Is Minimalism a Smart Way to Live?

By on April 24, 2014

minamalismEver since the 2008 recession, there has a been a resurgence in the idea of minimalism. At that time, many people started downsizing their homes and their lives in an effort to be more frugal and save money.

I love the idea of minimalism in theory, so I think this was actually a good move for many people. I especially enjoy the thought of only having the possessions that you need and having surfaces in your home free from clutter. There’s just something about knowing exactly what you have and having it all organized that makes a home feel secure and happy.

Of course, even though I believe minimalism is a good thing, I also believe that some people can take it too far. Here are some examples of extreme financial minimalism and why it might not be that healthy.

1. Minimalist Grocery Budget

There are many people who severely limit their grocery budget when they are paying off debt. I completely understand that grocery bills can get sky high, especially when you buy whatever you want at the store without restraint! Seriously in a past life, I bought $7 fancy cheese from time to time! However, I have read debt free stories where people only eat ramen noodles or only eat pasta and cheap spaghetti sauce.

While I can appreciate the discipline in limiting what you eat to save money, sometimes it’s really not worth it to have a bare bones food budget. For one, it’s not the best thing for your health and when you are doing something stressful like paying off debt, you have to be well nourished and have the energy to keep up your motivation. Cutting down your diet to only eat noodles won’t help you get ahead. In fact, it might even hinder you.

2. Minimalist Entertainment Budget

The entertainment section of your budget is a great place to start when you are paying off debt. However, extreme minimalists might make the mistake of cutting out all fun for the sake of getting back on track financially. While I don’t advocate spending $20 to go see one 3-D movie, it’s still okay to go on long hikes or a free bike ride. You can even scope out museums in your area that have free admission or stroll around the Farmer’s Market.

Essentially, just because you are a minimalist or are trying to lead a no fluff life doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. There are countless ways to get out and enjoy yourself without spending the big bucks.

3. Minimalist Transportation Budget

After three years of sharing a car with my spouse, we are finally a two car family again. The reason we bought the extra car is because we just had twins, and in the case of an emergency, I have to be able to leave the house with them quickly. If I were an extreme minimalist and decided to stay a one car family it could have been detrimental in many ways even though it would have saved me money. Sometimes safety and security come before minimalism regardless of how much they cost.

Are you a minimalist or are you trying to lead a minimalist life?

Photo Credit: Corey Leopold

About Catherine Alford

Catherine Alford is a personal finance writer who received a B.A. from The College of William and Mary and an M.A. from Virginia Tech. When she is not writing for other websites on all topics frugal and fabulous, she enjoys sharing her adventures on her blog, www.BudgetBlonde.com. Follow her on Twitter @BudgetBlonde or like Budget Blonde on Facebook.

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