By Kathryn Knight
& Lara Palamoudian
Read time: 6 Min
mini-authors
money

live a minimalist life to the maximum

Find more joy and make space for more of what you love with a smarter approach to spending, your home and your lifestyle.
Find more joy and make space for more of what you love with a smarter approach to spending, your home and your lifestyle.
money

live a minimalist life to the maximum

GettyImages-992023218

Being a money minimalist might give you a little more cash in your savings account, but it doesn’t have to mean a less pleasurable life. Applying the same minimalist approach to other key areas; your home, your wardrobe and your lifestyle, can also help you to find increased happiness and wellbeing too.

Minimalism has been a buzz word for a while and can conjure up rather cool lifestyle choices such as sleek designer kitchens, and a wardrobe full of simple, crisp white shirts. However, those of us with more eclectic tastes can still benefit from adopting the simple rules of the minimalist movement. During lockdown especially, we’ve all been forced to change our spending habits and learn to live differently and minimalism can help us carry the good habits we’ve learned into the near future and beyond.

According to Regina Wong, minimalism and simple living expert, and founder of livewellwithless, it’s an attitude that comes into its own when you begin to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of ‘stuff’ in your life – not just possessions, but responsibilities, social events and even financial products such as too many different savings accounts, credit cards and the like. As a former ‘corporate warrior’, Regina used to feel bogged down despite her material success. “There was a void I was trying to fill – but whatever I spent, nothing seemed to fill that sense of emptiness,” she says. Yet today those feelings are a world away. Regina now lives a minimalist lifestyle, one dedicated to, as she puts it, “making space for what matters”.

so what does minimalism actually mean?

“Contrary to popular belief, minimalism isn’t just about cutting things out of your life,” Regina says. “It’s an umbrella term for a way of living that covers your possessions, your beliefs, your behaviour, your habits and your relationships, focusing on the essentials that bring joy and value to it.”
It’s about making simpler, more informed choices, perhaps buying less, but buying better. Try cutting back on eating out and instead enjoying more home-cooked meals and spend a day each month decluttering an area of your home or sorting through your life admin such as bills, statements and filing them appropriately. What this gives us is more, not less. More time to focus on what really matters and doing the things we really want to do. More quality in our buying choices as when we buy less stuff, we can choose to spend a little more on the items we really do want or need. And, more money in our savings accounts as we cut back on those non-essential purchases.

“Once you start being more mindful in your life you have more clarity, time and self-determination. It’s about realising where true happiness comes from – and working towards bringing more of that into your life”

Regina Wong, minimalism and simple living expert

In a new survey we conducted* about minimalism, 44% of respondents said recent events have made them consider trying to live more simply, with the same percentage of people stating that living this way would make them happier. A third of people even said they are ‘craving’ a more minimalistic life. So go on….what are you waiting for?
Scroll down to try our expert tips on applying a minimalist outlook to your life and reap the benefits.

*Data taken 17-20 July 2020 survey of 2036 UK adults, Censuswide for Vitality

THE MONEY

minimalists

Get inspired by the experts who make a minimalist outlook work for them...
How do we spend our money now?
*Data taken 17-20 July 2020 survey of 2036 UK adults, Censuswide for Vitality

minimalists

Minimalist in a month

Use our planner for a minimalist-inspired outlook on your finances, home and lifestyle

WEEK 1

Start a spending tracker, either in a notebook or with an app

Start shopping around for better deals on utilities and TV subscriptions or phone contracts

Begin decluttering your home; start small, with a desk or bathroom cabinet

WEEK 2

Look back at week 1 in your spending tracker and highlight any unnecessary spending

Begin to cut out unnecessary spending such as takeaway meals

Consider how you can shop more sustainably when it comes to food or clothing so they last longer

Begin to consider the positives in your life, such as your great relationships (rather than material things)

WEEK 3

Study your spending tracker, consider how you can live more simply without missing out: could you make more meals from scratch? Walk instead of taking a cab?

Donate clothes you never wear

Begin to sell, recycle or give away unwanted items to charity shops

WEEK 4

Look back at the month in your spending tracker and decide on how you will spend and save money going forwards

THE SMART WAY TO SAVE

Roy McLoughlin, Associate Director at Cavendish Ware wealth management gives his tried and trusted advice.

Saving and money is all about habit. You can change the way that you spend, but more importantly you can change the way that you save. On a piece of paper, write Incomings on the left-hand side and Outgoings on the right. On the left you’ll have your salary, while on the right, you’ll need to write down everything that you spend your money on throughout the month (writing it down helps you see how the small things can add up). Do this every day, and be honest. Seeing everything added up can be a shock at first, but what becomes apparent is:

  1. There are things you can shop around for, such as utilities and TV bills
  2. There are things you don’t really need.
Look at your ledger and identify the things you don’t need, such as new clothes; there will be things you can cut out straight away. Often, people realise making those changes wasn’t as difficult as they thought it might be. After a month, it can become second nature; once you make this a habit, you will never look back.

WHERE SHOULD I PUT MY MONEY?

Save into this account until it contains enough to cover you in an emergency (around 3- 6 months’ worth of money is recommended). After that, continue to save into your other two accounts in order to start making money. Adding a cashback credit card can also be a good option to get money back on your spend.

Roy McLoughlinAssociate Director - Cavendish Ware wealth management

Open three accounts for short, medium and long-term saving, says Roy McLouhlin, whatever you can afford, save money equally into the following three areas…

Short term: A cash account, where you can easily access your money

Medium term: A Stocks and Shares ISA

Take the plunge and invest in a Stocks and Shares ISA, and you could make money on your savings. Remember, the value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up. Capital at risk.

Long term: A pension

You may not think a Retirement Plan is for you quite yet, but we’re all living longer. And if you’re self-employed, you won’t get the benefits of a workplace pension. We’ll all need more money in retirement, if we want to live the life we want.

Meet the Experts
regina wong

Regina Wong is a minimalism expert, coach and consultant. She is passionate about minimalism and simple living, and is author of Make Space: A Minimalist’s Guide to the Good and the Extraordinary (Skyhorse Publishing).

roy mcloughlin

Roy McLoughlin is Associate Director at Cavendish Ware and Co-Chair of the Income Protection Taskforce. Unusually, he has won many industry awards both in the individual and corporate market places.

FOLLOW OUR SOCIAL CHANNELS FOR MORE
©2020 Vitality Corporate Services Limited trading as VitalityHealth, VitalityLife and VitalityInvest.
back_to_top_button.svg
close_pop_up.svg

I started my working life on a graduate scheme at an accountancy firm, and like many receiving a salary for the first time, I lurched from one month to the next without really taking stock of my money. I would talk to friends about wanting to get on the property ladder but didn’t take any steps to make that a reality. Quite the opposite really: like most of my peers, I would think nothing of buying clothes every month even if I didn’t really need them and spending £10 every day in the office canteen. That all changed after I met Eve in 2015. From the start, it was clear she knew exactly what she wanted to achieve and that in turn made me sit up and take a longer-term view of my own future. That meant streamlining my finances and asking questions about whether I really ‘needed’ that new suit I was going to buy.

Nick Agwuncha, 28 and Eve Obasuyi, 28, set up Money Medics, the healthy money management platform and newsletter for millennials, with Nick’s sister Ashley.
Nick-headshotEve-Headshot

Now that we are married, Nick and I regularly audit our finances because it’s amazing what you can find – only recently we realised we were both separately paying for our Netflix account! It’s one reason we set up our blog as a straightforward tool for millennials to learn to take control of their money. Coronavirus has shown us how the economy can change overnight and how we need to protect ourselves from unforeseen circumstances – and the best way to do that is to be a minimalist with your money.

“Seeing those pared-down bank statements without payments spiralling out all over the place made me feel more zen.”

black_quote.svg

Decluttering was a huge step. I remember Eve coming over one night and doing a massive clear-out of my stuff to either throw away or donate: it’s hard to see clearly through the mess but when you do, you realise you don’t need to buy all these new things. I cut right back on all my outgoings, from shopping to food and travel and committed to putting aside £300 every month instead. Far from feeling like I was stripping my life back, seeing those pared-down bank statements without payments spiralling out all over the place made me feel more zen – I felt in control of my finances, and of my own future.

When I first started university I was all over the place with my money, but after deciding I wanted to get on the property ladder early I reviewed all my expenses and decided that the best way to invest in the future was to take a minimalist approach. That meant stripping everything back: phone contracts, my weekly shop. I was even careful how much petrol I used and made sure my car was on ‘eco’ mode. I also gave myself a strict monthly budget that left room for spontaneous spending. It helped me to save around £1,000 a month on outgoings, which enabled me to buy a property when I was 24. Being mindful about my spending opened up my options: later I could rent out that property as an investment. It also kept me grounded: there is a lot of mental stress which comes from spending money on things you don’t need, which can lead to mounting debt. It’s an approach I used when Nick and I were planning our wedding, too. I committed to saving £250 every month to ensure I still had a good amount of money after the wedding. It sounded like a lot at first, but it left my account on the first of the month, so it’s like I never really had it. It’s something I advise everyone to do – no matter how small, open up an ISA and set up a direct debit. It’s amazing how money mounts up.

black_quote.svg

“Nick and I regularly audit our finances because it’s amazing what you can find – only recently we realised we were both separately paying for our Netflix account!”

Nick says:
eve says:

the money minimalists

close_pop_up.svg

the organising expert

Sue Spencer, 48, is a certified KonMari consultant from Winchester (A Life More Organised). She lives with husband Adrian, 52, and children Skye 18, and Harvey 21, both students.
spencer

Like many of us with busy lives, I’d done my best to stay on top of the clutter at home over the years, yet while my house was never particularly messy, living with my two teenagers meant it was always packed to the brim. Then, two years ago, a friend of mine suggested I try out the Marie Kondo method, a world-renowned Japanese organising expert who combines minimalism with a focus on ensuring that the things you live with spark joy. It was a revelation. Through Marie’s approach of working through your house in categories rather than rooms, I could see not only the volume of stuff we had accumulated but how much of it was duplicated. From investing in the right storage to hide away everyday items, to creating a system to deal with paperwork where every single bit of paper from utility and mobile phone bills to home insurance was categorised, each step I took made our home feel less cluttered. My clear-out had such an impact that people started to comment on the serene feel of my house when they came in, while I enjoyed the sense of wellbeing from my newly cleansed home so much that I trained to become a KonMari consultant.

“Clients have told me that clearing their physical space has helped to free up their mind and focus on what makes them happy.”

black_quote.svg

Since then, I’ve helped dozens of people streamline their homes and seen at first-hand the negative emotional impact that having too much stuff can have on someone. This was driven home by my very first client, a mother with two young children who had amassed so much clutter she was overwhelmed. She was very low: when I turned up, she burst into tears. I worked with her for five sessions, going through everything from her clothes to her books and her kitchen cabinets, and by the fourth you could see the transformation: she had already gained a clarity of focus. It was like an invisible weight had lifted from her shoulders. I’ve seen it time and again since. Psychologists have long drawn a link between clutter and mental and emotional wellbeing, while clients have told me that clearing their physical space has helped to free up their mind and focus on what makes them happy. Streamlining what you have can also have a positive financial impact; when you’re aware of exactly what you’ve got, you become a far more conscious consumer.

close_pop_up.svg

the frugal family writer

Personal finance journalist and blogger Faith Archer, 49, lives in Suffolk with husband Josh, 51, and children Isabel, 12, and George, 10. Faith is the creator of the blog Much More With Less.
Faith-Archer-headshot-long

Before having children, my husband Josh and I juggled typically stressful urban lives and both worked long hours. Having our kids got us thinking about what we really wanted out of life. As a personal finance journalist, I’d always been good at managing our money and so, rather than return to an exhausting office job I decided to go freelance, even if it meant less income and less chance to splash out on stuff we didn’t really need. When property prices went crazy in 2014, we decided to step off our career tracks and swap our house in London for a new mortgage-free life in Suffolk and a much more minimalist lifestyle. We’ve never looked back. Reducing our overall living costs meant I could continue working from home around school hours, while my husband could give up his corporate job to return to the charity sector – which in turn freed us up to do more of what we love. Living as we do now has made me realise that minimalism isn’t about white walls and a few carefully chosen objects – it’s about questioning consumption and asking whether you need to buy more stuff. We are all bombarded by the pressure to consume, with suggestions that a particular pair of shoes or dress will magically make our lives better. If you set that aside, it can be very liberating.

“Minimalism isn’t about white walls and a few carefully chosen objects – it’s about questioning consumption and asking whether you need to buy more stuff.”

black_quote.svg

It’s something I try to get people to think about through my blog, helping them make the most of their money and see how small changes can add up to big results. One of the things I really recommend is keeping a spending diary, whether it’s pen and paper, a spreadsheet or notes on your phone. If you write down everything you spend, right down to each cup of coffee, you become much more mindful. Often people discover they are emotional spenders, forking out for a quick hit of instant gratification. But if you can stop to think what else you could use that money for, you might stop buying so much, and be able to put more towards your financial goals. One of my key suggestions overall is to buy fewer, better things – a thick winter coat that will last for years, or furniture that will stand the test of time. There’s a knock-on positive effect for the environment too – by extending the life of the products you own, you avoid sending more to landfill.

black_quote.svg

“One of my key suggestions overall is to buy fewer, better things – a thick winter coat that will last for years, or furniture that will stand the test of time.”

When it comes to presents, I prefer to buy life-enhancing experiences or things that can be used up, like beautiful soap or wine, so you are not creating more clutter in your home. For example, one birthday my husband got me a trampolining course, while I sent him to a cocktail-making class. Food is another area where you can make small but significant changes. Try making a shopping list in advance and sticking to it, or buying versatile ingredients that can be used for multiple meals. Budgeting carefully doesn’t mean you can’t have fun – far from it. Our children love lots of things that cost very little, from treasure hunts and climbing trees to camping in the garden on a warm night. Someone once said the best things in life aren’t things at all – and the past few years have taught me how true that is.

prev.svg