Minimalism is a small but growing movement in Singapore. Minimalists believe that reducing the amount of objects you own and only purchasing things you absolutely need is essential for living life to the fullest. Some prominent minimalists like Ben Liu can tell you exactly how many articles of clothing they own: "Five shirts, nine T-shirts, five pairs of jeans, two bermudas, seven pairs of underwear, 10 pairs of socks, one blazer, one cold weather jacket. That's all."
Adopting a minimalist mindset can also boost your personal finances. Having fewer things means you can live in a smaller house and pay less for rent or a mortgage. You can also cut down on wasteful spending and find more money to save and invest every month. Keep reading to learn how minimalism can improve your quality of life and revolutionise your financial planning.
The Minimalist Aesthetic
A core tenet of minimalist living is reducing the number of things you own and getting the most out of every purchase. Your wardrobe is an easy place to start cutting superfluous items. From owning tops and bottoms that match almost exclusively with another piece of clothing to that one dress you wore to a party and will probably never wear again, excess clothing can quickly pile up. But holding on to extra clothing adds stress to your day by making it difficult to decide what to wear.
A capsule collection is a small number of essential items that can be mixed and matched to create new outfits. Imagine how much easier it would be to get ready in the morning if you only had to choose between 5-10 shirts and 3-4 pairs of pants? The money you save on fewer pieces of clothing can go towards buying one high-quality shirt or be invested somewhere else.
How Capsule Collections Increase the Number of Outfit Combinations
You’d be surprised how much more space you have in your home after getting rid of excess clothing, unused furniture, and other clutter. Singapore has some of the most expensive real estate in the world, and many minimalists have found that by reducing their possessions, they can downsize their home and save on rent each month.
Many people think that minimalists are rich because they seem to have the nicest quality of appliances, furniture, and clothing. But minimalism simply allows you to invest in quality rather than buying cheap, trendy pieces every few months. For example, many people buy a cheap new office chair every 1-2 years for around S$90. But a discount chair will start falling apart within months, and soon enough you’ll be back buying a replacement.
Rather, a minimalist might spend S$500 on a very high-quality chair that is better for your posture and lasts 6 years. You can live a more luxurious lifestyle by making considered purchases and not being tempted to constantly buy trendy upgrades or cheap low-quality furniture.
Applying Minimalism to Finance
Living deliberately not only declutters your home and saves space, but seeks to lower your bills—freeing up more money for investments. Decluttering your financial space is just as stress-relieving as organising your material possessions.
One easy place to make cuts is subscription services. Subscription services can be convenient, saving you time ordering new products or delivering a truly valuable service. However, more often than not, that monthly makeup box ends up being a waste of space (and more importantly, money). Worst case scenario, you might even forget you have a subscription and end up paying for years without realizing. Here’s an example of how easily subscriptions can get out of hand:
The Surprising Cost of Popular Subscription Services
While an individual subscription may seem reasonable on a monthly basis, the cost of several subscriptions over time adds up quickly and you will almost certainly pay for more than you need. If you instead invested that S$5,100 with a brokerage account or contributed to your savings, you could achieve long-term financial goals significantly faster.
How to Start a Minimalist Lifestyle
Living a minimalist lifestyle can seem daunting at first, but there are plenty of places to look for inspiration. Singapore has growing online minimalist communities like Minimalism in Singapore where you can learn from others pursuing a deliberate lifestyle.
Starting small and building minimalist habits is easier than tearing apart your home overnight. Don't expect to implement an entirely new lifestyle overnight. You can begin by setting achievable goals that build on themselves. Start by going through your closet and getting rid of 10 articles of clothing you haven’t worn in a year. Next, move to the kitchen and see if there are any bulky appliances you aren’t using.
The same strategy can be applied to your budget. Take some time to go through all of your monthly expenses and identify 3-4 areas where you are overspending. Consider simplifying your finances by adopting a 50-30-20-rule that regulates excessive spending and encourages saving. After adopting a few minimalist habits, you’d be surprised how quickly momentum builds when simplifying your life.