Re-Applying Minimalism to Finances
I’ve been exposed to financial planning at 19.
I’ve been exposed to minimalism at 24.
I’ve been cutting out my expenses for a long time.
I’m 35, and I’ve struggled with following the principles that I’ve learned from both financial planning and minimalism for a long time.
When I say struggled, I don’t mean failure.
I’ve had both success and failure.
I’ve saved up for a mini-retirement twice.
I’ve survived several catastrophes.
But like a normal person, I do tend to revert to my old ways.
I swing from minimalist to cluttered.
When my life gets too cluttered, I swing back to minimalism.
I swing from extravagant to frugal.
When I need money, I make adjustments to my budget to build up the funds that I need.
The more I knew about how money works, the more enlightened I become.
The principle swings both ways as well.
The more I knew about financial principles, the more stressed out I get about money.
This isn’t a post about me telling you what to do with your life.
I do not see myself as a financial role-model in any way.
I’d just like to share my considerations about minimalism and budgeting.
One practice that I do often is I make a list of everything I spend on.
After completing my list, I review the list.
I then consider what I can cut out.
Cutting out items in my expenses allows me to afford whatever I want to afford.
An early example would be smoking.
Five sticks of cigarettes a day at ₱5 costs ₱10,000 a year.
So if I wanted to buy a decent iPhone every two years, I just needed to stop smoking.
I work from home since 2016.
I already cut out the big C from my life.
I don’t mean cancer.
I mean commuting.
Commuting to work if you live where I live, and you work where I work costs ₱156,000 a year.
I’ve felt an enormous burden lifted from my shoulders with commuting out of the picture.
I’ve cut out other expenses that added to the growth of my disposable income.
I’ve also spent my money irresponsibly.
As a result, I found myself analyzing my spending patterns and building another plan to recover my cash reserves.
I find myself consulting my most logical and cynical personality to evaluate my spending habits.
Spending time with that version of myself is stressful and exhausting.
That’s the part of me that judges how money is spent the same way that I’d fantasize investors judge how money is spent.
It’s painful but effective, so I have these financial consulting sessions with myself from time to time.
In one of the sessions, I found myself writing.
Many of the ideas got me writing this post.
I’ll reiterate my disclaimer.
What follows is not financial advice.
I’m writing down the thoughts that I’m considering.
Writing helps me consider what to do next.
When you look at your expenses list, consider the following ideas:
It’s not all about what you decide to cut out of your life.
The frugal version of yourself will want to cut out 90% of your expenses no matter what it is.
The frugal version of you hates waste.
Let that sink in.
But also consider what you mean by waste.
If you go to a grocery store and spend ₱3,000, the frugal thought process tells you that you lost ₱3,000.
The frugal version of yourself fails to consider that in return for ₱3,000, you got several bags of beef, fish, cleaning supplies, eggs, milk, butter, snacks, and whatever you needed that week.
You received the wealth in its physical form.
All you parted with was the paper.
You didn’t really lose the money.
You bought ingredients that contribute to your ability to build wealth.
You do a lot of reading.
You already know that the body won’t function intelligently long-term if you force it to run on instant noodles, oatmeal, bread, and other food extenders.
That being said, are you present to the items that you’ve already spent money on?
Consider paying attention to what you do spend on.
Really pay attention and be there.
If you go to Starbucks, enjoy the ambiance and the coffee.
Don’t just gulp it down in one go.
You are paying for the opportunity to sit in a beautiful coffee shop that the Starbucks corporation crafted for you to enjoy to justify the $5 coffee.
Starbucks spent millions to employ designers and decades to get to where they are today.
You might as well sit and enjoy your coffee.
Does Starbucks inspire you to be creative and work hard?
Spend time and work in the damn Starbucks!
NOTE: I am not a Starbucks endorser.
If you’d like to get me coffee, I’m not a coffee snob.
If you spend a lot of money on food, don’t just dump the food in your mouth.
If you buy steaks, lamb chops and expensive pieces of meat and fish, don’t mindlessly just consume the food in front of the TV.
Pay attention to your food.
Appreciate the taste.
Appreciate the sacrifice of the animals and all the workers who gave their lives to bring food to your table.
Give thanks in prayer if you’re religious.
Thank the universe if you’re not religious.
Be grateful for the fact that you have good quality food.
If you have a premium gym membership, enjoy your stay.
Don’t just get your workout, shower and run.
Don’t cancel your gym membership just to save a few thousand pesos a month.
Exercise and take good care of your body.
Exercise is the only scientifically proven method to keep your brain functioning well as you grow older.
Some frugal asshole will tell you to work out at home.
If you put in double the workout hours at home, then quit.
The reason you pay for the gym membership is to receive help from other people.
If you got an expensive place to live, really enjoy the place and appreciate what you have.
Enjoy every part of your home and treat each day as a staycation at an AirBnB.
Use your overpriced kitchen.
If your rent feels expensive for you, cut travel and leaving for road-trips, and going out with friends.
If you got yourself fast home internet, utilize your home internet for what you want to do.
Consider downgrading your mobile plan.
If you overspent on a bike or a car, use that vehicle to take you where you want to go and express gratitude for your ride.
Look at your spending, and don’t just cut out items just because some frugal asshole tells you to.
Pay attention to your main objectives and look for opportunities to funnel resources from things you don’t value to the things you do value.
Work From Home Configuration:
- Spend more on the place you live
- Spend more on high-speed internet
- Cut out mobile data.
- Cut out eating out and travel.
- Take care of dogs.
Utilize your home.
Ultra-light travel configuration
- Cut down on the size and cost of your home.
- Don’t buy furniture. Entertain guests at coffee shops and restaurants.
- Don’t buy kitchen equipment. Eat out.
- Spend more time traveling and going out.
- Minimum internet connection. Maximize mobile data.
- Not suitable for pets.
These are some ideas.
I started the conversation to evolve the ideas in this post.
I’d like to start conversations with older people about these ideas.
I’d also like to avoid arguing with younger people who are indoctrinated with principles from financial books as they only parrot what they’ve read or heard.
Thank you for your attention.
Thank you for reading.
Got a question or want to share something? Email me.
Want updates? Join my mailing list. Let's connect.