We know money doesn’t buy happiness, but we continue to plan our lives around it. Where we work, where we live, where we eat, where we shop, and so much more are all influenced by the money factor. The pursuit of money leads us down paths we perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise chosen; it leads us into stressful situations we feel stuck in; it leads to the pursuit of more money. Why? Because there is never enough. Or is there? Eastern philosophers have known this all along — less is more. In fact, less is so much more that you will save money and help save the world by minimizing your life. Here’s how:
1. Stop Buying “Stuff” You Don’t Need
Marketers want you to think you need the newest products — that’s one reason why the planet is overwhelmed with toxic waste. But besides access to food, shelter, and social contact, what else is really needed? Of course, defendants here always reply, “Well, I need my cellphone to have social contact,” or “I need that car to get to that job to buy food.” But do you? Or at least, do you need the most expensive, flashy version possible of that item? Before buying anything, ask yourself if it is essential to your survival. Often times, you’ll find there are other, cheaper, and more sustainable options. For instance, instead of buying a new or even used car, you could try carpooling, taking the bus, walking, or even aiming to work near or from home in the first place. All of these are better for your budget and the environment.
2. Upgrade Only When Absolutely Necessary
From production to destruction, electronics take a big toll on the environment. That’s why we should limit the amount of new electronics we purchase to save us money and help save the world. So next time someone offers you a free phone with your new contract or you feel your computer is running slowly, reconsider the drive to upgrade. Sometimes all that is needed is a good tune-up.
3. Get Organized
Do you have a tendency to lose things? Will you give up looking after a short while, deciding the hassle isn’t worth the cost of just replacing what you lost? Be conscious of thoughts like that — they are wasteful of resources. Save yourself money and boycott the disposable culture by at least looking a little longer for the item and by keeping things in specific spots so you will not “misplace” them.
4. Shop Strategically
Everyone knows about coupons, discounts, and shopping at consignment stores, but what about being more strategic in general? For instance, do you buy something without knowing where you’ll put it or what it will “go” with? For clothes specifically, don’t buy in pieces, buy in color schemes or themes so that you can match one sweater with multiple outfits. This cuts down on the amount of clothes you’ll feel you need to look presentable, the amount of time you spend searching for an “outfit,” and it slows the environment degradation from textiles industries.
5. Stop Stretching Yourself Too Thin
If money is on your mind, chances are you’re looking for or doing (almost) anything possible to attain it. You may be working two or more jobs, going to school and volunteering to improve your prospects at the same time. The thing is, when you’re stretched this thin, with no time in between projects or appointments to catch your breath, you begin spending more money on convenience foods, on-the-go coffees and treats, traveling expenses, things to reward your hard work, things to get you through the day, family care, etc. Thus, in the midst of trying to create a financial future, you could be jeopardizing your present. Consider this and either lessen your load or at least ditch the costly on-the-go conveniences.
Saving money and the world isn’t just about cutting back, although that’s a big part of it for many people. It is about recognizing what you need and what you don’t. It is about understanding “cost” in more than monetary terms and how overcomplicating your life for the pursuit of money can actually hinder your financial security and the world. It is about minimalism.
Image source: Ken Teegardin/Flickr