Everyone wants more money. But I believe the money we need is already ours; we just don’t make the best use of it.
Yes, I said “we.” We started our minimalism journey over six months ago, but old habits die hard. My desires still tend to lean toward shopping. Minimalism is a mindset and a process. It is easy for me to mentally justify purchases because I’m “trying to curate my closet” or “I got rid of all my nasty makeup I never used but now I have none.” I don’t want to go from buying stuff just because it was on sale to just buying expensive stuff to replace the cheap stuff I got rid of.
So as we learn to be better stewards of our finances, finding the balance between working hard to earn and trusting God to provide for our needs, my husband and I have come up with some things we do that may sound a little odd. These things help us save money and be wiser. Some of them even help us be less wasteful. None of these are to cast judgment on anyone. Hopefully some of these will be a help to you as you seek to be content with what you have and be wise with your finances.
We share shower and body products whenever possible.
I know this throws some people.
It has been so good for us though! Whenever we buy bathroom items, we stop and think 1) how can we both use this, 2) does this have multiple uses, and 3) is this purchase financially wise and best in terms of ingredients? We have shared (and still do for most of these) hairspray, hair gel/mousse, coconut oil (makeup remover + beard conditioner), toothpaste, razor packs, combs/brushes, body wash, conditioner, and shampoo. Let’s talk about that last one for a minute.
The original reason for using the same shampoo was not actually to save money. We researched the unpronounceable garbage that fills our shampoo, soaps, and body products, and, needless to say, it disgusted us. After weeks of searching for something both affordable and free of toxins, we discovered everyone soap. It is exactly what it sounds like: soap for everyone. We bought a large, pump-dispensed, 3-in-1 soap from Amazon and haven’t looked back! They have some incredible scents, and we love how it saves us money (yay for two-packs!), makes more room in the shower (less bottles), and is free of nasty chemicals. Side note: we’ve also used their hand soap and love it.
Try sharing products with your spouse, sibling, or roommate (whatever your living arrangement). You may find that it saves you money in the long run.
We make snacks instead of buying them pre-made.
And they are usually more delicious because CUSTOMIZATION! My husband and I both enjoy cooking, and we really enjoy saving money. So we make our own trail mix, chips, hummus, and salsa. I want to just talk about the last one here but if you want to know how we make the others, let me know in the comments!
We sometimes just grab a jar of salsa while at the grocery store if we know we’re going to have a busy weekend and may not have time to make it homemade; but it is so worth it when we take the time! When you add up the cost of ingredients, it equals about the same as the cost of a jar of salsa. But here’s the thing: you might get two cups of salsa in a jar when you buy it. When we make it, we get six cups! Again, totally worth it.
Here is what we use to make ours! Most of these are guesstimates because we don’t measure anything. But it’s really hard to mess up salsa.
3 cans of fire-roasted tomatoes
1 small chili pepper in adobo sauce (we buy a tiny can that lasts a few weeks)
2 or 3 jalapeno peppers
1 small onion
Several cloves of garlic (I usually do 4 or 5)
1 teaspoon of lime juice
Dash of hot sauce (if you like it spicy)
Bunch of fresh cilantro
Dash of oregano
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Roughly chop the jalapeno peppers, making sure to scrape out the seeds unless you want your mouth to be on fire. Roughly chop the onion and garlic. Toss everything besides the tomatoes and hot sauce into a food processor and pulse until well minced. Drain the fire-roasted tomatoes and blend them in a blender until it is the smoothness you like. Add content of the food processor and hot sauce to blender and blend until fully incorporated. Taste and see if it needs anything, keeping in mind that the flavors will blend and mellow overnight. Boom, done. I’m not sure how long it SHOULD keep because we usually consume it within two weeks. We eat it on everything!
Are there any snacks you could make at home instead of buying? It is healthier for you and better for your grocery bill!
Take-out coffee and drinks are treats, not the norm.
Okay, I have to be honest. Whenever salespeople talk about how much you spend on coffee every morning and say, “If you saved up the money you spend on coffee every week, you could BUY THIS INSTEAD” I just sort of laugh. If you saved that much money by making your own coffee instead of ordering at Starbucks every morning, you could SAVE MORE MONEY!
But seriously, coffee can get expensive, y’all. And I’m not really a coffee-drinker so when we hit Starbucks, ya girl usually gets a chai tea latte with almond milk, or, if it’s hot out, strawberry acai. Not a cheap “coffee” stop, especially if we do it on a regular basis.
For some reason, since moving to Baltimore, we have gotten an abundance of gift cards to the aforementioned coffee joint. Between giveaways, holidays, and church events, we have hardly spent any of our own money at Starbucks. We still try to save them up for a special day though, like hanging out together working on our blogs or running errands together on a Saturday.
The point is, I am always down for a hazelnut steamer, Pink Drink, or Wawa smoothie; but when I add up how much ONE drink costs, and how much it would cost to get it on a regular basis, it makes me want to keep that money safe in a bank account. For Christmas I got my husband a pour-over dripper and his favorite ground coffee (Blueberry Cobbler, in case you were wondering). Since I am such a tea fanatic, we have tons of tea in our house; so when I feel that craving for something that is delicious, warm, and makes me feel sophisticated, I just pull out the tea crate (true story–it is a crate-full). Although I have not yet mastered foamed milk, we found a carton of “London Fog Latte” at Aldi (very strong brewed Earl Gray tea), and heated up with almond milk it is to die for!
Look up fun barista-style drinks you can make at home. I can guarantee it will save you money, plus you’ll have fun pretending to be a barista! If you don’t have time to whip up a delicious, beautiful latte in the mornings, maybe you could do regular coffee at home most work-mornings and splurge on a special drink once a week.
Lunches get packed and dinners get made.
When I was younger and would hear my parents talk about why it’s healthier and more financially wise to pack one’s own lunch, I didn’t know why it was even a talking point. Who buys their lunch out every day?
Fast-forward to being in my mid-twenties, and I’ve learned that almost everyone does. And after a long day at work, it’s hard to find motivation to cook an entire dinner. So off our society runs to Chipotle.
I don’t work in an office anymore, but when I did I was shocked at how many people went out and bought their lunch every day (or nearly every day). I will be the first to admit that it seems so much easier to run to Wawa or Chick-fil-A. I hate getting up in the morning; and truthfully, chicken nuggets with ranch and a medium waffle fry always taste better than whatever I made.
Notice that I said that it seems so much easier. It seems easier in the moment: that morning as I’m rushing out the door and don’t have anything to take for lunch, that afternoon when I’m craving a hoagie and Doritos, that night when all I want to do is sit down because I’me exhausted. But it is not easier on my wallet or my waistline. It is much more financially wise to make and bring my own lunch, and so much healthier as well (unless I bring ramen noodles as my meal…but we aren’t going to talk about that).
If getting up early and figuring out what to take for lunch is challenging, there are literally countless meal prep ideas on Pinterest. Meal-prepping is not just for easy dinners. Do your bank account and your belly a favor and try making your own lunch. (Here’s a link to the blog post about how we meal prep!) If you dread coming home from work and having to make something edible, utilize your crockpot more, or meal prep dinner too!
We shop with intent.
How many weekends have I occupied with trips to the mall? How many hours have I spent browsing the deals sent to my inbox? How many unnecessary things have I purchased simply because “it was on sale”?
This is something we are continually working on. As I mentioned at the very beginning: old habits die hard. My bent to hunt down great deals and create the perfect closet, find the cutest earrings, or try new eye shadows is still there. But I will keep fighting it.
We don’t often browse these days. We live minutes from an enormous mall + shopping center, but we don’t go unless we need something. We do our best to only buy that particular something we need.
Something else we started doing is making a list of things we think we need or want. Black jeans, dressy casual sandals, a strainer, water bottle, whatever it may be. Instead of running to Amazon or Target to buy something as soon as we think of it, we first try to decide if we actually need it. Research gets put into the buying of it: comparing prices, brands, benefits of owning it. And if we cannot find it for a decent price, deem it unnecessary or at least not expedient, or forget about it, it doesn’t get purchased.
You may not want to admit it, but we all could probably use an adjustment when it comes to our shopping habits–at the very least, our shopping mindset. This is a topic for an entirely new blog post, but maybe you need to stop and think about why you shop.
Courtney Carver writes in her book Soulful Simplicity, “I’m not opposed to owning things, but looking back, I see that everything I owned, owned me right back. See if you recognize why you own (or buy) things in any of the following myths.
“Aspirational Ownership: ‘If I own _____, I will be/look/feel _____.’
“Pain Avoidance Ownership: This pain may stem from boredom, procrastination, or guilt.
“Just-In-Case Ownership: The reason we don’t hear the silliness or senselessness of our just-in-case is because we don’t finish the sentence. Instead of saying, ‘I’m keeping (or buying) this just in case,’ finish the sentence, ‘I’m keeping (or buying) this just in case ______.'” (excerpts taken from pg 49-54, parentheses added)
If I can make it myself or make do without it, why would I spend the money given to me by God on it? Let us become better stewards of our finances. Let us be aware of where our money is going.
[Jesus] said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. Luke 12:15
Note: I am not endorsed by any of the companies, organizations, businesses, or products mentioned in this post.