Finance and Minimalism: Yin and Yang

 Posy by:  Austin Silvan

Posy by: Austin Silvan

Just over a year ago, while in the trenches of thesis writing, I took a break to watch some Netflix, and found Minimalism: The Documentary. Prior to this, I only knew of minimalism (ironically) as a fashion and home design style. Alongside many others, I found this documentary inspiring and captivating, which caused me to revaluate aspects of my life and improve it with my own recipe, as they say.

Flash forward to late 2017, six months after the completion of my Master’s, I picked up a job that paid a little above minimum wage. I did not (and still do not) earn a large income, but with minimalism I had whittled my costs down enough to live comfortably. However, since I was through with student life, I realized it was time to think long-term, aka: mortgages, ‘adult’ jobs, bills, taxes, payments, children, and (cue dramatic music) RETIREMENT!

I began a quest in financial literacy during this time, which was eventually catalyzed by a Christmas gift from my Grandfather: a book called “The Millionaire Next Door.” This book made me realize that it is possible for almost anyone to be wealthy. In January, I stumbled across a book called “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” written by a financial guru named Robert Kiyosaki. This was gasoline on the fire. Now, I not only had to be tremendously wealthy, but I also had to own the ladder, not climb it, and purchase vast amounts of real estate to rent to suckers who would pay it all off for me. What about fixing all those toilets, you ask? Well, you just hire another sucker to fix them for you while you spend your days golfing.

In a matter of three months, I went from thinking “gee, how can I make sure I live a comfortable life” to “I NEED MY MONEY AND EVERYONE ELSE TO MAKE ME ALL THE MONEY!!!” I was stressed by the fact that I wasted my last six years enjoying student life rather than spending it investing and learning how to buy foreclosed American properties for cheap. Money is intoxicating, but to think that I can actually have a lot of it is twice as much so, but at what cost?

Early this month, I took a brief step back from exploring finance. I spent time thinking about minimalism again, and what it means in my life. I thought about living a balanced and meaningful life and the characteristics it entails, like creativity, friendship, support, love, not needing a Lamborghini, and so on.  As you might notice, each of these characteristics (more or less) are tied to contribution, whether it be time, energy, advice, or even money!

Between these two ideological mavericks, I believe there is a strong synergy. I like to think of it as the ol’ ‘what goes around comes around’. I say this based on the aforementioned gift from my grandfather. Since he contributed to my understanding of financial literacy, we have bonded over it and now talk more frequently than we have in many years. In the future, I hope I can do just the same. Using minimalism and financial literacy to improve my decisions that allow me to build wealth, so I do not have to work 60 hours a week or take on a second job in the future. Thus, alongside money, I will have more time, energy and love for my family and friends.

And that, I believe, is my recipe for a meaningful and rich life.

For more and other minimalists finance, you can find me at Facebook at Austin Silvan