In a world where wealth is often synonymous with “More! More! More!”, it may seem strange to suggest that the secret to financial success lies in getting by with less. But that’s exactly what a new school of financial minimalists is teaching – and when you boil it down to the basics, you’ll find there’s real value in streamlining your finances.
What is financial minimalism?
Minimalism gets a bad rap. When experts like Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, founders of The Minimalists, talk about walking away from their six-figure jobs, the appeal gets lost on people who’re hanging onto employment just to make ends meet. When we – or Millburn and Nicodemus – talk about minimalism, it’s more in the Marie Kondo sense of getting rid of the clutter that’s holding you down and holding you back.
Kondo, the Japanese organising consultant, wrote in her 2011 bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up that, “Once you have experienced what it’s like to have a truly ordered house, you’ll feel your whole world brighten. Never again will you revert to clutter.” The same applies to all things finance: your savings, investments and financial affairs.
- Discard all those cards
After all, do you really need multiple debit and credit cards from multiple banks, when you’d pay less in fees if you just used one? Kondo writes about the need to discard unnecessary things. Dis-carding those extra credit cards (and bank accounts) is a big step towards that goal. Moving to a virtual credit card is another. On Standard Bank’s Shyft app you can get virtual cards that operate just like a physical card, just without taking up space in your wallet. (As an added bonus, you can have virtual cards in foreign currencies like USD, GBP, EUR and AUD to use abroad when visiting or just shopping. Go to getshyft.co.za to download Shyft and try it out. You don’t have to be a Standard Bank customer to use it.)
- Invest with focus
Next, ask yourself whether your investment portfolio is diversified or just cluttered. Is it really diversified if you have a dozen different investment products that all have the same risk exposure and underlying assets? Probably not. After all, there’s a world of difference between diversification and clutter. A truly diversified investment portfolio is simple and focused, with a handful of investments that complement each other.
- Streamline your forex
The same is true for your foreign exchange. Yes, it makes sense to have US dollars and British pounds stored for when you need them, but there’s little point in adding in extra yen or Aussie dollars just for the sake of it. Shyft, with its easy-to-use foreign currency wallets, will help you stay organised and focused.
- Declutter your headspace – and your feed
There’s a currency in financial circles that’s often overvalued, with too much of it being a very bad thing – especially in the hands of people who take their finances seriously. That currency is information. If you fill your head (or newsfeed) with too much news, you’re likely to make decisions with long-term consequences based on short-term headlines. Financial minimalism means tuning out that noise and clearing out that mental clutter.
- Do more with less
As a savvy global citizen, you know already there’s no secret recipe to financial success. But there’s wisdom in decluttering your personal finances. Take the opportunity of a fresh outlook in the new year to do a thorough clean-out of your financial affairs, disposing of the expensive excess and focusing only on what’s absolutely necessary.
Less really can mean more.
This post and content is sponsored, written and provided by Standard Bank.