“Sell your Crap and Do What You Love.” “50 things I have learned to live without” “My 10 Piece Capsule Wardrobe” “How I paid off $50,000 of debt in 6 months” These headlines seem to be everywhere. Over the last few years the Minimalist and Frugal Lifestyles have gained a ton of popularity. I love these trends because they have inspired and motivated many to start living with less. It’s important to note that these videos and blog posts usually involve some person jetting off to see the world without any debt or worry in their life. This creates the assumption that you have to be debt free and throw away all of your items to live a life with less worry and anxiety. After graduating from college- I thought that I would get a high paying job that would allow me to pay off my $80,000 in student loan debt in less than 2 years. I would then be able to move out of my parent’s house and start living my life. Not only was this super impractical, but it would eventually send me in a downward spiral of painful anxiety, stress, and heartache.
My entire life I was told that debt is a necessary evil. Debt, allows you to start building good credit and become responsible with your money. It also will crush your dreams and stop you from living your life until it’s all paid off. If you don’t pay it off quickly than you never will. This idea of debt forced me to feel like, after graduating from college I had to live at home till all of my debt was paid off- then I could start “living my life”. After living at home for 2 ½ years, I only paid off half of my student loans. This made me feel super depressed and anxious. I was ready to live my life, move out of my parents house, and not have this debt looming over my head anymore. When I finally decided to move out of my parents house- I knew that I would have to make some sacrifices and not put so much money towards my student loans. What I didn’t realize was that the mindset of you can’t live your life without debt made me have a terrible mindset and relationship with money. This resulted in me feeling as if I was failing anytime that I brought myself to spending money on items that I didn’t deem necessary like almond butter, fruit, and anything outside of rice and beans. I even started seeing a counselor who helped me understand my unhealthy relationship with money.
What’s important to note is that I have never failed. Those were some of the hardest words that I ever had to say. For so long I thought that I had failed because my life wasn’t like the minimalist lifestyle and no spend challenge videos and blog posts that I admired. I wasn’t able to live furniture free, solely on cheap food like rice and beans, and not spend money on anything that isn’t necessary to survive. After a few sessions I realized that I had to focus more on the positive aspects of my life and money. I love that I have been able to pay off half of my student loans, move to the DMV area, meet a ton of people, travel to visit friends around the US and London, continue to volunteer in my local community, and work on my personal blog. Whenever I feel my anxiety getting bad around money- I have to change my focus onto the positive areas of my life! I also have to remind myself how thankful I am for being able to pay for all of this without my account going down to $0. This has allowed me to start buying these items without having to overthink about whether or not my account will go down to $0 dollars.
I love the principles of the Minimalist Lifestyle and No Spend Challenges because they encourage people to try and live with less debt and random stuff that we don’t need! I don’t think I would have never been able to pay off half of my student loans without them. It’s important to understand that I didn’t take my own personal self care into consideration when I was starting my minimalist lifestyle or no spend challenges. I just thought that my life would be better if I spent the least amount of money. For a short amount of time this was true. I loved being able to live at home and save a ton of money. I can’t exactly live this way forever. I would advise anyone who is interested in the minimalist lifestyle and no spend challenges that they need to understand that everyone’s situation is different. Just because some have been able to live out of a suitcase- doesn’t mean you should too. We all want to live debt free- but you shouldn’t feel like you have failed if you can’t pay off all your debt in a short amount of time. If you don’t respect your self care, you will probably end up spending more money than you have saved on counselors and therapy.