Is Money a Good Reason to Turn Minimalist?

There are some popular quotes when it comes to minimalism. Like “Less is more”, “Living with less, but only with the best” or “I’m being cheap like a minimalist”. Automatically, many people link minimalism to money. As if it was natural to join them together. As if being minimalist means you’ll have more money or that you’ll spend so little that your bank account is piled up. Or that you are minimalist only because you don’t have money.

Well, maybe yes, maybe no.

Minimalism goes way beyond that. Minimalism is not linked with one single thing. For most, it’s an ensemble of values that define many, yet not all, minimalists.


Deep down to its roots, minimalism is about freedom. Financial freedom, owning freedom, spirit freedom. It has to do with not being dependent on things or people. When you have little, there are few strings attached. You become more free of your thoughts and actions. For example, minimalists will – at one point or another – question themselves about:

  • Religious believes
  • Owning vs Renting
  • Being a parent, or not
  • Advantages of being in a couple, or not
  • Sedentary versus nomadic life
  • How many clothes is enough?
  • Having one car, two cars, NO car?
  • etc.

The answers to these questions are very intimate and personal. But honestly, not so many persons go through all these! Ever heard that we were born not to live, but to retire? Life, as it is taught to children, is designed for the fun once you retire.

  • You are born.
  • You go to school.
  • You work.
  • You get married or find a loved one.
  • You have kids.
  • You work harder.
  • You put money aside.
  • You work again.
  • You retire.
  • You enjoy life.

That’s life. Really?

Minimalism is about enjoying life yesterday, today and tomorrow through the freedom it gives. For sure, you can do all of the above if it’s what you want. But do you know what you want? That’s what minimalism is about. Focusing on the little that truly counts and make the most out of it.

What Will Live After You

Minimalism is also the concern of thinking about the future. So, no, it’s not YOLO to the extreme! It’s thinking about your future, your kids’ future and your environment’s future. Basically, what will live after you. It could be nothing. But as a minimalist, you will again – at one point or another – think about that. Some minimalists have a big environmental concern. I do have one. However, the importance is not the answers to these many questions, but rather asking them to yourself.

Justice and Equality

Another value that seems to be a shared trait between minimalists is justice and equality. Some minimalists were interested into the philosophy because they thought it was not fair that we, as North Americans, have so much while other people on the planet don’t even know if they will eat tonight. Having less so that maybe others can have more. Being minimalist to act with more respect towards the other human on the other side of the planet. Having less so you, and us as a society, can share.

Because of that, minimalists rarely make differences between men and women or between races. They tend to see the world in terms of the human being rather than in terms of countries, beliefs, and boundaries.

Experiences Over Things

All this lead to prioritizing experiences over things. Traveling is often one of the minimalists’ favorites. They won’t necessarily go for the all-inclusive type too. I’ve noticed that many minimalists are thrilled by a backpacking trip with little to carry and little planned ahead. Not all minimalists are adventurous though, don’t get me wrong! Still, they look for experiences, for things they’ve never done before.

That does not mean all minimalists live in a transformed dumpster! I have a two-stair classic style home and I still consider myself as a minimalist. The number of things versus experiences can vary a lot. But the importance given to things will always be lower than the one for experiences in a minimalist’ world.

As another example, epicurean minimalists will see a night out in a nice restaurant as an experience. While others will think restaurants is not a worthy expense compared to a train ticket for the Rocky Mountains! And some will do a bit of both! Still, experiences will be at the center, way before a new pair of shoes or the latest iPhone.

Simple is not Cheap, Neither it is Easy!

As you can see, minimalism is about living in a simpler manner and enjoying the moment. However, it has little to do with being cheap. And because minimalists will love new experiences, they don’t necessarily have a full bank account.

Again, simple is not easy. In a consumer society like ours, it’s rather hard to concentrate on the needs versus the wants. It is also quite hard to keep focus on experiences while – for example – a second car would make your life so much easier! It would also be a lot more easy to not think about others or the environment and just keep doing your own little stuff no matter what could happen next.

So, Is Money a Good Reason to Turn Minimalist?

I guess that if you are someone who spends a lot on small and big things, turning minimalist could be a smart financial move. However, if someone does it only for money, it won’t work. Being minimalist is a way of thinking – among many others – that you need to identify to. Otherwise, you won’t feel comfortable in your new lifestyle.

Also, you need to give it some time. To do things a step at a time. I’m a lot more minimalist than I was 5 years ago, but I’m surely a lot less than I will in 2-3 years from now! Minimalism is like a wild horse to tame. At first, you will only notice it is there. After a while, you will enjoy the ride on its back!


P.S. I didn’t mean to put tags on minimalists in any way. I think there are as many minimalism definitions as there are minimalists. Still, after many years writing and reading about it, I’ve noticed some common traits. Feel free to add your own in comments!


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