Being a minimalist saves money, this is one fact that’s hard to dispute.
If you don’t have a lot of stuff, then you didn’t spend a lot to get it. Having less means one can live in a smaller house and not spend money on storage units. Less stuff also means less things to break, less time spent maintaining those things, and more flexibility to pick up and move if times get hard.
But there’s one kind of minimalism that doesn’t save money. And that’s the kind of minimalist I am.
I like things to be streamlined. Simple. Not complicated. Efficient. I’m a minimalist processor.
If I find myself spending too much time doing the same things over and over, I find ways to make shortcuts or templates so I only have to do it once. I recently moved my cinnamon and my honey into the same spot in the kitchen. Taking two steps from the cupboard to the pantry to gather my yogurt toppings, and then two steps back to put them away, was not efficient.
When it comes to our finances, A-Rob and I don’t have a lot of bank accounts, just a few really useful ones. We keep a budget that has wiggle room so we don’t have to keep it to the letter. Our savings transfers are automated. Our finances are simple and relatively hands free.
But being a minimalist processor means I often pass up on opportunities to make or save money if it sounds too complicated.
1. Coupons. Do I need to speak to their complexity? Snipping and organizing tiny pieces of paper, using them before they expire, reading the store fliers to match sales. Too much for me.
2. Flexible spending accounts (FSAs). Tracking what we spend on health care, making sure we don’t spend too much or too little, knowing what counts as a health expense and what doesn’t. Sounds like a lot of work.
3. Credit card rewards. I’m irrationally neurotic about carrying any balance on my card in fear that it’ll spiral out of control like it did in the past. I know a lot of people play the credit card rewards game – using credit cards for everything, then paying it off in full at the end of the month – but that would require effort. Effort to track that we’re not spending too much each month, effort to research the best rewards programs, effort to track and use points. I might be swayed on this one if a simple answer is dropped in my lap, but for now, I’m living credit rewards free.
4. Making phone calls. They say you can save money if you call the cable company and ask for a discount. Retire by 40 got a sweet break on a hospital bill just by calling and asking. I could have gotten my money back that time the dry cleaners didn’t actually clean my clothes. Then there was the time a hit-and-run driver nicked my bumper and I didn’t make a claim…another story, another day. In general, a phone call is just one more “to do” on an already full list, so I don’t do it.
I’m sure there are other areas in my life where I could save money if I made the effort. But in the end, the efficiency buff in me doesn’t want to bother.
Now’s your chance to convince me of the error of my ways. Do any of you use the above methods to save money? Are they really as complicated and time consuming as I think they are?