I’ve officially been living a minimalist lifestyle now for eighteen months, and I’ll never go back to a world of frivolous consumerism, jonesing, or spending. One of the best parts about minimalism is my freedom to travel when I want, and the income that was there along but allocated to all the wrong places.
Last year, I traveled somewhere 10 out of the 12 months, all without a single penny of debt. I also didn’t stay in hostels, eat fast food (all the time), or skimp of fun outings at each location. It’s easier than you think, the steps I took didn’t happen overnight, in fact, it took about six months to start on my wanderlust path. It’s only getting better as the months roll on.
The first thing I did was put an end to all frivolous shopping. The tempting small trinkets by the register, the “on-sale” shirt that I didn’t need, or the one day only sales. Think about this, if you save 40%, you still spent money, and I bet you didn’t even need what you bought. Our minds are so conditioned to consume and hoard.
The second thing I did was continue to look into my receipts and spending habits for a couple of months. Remember this article? I took my advice and kept at my bank statement. What did I need, what was just mindless? Once I had a good handle on it, I was able to understand how money affected me on a daily basis.
The third thing I did was to take on a couple of side projects here and there. I’m by no means a moonlighter like I used to be when I coached gymnastics, but I still have some talents that can bring in a little extra income. It isn’t much, but over a few months it adds up. I would also offer my talents as a gift vs. buying a gift. When my friends would have parties, I’d offer to photograph them as a gift (that saved on wine, kids birthday gifts, etc.), or if I had friends who needed any graphic work, I’d help with that in return for a couple of bottles of wine (score). You have to have a village mentality and work with what you’ve got.
The fourth thing I did was to download the Hotels Tonight app and sign up for Airfare Watchdog. Can’t tell you how much I’ve saved using these two services, and I’m sure I haven’t even begun to tap into amazingness. The Hotels Tonight app found us a hotel in New York City that was original $500 a night, and I paid $148 a night. My whole stay was less than one average nights stay.
Lastly, the fifth thing that I did was to be present when I traveled. One thing that you can do is turn 180 and start over analyzing everything. When I traveled I felt at ease knowing that I did everything I could to minimize the cost, pack lightly, and then I enjoyed the fruits of my mindful labor.
My favorite component of minimalism is the financial and clutter free feeling I’ve gained. But, again, I live a different kind of minimalism.