I’m not shy about calling myself a minimalist, but some people think the term is synonymous with an “ultra frugal” person who lives in a barely 800-square foot apartment with blank walls and limited IKEA furniture.
And while I get totally giddy over a clearance rack or BOGO sale (and I do own a few pieces of IKEA furniture), I’m also not shy about spending $40 on foundation or buying a $50 pair of jeans (one of the few things I buy name-brand!) or regularly paying over $100 for highlights.
So how does a minimalist not feel guilty for spending money like that?
Enter: Intentional Spending
When it comes to money, minimalism is not exclusively about spending less or being fearful about what you spend.
It’s more about spending intentionally.
In short, you determine which purchases mean the most to you and then you budget to support those purchases as much as possible. It doesn't matter how much they cost!
Now, this doesn't mean you spend whatever you want whenever you want. Intentional spending is what you do with the money you have left over after covering everyday necessities like groceries and gas.
But when you adopt the intentional spending mindset, you'll see your purchase habits shift in a big way:
- You purchase items on purpose rather than on impulse. For example, you can forgo a great deal because it's not something you need or think is important.
- You cultivate a positive relationship with money (aka you don't feel guilty for spending it each time).
- You learn to appreciate opportunity cost, because you know the items you say YES to are your best return on investment (to borrow a financial term)!
How to define your values
Let's face it: You can't spend intentionally if you don't know what your values are.
That means it's time to get crystal clear on your financial goals and spending priorities before spending another dime. Most of us don't have unlimited funds, but we can afford what matters most to us!
“You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want.”Marissa Mayer
So before you add something else to your physical (or virtual!) shopping cart, do a little soul-searching to come up with your financial values.
It helps to ask questions like:
- When have you felt the most fulfilled in your life?
- Where would you like to see positive change?
- What goals excite you the most?
- What purchases could you not live without?
Determine what lights you up on the inside so you can cut back and save in areas you don't care as much about (whether it's clothing or coffee!) in order to spend money on experiences and items you truly love (like that cruise you've always wanted to take!).
How to eliminate the fear of spending money
I'll never forget the lady at church who commented in disdain that I had wasted my money on Lasik surgery. At first, I felt extremely defensive and upset that she would criticize my spending.
But then I realized that while Lasik wasn't a priority for her, this was a purchase that mattered to me. Especially since I had spent months saving up for it!
Understanding that not everyone's priorities will always align with yours will help you be less judgmental about what others' spend. Because—newsflash!—it's likely they don't see value in some of the things you purchase either. And there's absolutely no problem with that!
- You might love ordering your favorite Starbucks latte every day, but you've decided that you don't care as much about cable, so you live without the subscription (yes, it's possible – here's how!). Whereas TV lovers might be more willing to give up their Starbucks addiction in exchange for access to the newest series.
- You could spend $60 on new books without blinking. But a $60 sweater? No way! However, your fashionista friend would bypass the bookstore and scoop up that sweater in a heartbeat.
- Likewise, your brother-in-law and his wife might enjoy multiple weekends away each year, but they could care less if they have the latest iPhone. However, you're a homebody and would much rather splurge on the latest tech than travel.
The bottom line is this: we ALL put money behind the things that are most important to us and sometimes those things on't hold the same value for everyone else…and that's perfectly okay.
Does your spending align with your priorities?
If you're not sure yet, take a look at your credit card statement. Seeing where your money is going each month has an uncanny way of revealing what you truly value!
Maybe you don't like what you see. There's no better time than right now to shift your focus so you're spending that money in an intentional way.
But if trying new restaurants or splurging at Hobby Lobby is your thing? Then you shouldn't let the fear of spending money hold you back. Just remember—every “yes” now is a “no” to something later (and vice versa!). You can't have it all, but you can have what matters most to you.
And no one gets to decide what matters most to you … except you!
Let's chat about intentional spending:
What is something you value (and spend money on!) that seems wasteful to others?
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