Even if you are trying to actively reduce the things you purchase and own, there are likely some things that you can’t do without, and can’t justify removing from your life.
Being minimalist and frugal isn’t about getting rid of everything and sleeping on the floor (well it can be – but not always), nor does it mean depriving yourself of all fun in your life to save every cent you earn. It’s about keeping, and expending energy on, only the things in your life that truly add value.
Here is a list of five things I still buy. Some of these things I have flirted with removing from my life, perhaps to save a little bit extra money each month, but realise now they’re an important aspect of the life I want to live – happy, simple and healthy.
For the most part, I like to keep my kitchen cupboard tidy and clear. I find this useful to ensure I don’t have things in my cupboard that I’ve forgotten about, and therefore never purchase a duplicate item without realising. I tend to use things up, making efforts to “shop from my cupboard” and find recipes to incorporate cupboard items I haven’t used for a while.
However, one area of the cupboard that I am happy to continue to grow is my collection of herbs and spices.
As someone who tries to cook from home as much as possible (for several reasons: it’s cheaper, it’s healthier, and I enjoy it!), having a variety of spices on hand is extremely helpful. It allows me to experiment with flavours and try interesting new recipes, meaning I’m less likely to resort to takeaway.
Holidays can be expensive. I used to often catch myself saying “if we just skipped a holiday this year, we wouldn’t have to put aside those extra savings”. But now I tend to ignore that thought (except last year, where I had little choice in the matter).
I’ve discovered personally that scheduled, proper breaks are incredibly important for my mental health. My job, like most peoples, can get stressful and overwhelming, and having a break every five or six months can help to reset those feelings, regain some perspective, and remind me of the bigger picture of my life, beyond work. Plus, I find having something to look forward to (even if it’s still a few months into the future) to be useful for day-to-day motivation.
In saying that, our breaks are not always extravagant or expensive, sometimes a few days down the coast is enough to do the trick.
I tried giving up store-bought coffee along with everyone else on the advice that it would save me money in the long run. But then I realised it really wasn’t making a difference at all, because I only ever bought one or two coffees a week anyway. For me, walking to get a coffee a couple of times a week is not only an important break in my workday, but a time to socialise with colleagues or my partner (if I’m working from home). Besides, I can’t make coffee at home like the kind I can purchase from a cafe, so the experience is just not the same. All in all, these reasons are important enough to me to justify the extra $4 into my budget a couple of times a week!
4. Medical appointments
I don’t have much to expand on here, it’s really important not to skimp on health. I allocate a certain amount each month to misc. healthcare, which includes if I need to see a GP. Although I have a regular GP for anything complicated or ongoing, If I need something very straightforward like a script, I’ll usually go to a bulk-billing GP, which in Australia means the cost is covered by Medicare (forever grateful for universal healthcare).
5. Gym membership
This is another frequently-suggested ‘cut’ from your budget in order to save money, but something I’ve never really considered. While Canberra had its very, very small lockdown period last year, I couldn’t use the gym. During this time I felt restless, fatigued and cranky. I could still exercise outside, but besides walking, lifting weights is my favourite type of exercise, and the kind I’m most motivated to regularly do. If you honestly don’t use your gym membership, I can understand why it could be a good ‘cut’ to save money, but if you’re like me and you do, I consider it just another monthly investment in health.