In the beginning of the summer or so, I decided to make a number of significant changes in my life. The changes themselves might not seem significant to some folks, but since I’ve started down this path they’ve had an enormous impact on my life and my relationship with my wife. Backing up a little, I read a number of blogs about simplicity and minimalism, if not daily then surely a couple times a week. The one that stands out the most to me is the Becoming Minimalist blog. I have no idea how often they publish articles, because their articles pop up in my RSS aggregator. The blog posts from Becoming Minimalist merge with other articles with similar sounding sites, and I read them when I get a chance. There were two blog posts from the site that I bookmarked for future consideration and it was these two articles that I based all of my changes on…

From these two articles, I made the following changes…

  • Get rid of credit cards.
  • Get rid of monthly expenses that are not needed.
  • Start to track your expenses.
  • Learn to say no to things.
  • Simplify your wardrobe.

The German theologian Meister Eckhart is quoted as stating “the more we have the less we own.” I’ve always found this particular quote inspiring on a number of levels and it’s no coincidence that my first three changes are entirely in the personal finance realm. Keeping Eckhart’s quote in my brain and also the saying “less stuff, more feels,” I felt as though I needed to stop being a consumer. That meant no more tech gadgets, no more being frivolous with spending, and no more exorbitant gifts. By tracking my expenses, getting rid of frivolous recurring monthly expenses,  and getting rid of credit cards and balances, I’ve been able to save more and have peace of mind. It was no small feat. I had to involve my wife and we had to agree to this major lifestyle change. It was difficult and led to a few deep conversations about the direction of our lives as a couple, but it was well worth it.

The last two bullet items that I implemented dealt with my time and stuff. “Learn to say no to things…” had a double meaning for me. The first application meant saying no to things, material goods. I don’t need more stuff. Yes, it would be great to have that new iPhone 7 Plus with the fancy new double camera, but I don’t need it. My current phone, two releases old, is perfectly functional and does everything I need. Before the changes, I would have been snapping up that new phone in a heartbeat and probably putting it on a credit card—worrying about the balance at some other time. 🙁 I had to become disciplined with my spending and consumerism. The second meaning centered on saying no to people. This was much easier for me, mostly because I’m a bit of a loner and a homebody. I learned to protect my free time. I don’t go to every party, restaurant, event, concert, et cetera… unless it is particularly interesting or I’m obliged in some way. I have to work eight hours a day and it takes two hours a day for commuting. That’s ten hours of my day that is taken from me in order to earn a living. Of the waking hours I have left during the week and my free time on the weekends, I don’t want to spend it doing stuff that I don’t enjoy. So I learned to say no to people and started planning external events much more carefully than before.

The last thing I did, and I just started this past weekend, was to simplify my wardrobe. I went through my closet and purged a lot of clothes that I really don’t wear and reduced my color palette to mostly dark hues, chinos, and denim.  My work shirts are all roughly the same style and hue; my chinos are also mostly the same; I pared down to just two pair of jeans; and all of my underwear, tees, and socks are now monochromatic. There’s something immensely satisfying when not having to put together an outfit in the early morning before work. This doesn’t mean I’m not stylish though. I feel as though my clothes now reflect my personal style much better than before. I stumbled across an article titled 101 Style Tips for Men and in it there were a couple of items that caught my eye as well…

  • #37, Don’t wear T-shirts with graphics on them…
  • #94, Organize your wardrobe.

Keeping #37 in mind when purging, I got rid of mostly all of my graphic tees and settled on tees of mostly the same hue; though there are both crew and v-neck styles in my tee shirt drawer. #94 was also influential; I organized everything so I can just grab a pair of pants, a shirt, and underwear in the dark and get dressed without worrying about anything needing to match. This means instead of spending ten minutes throwing together an outfit in the morning and then getting dressed, I can now just get dressed without needing to put thought into the process. 🙂

All of these changes have helped me to reclaim time, feel less rushed, reduce mental anxiety, save more money, and break the consumerism rope that I was using to hang myself. If anyone actually reads this and feels the desire to simplify, I highly suggest starting with the Becoming Minimalist blog linked in the first paragraph. It is a great site.