Down to Necessities

I’ve flirted with the idea of minimalism for some odd years now. But I never committed  because the movement seemed shallow and too extreme to be manageable. Most of the videos on YouTube were aesthetic focused and bright white, featuring girls with lives I couldn’t relate to.  It was something I could do “someday”. Someday when I had more money, someday when I graduated high school, and then someday when I got a real job, but not today.

Despite not quite taking the jump for minimalism, I have put an intentional effort towards dramatically reducing my waste (aka “zero-waste”). And putting an emphasizes on quality over convenience; as I like to say “I don’t like shopping, so I buy things that I don’t have to buy again.” For instance, I have a Hydroflask that I’ve used religiously for years; that $30 purchase has probably saved hundreds of plastic bottles and twice as many dollars.

Last week, most likely still reeling from finals week, it occurred to ask “what do I essentially need to live [that costs money]”? So, I made a list:

  1. A place to live | Rent ($500-1000/ mo)
  2. Food ($100/mo)
  3. Vitamins D, B12, Calcium ($50/yr)
  4. Health Insurance ($0..yet)
  5. Wardrobe ($Varies)
  6. A bed + bedding
  7. A laptop + cellphone
  8. Education
  9. Transportation (preferably public transport, bike, or walking)
  10. “Dailies” [soap, lotion, hair care, etc] ($30/mo)

When I did the sloppy math that somewhat accounted for hiccups and mystery expenses, I came to conclusion that my yearly expenses would be between $15,000 and $20,000. For someone with student loan payments looming in the background, this number was very comforting. Seeing it brings a deep sigh of relief. When I graduate university, if I live simply in accordance with my values, I’ll be okay. I’ll be able to make generous payments to my student loans, save, and invest. While I may not be able to invest in huge quantities yet, I can for now dip my toes in the water and collect knowledge for when that day comes.

Unfortunately this number has more relevance for my future than my present. Meaning I still need to put thought into how I’m going to intentionally live now. In the present, I’ve accepted that student loans are my reality and I’ve worked to put its associated anxiety aside, creating this list certainly helped. It’s more valuable to give energy to figuring out the career path to go down (or potentially create, more on that later), passions, and points of growth than it is to watch every dollar that comes my way. This isn’t to say I’m lax with spending, all of my money has an assigned role: food, fun, save, invest, fees, etc.

Creating the essential list has given me a new perspective and helped to put things in focus, which I’m grateful for. There is little reason for me to spend outside that list. The limitation ironically frees me up to do more; Jack of all trades is a master of none. Having my needs spelled out has opened the possibilities of what I can do with not just money, but my time.

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