How Minimalism Changed My Life And Saved Me Tons Of Money

Reading Time: 13 minutes

Notice: This post will be highly philosophical. Hopefully I can inspire someone.

Everybody wants more

We’re working so hard, but why?

We want more. We want to have a bigger house, a nicer car than our neighbor, the perfect dress.

When we finally land that job which pays us 50 k, we soon aim for 60k. And then 70k, and why not switch job to 12 hour days and 100 k pay, so you can consume even more.

When the new TV comes out, we want it. We must have it. It will be life changing you say. Now you can invite all the boys over for a quality football night.

Our society is build up on the model that everybody wants more. Recently an acquaintance of mine bought a house that was 3 times the size they needed. And the mortgage was sky high. The next two years he said he will spend his 8 hours at work, and when he comes home from work he has to renovate the house to the newest standard (which obviously takes a long time!).

Even in the weekends he’s working with renovation of the house. For 2 years. That means he works in order to pay down a mortgage for a house he barely lives in. And when the renovation is finished in 2 years, he has an even higher mortgage because of the loan for the renovation.

Is there any other people as well that think this is the wrong way to go?

But what would happen if everybody wanted less? What if I gave you the brand new IPhone X, but you replied: “Thank you, but I’m doing good with my old iPhone 5”. Or if I gave you a Louis Vuitton bag, but you rejected it because you are happy with the bag you have.

What would happen if we wanted less? Wouldn’t we be happier if we were content with what we already have? Then there would be no more objects to strive for. And therefore less stress and less grinding in the rat race.

How I discovered minimalism

When I was a child I wanted to become a reader or a writer. But the people around me told that I couldn’t make a living of reading books, newspapers and writing stories.

I soon realized that it would be more realistic to become a fireman or a police officer, so that’s what I told those who asked what I wanted to be when I growed up. But deep down in my soul I’ve always known that I’ve wanted to become an author, storyteller, writer, reader or something like that. But I’ve repressed it, because everybody told me to not believe in it.

Then I became a teenager and I didn’t any longer know what I wanted to pursue. After high school I started to study economy, but I quit after three months because I missed my home town.

I started studying economics one more time. Because I didn’t know what else to study, and all my friends did it. I quit one more time, this time after 1 1/2 years. I saw no future in this university degree because I knew it trapped me to a cubicle for the rest of my life.

Finding myself

At that time I was really into strength training and I discovered nutrition. And then I found a university that teached “Nutrition and Physiology”. I was hooked. For the first time in my life I finally made a decision to study something that I actually wanted to learn.

At that time I survived on a really small budget every month. I also had a part time job to cover the study fees, but overall I lived extremely frugal. But to be honest I didn’t miss a thing. It was the best days of my life.

I finished the study with a bachelors degree, and my classmates was all stressed out about finding a job. I, on the other hand had just started to explore life. Why would I want to work already when I had everything I needed now?

I wanted to both learn more and explore my country, so I moved to a new town to study biochemistry and environment. Now that I didn’t have a part time job anymore, I had to be even more careful with money. But somehow I didn’t think of it as a problem to live on aprox. 850 $ / month.

These years with studies and frugal living made me want less. I studied in the new town for a year, and it was, hands off, one of the most happiest years of my life. A year where I really discovered myself.

At the same time I learned about the environment and Garret Hardin’s “Tradegy of the commons” in which he states that “The tragedy of the commons is an economic problem in which every individual tries to reap the greatest benefit from a given resource”. I also learned about how we can eradicate poverty by giving out microloans to the poor, so that they can start something for themself (self-sufficient).

I learned about why it was better for the earth to eat vegetarian food, and why water scarcity was a huge problem.
And both of these things really sticked with me. I started to eat more and more plantbased food, and at the same time I decided to get a masters degree in water engineering.

At the university were I got my masters degree in engineering, I learned so much about myself and how I could make the world a better place. At the time I remember I thought I could save the world. As all the other years I had little money, but I anyway enjoyed life a lot.

Perspective on happiness

During this study I traveled to India for a month, and then China 6 months later. These trips changed me. I saw people living at the street, people poorer than we can imagine. But I also visited villages where everybody was smiling, where they shared stories around a campfire and showed happiness. I asked one of them about how much they lived on, and he said it was aprox. 3 $ / day.

This really got me thinking. How could they seem so happy with so little? And why do I chase material things at home? Because I always thought that would make me happy.

How often do you say: “When I get …. then I will be happy”. Or if I just work 1 more year, then I will go on the vacation of my dreams.

I understood that I didn’t let myself be happy, because I was learned that happiness comes from material gains. And with material gains you can never be happy, because there will always be more to reach for. It’s an forever run in the hamster wheel.

With these thoughts in the back of my head as I traveled, I started to welcome the simple life. I stopped buying new things, simply because I didn’t have enough money anyway. And as a consequense that I stopped buying new things, I stopped wanting new things. And as I stopped wanting new things, I noticed that things didn’t have any effect on my happiness at all.

Hello and welcome to 9 – 5

Two years later finished my masters degree and entered the cubicle 9 – 5 world. So inspired and ready to make a change about all the exciting problems that was out in the real world (which we learned about at the study). And it all started good.

It was all new to me and I was curious to learn. It even felt like I was playing a video game where I was the main character (that fun it was in the beginning!).

And I got a paycheck of aprox. 3300 $. Almost four times as much as I had lived on the last 8 years. I remember I thought: “What am I gonna spend them on?”

I bought an apartment with an 300 k mortgage, and was happy…at least for a while. My spending was still around 950 $ / month, so in the absence of anything better, I began to aggressively pay down my mortgage. This meant I had over 2000 $ extra to spend per month, but I didn’t want anything new. I had the things I needed to be happy.

I read books which I borrowed at the library, I met family and friends, I played games and traveled occasionally. Everything was perfect, except that I was in deep debt.

Then I started to wonder why everybody wanted me to chase a life of excess, when in reality I already had everything I could possibly need.

I started to sort through my clothes, which had acumulated over the years. Therefore I began to give away a lot, and only kept the clothes I actually used. I remember it felt so good to declutter. Instead of wanting more, I wanted less. And slowly, I realised I’d been chasing the wrong things all along in my earlier days.

Turning into a zombie

After a year at my 9-5 I started to feel bored. At the study they told us about how we could use our engineering skills to help those in need. But here I was, improving solutions that already worked. Making my country 0,00001 % better. At least that’s how it felt.

I started studying project management after work, in hope of getting a meaningful job environment again. And it worked. I had that “video game” feeling again for a year. But it passed.

Discovering “the sweet escape”

Then my brother told me about index funds, and I was completely hooked. Was there really a legal escape out of the 9-5? I couldn’t believe it! It was too good to be true.

The whole FI community indirectly (through blogs and podcasts) helped me raise my salary by changing my job. But I didn’t want to earn more because of my spending, I wanted more so I could escape the 9-5 sooner.

For 3 years I now have been working 40 hour weeks for the purpose of buying more and have more. But all the way there was nothing I wanted to buy. So what good was a job for me? What was I supposed to be working for?

Nothing, except for buying me more time by investing in index funds.

But suddenly it stroke me that I didn’t need to work five days a week to continue the life I live. It is enough to work 1-2 days a week to cover my lifestyle, and if I work 3 days a week I can invest a good share in my index funds as well.

This will not let me be completely free of work. But I sure think it will give me valuable time to pursue things I’m more passionate about. Writing and reading for example. Because how can I be good at it if I don’t try?
And if I succeed, maybe I can earn a few bucks of it too? Then quit my day job. And if I fail, I’ve learned a lot and I can safely work full-time again. This is eventually something I really consider.

What I dream about

I remember a quote which said something like: “The most important thing is not to be rich. But to feel rich”. And I feel rich, because there is nothing more money could buy in material terms for me. The only thing I want more of is time.

I live in a big city right now, but what I dream of is a quiet life with some nature around me. I dream of waking up without an alarm clock, to do work that I like, read, write, spend time with my wife and coming children, workout and hanging out with friends. A modern version of Thoreau’s Walden.

I dream of the years to come to be the richest years of my life. Without the burden of a full-time job. I dream of a house with a smaller mortgage and a house empty of stuff. I want to spend full days on more fulfilling activities such as writing, reading, learning, cycling, exploring, exercising, cooking, relaxing, and as you know, all of these things are free.

And by time, eventually, I will become FI. I will live like a retired millionaire, just like the Mexican Fisherman did all his life. The difference between me and a retired millionaire is that I got a lot less money.

But I’ve learned that when you stop buying material things, you stop needing a lot of money. This leads to that you no longer need a normal job, which again gives you the opportunity to take your time back. And when you got your time back, you can pursue what you were destinied to do on this earth. You can fullfill all your dreams and desires. And when you can live your dream, you will reach your highest happiness level. Isn't that what we all want? To live happy, fullfilling lives?

Start asking questions like:

-Who do I want to be?

-What would I do in life if money was no object?

-What do I want to learn and experience through life?

Because what makes you rich and unique is not what you have, but how you have lived. It’s in the stories you’ve collected, the lives you have touched. It’s in the memories you have to take with you.

I’m an introvert and a thinker, and I just love to sit and reflect over life. In my lunch break at work, I more than often stay for myself to think through things, and the one thing I always tend to think about is happiness.

How can I get more happy? When can I let my self live the life I truly want?

Like I did myself, many of you are chasing that dream house, a brand new Tesla or a cabin by the sea. And if you win the first prize in the lottery, you will get all that. But will all those things make you happy? What if you got all that tomorrow.

Now, close your eyes and imagine it. What would be your next move? Would you continue to work?
Probably you would answer that you were going to spend the rest of your time on Earth doing thing you loved, eg. travel, spend time with your loved ones and finally catch up on all your hobbies.

But stop for a moment and think about it. Because you can do all these things now. You do not need that dream house, a Tesla or a trillion dollars for lasting happiness and fullfilment. You don't need more to be happy. And this should tell you that your happiness has nothing to do with material things at all. Happiness is actually found in simple things, such as taking a bicycle trip in the woods or seeing the stars at night.

If you find yourself unhappy, not having the time or money to live the life you desire, start asking yourself, why? What are you missing in your life? I’ll bet you’re spending too much time working, and not enough time on the things you love. But what are you working so hard for? What do you need to buy that you don’t already have?

-You can buy a car for 10.000 $, or you can invest that 10k in index funds which will pay you 700 $ every year for the rest of your life. And of top of that you get  compounding. No coincidence that Albert Einstein said that the compounding effect was the world’s eigth wonder.

-You can buy a 1.000 $ TV, or you can buy a really nice vacation in Europe which will give you lasting memories.

-You can buy a 1.000.000 $ beach house with an enormous mortgage, or you can choose a cheaper lifestyle and eventually become FI.

Think about the stuff you’re buying. Is it bringing your dream closer? Or pushing it further away? Maybe you don’t even now what you’re dream life is, and therefore it’s not a weird thing you are wasting money. But you have the chance to take a grip of your life. To dream about what you want. To control your own destiny. Like Christopher McCandles says in the movie “Into The Wild:

When you want something in life, you just gotta reach out and grab it.

What is your ideal lifestyle, and how much does it cost you to live that? For me, I think 2000 $ a month is enough, you can see my expenses here. My investments in index funds pays me now aprox. 500 $ every month even if I sleep, workout or go on a vacation. That means I’m payed simply to exist. I dream of reaching my crossover-point, that’s were my monthly FI-money will be 2000 $ or more every month.

At the same time I think about maybe working fewer days a week, to pursue more of the work and hobbies I love now. That means it will take more time to FI, but does it matter if I can do more of what I love to do now?

What about you? How much money do you really need? If your lifestyle is too expensive, want less. Everyone has a choice between living with more and working more, or living with less and working less.

Which will you choose?

I do not spend my day dreaming of things to buy, but rather reading about ideas things I want to learn, writing about things that are on my mind, and occasionly seeing places that I’ve always wanted. I walk, I exercise, I read and write, I explore and I relax. That is my perfect day. I’ve been liberated by simply living a life of minimalism. I no longer believe in the lie that success consists of earning more and buying more. I buy only what I need, and I simply live.

The problem with buying expensive things is that you need to loan money. And because of that you can’t stop working. You can’t travel, spend more time with your family or pursue all your hobbies. You can’t quit your job because you do need that money to pay the loan. Your entire day, your entire life, becomes about earning more money to pay for your excess needs.

Who owns your time? Yourself or your employer? Minamilsm and FI is about taking your time back! I highly recommend you to read “Your Money And Your Life” if you want to start taking control of your own time. Here you can read how it changed my life.

So you spend your time working 9 – 5 almost 50 weeks a year, when the weekend finally comes you have two precious days free, but you need to spend it maintaining your lifestyle. You have to clean the house, the car, the boat, the second house, the clothes, the garage, the garden.

But if we turn it around. What if you had nothing? How much simpler would life be? Nothing to clean, nothing to fix, nothing to solve. Just you and your time to do whatever you want. How much more time would you have to pursue your dreams? You could sleep in late, read, write, look at the stars, do sports, yoga, meditate. You could do anything!

It’s only the stuff that stands between you and all your dreams. So why not pursue a more minimalistic lifestyle. Instead of wanting more things, isn’t it better to want less? Empty your closet instead of filling it up. Give away things and get warm smiles from the people you help at the same time. Instead of buying something every weekend, sell something. Instead of wanting everything, want nothing at all.

You are here to decide what you want in your life. If you want less things, you need less money. And if you need less money, you don’t have to work for money. And if you don’t have to work for money, you’re free. The choice is yours.


What do you think about minimalism? Do you feel the same way as me on this subject?

Feel free to contact me at: post@route2FI.com or comment something below.

Until next time!


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15 Replies to “How Minimalism Changed My Life And Saved Me Tons Of Money”

  1. Thank you for sharing your story and your thoughts with us here! I featured this article on http://www.FIREhub.eu
    I can recommend reducing the 9-5 work. I have a 90% job with every other friday off and asked to reduce even more (to 80%) to have a four-day-workweek. Yes, this will slow down my way to FI… but on the way, I can enjoy more.

    1. route2fi says: Reply

      Thank you for featuring me at FIREhub.eu, Noemi!
      I think I definitely want to reduce my work week to 80 % as you! How did you ask for it? Did you mention some reasons to why?

  2. Enjoyed reading your story! There are many paths that can lead to FI. You’ve perfected spending less than you make & done the work to invest in yourself to grow your income.

    1. route2fi says: Reply

      Thank you so much! Where are you on your path to FI?

  3. very interesting post. Thank you for that. I’ve been a minimalist for a couple of years now and have just recently started learning about FI (I’m still paying down debt). I completely agree that stuff is the barrier between the life you have and the life you want (for most people). Another key point is that the access economy now makes it easier than ever to not need to own (dvds – Netflix , cds – Spotify , holiday homes – Air bnb, etc ). Living a ‘rich’ life is easier and more accessible than ever before. For years, I focused on the idea of living the ‘millionaire life’, thinking of I made enough that I could one day buy my freedom, not by not having debt, but by our earning my debt and being leveraged so well that money was never a worry. Despite now going through a journey to pay off debt and pursue FI (I love my business so doubt I would retire early, but might choose to reduce the number of days), I have found that minimalism, mindfulness, and philosophy have been key to living a happier, healthier, more contented life than ever before.

    1. route2fi says: Reply

      Thanks, Nick! I’m glad you liked the post 😀 What kind of business are you doing? Do you have a blog where I can follow your journey?
      I’m glad we both agree that minimalism is the key to lasting happiness 🙂

      1. This post really hits the nail on the head in terms of describing society and consumerism.

        You have a really great story. I really enjoyed reading about how to indentified some really critical aspects of your life!

        There are some really intelligently out points and questions in there too! Great post.

        1. route2fi says: Reply

          Thank you so much, my friend 😃

  4. I love your story!! We’re doing a buy nothing challenge since this January and my mindset is already changing. Also I’ve been reading about FI for a couple of months now and it totally changed me. We are living more frugal already and we are working towards doing what we love and invest to build up our passive income. I love the FIRE community, life is so much better outside the ratrace! (loved the youtube video haha)

    1. route2fi says: Reply

      That’s great! Have you made it wiyhout buying anything until now?
      How is your dream life? What is your vision? And when will it come true? 😀

  5. For me minimalism is all about going back to the basics and ‘returning’ to who I am and what I want from life. It’s funny (or actually it isn’t …) how you learn to chase after things you think you want, or even need. It’s almost scary how easy it is to loose sight of what you really want and just mindlessly buy a car because that’s what everybody does, or to book holidays, go shopping, renovate a bathroom or upgrade a kitchen when there’s really no need for that, just because that’s what you do as a grown up. Minimalism is giving me back time, money, and common sense.

    1. route2fi says: Reply

      Thanks for summing this up, Jo! This is exactly my point 🙂
      If we can live with less, we can live the life of our dreams.

      There is only two ways to get rich:
      1) Get more money
      2) Reduce your needs

  6. […] What would happen if we wanted less? Wouldn’t we be happier if we were content with what we already have? Then there would be no more objects to strive for. And therefore less stress and less working in the rat race. […]

  7. It was great to learn more about you in this post. Like you, I always wanted to get paid to read or write. It really was about that simple in my mind! The world got in the way somewhere along the line (or I should say my own mind listening to the ways of the world did). I’ve heard Austin Kleon say the same thing.

    I went through a phase recently where I wondered if I should have an “aspiring” minimalist blog over a personal finance blog because minimalism really tackles the philosophies I’m interested in (I can tell you are interested in them as well based on your Twitter feed and blog posts).

    Concerning this post, I’ve been the guy you mentioned buying the house too big only to come home and renovate it constantly. My husband and I have thought really hard about it though and decided it’s just something we genuinely enjoy (like an art project – only way bigger). We also don’t take on debt to do it and that makes a big difference in feeling like we are in control versus trying to impress society (we are mortgage-free and could have a larger house but certainly don’t want it – especially after all the FI knowledge I’ve learned).

    Anyhow, I hope you get more of those perfect days of reading and writing in your future. I sure hope to as well!

    1. route2fi says: Reply

      Awesome! Maybe we’re twins 🙏

      Choosing a minimalism blog instead would probably be the right thing for me as well. FI to me is about the freedom and the simple life, not about the money.

      I’m glad there is a big difference between the guy in the post and you. Renovating an house when you’re mortgage free must be a much better feeling for sure! And if you look at it like art anyway, I would said it’s kind of an hobby?

      Thank you! I hope you have enough time to read and write as well 😃

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