True story: I’m a minimalist

A student lives a minimalist lifestyle in a mostly empty apartment.

Learn how having less can help you be more.

Richard Reis embraced a minimalist lifestyle, which had some sweeping effects on his life: In one year, he saved more money than he ever had, lost more than 30 pounds, and started a blog. Here, he shares the concept of minimalism and tips for how you can incorporate minimalist practices into your day-to-day life.

By the time you finish reading this, I have no doubt you will be a more focused person. I say this confidently because what I’m about to share has changed my life, along with the lives of many people.

What sparked my transformation? Minimalism.

Minimalism is a tool to help you live life intentionally. It helps you get rid of what’s not important so you can focus on what is. It’s a way to clear your physical and mental clutter to live a happier, more fulfilled life.

I used to think minimalism was silly. Now, I think minimalism is a superpower. It can help you:

1. Focus more.When you have too many things lying around, every time you see them you think, “I should probably clean/get rid of/organize this.”

This creates stress you don’t need. It takes focus away from the important things. When you get rid of the clutter, your brain breathes.

2. Achieve more. Want to change your life? Start by cleaning your closet.

No matter how big or small your goals are, minimalism can help you achieve them. Take it in steps. Finish small tasks and enjoy a little boost of energy. Then, move on to something bigger, and then bigger, and then bigger — for example, doing your taxes, applying for that job you really want, or solving string theory. Just kidding on that last one.

3. Earn more. Yes, minimalism may also make you wealthier. It’s simple math. The less you need, the less you spend. The less you spend, the more you can save!

Saving money is a game-changer for both your financial and physical health (more money, more peace of mind). With extra cash in the bank, you can work on paying down debtsaving toward a goal, or investing. You can help give yourself a much brighter future by making this tiny change.

How to go minimal with your finances

I found Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” useful in my minimalism journey. Her techniques for simplifying, organizing, and storing helped me get in the minimalist mindset when it came to my home, life, and finances.

Think about how the minimalist style of getting rid of excess can apply to your unique financial situation. How can you simplify your finances and stay in control of your money?

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  1. Combine and cut down. You probably don’t need more than one checking account, one savings account, and one credit card. And if it makes sense for you, think about consolidating any debt you have so that you have a shorter list of bills.
  2. Automate. Use technology to simplify your finances. If you’re already a Wells Fargo customer, you can set up Direct Deposit for your paycheck, online Bill Pay for your bills, and, if you can, an automatic monthly transfer into savings. Take advantage of Wells Fargo Mobile® deposit1 for your checks, and Zelle®2 to send and receive money.
  3. Go paperless. Paperless billing: good for the environment, good for your finances, and good for shrinking that stack of papers on your desk. Take a look at all your financial paperwork and shred what you don’t need. Tip: You likely only need to keep three years worth of tax returns.
  4. Stop services and subscriptions you don’t use. One $10-per-month service adds up to $120 a year — and you likely don’t have just one service. Review all your subscriptions and think about your needs versus your wants. Cut services where you can; you can always resubscribe later. And make sure you use what’s available for free or at a discount — for example, eating at the dining hall instead of ordering takeout.

Living with less can help you do and be more — more thoughtful, more engaged, more creative, and more financially confident. I challenge you to try minimalism for 30 days and see how your life can change for the better.

Simplify your budget

Organizing and staying on top of your budget is easier with the right tools. Download the CollegeSTEPS college budget worksheet to get started.

Want to read more about saving for the now?

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