Friday, August 27, 2010

Minimalism and thriftiness - partners in lean living

In the lead up to the great leap south, I took to a very minimalist living philosophy. Aside from the therapeutic affects of a good cull of "stuff", it also meant there was much less to pack. It's also re-affirmed a desire to live free of unnecessary clutter. I've enjoyed posts from The Everyday Minimalist, though she's far more minimalist than me!

The other thing that I've taken to a further extreme than usual lately is being thrifty. I've always been a firm believer in living within your means. At the moment, we're in the rather annoying position of having to pay both mortgage and rent while we wait for the house to sell. Add to this mix the fact that I've changed work from regular salary to consulting and invoicing so our income is a little wacky. As soon as the house sells, we'll be back on very good financial footing, but until then we're keeping a tight reign on things.

First things first, all discretionary spending is either on hold or significantly reduced. Getting back to the minimalist philosophy, everything comes down to whether we really NEED something. If it isn't essential, we don't buy it. In the majority of cases, it will still be there later when the budget is more healthy.

Now everyone varies in what they consider necessary or discretionary spending. Something that is very definitely in our necessary category is health care, which in my case is expensive. By cutting out as much discretionary spending as possible, I can do everything I need to do to keep me healthy without feeling any guilt for blowing the budget.

Next, we've changed the way we use the credit cards. Normally we pay the credit card off in full each month. This is great as it means no interest charges. Now though, it actually makes more sense to pay the minimum and incur the interest instead of pay it in full. We won't end up that much out of pocket from the interest by the time we're back to being able to pay it in full. We already use the credit card as much as possible. Partly for the Frequent Flyer points, but also because it's easier to track where our spending is going.

I've always enjoyed thrifty shopping. I've been making use of websites like Gumtree to source things cheaply. We managed to get a second-hand desk and office chair for the home office so the CPD could work from home relatively cheaply. Our thrifty gardening adventures are over at Greening Our Life. I think the trick is to only buy what you need and not get sucked into something that is a bargain, but isn't essential.

I'm enjoying the challenge at the moment, though I'll admit the list of "things to buy once the house sells" is starting to get long!

No comments: