It seems like every week, there’s a new article on the virtues of minimalism and how people are living with less. While people are ditching their belongings and moving into tiny houses, it can leave you scratching your head, wondering what this fad is all about.
Minimalism, at its core, is a back-to-basics lifestyle where you focus only on the things you love and value, and ditch all of your unnecessary stuff. According to The Minimalists, “Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important — so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”
Face it: As we grow into adulthood and get that first paycheck, that first new apartment, and that first new car, we are eager to fill up our lives with all the things.
Many people that subscribe to minimalist living claim they feel happier and enjoy their life, unencumbered by possessions they don’t actually need. But aside from all of those feel-good vibes, living with less could actually help you pay off debt. Here’s how:
Turn your extra stuff into cash
We accumulate a lot of stuff in the normal course of life. Books, computers, TVs, clothes, kitchenware — the list goes on. But how much of that stuff do you actually need? More importantly, how much of it do you use on a regular basis?
Approaching a minimalist lifestyle can help you re-evaluate the stuff you have. But instead of just trashing your old stuff, you can sell it to make money and pay down debt. Remember, another person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
To start, look at your belongings and ask yourself:
- Do I need this?
- Does it provide value in my life?
- Have I used it in six months?
- Do I already have something similar to this?
Answering these questions can help you decide what should stay and what should go. When you’ve created a “go” pile, it’s time to sell it! You can do that in a number of ways:
- Hold a garage sale
- Sell it online using Craigslist
- Sell it using the app OfferUp
- Use Facebook Groups to list your stuff
If you’re selling at a garage sale, make sure to give yourself enough time to promote the event. If you’re selling online, add as much detail to your post as possible before snapping some well-lit photos of your stuff.
Selling your old stuff can help you jumpstart your debt repayment and inspire a minimalist lifestyle. It did for Claudia and Garrett Pennington, the husband-and-wife team behind Two Cup House.
“Minimalism is our number one strategy for eliminating debt. When we started looking around at all the stuff we owned, we realized we were surrounded by stuff we never used,” says Claudia.
“Incidentally, we also had more than $200,000 in debt, of which $35,000 was student loan debt,” she adds. “So we sold all of the stuff we didn’t use and started paying off our debt.”
Minimalism can change your money mindset
When you decide to live with only the stuff that you need and that bring value to your life, your relationship to stuff starts to change. Retail therapy no longer feels as fun after a hard day at work. Bringing home random stuff from a conference or event no longer seems appealing, and the urge to buy the latest and greatest gadgets wanes.
This is where a minimalist lifestyle really holds its power. Minimalist living can transform your money mindset, including your relationship to money and how you spend it.
“After getting rid of thousands of things from our home, I had a completely different perspective on stuff. I used to swipe my credit card without thinking, bringing even more stuff home that we didn’t use often,” says Claudia.
“When we started going through the exercise of listing things on Craigslist and eBay, it completely changed my mindset. Selling our stuff took months and it was a great one-time exercise, but it’s not one we wanted to repeat,” she explains.
Downsizing is cheaper
Once you realize how to live with less, you may also realize that the other things in your life are no longer needed. For example, after getting rid of all of your stuff, do you really need a big place? Or two cars?
For Claudia and Garrett, they realized downsizing their life was a natural next step on their debt-free journey. They sold their 1,500 square foot house with a two-car garage and moved into a cozy (536 square foot), more affordable home.
“We kept about 20 percent of the items we had in the other house, but we find that there are items here and there that we no longer need. We’ve also eliminated a significant portion of our debt since we sold the other house,” says Claudia.
The effects of minimalism
Through minimalism, it’s possible to sell your belongings, pay down debt, shift your money mindset, and downsize to a more affordable lifestyle. Additionally, getting rid of your stuff can declutter both your physical and mental spaces, making room for more energy and ideas that can go to side hustles.
If you’re interested in minimalism, start slowly by evaluating what items you enjoy regularly in your life, and what things are just taking up space.
If you’re already rocking your debt repayment and taking cost-cutting measures, you may already be living a minimalist lifestyle by default. But if you’re feeling crowded by unnecessary clutter and are overwhelmed by stuff, minimalism could be a good way to reinvigorate your debt repayment journey.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
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2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 5.87%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.95% – 6.37%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.72% – 8.32%6||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|