How minimalism can simplify your finances — and help you grow your wealth

If your closet is bulging, your basement is cluttered and you can’t seem to save money, it’s time for a little minimalism — especially when it comes to your finances.

Use less. Spend less. Accumulate less. That’s what minimalistic money management looks like — and it leads to more money, more fulfilment, more clarity and better organization. It’s also better for the environment and your mental health.

Tidy up your financial clutter

Do you have accounts scattered across several banks and dozens of different money managers? Streamline your account structure.

In the majority of cases, Canadians need one chequing account (where your paycheques go into and bills are withdrawn from), one emergency savings account (don’t link this to your debit card so you won’t accidentally spend it), one general savings account (this is for short-term purchases like vacations or a car repair), two credit cards (one is a primary and the other is a backup, which should be from a different provider), an RRSP and a TFSA.

Having too many accounts is confusing and gets difficult to track. It also means you’re paying unnecessary fees, and scattered investments tend not to be optimized to your risk profile and overall goals — which means you’re not going to achieve your full investment growth potential.

Spend with intention

If your money seems to be evaporating into thin air every month, it’s time to pull back on your spending. More than likely you’ve got too many transactions running through your accounts for things you probably don’t need. Get organized by drafting up a budget (how you intend to spend). Cut your daily shopping trips down to one planned-out event per week, which means you’ll need to use a checklist. Keep a tally of your spending so that as you close out each day, you know exactly how much you spent that day. Intentional spending triggers the financial awareness you’re going to need in order to break overspending habits.

Purge your space and sell what you’re not using

Having more things doesn’t make you more powerful, smarter, a better person or more popular. In fact, it can have the opposite effect, and it’s financially unhealthy.

Make space in your life for financial abundance by clearing out the physical clutter in your living space. By selling your goods online or through a consignment shop, you’ll make money that can be put toward savings. If it doesn’t sell, donate it to a local charity. Many even have a pickup service.

So, dig out that old exercise bike, humidifier, area rug, patio set and toboggan, and list it all for sale. If you’re not sure whether to purge something, I recommend asking yourself “have I used this in the past twelve months?” If the answer is “no,” it’s got to go.

Minimize your advice circle

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Having too many people weighing in on your financial plans is not optimal, especially if they aren’t qualified. Your dream team should include a financial planner who focuses on building a realistic financial plan based on growing net worth throughout the long-term; an insurance agent who can advise on how to best protect your assets and family in case something derails your plans (damage, illness or death); an accountant, if your finances are complicated, to focus on tax-reduction and preparation strategies; and a lawyer — whom you hopefully won’t need often — to advise on wills, property transactions, prenuptials, trusts, estates and other legal matters that might surface.

It will take a bit of effort to minimize your finances in the beginning, but I guarantee it: Less confusion and complexity in your finances will eventually lead to better financial health.

TORONTO STAR