Posted on January 21, 2016
From Thrifty to Minimalist
The path was long, I can see it clearly beginning when I was about 19 years old. I had just started going to the state university not far from my house. My mom convinced me to stay home and go to school. My parents let me know from the beginning that they would not be able to pay for my university education, so any additional schooling that I pursued would need to be my responsibility. I didn’t think anything strange about that. For me it was something I expected and just went with as normal.
I got a part time job at the home office of a major retail chain (that has since gone out of business). I never had any intention of staying in corporate America, but I am always curious to see how things work and so I was interested in my job. I was driving to work one day and I happened to turn on the radio. A lady by the name of Mary Lynn Hunt was on the air talking about how she and her family got out of over $100,000 of debt in a few years. I remember listening, but not really having any concept of that much money. I could barely think past $500 in my savings account, much less thousands of dollars.
However, listening to that talk show on my commute proved to be life changing. I began to look at all things concerning budgeting and saving money. I listened to the conversations of other people and the money problems that they had in their lives. I discovered Dave Ramsey, Amy Dacyzn and other personal finance teachers.
I began to budget. I had just a simple notebook that I wrote all of my bills in and all of the money that I would be making. I gave myself some money to spend and the rest went into savings. It wasn’t anything elaborate and I continue the same method today. If I try and do something more complicated, I fail, so as a minimalist, I leave all the rest alone.
I know that some people feel that a budget is restrictive, but the type of budget that I do, simply writing down what is coming in, what is going out, and what to do with the rest, can be a huge step in achieving whatever goals you have. In the beginning, I wanted to have enough money for a down payment on a home. After a few friends bought homes spoke constantly of the upkeep, repairs, ad the money going out, I changed my mind. I decided to save money for “A BIG MOVE”.
One of the things that I have discovered along the way is that being thrifty and being a minimalist can go hand in hand, however, there are traits of a thrifty person that I have learned to let go. When I was practicing being thrifty, I would stockpile items. That is how the craft stash began, in addition to other habits that were necessary to break.
As a thrifty person, I would see items on sale at a good price and stockpile them for the future. For instance, people who teach thrift say if you see a shirt on sale that is the right color, fit, etc. buy several of them. I did that with tights. I love tights and I would buy multiple pairs in varying style and design and then when the season was over, discover that I had not worn but a few.
Another example was when I was practicing thrift, I would save jars to reuse for other items. I would wash, peel off the labels and store them. When I moved a few years ago, I had so many jars to get rid of that I never used, even though I had the best intentions to make homemade gifts to give to friends.
As a practicing minimalist, I must give myself permission to spend more on a quality item than on something that will do in a pinch because it is less expensive. This is a habit that has been the hardest for me to get over. I can squeeze a penny until it screams. In the past year or so, it has become a joy to realize that I am not in a state of want and deprivation. I can enjoy the beauty of life through experiences and treating others to experiences as well. It brings me much joy and satisfaction, more than staying home and making sure my bank account is growing.
In the end, transitioning from being a purely thrifty person who is watching every dime, to being someone who is more free with her money in search of things that truly bring joy and add value to my life, has not always been comfortable. It sometimes is like a tug of war in my mind. But I am happy to report that I am on the right track, slowly I am learning to look not only for a saving, but for added value as well.
If you have years of experience as a thrifty person who has discovered minimalism, please let me know how you are doing this. I welcome your ideas!