What does money mean to YOU??
I read a great article on a minimalist website today titled, "How to use your money and spend your time". You can view the article by clicking here > Debt and Minimalism..
Immediately the title spoke to me given the substantial debate around minimalism as a concept and it's perceived antagonist, MONEY. Look at how the title reverses the usual usage of the word MONEY. We usually SPEND our money and, for the most part, our time is something we USE to get that money.... But the title says to USE your money and SPEND your time, as if time were the real prize being something we should SPEND (like gold). Lets repeat the quote with some added flare, "how to USE your money WISELY and spend your EXTRA time". Adding just two words brings the article title closer to my view on money and minimalism. For me it's pretty simple, there is nothing wrong with money at all. The more significant thing to consider is your connection to that money and the energy/time you expend to get it. It's all about balancing your need for a certain amount of money against the desire to have money for money's sake. Something a dear friend told me once, and I have never forgotten it was, "if you don't have it you cant spend it", she is a great advocate for not living beyond your means or having more than you need. She does not call herself a minimalist but I sure have learnt much about minimalism from watching her. Some people just seem to have their priorities right without the need to give what they do a title. Love you dearly BJR :-)
So, lets as minimalists train ourselves to see money differently. Try and view it as a means to an end, but what end I hear you say? I can't answer that for you, it's your journey, but I can say that this is where it helps to have a definition and some life rules in place, because without these tools most people are going to spend, spend, spend. I am sure you have heard of comfort food, well comfort shopping is similar and something that is very easy to do without clarity of direction and purpose. When shopping becomes your "comfort food" you no longer feed yourself, you feed the consumer mindset you have been indoctrinated with since birth. Fad buying, following trends, keeping up with the Jones, status symbols, greedy pursuits, jewellery, houses, cars, boats, bikes..... The list goes on, but it is thinking like this that has us living beyond our means and expending more and more time getting the money we need to have the things we THINK we want. We think we want this stuff simply because we have never experienced going without it by choice. We think we want it because the TV, radio, advertisement boards and our peers tell us we need it. When you don't have it you want it and when you get it you want something else, and around and around we go.
Money is actually great, I love the stuff, but with ours (and mine personally) we try to buy memories and grow relationships. We spend our money on family and our collective goals, never spending beyond our means or being thoughtless consumers and weighing everything against our life rules. Not to say that we don't have individual goals that cost money, but we keep these manageable and to a minimum. Having said that, money can actually buy some really fun times, just don't let your quest for that money take over your life, balance, balance, balance. Obviously we all have a certain amount of commitment, and some of these mean we have to work for a living. There is no avoiding this fact, we need money to live, to pay our bills and to look after those we love. Don't forget the big picture either, on the money we earn we pay tax, and taxes keep our country running. If we were all to just say, "stuff it, I am not working anymore", it would not be long before Australia became a third world country. I love Australia and the quality of life we have here, we really do have much to be thankful for. It's this quality of life that allows me to choose to live as a minimalist, rather than forces me to live that way. Remember minimalism is an intentional choice, one made more significant and powerful given that no one is compelling you to live that way. Please don't see minimalism as a way to get a free ride in life.
Minimalism is not about having a zero bank account, not my minimalism anyhow. Money can be a blessing and a great gift when used with respect and a conservative, sensible, and considered approach.