“The things that you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.” -Chuck Palahniuk
One of the largest problems with Western culture, is its rampant endorsement of consumerism. “Buy this! You’ll feel better,” says the man trying to sell you designer clothes. “Buy this! You’ll get all the girls,” says the man trying to sell you a Rolex. “Buy this! You need to be better than your neighbor,” says the Mercedes-Benz salesman.
Despite the fact that you don’t need money to get girls, and that nobody gives a shit what car you drive, advertisers still have us running along our little hamster wheels, desperate for validation and approval from others.
This is the root of consumerism: a lack of internal satisfaction.
When you aren’t satisfied within yourself, you buy things to cover it up. And that makes you a great consumer.
Consumerism Causes Depression
I want to be very clear here. Consumerism is not synonymous with “buying nice things.” Consumerism isn’t you buying a nice car, because you feel like you deserve one. It’s not you buying a nice suit jacket, because you want to look nice. It’s not even buying designer clothes, because they’re a status symbol.
It’s trying to buy things because you’re fucking miserable.
This is a very subtle, yet very important distinction that we must make when talking about consumerism. It isn’t so much about what you buy, but rather, why you buy it.
For example: when I recently bought a new pair of shoes, I didn’t feel a desperate NEED to have them. I just thought to myself, “Hmm. I need a new pair of shoes that are stylish and can be dressed up or down.” So I got a pair for $160. Done and done.
Somebody could, however, buy the exact same pair of shoes that I did, but if they were coming from a NEEDY mindset, it would cause depression. They have an emotional void inside of them, and don’t feel any happiness.
So, they try to cover this up with a bunch of superficial bullshit, but it only makes it worse. Why? Well, when they buy that pair of sneakers, they feel good for maybe a day or two, but then the endorphins go away. They need another high.
So they go out and buy something else, hoping that it will quench their unquenchable lack of happiness. It won’t.
Over time, they’ll spend more and more money on stupid shit they don’t need, which will just make them more and more insecure and poorer.
This is the trap that you want to avoid, and in order to avoid it, I recommend adopting a minimalist lifestyle.
What is a Minimalist Lifestyle?
A minimalist lifestyle is essentially when you only buy what you actually need: food, shelter, and transportation. And maybe a few other things, depending on who you are. Let’s take me, for example. What do I spend 99% of my money on?
- Good food
- Cheap transportation
- A gym membership and some high quality supplements
- Upkeeping my blog
That’s pretty much it. I don’t own a Mercedes-Benz, even though I probably could. I don’t own a house that’s hemorrhaging $3500 a month out of my bank account. I don’t own a bunch of fancy shit.
Hell, even my clothes are pretty basic. They’re not cheap, but that’s because I buy quality over quantity. I’d rather have 3 really nice button down shirts than 10 crappy or mediocre ones. I’ve got two pairs of jeans, some gym shorts, tank tops, and a bunch of basic T-shirts. That’s about it.
A minimalist lifestyle lets you focus on what matters.
When you live a minimalist lifestyle you don’t have to focus on a bunch of irrelevant bullshit like what you’re going to wear today, paying an extra $1600 in maintenance for your BMW this month, or how you’re going to afford to put food on the table, because you maxed out your credit cards.
Living a minimalist lifestyle is more than what you spend your money on, though. It’s about maximizing what you spend your money on. It’s about covering your basic expenses, and then investing in a ton of stocks poised to explode that put money into your bank account each month.
For example, it’s more financially effective to spend $800 a month on amazing food than $400 on food and $200 on clothes. Why? Because when you pump your body full of awesome healthy food, you’re more focused and can make more money.
How to Live a Minimalist Lifestyle
The first thing you should do, if you want to live a minimalist lifestyle, is throw out all of your bullshit. Yup—all of it. Ask yourself: Have I used this item in the last year? If the answer is no, then throw it away. That old backpack that’s sitting in your closet, that jacket that is 2 sizes too small, and that extra computer monitor?
It’s just taking up space. Throw it away. Declutter your life.
It may seem hard at first, but after you get good at it, you’ll feel very liberated. Some people would advocate throwing away everything that you haven’t used in the last year, but I disagree. There are some things that you might want to hold onto for the sake of memory or decoration.
For example, I have some pretty cool memorabilia that I’ve collected sitting on my dresser. An authentic German stein that my sister got for me, an ancient Indian blade, and some other miscellaneous stuff.
I wouldn’t dream about throwing this stuff away, because it adds value to my life. It personalizes my room and looks cool as fuck. People always ask me about my weird collection of knick knacks, and I enjoy talking about them.
That’s the point though: if it adds value to your life, don’t throw it away.
Yes, you want to minimize your possessions and expenditures, but part of living a minimalist lifestyle is knowing what adds to your life. That old leaf blower that you might use some day? How the fuck does that add value to your life? It doesn’t. It should get thrown away or sold on craigslist.
That box of letters from family and friends, though? Hold onto that. Consider putting your valuables in storage if you travel a lot. Don’t throw them away if they’re meaningful to you. This being said, however, if you truly want to live a minimalist lifestyle you will have to get rid of 99% of your possessions.
To live a minimalist lifestyle, you must free yourself financially.
If you are not free financially, then you are not free.
It doesn’t matter if you can say what you want, do what you want, or live how you want. If you don’t have the money to buy the food you want to eat or to cover your ass in an emergency, you are not free.
There are many ways to minimize expenses and live a minimalist lifestyle:
- Rent property until you’re ready to settle down
- Buy a used car, lease, or ride a bike
- Stop buying stupid bullshit
- Create a minimalist wardrobe
- Don’t buy on credit
That’s really what it comes down to. A lot of this is common sense, but I’ll walk you through it anyways.
Rent & Lease Property
Nobody in their 20’s should be buying real estate unless they are specifically intending to flip it. Buying a house when you’re young is one of the worst financial mistakes that you could ever make.
Not only does it drain your money, but it prevents you from traveling.
When you’re young and want to see the world, you won’t be able to, because it’ll cost you an extra $3500 a month. And good luck finding someone to rent your house for just a few months. Like I said, the only exception to this is if you’re planning on settling down or flipping it. I plan on moving to Las Vegas within the next year or two, and investing in real estate near downtown.
Why? Because I predict that the value will go up, and I’ll be able to make a killing. I’m NOT buying a house for good, however.
You should only buy a house when you know you’re going to settle down.
Otherwise, rent. You can get a nice apartment in the city for around $1400 a person, and if you live in a less expensive area, it may only cost you $400-500 a person. This is extremely preferable to the $2000-4000 a month that a house will cost you.
Buy a Used Car, Lease, or Ride a Bike
Transportation is a tricky one, because it will depend a lot on your needs. For me right now, I need a car. But if I lived closer to the city I’d definitely go for a bike.
You can get a decent road bike for $500-1000 and end up saving literally around $500 a month when you factor in gas and insurance that you don’t have to pay for with a bike.
If you do in fact need a car, buy a used one. You can get a decent Honda or Toyota with 100,000 miles on it for several grand. A car like this will literally last you over a decade.
If you’re in your 20’s, DO NOT BUY A NEW CAR PERIOD. Buy a used car, drive it until it dies, and by then you’ll have a bunch of money to spend on a nice Mercedes or something.
If you don’t have the cash to buy a used car, or you think it’d be better allocated somewhere else (like in the stock market), then consider leasing a car.
Right now I’m leasing a car with unlimited mileage for $400/month. I can end the lease any time I want. This not only gives me the money that I want right now, but the freedom that I want too.
Stop Buying Stupid Bullshit
I already covered this one before, but if you want to live a minimalist lifestyle you MUST stop buying stupid bullshit. It’s that simple. Don’t buy a $300 pair of Oakley sunglasses unless you’re like a mountain biker or snowboarder and need them to stay on and protect you from glare.
Don’t drop $25,000 on a brand new car unless you’re an Uber driver or need it to deliver pizzas or something for your job. Don’t waste money on supplements that don’t work. Just buy the ones that do.
Don’t buy designer clothes, expensive jewelry, or opulent furniture. Be smart with your money, spend it on shit you can afford.
Design a Minimalist Wardrobe
Have you ever seen how guys like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg wear the exact same thing every day?
They do this to minimize clutter in their life. Having to wake up and spend 10 minutes deciding what you’re going to wear today saps you of willpower and wastes your time.
Instead, wear a minimalist outfit.
A minimalist outfit is something that’s stylish, sleek, and comfortable, that you wear every day.
Here is mine:
- A pair of gray Lulu-lemon ABC Pants. They’re stretchy and loose fitting, but look like khakis.
- A black V-neck from Banana Republic.
- Nike Flyknit Roshe’s with black ankle socks
- A gem necklace that was given to me by a hippie friend.
- One of my Top 3 Watches for Men
- A nice jacket (this one changes depending on how hot the day is).
Do you see how simple this is? If I want to go to the gym all I have to do is take off the jacket and put it in a locker. If I want to go to something formal, or go sarging (an ancient term for you old PUA’s) I can do that, too.
It’s sleek, stylish, and comfortable. And best of all, I don’t have to think about it.
I just put it on every day and forget about it. It’s perfectly in line with living a minimalist lifestyle. Sure, sometimes I’ll change what I wear, but this is what I wear 8 days out of 10. That way I conserve will power, don’t have a bunch of useless clothes that I have to store, and can focus on buying quality rather than quantity.
Don’t Buy on Credit
This is perhaps the biggest mistake that ANY young man could make. Do NOT fall into the trap of using your credit card. There are very rarely any exceptions to this—you can do it occasionally, if for example you want to attend some amazing seminar that you can’t afford, but in general, do NOT put things on your credit card.
Marketers want to trap you into the habit of spending more than you can afford, and they use credit cards to do this.
“You’ll get 2% cash back! Free points that you can spend on airline tickets!” SHUT THE FUCK UP. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT put anything on credit when you are younger. Develop budgeting skills.
Learn how to set up a budget. How much do you bring in each month? What are your expenses? How much disposable income does that leave you with? You shouldn’t buy anything on credit card. I cannot overemphasize this. Put everything on your debit card, or buy it with cash. Only use credit cards for emergencies.
What to Actually Buy
As I alluded to before, living a minimalist lifestyle is all about spending money effectively. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t spend money on anything, but it means that you know where to spend your money so that it counts.
It’s not just about spending nothing. That would be stupid. Being a minimalist means spending 80% of your money on the things that matter the most.
Yeah, sure you can be extremely minimalist and live off of $30 a month on food, but you’ll feel like absolute garbage because you’re only eating hot dogs and orange juice. Being a minimalist is about spending your money effectively, and in my experience, there’s several ways to do this:
- Buy good food
- Buy experiences
- Invest in yourself
- Buy quality > quantity
I would argue that you shouldn’t set a limit on these things, except for the “experiences,” category however, since it’s kind of vague. The reason for this is that each of these four points will help you in the long run. Here’s how.
Buy Good Food
When you buy healthy, organic food, you’re improving the quality of your life.
You can think more clearly, which will make it easier to make money and hustle. It’ll make it easier to learn game and other skills. You’ll have more physical energy which will allow you to hustle and grind and make money while also having the energy to pursue your passions and interests.
Buying good food is absolutely non negotiable.
I personally spend roughly $750/month on food and supplements, and it’s entirely worth it. I feel like a fucking god. This is not an exaggeration—there are times when I look around me and can clearly see how everyone else is in a haze. Do you know why they’re in a haze?
Because they ate that Twinkie at work. Because they ate that convenience store candy bar. Because they drink three cans of Coke a day. That’s why they’re in a fucking haze.
Don’t be like them. Don’t be in a haze. Invest in your diet, and you will be rewarded 10 fold.
“But Jon, isn’t that a lot of money for food?” Fuck yeah it is, but you’ll have it because instead of buying that 10th Ed Hardy T-Shirt (if anyone still wears that anymore), you’ll be buying organic produce and wild caught salmon.
Instead of spending $500 a month on stupid bullshit like a new chain, a new pair of Nike’s, a new dress shirt, and a new pair of Beats, why not spend it on traveling?
Spend that $500 on a weekend getaway to New Orleans, Houston, or some other cool city close to you. Spend that $500 going to a couple of awesome concerns, or to a couple of raves.
Spend it on cover charges, on going bowling with your buddies, or on going sky diving for fucks’ sake. Just spend it on something that will expand your mind and inject some fun into your life.
Invest In Yourself
This concept is so important that I actually wrote an entire article on it, but basically the idea is to buy things that improve you, because over time this will increase your earning power.
Invest in great books, so that you can expand your mind and learn more about the world. Invest in good food (I covered that), experiences (I covered that too), and your health. Invest in your mind and body, invest in your emotional health and well-being, INVEST IN YOURSELF.
Take brain-enhancing smart drugs, join a yoga club, learn to play a musical instrument, buy Rosetta stone and learn a new language, or take up a martial art. Just do something that will pay off in the long run.
Buy Quality over Quantity
This one is a crucial concept in living a minimalist lifestyle. You can’t really live a minimalist lifestyle if you have to buy a bunch of new shit, because your other shit keeps breaking.
For example: you can buy a nice pair of sneakers for $160, or a shitty pair for $50. Which do you think is a better deal? Jerry thinks that the $50 pair is a good deal, but Jon knows the $160 is worth it in the long run.
“Wow, I’m saving so much money!” Jerry will think. Come on, dude. Really?
What he doesn’t realize is that his “great deal,” will start to fall apart and the fucking rubber will break off of the bottom or something within like a year. Then, he’ll go and buy another $50 pair of sneakers, and it’ll happen again.
Meanwhile, Jon has had the same badass pair of shoes for like 5 years, and still wears them regularly. So which pair is a better deal?
Obviously the high quality pair. This concept can be applied to a lot of different areas. Do you buy a cheap $12 Canteen to carry your coffee around, or a sturdy $35 one that will last you two decades?
Do you buy a cheap $600 laptop, or a monster $1500 one with a 5 year warranty? Do you buy a cheap $150 dresser, or a strong $700 one that will last you your lifetime? I think you know the answer by now.
A minimalist lifestyle isn’t for everyone. Not everyone is okay with feeling amazing all of the time, having more money, and having more freedom. But, for those of you that can pull it off, a whole new world of adventure awaits.
Developing a minimalist lifestyle will take some time. It isn’t easy to do, especially when you’ve been gaining a lot of validation from external objects. Start meditating and let go of your ego.
Realize that you don’t need objects to get women, because women don’t care about looks. You don’t need cool shit to impress other men (how many of you like someone for who they are because they drive a Lamborghini?). Develop your personality and become a better person. That’s how you get girls, impress people, and have an amazing life.
“You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world.” -Chuck Palahniuk