Minimalist Monday: Money Matters

Living on a lower income has its challenges but having less money has taught me a lot. I respect, value and enjoy money more than I used to. I use it more wisely and creatively and have a more positive relationship with it. I can now distinguish between a need and a want. I know that my wants change from day to day (different coloured boots one day, Orla Kiely handbag the next) whereas my needs can't be ignored (when your socks have holes in they need replacing). I realise that I can't have it all.

How I spend less money

  • Having reduced our mortgage I don't want to take on any more debt. So I no longer consider buying things I can't afford and flash expenditure doesn't interest me. I haven't had a credit card since my twenties so I am lucky not to have any debt other than our mortgage. 
  • I rarely impulse buy.
  • I waste less food.
  • I buy less ready meals apart from the occasional curry dish.
  • I follow fashion less slavishly and buy garments with lasting appeal and style.
  • I am more interested in buying ethical or second hand products.
  • I avoid sales.
  • I buy less throw away items like magazines and flowers.
  • I buy less from charity shops and fewer cheap brands – buying lots of bargains soon adds up.
  • I don't buy people surprises very often. I ask what they want, buy them consumables or give vouchers.
  • I have more no-spend days.
  • I try and keep a spending diary.
  • I budget for big expenditure throughout the year and know where all my money is going each month. I have spending limits for certain areas such as groceries and try and stick to them.
I think money is easy to waste when you have plenty and hard to part with when you have less. However, there are some things that I think it is still worth spending money on.

Some of the things I like to spend my money on

  • A decent haircut at a reputable salon. I don't go to the salon director any more – I find I get a better cut and attention from an enthusiastic junior.
  • A holiday once a year – no where fancy but a break away from routine is so beneficial. If we can't afford to get away we have a staycation and make sure we avoid normal everyday tasks and get out and about locally.
  • A car wash. At around £3 I think this is good value.
  • Window cleaning. This wouldn't get done if we didn't pay someone.
  • Decent food. I try to keep my grocery shopping under control but sometimes buying special ingredients for ourselves or for entertaining is rewarding.
  • Lunch or coffee out – cheaper than eating out in the evening.
  • Online grocery shopping saves me time and gives me more control. It keeps me out of the shops avoiding temptation.
  • Books – I love buying books but I try and pass them on to people afterwards. 
  • Selective clothes buying. I still enjoy clothes but with a reduced wardrobe.
The biggest difference is that now when I spend money on a treat I appreciate it more and for longer. And I realise that I am very lucky to have choices about how to spend my money.

How about you? Has you relationship with money changed? What do you think is worth spending money on?



  1. I try to think about each item I pick up in a shop. Do I really need this? Have we already got plenty of chocolate? Do we need another packet of biscuits? I think it is the little corner shops that gobble up money, but after I realised just how much I was spending when all I needed was milk, I have put a stop to it!
    I think it is worth spending money on foodie treats, it can make stopping at home feel special. Really enjoyed this post! X

  2. Hi great post. I love going to car boot sales it can be a false economy. Especially when I buy things just because they are cheap!. They are great though if you need something for a fraction of the price and you do not pay full price in a shop. I want to start keeping a spending diary as I think it makes you think about what you are spending more.
    I find i go through periods of not spending then I seem to get a bit spendy(not in a big way! earnings do not allow it!)
    I think nowadays the pinch can be felt a lot.
    I know you said you downsized, would love to hear about that and all the positives. We have currently sold our property it is a bungalow & we want to downsize but to downsize down here its challenging!

  3. Great post. I think about my purchases more. Sometimes when you go home to think about what you were going to buy you end up not oing back to buy it.. You didn't need it after all.

  4. Thank you for this post! I think living on a very tight budget this year and dreaming of a more minimalist lifestyle has definitely made changes inside my head. I'm currently on a one week holiday in Berlin and notice that I get annoyed when my travel company mostly wants to check out different shops... My only shopping has been the planned cosmetics, pen drive and memory card (all cheaper than in Finland) and the non-planned key ring, notebook and a few artsy postcards. I'm proud of myself!

  5. It's wonderful Claire that you have decided what is most important to you and have identified your needs as opposed to your wants. It's also wonderful that you have also identified the things that you feel are worth spending money on and can economise in other areas. My list is very similar to yours except that my husband washes my car :)

  6. Yes I totally agree with your lists, you feel you are getting bargins in sales and charity shops ,hunting an item that is a bargin can be addictive, but it is essential with this lifestyle that you truly distinguish between wants and needs which is truly liberating x

  7. We tend to spend money on "foundation" things. Stuff like underwear - always makes everything look better! Bedding, pans etc. I'll save on a cushion but I'll make sure I get a well made sofa that'll last for years. I might save on a pair or shorts or fashionable top but will always go for quality when it comes to a coat or shoes. That kind of thing, the longer it needs to last the more likely I am to pay that bit extra for it and will wait until the right thing comes along.

  8. When I was working, before retirement/pension..., I did buy good clothes. I also took care of them and am still able to wear skirts that are 15 years old! I don't buy clothes from charity shops, but I do give them my older clothes. I buy the odd magazine but always pass it on to our surgery or to a friend. I use No7 cosmetics now...no more Clarins!

  9. I totally agree with your choices of what to spend money on, I am very similar.

    I get my hair cut every six weeks, because it makes me feel good to have it short and styled, I buy things that I need when I need them, for instance I spotted a perfect purse whilst out and about and it has now replaced two others that I was carrying around, so it's pratical and useful as well as lovely to look at (and I will sell the other two at the first car boot of the season and recoup a little of the cost).

    I no longer 'window shop' but can browse the shops when I am in a browsing mood and enjoy looking and saying 'I like this, I like that' but now the main difference is just because I like it doesn't mean I want it or will buy it.

    Something has definitely changed in my head when it comes to spending my hard earned pennies...... and it's a very good feeling.

  10. Wise words. Lifestyle creep can happen so easily. The little savings do add up over time - but so few people think they will, so they don't try.

  11. I was an awful overspender (and over worker!) One paid for the other!

    I've now seriously wised up and plan nearly every purchase. Downsizing our 'spending' was the best thing we've ever done :)

  12. Again, a very nice post. I am still not at my best on my relationship with money but I am working on it due to the economic slowdown and tax raise. I still buy wants instead of only needs, but the ones I buy, I am careful that I will use them a lot and that they will last. I buy all my clothes at discount prices but I chose them the best quality, classic style so I know they won't pass... And I work on not buying items just because they are bargains... I definitely have reduce my wardrobe and it is still going on, I am currently running a 150 project regarding this matter. I also try to keep a spending diary but I need to work more on this.

  13. I'd echo many of your essential spends. (If we didn't have a window cleaner, we wouldn't need curtains.) Wouldn't trust anyone else to wash Poppy, my car, though!

  14. Fab post, I am also similar. Need to cut down on clothes tho. Like your take on coffee and lunch out too!

  15. Things I don't mind spending on are: (like you) good quality food, annual long-distance trips to visit relatives, kitchen appliances/gadgets and electronics that will last, and tickets to concerts!

  16. I'm definitely finding that not buying clothes just cuz they're on sale is helping me save money. Half the time I didn't really like them a ton anyway but they were so cheap I bought them on an impulse. Then I ended up feeling guilty for not wearing them and then ultimately gave them to charity. Now I just buy clothes I love, that fit me.

    Like you I find eating out for lunch rather than dinner saves a bundle. Plus I rarely order a beverage. $2 for a coke is ridiculous and alcohol is astronomical . . . but I do confess that a margarita goes so nicely with mexican food. ;)

  17. yes my relationship with money has changed! I've got a little note book which I write in what I spend. I check this off against my on-line statement. I have a list of all my monthly payments and cross these of as they are made. I have another list of annual up coming amounts, most of which I have changed to monthly payments if I can, even if I pay a little more. So I know exactly what I've got. And this month I have used everything to the penny, but everything important has been brought so that's okay! this will be a no spend weekend. But I feel more in control now, although at some point I need to work out a plan for paying off overdraft and would like to start saving a bit for holidays. I recently brought a few new clothes with the money from selling my cushions, it was such a treat and I'm really enjoying them. It makes such a difference to my wardrobe, which was mainly from charity shops and was feeling pretty drab!


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