Minimalism Can Declutter Your Finances, Too

Melissa LambarenaFeb 15, 2019

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Christian Matney, 22, and his wife, Aubry, 23, haven’t let their youth hinder them from big financial goals.

The Austin, Texas-based couple — content creators at YouTube channel The Matneys — are travelers, entrepreneurs and homeowners, thanks in part to their commitment to financial minimalism. The approach involves decluttering accounts, obligations and balance sheets.

“We got things simple enough [to] where we both knew where our money was going,” Christian Matney says.

Here’s how financial minimalism can help you clarify goals, reduce stress and focus on what matters.

Minimalists live intentionally by carving out goals around which they center their lifestyles. But the key is knowing what those priorities are.

“If you’re not directed and know exactly where you’re going, something’s going to be directing you,” Christian Matney says.

The Matneys married in May 2016 and began mapping their goals and documenting milestones on YouTube. At the time, both were employed at the same startup, working long hours and unable to commit much time to one of their top goals: travel. They set about simplifying.

When they moved into an apartment together, they purged many of their belongings — and many of their financial obligations. “We had tons of unnecessary expenses we didn’t even know were there,” Christian Matney says. He notes they went from 30 monthly bills — including subscription accounts and donations they didn’t realize had piled up — to five.

They then bought a van and, in 2017, moved into it, taking their jobs with the startup on the road. Along the way, they continued building their social media brand. By 2018, Christian says, they were able to quit their jobs and become business owners themselves, focusing on their brand and building websites for other companies.

For the Matneys, it was a matter of visualizing a goal — travel — and organizing their lives to meet it.

“The money follows, the steps follow and everything follows, but you’ve got to know where you’re going first,” Christian Matney says.

When deciding whether to buy, skip or toss an item, minimalists try to determine whether it adds value to their lives. Apply that to your financial accounts.

Beyond holding your money, accounts should save you time, fees and, perhaps most importantly, stress. For 64% of Americans, money is one of the most common sources of stress, according to the 2018 American Psychological Association’s Stress in America Survey.

If your accounts are stressing you out, switch, close or consolidate. “If you can take four different accounts and move them into one, on your brain, that makes such a tremendous impact because your finances are so much easier to manage,” says Brent Sutherland, a certified financial planner and self-proclaimed “semi-minimalist.”

Take a look at:

In 2018, the Matneys became homeowners, splitting the down payment and monthly mortgage 50/50 with Christian’s grandparents. All four are on the deed, and they all live together.

Adding responsibilities and roommates may seem at odds with minimalism. For the Matneys, who still travel, the arrangement makes sense.

“It gives us … a home base at an affordable rate, an investment property and an ability to take care of my family, which is a huge factor for me,” Christian says.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

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