10 "Normal" Things I Don't Do As A Financial Minimalist

Gabe Bult
by Gabe Bult

As a financial minimalist, I’m all about optimization and saving money. Here is how to be a financial minimalist and the 10 things I stopped doing as a financial minimalist.

I stopped doing these common things after I became a financial minimalist. not only to save money but also to simplify my life and really have more time and money for the things that matter.

Cost of owning a pet

1. No pets

We don’t have any pets. The average cost of owning a dog is between $1500 and $9000 per year. A lot of people get happiness and joy from a pet, but for us, it is not something that is really worth it.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve been extremely frugal, so we could leave our jobs, and have a child. Having a pet was too expensive, besides the time and responsibility involved. 

Spending money on fast food

2. No fast food

The average American gets about 11% of their daily caloric intake from fast food. I’m not going to lie, that kind of annoys me.

Your health is one of the most important things. If you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything. For the past 10 years, I haven’t gotten any fast food.

A financial minimalist mindset isn’t just about saving money, it’s also about how you feel 20 mins after you eat that $2 burger. I want to feel as good as I can every day, which means spending money on higher-quality foods that will make me feel better.

Extended warranty example

3. Skip the warranty

When I buy anything, whether it’s a phone or a laptop, they will try to sell me an extended warranty.

If you’re anything like me, you don’t actually use it. I used to buy extended warranties until I realized that I have no idea where I bought my laptop, my phone, my lights, or my camera equipment, and if something breaks, I won't remember if I had a warranty or not.

It might be a good idea if you are super organized and remember all those sorts of things. But, for most people, it won’t make you as much money as you ended up paying for it.

Shopping for groceries

4. Shopping as a pastime 

The average person spends about 25 minutes per weekday shopping, including driving time, browsing time, and online shopping. We try to avoid shopping as a pastime, because, for the most part, the money we spend on stuff doesn't lead to happiness.

Every time I go to the grocery store, or I am looking for something online, I write down what I need ahead of time, so I know I won’t get anything extra. It saves me a lot of time and a lot of money.

Buying holiday gifts as a family

5. Holiday gifts

Americans plan to spend $997 this year on holiday gifts. My wife and I have decided that we are not doing holiday gifts anymore unless we need something.

We stopped the “I’m going to get one thing for everybody that I know, even though we are all adults, and if we need something, we can get something.” Instead, we’re taking trips together, which is much more enjoyable.

We still get stuff for my nieces and nephews, and for my daughter eventually, but you don’t need to get something for everybody, just because that’s what everybody does.

Posting on social media

6. Posting that highlight

On Instagram or Facebook, you see the best, polished, photoshopped moments of other people’s lives. And, if you do anything cool, you’re like, “gotta take a picture of me doing this cool thing ‘for the gram.’”

In general, I’ve been trying to move away from posting the highlights and following people who try to sell or show off. Instead, I post the low lights: me being weird, stuff I’m struggling with, and real stuff that’s going to help people or humble me a bit.

Anything I post on Instagram actually provides value, and it’s not just validation for myself to get likes. 

How to be a financial minimalist

7. Just to fit in

A lot of times people make bad decisions financially because they're trying to fit in: whether that’s having the newest phone, going out and having drinks with their friends, going to college, getting a new car, or doing whatever people around you are doing.

Just because I go out with people, doesn’t mean I need to get a drink or eat unhealthy stuff. I’m okay with being the guy who’s different and doing things that are right for me.

Planting fruit trees instead of flowers

8. No flowers

When we moved here, we had the option to plant bushes and flowers. Instead, we planted fruit trees, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and different vegetables.

I realize this might be a little bit extreme, but we want everything we have to serve a purpose. If we’re going to grow something, we can grow something that’s beautiful, and also provides something for us. 

How to achieve minimalist financial freedom

9. Paying for housing

Instead of buying a single-family home, we got a house with an extra apartment. The tenants that live here pay for over half our mortgage. This allows us to live in a nice place, in a better neighborhood than we could have afforded. This has saved us tens of thousands of dollars over the past four years.

It all came from the decision that I’m not gonna pay for all my own housing. I need to figure out other ways to be creative. I risk everything to buy these properties, fix them up, and try to be a great landlord. In return, I can have others cover some of my living expenses.

Minimalist financial independence

10. I don’t own my own car

The cost of owning a car is about $10,000 a year. We realized if we can go from two cars down to one car, we can cut an insane amount out of our budget. With a little scheduling, we pretty much figured it out.

If you look at the expenses that go along with car ownership, you might realize you can switch to a lower-paying work-from-home job by getting rid of that second car, or adjust your schedule otherwise.

How to be a financial minimalist

I hope this video added value. Being a financial minimalist means making some lifestyle changes. What do you do to save money? Let us know in the comments. 

Join the conversation
2 of 4 comments
  • PFHANS PFHANS on Nov 14, 2022

    Lots of fruit/vegetables have gorgeous flowers/greenery. Try the zucchini squash for example. All plants flower at some stage. As for pets, get a working animal. Dogs act as sight and hearing and guards.

  • Nel49380801 Nel49380801 on May 01, 2023

    Great stuff here. We do have a pet. She is small, sob eats little, but costs a lot in vet bills, etc. We are already doing a lot of the things in this article. It is really. a question of thinking about your goals and what gives you the most joy. I have repeatedly asked our kids to give us "time together" rather than gifts because that is what works for us. It is also nice, at times, to get a gift of something you consider a luxury that you might not afford to buy for yourself.