The Comprehensive Guide To Minimalist Money And Budgeting

minimalist guide to money


Learning to manage money like a minimalist begins with your mindset. It starts with rethinking your impulses when it comes to your spending habits, the nature of the items you tend to buy in excess, the why behind your purchases, and the areas of your life where it makes the most sense to cut back.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Becoming a financial minimalist has saved me more money, time, and resources than I had ever thought possible. Since making this change in my own life, I have never once thought to look back.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

How To Manage Your Money Like A Minimalist?

What Does It Mean To Manage Your Money Like A Minimalist

The idea behind managing money like a minimalist isn’t to slap your hands every single time you make a purchase or teach you that spending a lot and buying expensive items is bad or wrong. In fact, one huge misconception about financial minimalism is that minimalists are cheap or frugal, when, in reality, minimalists often spend their money on higher quality, more expensive items that last longer.

manage your money like a minimalistMinimalist banking and minimalist money management is not so much about spending less as it is about being thoughtful with the way you use money. You don’t have to be a seasoned minimalist to apply some common, simple minimalist money practices to your daily spending and saving habits.

While I am a huge fan of systems and challenges that can simplify our daily lives, I do truly believe that our mindset has more power than the rules themselves when it comes to the minimalist approach to finances.

Money can be many things: a tool, an idol, an enemy, a prize, a superiority complex, a saving grace. Money has a lot of power in our world and in our psyche.

Time and time again, I’ve seen friends who want to start managing their money more minimally but haven’t intentionally unpacked their view on money in their minds first. They try to force themselves to spend less, want less, and buy less without working through why they have such strong desires to buy on impulse in the first place. They try to work from the outside in, and that always fails.

Instead, work from the inside out. Put in the grunt work on the front end to realign your relationship with money in your mind before you try to make changes to your budget and your wallet. Minimalism is a philosophy that begins in the mind and moves outward into your habits, actions, and lifestyle. The minimalist approach to money is no exception!

Minimalist Money Strategies To Start With

Minimalist Money Strategies To Start With

Now, with all that being said, I do love a good tangible strategy. Once you’ve gone through the deep-dive into what money means to you and began the work to refine that, the strategies will come naturally. In fact, I have found that after I worked to understand myself and the way I spend, I actually wanted to use these minimalist money saving tips to spend less.

Using a minimalist budget, buying less unnecessary products, and refraining from impulse buying started to feel a lot less like pulling teeth and a lot more like, “why haven’t I been doing this all along?”. To that end, I wanted to walk you through some basic minimalist money strategies that might serve as a starting point if you’re new to financial minimalism.

Minimalist Money Strategies

Start By Creating A Minimalist Budget

Start By Creating A Minimalist Budget

The best place to start when implementing financial minimalism tangibly into your life is with the tried-and-true money manager: A budget. Building a budget can feel tedious, as it often requires you to get into the nitty gritty aspects of managing your finances and rethinking where you spend money currently, and where you can agree to spend less.

Creating a minimalist budget encompasses many different factors like tracking your spending, setting realistic spending limits, avoiding financial distractions, adjusting your minimalist budget as life ebbs and flows, and being mindful of your financial future. Any type of budget that you make should be unique to you and your own current spending habits and goals.

how to create a minimalist budget

Work To Buy Items Like A Minimalist Would

Work To Buy Items Like A Minimalist Would

Shopping and being intentional with what you buy at the grocery store, on a shopping spree, or on Amazon at 2 a.m. can be challenging, but it’s theses small moments that matter. Managing money like a minimalist may look like spending less dollars and cents, but it can also look like adding some strategy behind the kinds of items you buy and knowing why you buy them.

It’s about more than just the monetary amount. When I first started diving into financial minimalism, I did a lot of analyzing the kinds of products I tended towards. Was I buying things that were long lasting? Did the amount I was spending on an item make sense for the return value I was getting back? Were the things I was buying both cost-conscious and waste-conscious? There’s a lot to consider when shopping how a minimalist would.

what not to buy

Live Without The Products You Don’t Need

Live Without The Products You Dont Need

When you start changing the way you think about money, products, and consumerism overall, it changes the way you view everything. Not only will this mindset impact the way you buy things, it will also impact the kinds of items you start to realize you can live without.

Consumerism tells us we need more and we need it now. However, the more I have engaged in financial minimalism, the more I have learned how little I truly do need to be content.

There are many items that I simply do not crave anymore, like extraneous décor, unnecessary clothing, and old items I haven’t used in years. There are many categories in our homes and lives that we may think we need to hold onto, but would be super simple to let go of.

things you can live without

Invest In Items You Only Have To Buy Once

Invest In Items You Only Have To Buy Once

When people think about the way minimalists approach money, their first thought is usually centered around learning how to strategically spend less money upfront. However, another huge facet of learning to manage money like a minimalist is investing in high-quality products that will last forever.

Investing in products that you only have to buy one time is ultimately the move because you’ll have to replace items way less frequently. This often includes items that are made with high-quality material, receive high ratings, and are designed simply but effectively.

things you only buy once in a lifetime

Minimalist Spending Challenges To Change Your Habits

Minimalist Spending Challenges That Can Change Your Habits

After applying some basic minimalist spending strategies to your daily life, you may want to take financial minimalism to the next level.

There are lots of challenges and rules in the minimalist community that circulate from time to time as hardcore ways to spend less and still find satisfaction.

I’ve tried a few of these challenges out for myself and I was not disappointed with their positive impact on my life and money habits.

Minimalist Spending Challenges

How Minimalists Use A Low Buy Year For Better Budgeting

Low Buy Year

When it comes to applying minimalism to your money and finances, trying out a low buy year is one of the most popular ways minimalists go. The basic concept of a low buy year is to intentionally create parameters around the way you spend money in your life.

This is also a challenge that you can easily manipulate to match your own needs. If you tend to spend a lot on eating out or shopping, maybe those are good places to start with the low buy challenge. It doesn’t have to be strict or deprive you of what you love — it’s just a method to help anyone think more intentionally about the way they spend.

low buy year

Try The Minimalist No Spend Challenge

The No Spend Challenge

The no spend challenge is like the stricter cousin of the low buy year. This is another way to really hone in on money management when trying to get into financial minimalism.

give no spend year a tryIn a nutshell, the no spend challenge is a challenge where you go for an entire week, month, or year without spending money on anything except the necessities.

I tried this for a whole year back in 2018, and it genuinely changed my life. I think I got to a point in my own journey with minimalism where I didn’t believe that I was being internally affected by consumer culture at all anymore.

However, after giving the no spend year a try, I got to see firsthand how many things I still had the impulse to buy that I didn’t truly need. This challenge really changed the game for me.

no spend challenge

Minimalist Money Management Helps You Live Well On Less Money

Minimalist Money Management Helps You Live Well On Less Money

If there is anything I would hope to drill into the mind of someone new to financial minimalism, it would be that you can absolutely live a high-quality life while spending significantly less. Spending less money does not mean having less satisfaction in your day-to-day experience, contrary to how you may feel at first.

I have been happier in my day-to-day life since adopting financial minimalism than I ever was prior. Living well on less money isn’t a specific minimalist challenge or rule per-say, it’s more of an invitation. The concept invites you to dare to believe that spending less could make you more satisfied in the long run.

One of my favorite aspects of applying minimalism to money and spending is that there is no singular right way to do it. It’s all about knowing what your needs and habits are and working with them to create a full life with fewer expenditures.

live well on less money

Apply Other Basic Minimalist Rules To Money Management

Apply Other Basic Minimalist Rules To Money Management

Over the past few years, there have been lots of rules and challenges that have circulated from the pros to give those who are new to the minimalist lifestyle simple methods to kickstart their journey. Like I said before, I’m not much of a by-the-specific-rules guy in my day-to-day life, but I do think that a lot of these minimalist rules are actually pretty valuable ways to encourage thinking and living better.

The thing about most basic minimalist rules is that you don’t have to be hardcore about the way you apply them to your own life. You have total autonomy to adjust these rules in any way that you see fit and make them work for you and your life, and in turn apply them to the way that you manage your finances.

rules minimalist live by

Becoming A Financial Minimalist In Other Facets Of Life

Becoming A Financial Minimalist In Other Facets Of Life

Minimalism is more of a philosophy and a mindset than anything else. While you can definitely adopt minimalist money habits without becoming a hardcore minimalist in all facets of your life, it’s likely that these things will bleed into one another eventually. Drinking the minimalist Kool-Aid in one aspect of life typically inspires people to apply the philosophy to other areas too.

This applies in a particularly impactful way when it comes to managing money like a minimalist would, because if we know anything about life, it’s that nothing is ever truly free.

Every aspect of your life costs money, from your food to your clothing to the water you drink to the room you sleep in at night.

how to become a minimalist
When you start to think minimally about the way you spend, you end up thinking minimally about the way you live as a natural consequence. All aspects of living like a minimalist and trying minimalist hobbies are interconnected.

Save Money With A Minimalist Diet

Save Money With A Minimalist Diet

Food is likely one of the biggest money drains that we have in our daily lives. While we can’t cut out food altogether (gotta eat to live!), people do tend to spend excess money on food without realizing it.

Eating out, grabbing fast food, and even grocery prices these days can hike up your bills quickly. when I applied a minimalist mindset to my diet alone, it completely shifted my finances as well. By starting to choose food groups that align more with minimalist living and refrain from excess spending on meals each month, I watched my bank account deplete less and less.

simple minimalist diet

Consider Adopting A Personal Uniform Or Minimalist Wardrobe

Consider Adopting A Personal Uniform Or Minimalist Wardrobe

New clothes, shoes, and accessories are another category in our lives that can make up a huge portion of our budget. One of the ways I have found to combat spending an excess amount of money of clothes is by integrating a personal uniform into my life.

I wear virtually the same thing every single day with a little bit of variation, but it saves me from spending a lot on clothes. However, there are lots of ways you can apply minimalism to your clothing and end up saving big, like building a capsule wardrobe, trying Project 333, or re-organizing your closet.

minimalist personal uniform

Digital Minimalism Can Help You Spend Less

Digital Minimalism Can Help You Spend Less

In our modern world where everything is so virtually connected, it can easily start to feel like the digital realm is entirely free. This just isn’t true. When you break down each element of your digital life like your smart phone, internet access, physical devices, and more, you can begin to paint a much clearer picture of every single thing you pay for to maintain a high-speed digital life.

digital minimalismMost people pay for a phone bill, internet bill, devices like smart phones, tablets, desktop computers, laptops, or GPS systems, streaming services, data packages, and even things on the backend after being exposed to targeted ads tailored to our personal desires (curse the algorithm).

Applying minimalism to your digital life can help you rewire your relationship with media and the internet and will, in turn, save your wallet some hurt down the line.

I pay way less for my dumb phone and dumb phone service than I ever did when I was totally tapped into the grid with my smart device. Digital minimalism has really restored my savings account.

Why Try A Minimalist Approach To Finance?

Why Try A Minimalist Approach To Finance

Overall, I firmly believe that the minimalist approach to personal finance is one of the best ways to manage your money. I feel this way because managing your money like a minimalist is entirely holistic. It blends the way you think about spending, feel about spending, and your spending habits into one overall philosophy that can help you reframe your relationship with money.

The minimalist approach to finances allows you to downsize your life and save money in the long run. Instead of forcing me to spend less like many money management challenges do, it has, instead, helped me change my entire philosophy on life and see money through an entirely new lens.

Minimalist Approach To Finance

Your Turn!

  • What will you do to manage your money more like a minimalist?
  • Which minimalist money saving tips will you try this week?

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