To make it out of the dungeons and become financially independent sooner rather than later, you will need to begin with shifting and adjusting your mindset. As with any life-changing strategy, it won’t happen overnight; you need time.
In my case, I watched “The Minimalists” documentary years ago, and then I read Mr Money Mustache blog furiously in 2019. But it wasn’t until the national lockdown that I’ve noticed a massive shift in my consciousness. In all honesty, I would never want to go back to the mindset I had pre-lockdown.
When you start changing habits and shifting outdated beliefs, you might experience anxiety and think that you deprive yourself of something, because you don’t spend money (new outfit, the latest phone, takeaways etc.). Our whole mainstream culture is designed in such a way, to make us feel disadvantaged the moment we don’t follow the crowd and own something more besides debts. However, if in your heart and mind you are only half convinced about your financial independence, or you think that small numbers cannot get you far on your way into financial freedom, you will struggle to make progress. Small numbers always add up, especially if you look at them over time. So, your daily and weekly spending matter enormously.
To make your financial independence a reality you will have to go full in, not half-assing, like I was for years, satisfying my every wish and believing that I had to buy everything I wanted. My consumption was deceiving me. For a long time, I didn’t realize the magnitude of my mindless actions on future generations and my financial independence, which has always been a top priority for me but I didn’t know how and where to start.
When you fully commit to financial independence and sustainability of life, your mindset will start shifting, evaluating daily actions in much more sustainable categories: Do I need this, or do I just want to satisfy my ego?
If you see money only as a tool to consume more, you will fail to see that all the resources invested in overconsumption could be your ticket to financial independence and the real freedom it brings.
If you never buy what you don’t need, you aren’t only saving money for your independent future, but are also helping preserve the Earth. The amount of goods our modern society buys is staggering. Changing your wardrobe yearly or four times a year, as the fashion industry will have us, isn’t only expensive but also incredibly harmful to the planet. To make one pair of jeans, from the production of the cotton thread to the delivery of the final product, 3,781 litres of water is needed. 3,781!!! That equals to around 33.4 kg. of carbon emission United Nations Environmental Program reports.
“The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.” (UNEP and Ellen MacArthur Foundation)
Let that sink for a minute. With every unneeded item you buy, you aren’t only getting closer to a poor house but also contributing to increased pollution, depriving future generations of clean air, food and water.
If your mindset is stuck in the consumerism mode, you will need to put a lot of work in to get out of that trap. (I know I’ve been there and done that). You need to free your mind from the need to possess and spend everything (or more than) you earn. Having less and spending less doesn’t mean you are lacking. I know how social standards can easily manipulate even the most reasonable person into a big spender. However, spending consciously and buying only what you need means that your mindful actions will have a positive effect on Earth and the preservation of natural resources. Plus, owning less will allow you to refocus on what is more essential (crowded spaces = crowded minds).
Below I’m sharing with you a list of tips that I often remind myself of when I get in trouble (‘Shall I get this…?’, ‘But it’s on sale!’, ‘3 for 2! Wow, that is such a good deal…’ AHHHHHHHHH)
1. If you need to shop, or if you cannot stop yourself from shopping, simply avoid the shops. Do your food shopping online (if possible to get a slot) and only buy what you usually buy, don’t spend hours browsing the home section, the deals etc. Do your weekly food shopping and log off.
2. When you go to the shops, make sure you have a list of what you need to buy and try never buy anything that’s not on the list, unless there are terrific deals on things you use regularly, in what case you can stock up a little.
3. Always make sure that whatever you buy you need. Don’t purchase 10th chopping board if you are still using the 1st one.
4. The more stuff you have, the more storage you will need to keep it all. Look at people living in tiny houses; they have very little crap lying around.
5. I usually don’t carry credit cards with me and only use a debit card where I have a limited amount of money available. It works for me perfectly well because I’m not tempted to buy what I don’t need.
When your mindset finally starts shifting towards thoughts of financial freedom and sustainability of life, you will be able to begin experiencing feelings not tied up to how much you need to have or how much you don’t have. Overconsumption often equals massive collection of debts, and those cause stress, anxiety, poor health and many other diseases the stress is linked to.
When you start shifting your mindset towards sustainability and minimalistic lifestyle, the changes you will experience in life will come naturally and will shower you with happiness like you never thought was possible. You will be able to find joy in everyday life small pleasures such as walking, talking to your neighbours or eating delicious, home-cooked dinner with your family.