Since I created this page over a year ago, thought I better post something here to begin. To begin, we should start with the basics of financial Minimalism.
First of all, I am certainly no financial genius. I have had my fair share of financial fiascos and failures. However, what I have learned is that as human beings we can surely survive without a lot of the things we think we have to have or need. Losing nearly everything more than once in my life, I have learned it is often wise to apply a financial chart of sorts when making decisions on a very tight budget. Financial decisions and budgets for spending can be placed in these following four categories.
Go ahead and get a piece of paper or a dry erase board and write these across the top making four columns with each of these as categories. I will explain what I mean by these four categories in the decision making process. Since Dreams & Vision is always fun, I will begin with it.
1.) DREAMS/VISION: This is where you list out all of the things you dream about or have a vision of having or maybe even accomplishing. With me, it’s things like a boat, Disney Vacation with my children, a very nice retirement investment portfolio, a trip to Paris, a trip to Israel, a new fully loaded Ford F-150, retire is less than 15 years on a beach front property in Outer Banks. Go ahead and make a full list. It is okay to have dreams and certainly a vision.
2.) WANTS: This column is a step down from dreams. Things that you want, however that you don’t necessarily need. I want a set of new tools, however my current tools could do most of the jobs around my home. I want a new fire put to entertain guests and enjoy fellowship around a nice fire pit with new comfortable chairs for my children and guests, however I can get buy with folding chairs and my old fire pit. I want a new gas grill that can grill anything I want for as many people as possible, however my small “tail gate” grill may get the job done. I want an amusement park season pass, a new suite, some new shoes, new hiking boots, a new camping canteen, a new book shelf to hold all of my books, new plants/flowers/bushes for a new garden, new pots & pans, new dishes… the list could go on and on, however do I really need those things. If I do not need them, and can make what I have make due; then they are just wants.
3.) NEEDS: This get a little bit more focused. I need a house for my growing family, tax write off, investment, and to be closer to my children. I need a new pair of dress shoes as my older pairs are really worn out. I need to get my college work in order & apply for the proper financial assistance to complete my next degree. I need to have a reliable car. I need to have groceries… Needs are what is needed to accomplish certain tasks and work, however the difference from NEED to the next category of CRUCIAL/CRITICAL is that is not life supporting. For example I said I need groceries. Some people may say that is critical, however what “groceries” are needs verses life supporting. I can get buy with necessary food items, and hold off on those fancy chips, drinks & waters. I certainly need a reliable car, however I may get buy with my old car with some minor repairs, ride a bike or take a bus may handle the CRUCIAL/CRITICAL means of transportation. I need clothing, however what may currently be in my closet may make due to accomplish the critical tasks of living. I need a better job, however can I work harder at my current job to make more money, while I keep my eyes open for a better job.
4.) CRUCIAL/CRITICAL: These are the things you cannot live or survive without. If you think about it, a human being can survive without a lot of “stuff”. First of all we must define what is customarily crucial and critical to sustaining life. You have to have food, clothing and shelter. You can survive on buying generic food that accomplishes nourishing the body. I have actually increased my own health by going on a Beans, Rice & Water Diet, or a Daniel Fast (Vegan Diet). These type of diets or fasts are rather inexpensive. Having a nice home is nice, however could you have a smaller home with less amenities? You must obviously cloth yourself. However what is necessity clothing verses fashion or a closet full of clothing you do not even wear? For this catergory we must consider what is crucial/critical and what must be focused on paying for first and foremost above anything else: These are mine; Rent/House Payment, life supporting food, basic clothing for work & casual, Child Support, Health/Car Insurance, and Transportation. Without those items it is tough to support life, and raise & protect your family. So when you make a budget, identify those costs, and you must pay those first and foremost. Anything else is secondary. If you find you have things or “stuff” in the other columns and cannot pay for the CRUCIAL/CRITICAL, then sell, downgrade or dissolve that cost as soon as possible. If you start at the CRUCIAL/CRITICAL, you may soon find the resources for the NEEDS, then WANTS, and have more funds for the DREAMS/VISION. Or maybe skip the WANTS, and put away more money for the DREAMS/VISION like retirement or that vacation you want to experience for memories of a life time for your children.
To steer into the Minimalist world, it is best to start with the CRUCIAL/NEEDS and work from there. If you are having difficulty paying the rent, utilities, and grocery bill, it’s time to look at that closet, garage, and tool shed or you may find yourself living in a shed.
If you are a husband, and/or father; you wife and/or children must come before many of the needs, all of the wants, and often the dreams/vision. However, if you can move a few things around without taking from the crucial/critical and save for the vacation, college fund, or a retirement, I say give it your best to do so. If you have young children, they often will not remember the “things” you buy them, however they will often remember the quality time and wonderful vacation you invested with them. If you can minimalize your life to free up time, I say do it as soon as possible. Time is the most valuable element of all. It cannot be replaced and should be invested wisely. If you have to work late and very long hours just to pay for your Wants and most of your Dreams/Vision, it is often not worth it. The saying “YOLO” to me is not to work and spend yourself to death, nor be reckless with your life. It is to invest your life into legacy creating elements in the moment as you are not promised a tomorrow. I believe you are to live your legacy and not to be reckless with your time and those that truly love you, adore you, and look up to you.
The good life is not about how many toys you have or money you make, it is about how many lives you touch and good you create.