimalism.

According to the Minimalists, two podcasters who have become experts in the field, “minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important — so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”

I used to think minimalism was silly. Now I think minimalism is like a superpower. It can help you:

1. Focus more.When you have too many things lying around, every time you see them you think, “I should probably clean/get rid of/organize this.”

That is an unnecessary cognitive burden. It takes focus away from the important things. When you get rid of the clutter, your brain breathes.

2. Achieve more. Have a big goal? Minimalism can help you achieve that, too. The world presents itself to you as a series of puzzles. What’s the easiest puzzle you can solve? The one right in front of you!

Begin small — like by cleaning your closet. Once that’s done, you’ll get a little boost of energy. After that, you’ll move on to something bigger, and then bigger, and then bigger — for example, doing your taxes, applying for that job you really want, or solving string theory. Just kidding on that last one.

Want to change your life? Start by cleaning your closet.

3. Earn more. Yes, minimalism may also make you wealthier. It’s simple math. The less you need, the less you spend. The less you spend, the more you can save!

Remember, spending money on unnecessary things only leads to negative outcomes, like clutter, stress, and regret. Learn how to invest that money instead. That way, you’ve just given yourself a much brighter future by making one tiny change.


Want to change your life? Start by cleaning your closet.


How to go minimal with your finances

First, start by reading the best-selling book by Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UpKondo’s techniques for simplifying, organizing, and storing will get you in the minimalist mindset.

Second, think about how the minimalist style of getting rid of excess can apply to your unique financial situation. How can you simplify your finances and make sure you’re in control of your money — and not the other way around?

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  1. Consolidate and pare down. You likely don’t need more than one checking and one savings account. Consolidate bank accounts, student loan debt, and even 401(k) accounts, if you have a couple from previous jobs. Consider paying off and cutting up the credit cards you don’t need, and use only one credit card with the lowest interest rate. Then you’ll only have one bill to pay.
  2. Automate. Utilize technology to streamline things. Set up direct deposit for your paycheck, online bill pay for your bills, and, if you can, an automatic monthly transfer into savings. Take advantage of Wells Fargo Mobile® deposit for your checks, and Zelle® to send and receive money.
  3. Go paperless. Sign up for paperless billing. Take a look at all your financial paperwork and shred what you don’t need. Tip: You likely only need to keep three years worth of tax returns.
  4. Cut out services and subscriptions you don’t use. One $10-per-month service adds up to $120 a year — but you likely don’t have just one service. Take a look at all the subscriptions you have and think about your needs vs. wants. Cut services where you can; you can always re-subscribe later. And, make sure you use what’s available for free: If your company offers free use of an office gym, consider cancelling your paid gym membership.

Want more budget-trimming tips? Try using My Money Map to track your finances.