The first half of February has been eye-opening as a blogger. As a personal finance blogger, I always intend to deliver the best possible research on money that can help transform lives helping the everyday folk like me live better and happier lives. That's why the mission of DollarOtter.com is 'to educate families in achieving financial freedom.'
While I've enjoyed the opportunities in helping my viewers and hopefully transforming lives, I am not techy. This may be strange as I run and operate my website and YouTube channel since these are internet based, but the truth is, I struggle with the tech side of this hobby.
In this blog, you will explore how minimalism can transform your life
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After much frustration a few weeks ago from battling the configuration settings on my blog, I turned to Netflix for a time out and to decompress.
I am not one to sit around for hours watching TV; it has never been my real enjoyment; however, I discovered a documentary. At first, I recalled hearing about this film several months back, but the title didn't dawn on me at the time.
Documentaries are usually fascinating to me, but like watching the news, you have to keep a discerning ear on what the message is being delivered. Noone hates spin more than me, let alone politics, which is humorous considering I'm currently living in Washington D.C.
Within the first 10 minutes of watching this documentary, I was captivated. The film pulled me in because the message is precisely what we are striving for at Dollar Otter and this film is called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things by Matt D'Avella. I recommend reading Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life. The authors of this book and stars of the documentary have a website, theminimalists.com, if you are interested.
If you're like me, the first thought that comes to your mind is selling everything and living barebones. Fortunately, within the first several minutes of the documentary, the creators of the film killed this myth.
It highlights our misguidance on what we think brings us happiness. I am reminded that after graduating from college, I am to buy a big house, buy a lot of furniture, and buy the latest tech to keep up with the Joneses.
Every year it becomes buy buy buy. You will never see marketers or advertisers posting ads on save save save. Plus, I've never been able to catch up with the Jones family no matter how much I have made. True story.
What is Minimalism?
As consumers, we become addicted to materialism. In its simplest definition, minimalism "is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom." This type of lifestyle helps you to reclaim your life and time. Minimalism helps you to reduce stress while living a healthier lifestyle.
It allows you to focus on giving back. "Minimalists search for happiness not through things, but through life itself; thus it's up to you to determine what is necessary and what is superfluous in your life."
With over 20 million fans, this wave of simplicity is catching on rapidly. People are waking to the idea that you don't always have to buy the latest 'must-have' tech gadget or latest tv. This is why I became so obsessed with minimalism, but it isn't the purpose of it.
The real goal of this lifestyle is to reassess your priorities. It just so happens that the result of living this way causes you to naturally get rid of things you don't use or need.
For example, I have become a big fan of the brand Champion from Target. They have reintroduced a new line of gym wear that is high quality and fits comfortably. It is their C9 line.
Typically, I am the kind of person who would buy UnderArmour, but this new line has Champion stepping up their game. Browsing the shelf after being captivated by the ads flagged and draped all around I caught myself saying "I need this."
The truth is I didn't need this and had plenty of gym wear.
I decided to be honest with myself and decided to go to another department and think about it. Once I pulled myself away from that section and started rationalizing with myself, reality came back telling me I do not need this. This rationalization saved me probably $120 in gym wear.
Getting Rid of Things
After watching this film, I established a new rule in my home. If something in my house doesn't bring me value and hasn't been touched by me in the last 12 months, then get rid of it.
As someone who collects a lot of books, I get a lot of value out of these and even though I haven't touched many of these in the last twelve months, I will keep them because I will reference back to certain books from time-to-time.
However, there are clothes in my closet that I know I will never wear. There is junk in boxes that I haven't touched. I even have several older models of the iPhone that I have kept. So over the next several weeks, my mission is to start decluttering and give these items to people who can use them. Other things, such as my iPad (which I never use) I will sell. I challenge you to do the same before summer.
Reducing Your Social Media Time
Being a minimalist can apply to your time too. It is no secret that social media displays a false reality to many. With the false impression that everyone else's lives are better except ours is so far from the truth. It is when you start reducing the amount of time spent on such websites that you can begin to focus on other items. Much like keeping up with the Joneses, social media can mislead you to believe everyone has such a fascinating life but yours. This isn't true.
I've picked up photography as a hobby, and I love it. It is the creativity behind it. And I also like the challenge in it. The best advice I've been given about photography is that out of 1,000 photos taken; usually only one or two are excellent and worthy of posting onto social media. (If you are interested in learning about photography, then I highly recommend the Photography Super Bundle). I write this because nobody ever sees the bad photos. That is why social media isn't reality most of the time. People mostly post the fantastic.
Make a new rule around your house to cut out social media or checking your email past 7 pm or 8 pm. I promise you will not be missing out on anything.
Living a Meaningful Life
Everyone was given life for a reason. We each have a purpose and a special gift from God to use in our lives. Determine what is important to you and pursue your passion. For some of you, helping others in need to live a better life may be your calling. Some it may be a great mother or father. Others may speak through an art form or music.
Whatever it is you do, ensure it has a positive impact on someone's life. There is no greater feeling than helping someone else. Don't believe me; give it a try.
The purpose of minimalism is to refocus on what is essential and then you naturally remove the clutter and distractions because these things no longer have a purpose in your life. When you restart to refocus on this, you will find you have stronger finances, healthier mindset, and a better attitude.
Nick Carroll is a published author of 6 Steps to Achieve Financial Freedom and has worked as a Commercial Credit Analyst, Investment Marketing Associate, and worked at the Pentagon-Air Force Budget Office. He is a graduate of Creighton University with a Masters in Investment Management and Financial Analysis and holds a Bachelor's in Banking & Finance.