This week, I’ve been preparing for a move to a new apartment, and though it’s a lot of work, I’m extremely excited. For the past year, I’ve been living well — perhaps, too well than what I’m used to, and with the move on Saturday, I’m minimizing my life more than I already do.
I’ve been minimally living since college. Minimally living is the process by which you live within your means and try to live simply and cheaply. For the most part, I’ve had to live minimally because I couldn’t afford an expensive lifestyle. That meant living in the dorms in undergraduate school. I had roommates in grad school until I found a steal-of-a-deal 1-bedroom apartment for $400 — but it was far from fancy and had quite a few problems with it (like a shower that only ran hot water for 5 minutes!). In LA, I lived with a roommate to lower the insufferable costs of the city.
And it wasn’t just my home with which I’ve tried to live minimally. Most of my house items I ever bought were cheap, second-hand, or found on the street. I thrifted for clothes for years and still do on an occasion. For awhile there, me and Goodwill were BFFs. I used coupons and shopped within a budget. I did take major vacations, but only by calculating major savings — you can find out more about that in my book, Traveling Without the Costs (in the Simplest of Terms).
And then something happened when I moved to Dallas. I became a full-time freelancer and my income got a little wonky and I lived within my means, but spent far more than I have ever spent. I rented an apartment that’s super nice in downtown, and though it was well-priced for downtown Dallas, it’s still far more pricey than what I need and it takes away money that I could be prioritizing elsewhere. For awhile there, I was eating out at restaurants and overspending when I went out on the weekends with friends.
But that’s changing. I’m refocusing on my minimal lifestyle and I love it. With this move on Saturday, I’m moving to an apartment that will be close to $200 cheaper than where I live now and will include free parking, an upcoming pool, gas and water, and a washer/dryer in the unit. Of course, it’s not as fancy, is 50 square feet smaller, and lacks a gym like my current place has, but the place has brand new appliances, no one has lived there before me (it was just renovated and bought by a new owner), and it’s in a cool up-and-coming neighborhood.
As for home decorations, a lot of the ones that I own now were free. I sold everything when I moved from Los Angeles to Dallas, so it’s taken over a year to have what I have now… which isn’t much. I’m lucky enough to have a cool dad who has made me a headboard and desk with old fence wood from our neighbors, as well as a frame for a map. A cousin gave me two mirrors. I have a bunch of old windows (provided by my parents after they redid their windows) that I use to display photographs on the walls, and my dad made two end tables with a few too! I made my floating TV stand for about $20 and the rest of my decor was all on sale. My most expensive piece is my $400 couch.
I’ve always tried to eat healthy and sometimes that can hurt my wallet, but these days, I’m focusing on maximizing the food that I buy. I’m also doing a meal plan that involves smaller basic meals multiple times a day, rather than three big extravagant meals.
As for clothes and beauty products, I don’t really buy much of either. I work from home so the only time I get dressed is when I go out in public on the weekends, which means I can wear my outfits multiple times without feeling the need to go buy something new. And if I do buy new clothes, they’re always at great low prices or on sale. And when I shop, I always buy sale items — I tend to get anxiety attacks when I don’t. As for beauty products, I don’t wear makeup until the weekends so my beauty and hair products last much longer than the average women. And even if they didn’t, I hate buying makeup. I had a friend give me a huge case of eye shadow when she saw me carrying broken eye shadows in a plastic baggie. #NoShame
Living a minimal lifestyle has been so beneficial to me in so many ways. Here’s just 8 ways in which it’s helped me:
- I save a ton of money!
I was surprised to find that with this move to my new apartment, I can save about $300-$1,000 each month (which is insane for someone who makes only $30,000/year). My savings estimate is very large because my income changes month-to-month and things sometimes “come up.” But overall, living minimally saves me a ton!
- I can prioritize the money I save to go to things that I really want to do — like travel or saving for a home.
I don’t need a lot of stuff or need to spend money on stupid things like late night snack runs to the nearest 7-11 or an extra drink when I’m out with friends or a new outfit every weekend. With minimal living, I can use all of that saved money to go toward traveling (my passion) and saving to buy a house.
- I don’t really need that much stuff.
Look at your stuff — I’m talking about the things that you have stored away in cabinets and your closet. Do you really need all of that? The answer is no. And neither do I.
- I’d rather focus on experiences, rather than on things.
With minimal living, I can focus my energies and wallet toward having experiences and making memories rather than buying things. I work from home and I don’t even have a desktop computer, or a printer, or cell phone that isn’t two years old. I can work and live without the newest technology, as I’d rather focus on good times and memories — not things that are going to go to waste in a few years.
- It’s a bitch to pack and move everything, and I tend to move a lot.
I love minimal living, especially because I move so much. Everyone hates moving because of all the crap that they have to pack away. When I moved away from Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Los Angeles, I basically got rid of everything and only had what could fit in my Hyundai accent and my dad’s truck. Yes, I’ve built up some stuff within a year, but this past week has been pretty easy when it comes to packing and I’m almost positive that my dad’s trailer will be able to take all of my stuff in one trip to my new apartment.
- It allows me to get creative in my life.
I’m a creative person, but minimal living allows me to be even more creative. I don’t want to buy a lot of clothes, so I switch up my outfits. I make dresses into shirts by tucking them creatively into my jeans or skirts, and no one even notices until I tell them. Sometimes I cut outfits into crop tops or make a maxi dress into a short dress to spice things up. With my home decor, I find ways to make my own stuff like my floating TV stands or ask my dad for help such as with my side tables.
- I’m not in debt.
The cool thing about minimal living is that I’m not in debt. I paid off my car years ago and the only debt I’m in is a $15,000 education loan (which doesn’t count to me, as most everyone has an education loan these days and mine is super low compared to the national average). I could buy another car, but why? I don’t really need or want another loan and mine gets me from point A to B just fine. My credit cards are paid off. Minimal living lets me focus on building a future, not scrambling for one beneath loans after loans.
- I could lose everything tomorrow and I’d be okay.
Honestly, I don’t really care about anything I own. I might have an anxiety attack if my laptop was gone, but I’d live. I don’t really have anything of value or importance and that’s pretty liberating. If a fire happens or I’m robbed, my life will easily move on. It might suck a bit to have to start over, but I’ve done it before and, well, minimal living has taught me that everything I own is just material — and they don’t really matter in the scheme of things.
The thing about minimal living is that you don’t have to go crazy and live in a cheap, run-down place in the middle of nowhere and stop spending money on things or fun. You can move toward minimal living gradually or focus on it in certain areas of your life in which you are living excessively. Though it’s not for everyone, it keeps me focused and happy on things that matter the most to me in this world, and if you aren’t living that way then how are you living?
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