“I am a minimalist. I like saying the most with the least.”
“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.”
Financial minimalism and frugal living is all about simplicity, saving money and ultimately about taking more control over our time so that we can focus more on the most important things in life.
So in today’s video, I’m going to share my 20 minimalist frugal living tips that greatly helped my wife and me go from a negative $174,000 in net worth to over a $700,000 net worth over the course of 7.5 years.
Real quick, thanks for liking or disliking, subscribing and leaving a comment, or two or three sharing what you had for breakfast and what you plan on doing with one or two of these ideas.
Let’s get into it...
Hey friend, it’s Brad Long here with ZeroDebtCoach where we help 5 and 6 figure corporate burnouts escape their nightmare by teaching them how to effectively: 1) organize and optimize their financial lives, 2) eliminate debt and 3) accelerate toward financial independence by starting and growing an online business.
So before, we jump into our frugal living/minimalist types, let’s define minimalism as it’s commonly referred to in our culture right now:
“Minimalism is all about living with less. This includes less financial burdens such as debt and unnecessary expenses. ... For many minimalists, the philosophy is about getting rid of excess stuff and living life based on experiences rather than worldly possessions.”
My wife and I were basically minimalists before it was ever a “thing”. For me, having witnessed the excesses of my parents’ and grandparents’ generation, I was very naturally contrarian when it came to being “normal” in that way.
Also, having deleted over $174,000 in debt over the course of 2.5 years after I finally realized I was actually embracing many of the anti-minimalist ideas and practices REALLY drove home the value of financial and material minimalism in my life.
This became even more pronounced as I burned out in corporate America, but I’ll leave that discussion for another day.
Now, for a lot of these tips, I’ll include some helpful and relevant resources that I’ll link in the description box below. Let's jump in.
1. Start with “why”.
It may seem kind of weird and maybe even counterintuitive to ask this question about minimalism but, this is really THE most important question and will help to determine where along the “minimalism continuum” you are right now and just how far you’re willing to go to accomplish your goals.
Start by asking yourself, “why do I want to become a minimalist?”
This “why” question is actually part of an initial exercise we go through with all of our new financial coaching students.
To help you, there’s a free fillable PDF in our “Free Guides & Printables” library. And by the way, so are the lists for the next 3 tips.
2. Organize your finances by sitting down and going through an “Everything I Owe” exercise by looking at every bill, expense and debt and getting them onto a centralized list.
3. Get on a budget if you’re not on one already.
4. Track every single penny of expenses.
5. Go through your idle possessions.
Ask yourself, “do I really need it?” “Am I ever going to use this again?” We’ll talk more about what to do with your “no” pile a little later.
6. Use the 72-hour rule for purchases over $50-$100 and ask:
By the way, these are actually great questions to ask before you purchase subscriptions which I’ll address a little further down.
7. Do a decluttering binge (some call this “the minimalist game”).
I did a decluttering binge once about 10 years ago and made over $20k just by going through stuff I wasn’t using anymore like old music gear, books, tools, unused appliances. You can get really creative here.
Go through your possessions and make 3 piles:
Wash, rinse, repeat as needed.
8. Save money by getting creative and buying stuff used.
Next time you “need” something, try going online first and looking for the item used.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
9. Open a high-yield savings account.
10. Practice saying, “I can’t (or don’t want to) afford it”.
11. Cut your own hair (or get your spouse to learn by watching some YouTube videos).
Perfectionism will not pay dividends here. My wife has been cutting my hair for 8 years and we’ve saved hundreds of dollars per year. It started off kind of “tricky” but, with a few YouTube videos and some practice, she’s now a “pro”.
12. Addressing subscriptions.
According to an article from Yahoo Finance, … the average American wastes $350/yr on unused subscriptions?
Subscriptions are one of the biggest blind spots (along with groceries and eating out) for most of our new financial coaching students. In fact, I recently coached a couple that did not realize that they were spending over $160/mo on subscriptions and even had duplicates of some of them. Huh? And I get it, the “it’s only $7/mo or $12 can cause temptation toward disregard, but those little numbers add up VERY FAST. Again, you can apply these questions:
13. Create a FREE Personal Capital account and track what’s going on with your finances every day.
I’ve been using this tool for over 6 years and it helps me to see the status of ALL of my over 30 financial accounts with one single login. AND it’s helped me to “early detect” some fraudulent activity and root it out before it became a problem. Link below for their free sign up.
14. Quick Start Budget.
If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of budgeting, just do a “quick start budget”.
If you’re not already on a budget, THIS! Link below for a free workshop on how to do this.
15. Reduce. Cut. Substitute.
Once you’ve gotten your budget together, look at places you can reduce, cut and/or substitute. A HUGE piece of low hanging fruit is usually cell phone providers. My wife and I moved from AT&T and Verizon respectively over to Mint a little over a year ago. We were paying close to $200/mo for our phone subscriptions, now we pay $30 for both! Mint has been amazing and there’s a link in the description below to check them out and make sure they provide coverage in your area. Totally worth it!
16. Prep 3-5 “go to” meals.
D this so you’re not tempted to go out to eat and waste money you didn’t intend to spend. My favorite is the super simple, eggs with chicken sausage. We literally eat this one every day.
17. Batch cook your meals.
Think “leftovers”. This relates to #16. “prepping 3-5 go to meals”. This is great especially if you’re super busy. If you can just spend some time on the front end, you’ll be prepared to counter the temptation to “just grab some Chipotle. A great channel for this is Mind Over Munch.
Now, if you’re multitasking, I want you to come back here with me for a second because this one is SUPER important!
18. Develop a second stream of income.
The average millionaire has 5-7 streams of income. Diversifying your income allows you to rely less heavily on your job as your main source of income AND prepares you for the possibility of losing that job (which happens to us all at some point) and just generally puts you in a much stronger financial position.
19. Read some of these personal finance books:
Rich Dad Poor Dad: https://amzn.to/3AdCgyC
Your Money Or Your Life: https://amzn.to/3dw6xzb
The Total Money Makeover: https://amzn.to/3ydgoBV
The Millionaire Next Door: https://amzn.to/3Ag7pSj
Early Retirement Extreme: https://amzn.to/363fU5m
20. Join a community of like-minded people to help you with new ideas, encouragement and accountability.
A great option for this is our private Facebook group, ZeroDebtTribe.
1. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and click the notifications bell to make sure you get our new videos every week.
2. Download one of our free personal finance guides. You’ll learn some of the exact strategies I teach my private coaching students on how to organize and optimize their finances, obliterate debt and move on to financial independence by starting and growing online businesses.
3. If you’re looking for a community of motivated and like-minded people, go ahead and get on the waitlist to join our private financial coaching community. We only open it for new students a couple of times a year, so make sure to get on the waitlist.
4. If you need some help right now because you’ve got a burning issue, you need a problem solved, you want to talk through a complex situation, click on the button below.
All that said, let's keep on building your financial acumen and make this your best year yet!
Thanks so much for reading and we’ll see you in the next video post!