What a Minimalist Budget Looks Like

How do we prepare for and execute a minimalist lifestyle while avoiding the anxiety that comes from, well, not having a lot? Because, by one measure, if you don’t have a lot, you’re that much closer to having nothing.

One of my qualms with minimalism is that a lot of it seems to require acquisition before minimalism. As in, you can only know the joys of minimalism having once been the possessor of 55 pairs of shoes.

To wit, when I just typed “minimalism is for” in Google, the first suggestion that came up was, “minimalism is for the rich.” Trust The Guardian to write a salty op-ed on the topic. Its author, Chelsea Fagan, co-founder of the great blog The Financial Diet, calls it “another boring product wealthy people can buy.”

It’s true that minimalism, if we let it, starts to nip at exactly the kind of work I can’t stand seeing from wellness folk, the kind of work I don’t want The Morning Person to do. I don’t want to be an out-of-touch white lady trying to convince you to buy a $200 home composting unit, a $100 visit to, like, an infrared sauna, or a $2000 vacation to a Montana wellness retreat. To that end, minimalism isn’t an interior design scheme or a travel philosophy. It’s simply a call to stop buying so much crap, and to be resourceful with the stuff you do have (sell it, reuse it, give it away).

One of the main tenets of this site is to give people the tools to help them be happy with themselves. To my mind, that means having less people, things, titles and accomplishments to hide behind. Who are you when you strip all those things away? Who are you without your salary, you shoes, your spouse? (BTW, I’m not recommending that you ditch your spouse in a fit of minimalism.)

And that leads me to the most important tenet of TMP: practice what you preach. So let me be specific about the type of minimalism I’m striving towards right now by giving you a rundown of my daily budget.

Some high level lifestyle notes before we dive in: I live in Brooklyn, I work in Manhattan, I just gave notice at my advertising job, I rent out my apartment often, and I have a dog.

My Daily Budget, June 2017

$3.50–coffee (with tip)
$20–dogwalker (not a daily occurrence)
$2–entertainment (Netflix, Spotify)
$3–food staples
$3–investments (Roth IRA, which is separate from my 401k)
$3-miscellaneous (dining out, going to the movies, toiletries)

Total: $124.50

And I’ve padded most of these numbers, particularly the food costs. Some assumptions about how I plan to afford this budget over the next month or two:

–Rental income
–Freelance (and potentially full-time) advertising work
–Freelance writing
–eBay and Poshmark income
–Savings (if it comes to that, but the goal is that it won’t)

I’m spending some of the summer traveling in places where accommodation will either be free (family cottage in Nova Scotia) or a fraction of my rental income (Airbnb accommodation abroad).

What’s the point of all this, you ask? I want to spend the next month focusing on two big and hopefully income-generating projects: launching an Amazon business and writing a long fictional piece. I’ve found that the less I have to think about and worry about, the more focused and productive I’ll be.

But this daily budget is still high as hell. Welcome to living in America. Take one of those sources of income away and the whole thing falls apart. But that’s one of the great things about minimalism as applied to finances and lifestyle choices: it’s a daily incentive to grow in the direction of things you truly care about. And that’s always going to take hard work. No one said this was easy. If they did, they’re probably rich.

Thoughts? Share your minimalism ideas, experiences and tips in the comments!

Image via Pexels

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