Minimalism & Money: Crazy Extreme Things I've Done to Save Money & Why You Shouldn't Do Them (Unless You Want To)

As I walk through my days in our log home deep in the woods, I think of you, my dear friend. I can see it in your eyes and hear it in your voice. With my work as a financial coach, I know that look..... money is tight right now for you. I get it. For years, we were looking up at the poverty level thinking it would be nice to be poor. At one point, we had 4 pennies left in our budget. The next month, 25 cents. I called it "increase!" During this season, I began my journey to minimalism. Even as we were struggling to make ends meet, I felt this overwhelming drive to get my home, and life, in order.  I was desperate to be able to find my purse even if there wasn't anything in it.

My dear friend, maybe you are struggling to pay the bills, or maybe you make six figures+ but have debt that keeps this horrible sting in your soul. Maybe you just want to have enough time and space to sit down and eat a meal with your family. Without rushing. Without yelling. I understand.

I think of you as I make bulk tea.  I keep thinking I should really tell you how much money it saves. My laundry baskets (2 for a household of 8 people) are from the half-off day at a local thrift store. I should tell you how I used to have 8 baskets overwhelming laundry mountains on the floor and deep depression in my mind. I should tell you it's possible to change everything in your life, including your money. 

I saved money during that hard season of financial pressures in every way possible. I made my own toothpaste (see the earlier blog article for the recipe) and my own deodorant (a new blog coming..) I didn't label them for my sweet husband and that had disastrous but funny results!! I made my own soap, diaper wipes, line dried laundry in winter in front of the wood stove, and made everything from scratch. I even gathered plants from the woods to cook, fun but a little risky! I buy food in 50 lb bags. In a household this size, it lasts a week! I saved the littlest scraps of fabric to make pillows and even made DIY mattresses that were cheaper and non-toxic. Once I built my own couch from an old wooden door. Yikes!  I went for 2 years without owning my own socks, I borrowed my daughters if needed in winter. I cut my own hair (still do because You Tube videos can teach anything).  I went without a vehicle for 9 months and prayed my husband's van he drove to work would last with 356,000 miles on it. It did. I sewed my own baby clothes and had 2 homebirths after a c-section (not a recommendation just saying it was right for us).  Homebirth is much cheaper than a c-section, but that's not obviously the main reason we chose that path. I canned and scrapped and scrimped and saved and tried every way possible until I was exhausted. 

Seriously, those are some crazy things to save money but none of that relieved the financial pressure entirely. I realized abundance is a choice first and always! Especially with our economic and materialist system, you cannot "tight-wad"  your way to freedom. Mathematically impossible due to our tax code and financial structures.  The change had to happen in my heart first, before provision would come. 

My sweet friend, I had to change my view on money and ultimately how I viewed God and the world. Everything shifted as I opened my heart and my hands, beginning to share almost everything we owned to charity. I donated over 2/3rds of everything not because we had tons of money in the bank. I gave it away because I was desperate to create my best, inspired life. Somewhere deep in my soul I knew that holding onto "stuff" was keeping me from incredible goodness and gratitude. 

I've done some extreme things to save money. And I still do them today (minus the homemade door-couch, we did buy the couches in the photos from a thrift store) because the money-saving rhythms just became part of normal life for us. And I love to do them, but I don't think you necessarily should work yourself to exhaustion just to scrimp a penny. That's not efficient.

My conclusion on saving money may surprise you! It's this. "You can't save your way to abundance." Truth.

As I wake up in a house that is paid for, I crack my eyes to see the high wooden beams of our log home and I still am amazed at the incredible journey it took to get here. I had to become open to new information about money. Even with my high degree and having taught at a business college, I knew I didn't know everything! I started seeking answers. I also knew I needed help, a real live person along the way. I found my own financial coach (she's amazing and has tons of kiddos as well!). I was able to help my family by creating additional streams of income, eliminating debt, and re-creating our entire life. Oh my dear friend, we have had so much help along the way!

You don't need to make your own toothpaste unless you want to. Just becoming open and teachable for new ideas and believing a new life is possible......that is the first essential step. Then, start learning. Be a hungry student, evaluate how to save AND create money in a way that works for you.