We hear the word thrown around. Maybe we’ve read a few articles or visited a website or two devoted to the subject matter.
We’re in debt. Maybe a lot of debt. We understand something has to change.
So we go back to that website and re-read the words and something in them make sense, but we get stuck on how to internalize the concepts.
How To Embrace The Concept of Minimalism And Get Out of Debt
When I first was getting out of debt, I had never heard of minimalism. All I knew was I had over 50K in credit card debt, and I needed to get rid of it as fast as possible.
I worked diligently to reduce my spending, cut just about everything extra from my budget and paid off my debt. When I finally wrote the last check for the last credit card bill, I went back to my old ways; the only difference being I paid for my new stuff in cash.
You see, I was making multiple six figures in my cleaning business at the time and after all that deprivation I was ready to start spending money again.
Boy oh boy, I wish I had done things differently.
Yes, I was regularly saving money, but in hindsight, I should have been saving a lot more because, in the end, I didn’t need anything I bought during those first few months of overindulgence.
At some point, it finally dawned on me how stupid I was being, and I recognized I needed to go back to the concepts that initially caught my attention and give them a second look.
I decided that simple living was preferable to a lifestyle of constant overindulgence.
Now, to be completely transparent, I’m not a hardcore minimalist. At least not yet. I strive to live a balanced, simple life. I don’t spend money foolishly; I’m frugal, I save and invest regularly and plan for any purchases that are needed. I did do a massive downsize and purge when I moved, but I’ve never thrown away 90% of what I own, with the exception of clothes, shoes, and accessories.
From my personal experience and all the mistakes I’ve made along my debt free journey, I have learned some valuable lessons about minimalism and how to welcome the concepts into your heart and mind so you can not only become debt free but stay debt free.
Minimalism Is About Transformation
The day I realized that my old habits had resurfaced, I was in Macy’s (one of my then-favorite stores) watching this woman and her daughter clothes shopping. It brought me back to my earlier days when Carrie and I would head out for a full day of splurging. It was our favorite activity.
I was observing this mother-daughter team, and it made me incredibly sad.
Instead of spending time at the beach, playing mini golf, going to a movie, they chose to spend their days filling themselves up with possessions, and at that moment I saw myself and was filled with such a profound sense of sadness, heartbreak, and regret.
I threw down the stuff in my arms and walked out the door. I don’t think I went to Macy’s again for over a year.
The money wasted and time invested in something so worthless was heartwrenching to me.
What would my daughter remember from her childhood? Days shopping or something more memorable and beautiful?
Don’t get me wrong. I have a fantastic relationship with my daughter, but I did feel like I had made a huge mistake as a mother by spending so much time buying shit!
That was the day that my spending habits changed permanently. No longer would I spend that kind of time and resources buying things I didn’t need.
You see minimalism is really about personal transformation.
When you decide in your life to move away from possessions and towards the things that matter most, like relationships, you’re really engaging in the transformation of yourself.
You start to look at life differently and question things from a different perspective.
That’s how I see what happened that day in Macy’s – my point of view shifted and at that moment I saw my behavior differently. Boy, am I grateful the universe chose to place me there at that moment. It was the wake-up call I needed.
How You Can Use Minimalism To Transform Your Relationship With Money And Become Debt Free
So how can you use the concept of minimalism to design your personal transformation?
Maybe my story will provide you with the shift you need, but if not, I encourage you to start watching people when you’re out and about. Watch their behavior as they put more and more into their carts. Look at the excitement on their face when they make the purchase and leave the store.
And then I want you to think about what it will feel like when their credit card statement comes in, and they open it and realize what they’ve done.
Will it be worth it?
I can tell you without a doubt it won’t be. Nothing is worth putting yourself in that kind of financial hole.
Think about what they could have been doing with their life that would be more fulfilling?
Minimalism guides us to ask the important question of why we feel the need to accumulate more and more things and what happens when we stop?
People Shop To Fulfill Unmet Needs
There are several reasons people overspend and over accumulate:
People who shop to fill the need for Love, desire belonging (that was me).
People who shop to fill the need for Security, desire freedom.
People who shop to fill the need for Status, desire validation.
People who shop to fill the need to feel Valued, desire significance.
And People who shop to fill the need to be Recognized, desire respect.
Can any of those things be bought?
Sure we can buy certain things like food, clothing, and shelter to ensure our security, but when your true desire is freedom, shopping and racking up thousands of dollars in debt is as far from freedom as one can get.
True freedom comes from financial security and stability AND the fostering and nurturing of personal relationships. Everything else people desire can’t be bought no matter what the commercials tell you!
The best thing you can do for yourself to is to determine what motivates you to overshop and over accumulate and use what you learn to understand why it’s robbing you of your opportunity towards real happiness.
Instead of shopping:
Seek to strengthen and find loving and meaningful relationships with others.
Learn to be content with what you have.
And, follow your own path and not the path dictated by society, that claims you must own all this stuff to be successful.
Money and possessions provide false happiness.
Remember always to be curious about your motivations and use what you find to move you towards the life you truly want – free from the pressures, possessions and emptiness materialism provides.