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Money doesn’t have any value on its own; it’s just pieces of paper. The real value of money is what it can afford you. For a lot of people, the true motivation behind amassing wealth is the goal of not stressing about finances on a day-to-day basis.

But what if I told you that this is possible without having to be a millionaire? In fact, you can live a life of stress-free finances even if you’re earning less than the median income in America. I know because I’ve done it myself.

The trick is to embrace minimalism as it applies to your financial situation.

The Benefits of Financial Minimalism

I would define financial minimalism as a lifestyle decision with two distinct components: one, to cut out as much unnecessary spending as you can, and two, to automate your finances as much as possible.

If you truly live by these two principles, it won’t be long before you start experiencing the various benefits that come with them:

  • Fewer mistakes. Clutter leads to chaos and indecisiveness Clearing Out Clutter Is Good For You — But Why? Clearing Out Clutter Is Good For You — But Why? Decluttering is a great way to start the year feeling fresh, and it gives you a big sense of accomplishment — but there's more to it than that. This simple habit can improve your life. Read More , and if you’re constantly shuffling shopping sprees, bill payments, and impulse purchases, you’re setting yourself up for missed payments and overdrafts. Minimalism is the opposite of that.
  • Better decisions. Decision fatigue is a real problem. Every time you make a decision, your brain gets a bit more tired How Decision Making Skills Are Vital for Life How Decision Making Skills Are Vital for Life Even before you know it, a decision creeps up on you. For a happy and productive life, decisions have to be managed. Let's talk about strategies to get better at making good decisions. Read More . By automating as much as you can, you conserve mental energy and end up making better decisions elsewhere.
  • More freedom. Over time, financial minimalism will result in a fatter bank account (and therefore a bigger security net). But more importantly, it teaches you to be a master of your money rather than being mastered by your money — and that’s true financial freedom.

1. Go Paperless With Email

Do you feel a sense of dread every time you open your mailbox to find paper bills and paper statements? I know I do, which is why I usually end up tossing them on a side table for later . . . and that causes clutter.

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Not only that, but paper records can be annoying to keep organized. If you don’t have a filing system, it can be easy to lose tax records, banking details, bill statements, and other financial paperwork. I’ve found that PDFs on a computer are much easier to handle.

So we recommend going paperless with your life The Future Is Here - Your Guide to Having a Paperless Life Today The Future Is Here - Your Guide to Having a Paperless Life Today Paperless – a term that is used quite often now days. But what does it mean? And to what extent does it apply? Certainly we all still use paper to some degree despite the advancements... Read More , especially with bill notices and banking statements. Plus, emails are less intimidating, aren’t they? Just be sure to practice good backup habits 5 Basic Backup Facts Every Windows User Should Know 5 Basic Backup Facts Every Windows User Should Know We never tire to remind you to make backups and keep your data safe. If you're wondering what, how often, and where you should back up your files, we have straight forward answers. Read More !

2. Cut Out Recurring Expenses

How many Starbucks drinks do you buy every week? Did you cut the cord only to replace cable TV with a dozen streaming services Cut the Cord Forever With These 15 TV Streaming Channels Cut the Cord Forever With These 15 TV Streaming Channels Cable TV is in decline, as the internet provides cheap, on-demand entertainment. Here are 15 of the best TV streaming services to help you cut the cord. Read More ? Are you participating in too many subscription boxes Are Subscription Boxes Worth It? 8 Factors to Consider Are Subscription Boxes Worth It? 8 Factors to Consider Read More ? All of these things add up!

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Now, I’m not saying you need to cut out everything and start living like a pauper. However, you can easily reduce your financial burden by being honest about which expenses you can sacrifice How to Slash Your Household Expenses in 7 Easy Steps How to Slash Your Household Expenses in 7 Easy Steps Tired of seeing all of your income go towards bills and expenses? You aren't alone. We show you some of the best ways to slash your household expenses. Read More . Most “needs” are just “wants” in disguise.

Pro Tip: Take every dollar that you save from cutting a recurring expense and put it into getting out of debt ASAP How to Get Rich: The Fastest Way to Get Out of Debt How to Get Rich: The Fastest Way to Get Out of Debt Imagine being debt free. No overdrawn balances or unpaid bills. There is a foolproof way of getting yourself out of debt. It starts with a plan and some discipline. Let's visit the other ingredients. Read More ! Life becomes much more bearable when you no longer have debt hanging overhead.

3. Set It and Forget It

Tired of the endless juggling of bills and other financial responsibilities, always worrying that you might miss one? The good news is that bills are usually due on the same day every month, so you can easily automate them.

And why wouldn’t you? This is why computers were invented: to handle repetitive tasks on our behalf.

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Along with bill payments, it’s also a good idea to automate retirement contributions and the setting aside of a percentage of every paycheck into a savings account. Out of sight, out of mind.

The only caveat is that you need to make sure that your checking account always has enough so you don’t end up overdrafting. If you can, add up all of your bills in one month and make sure you never drop below that amount.

4. Combine Multiple Accounts

Speaking of checking and savings accounts, pare everything down so that you only have one account of each type. Do you really need checking accounts at PNC, TD, and Wells Fargo? Probably not.

By dropping both TD and Well Fargo, you now only have to worry about one account: one username/password combo, one monthly statement, one account through which you can funnel all of your money. Nothing gets lost this way.

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Similarly, you should consolidate your credit cards. Keep one or two that have the best combinations of excellent rewards, high credit limits, and longest credit history ages. Close the other cards, especially the ones that have annual membership fees for no reason.

You can also consider consolidating your various loans How to Save Thousands: Consolidate Your Student Loans How to Save Thousands: Consolidate Your Student Loans The average 2015 college graduate will have to pay back $35,000 in loans. Here's how loan consolidation can help. Read More . It’s not always the best option, but it may be worthwhile to turn five monthly bills into one.

5. Use All-in-One Budget Software

So you have a checking account, a savings account, a few student loans, maybe an auto loan, a mortgage loan, and one or two other financial accounts. That’s “bare minimum” for a lot of folks, but that’s still a lot to manage.

That’s why you should consider using an all-in-one budgeting app like Mint or You Need a Budget The Online Budget Battle: Mint vs. You Need a Budget (YNAB) The Online Budget Battle: Mint vs. You Need a Budget (YNAB) When it comes to online budgeting and expense tracking, there are plenty of solutions, but two of the biggest names in the business are Mint and You Need a Budget (YNAB). Read More , two of the most acclaimed apps available right now. If you don’t like them, there are a few other budgeting apps 5 Budget Apps You Should Use If You Really Want to Save Money 5 Budget Apps You Should Use If You Really Want to Save Money Here are the most effective budget apps currently available. Pick the one you like best. Read More you can try instead.

mint-dashboard

The key is that most of these budgeting apps allow you to input your credentials for each account type and the app will automatically pull your information from the financial institution’s website, so you can manage all of your financials on Mint itself rather than hopping between each account’s web portal.

These apps usually provide goal tracking features as well, allowing you to manage your money and plan for the future all within a single dashboard. If you decide to use Mint, use these advanced tips 7 Advanced Tips and Tricks to Make You a Mint Expert 7 Advanced Tips and Tricks to Make You a Mint Expert If you master these tips and tricks, you'll be a real Mint expert! Read More for an even easier time.

6. Stop Shopping Online

For some, internet shopping is a curse in disguise. You can open up a new tab and order an item within minutes, making it way too easy to shop impulsively and waste money 7 Tricks That'll Help You Waste Less Money Online 7 Tricks That'll Help You Waste Less Money Online Read More — especially if you have an Amazon Prime membership 6 Amazon Prime Benefits You Might Be Ignoring Right Now 6 Amazon Prime Benefits You Might Be Ignoring Right Now Scratch the surface. Amazon Prime has so many more benefits that people have forgotten about or simply don't realize exist. Read More .

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If you force yourself to shop offline only, you’ll probably buy less stuff. Or at least the temptation to shop won’t be as strong. This is really helpful when you’re trying to live by the mantra of “buy only what you need, not what you want.”

This isn’t a hard and fast rule, of course, but it can be useful as a way to curb an otherwise expensive shopping habit How to Be Frugal While Still Enjoying Tech & Gadgets How to Be Frugal While Still Enjoying Tech & Gadgets Just because you're being frugal doesn't mean you can't enjoy tech! Here are some tips on how to not break the bank with tech purchases. Read More .

7. Sell Unneeded Gadgets & Devices

If minimalism is about getting rid of anything that is excessive, then this should also apply to the various tech gadgets that we have lying around the house but don’t use. Not only is it clutter Is Clutter Consuming You? Organize Your Life With These Sites & Tips Is Clutter Consuming You? Organize Your Life With These Sites & Tips Stuff. Stuff. Stuff. Our lives are consumed with stuff. It has to stop. It's time to clear out the house and the storage facility. It's time to improve your bank account too. Read More , but it’s potential money as well.

Why not sell your unneeded gadgets and devices? You have plenty of great options.

In the future, don’t buy things that you don’t absolutely need. If you already have something, like a camera or an external hard drive, consider selling it or running it into the ground before buying a newer version.

Spend Less, Automate Everything

That’s the formula for financial minimalism. Once you master it, you’ll find that money doesn’t stress you out as much as it once did — even if you’re only making $30,000 per year. You may even find more money in your pocket every month.

Want to become a true master of money? Check out these money-saving podcasts 10 Podcasts That'll Help You Save Money & Get Out of Debt 10 Podcasts That'll Help You Save Money & Get Out of Debt There are a lot of money-related podcasts out there, but these 10 are the best for helping you get out of debt and master your money. Read More , start cultivating these money-saving habits 5 Tech Habits You Should Cultivate If You Want to Save Money 5 Tech Habits You Should Cultivate If You Want to Save Money Cultivate these 5 habits to make sure you save money and get the gadgets and hardware you've been lusting after. Read More , and spend some time learning the basics of personal finance Simply Frugal: How To Learn Personal Finance The Easy Way Simply Frugal: How To Learn Personal Finance The Easy Way Do you fret over bills and debt on a regular basis? Do you feel lost when others speak using financial lingo? Here's the good news: it's never too late to learn about money. Read More .

Where are you on the path to financial minimalism? Or do you think it’s a bunch of hogwash? What are you doing to rein in your financial situation? Let us know with a comment below!

Image Credits: Happy Businesswoman by Andrey_Popov via Shutterstock, Paper Bills via Shutterstock, Savings Growth via Shutterstock, Credit Cards via Shutterstock.

  1. Howard A Pearce @HAPLibertarian
    June 29, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    "Money doesn't have any value on its own; it's just pieces of paper. The real value of money is what it can afford you."

    Isn't that a contradiction or an obvious truth for all things ? Nothing has value on its own except life itself, perhaps.

    But yes, paper money is different than let's say gold money - in case that is the purpose of the statement.

    • Joel Lee
      July 4, 2016 at 2:05 am

      Yeah it's an obvious truth, but as with many obvious truths, they tend to get muddled or forgotten. Money itself doesn't have value, but it's so often associated with value that we end up living for money rather than the things money is supposed to afford us. It's nice to be reminded of that from time to time, I think.

      • Howard A Pearce @HAPLibertarian
        July 4, 2016 at 9:27 pm

        Like I said, very little other than life has value all by itself. Money has value as a common exchange and as common store of value.

        At one time that store of value WAS based upon gold which did have value and which money was made from. You can certainly make the case that paper money only has the value that people trust it with or their government with. And by itself is worth paper only.

        For getting the above, no one would want money if it had no value. It is merely a value one does not associate with final goods.

  2. A41202813GMAIL ..
    June 28, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    Stay Away From Plastic And Electronic Money As Much As Possible.

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