How Minimalist Living Can Help You Pay Off Debt

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Think there’s no way minimalist living could be right for you?

Let me ask you another question: When’s the last time you felt truly content? When was the last time you looked around and thought, I have everything I need—right here. I feel happy and whole.

For many of us, these thoughts usually hit the hardest when we’re at risk of losing the things we have or the people we love. And so we hold on a little tighter, promising to cherish each moment as a precious gift.

But what if we could live that way right now? What if contentment was just your way of life? Today’s guests and the theme of this episode might just hold the answer. We’re talking about minimalist living.

Right now, the only thing I want more of is your attention.

So let’s go!

The Best Examples of Minimalist Living Around

You guys know I like my entertainment. Lately, Winston and I love to kiss our sweet girls goodnight and settle on the couch to watch a show.

Recently, on one such night, I scrolled through Netflix and came across an option called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. Interest piqued, I hit play and spent the next hour nodding along, taking notes, and plotting how we might invite the stars of the documentary on our show.

I love the minimalist living tips shared by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Here’s why:

  • They remind us that stuff doesn’t equal happiness.
  • They discourage debt as a means of getting more things.
  • They show us how to make room for what really matters.

And, you guys, isn’t this what we talk about episode after episode?

After all, who set the standard of living in America today anyway? Who decided that you must have a garage with two cars in it, a house filled with all the latest and greatest technology, a home just for vacations, and a closet full of new, trendy clothes?

I’m getting mad again just thinking about it! Are you guys mad too? I hope so! It’s time to challenge the status quo. Otherwise we’ll all end up like rats on a wheel, running after a whole bunch of stuff and never finding satisfaction.

Wouldn’t our society look a whole lot better if we all spent our time and money wisely, working to enrich our lives and the lives of others—rather than filling our homes with needless junk?

Want to stop filling your fridge with less junk?

Get Home Chef and stop throwing away food and wasting money!

Money and Minimalism Challenge

This week’s challenge—and it should come as no surprise—is to part ways with some of that junk. I’m challenging you to find just one thing you can do without.

Maybe you have five black, long-sleeved shirts taking up valuable space in your closet. Grab your least favorite one and give it the boot. Sell it, donate it, give it away . . . just get it out of your house! Or better yet, choose your favorite black, long-sleeved shirt and say goodbye to the other four!

You can do it. Make sure to share what you got rid of and how this action made you feel in the comments below.

One thing you should always keep? Life insurance!

Get a quote from Zander Insurance today!

Real Talk With Rachel

Are you guys feeling the heat? Are you thinking maybe I’m over here judging you for wanting stuff?

Have you forgotten who I am? I’m Rachel, a self-proclaimed spender with a desire to shop any chance I get.

And I’ve got a confession for you.

Once upon a time, I got it into my head that one of my financial goals was to . . .

Do you want to guess? Maybe you’ll say:

  • Rachel hopes to fully fund her retirement early and travel around the world.
  • Rachel hopes to live so frugally that she can build a school for kids in need.
  • Rachel hopes to find ways to make a passive income become the main source of income for her family.

Nope. Nope. And nope.

Those are all great financial goals—smart even. But me? I was dreaming of shoes.

Not just any shoes. Shoes that would impress the likes of Carrie Bradshaw. And I only wanted one pair. So that’s not too bad, right?

I figured if I could get this one pair of super nice shoes, I’d feel a real sense of financial accomplishment. I could check the contentment box, wear them regularly, and never dream of shoes again.

But I couldn’t quite bring myself to fully commit. I would save up enough to almost buy them and then back out every single time.

Enter Winston.

When our second baby, Caroline, was just three weeks old, the doorbell rang, and he traded me a box for the baby. You guys, when I saw that logo, I cried. (Give me a break—I was hormonal!)

They were so beautiful! I mean, Cinderella’s glass slippers had nothing on these shoes! Winston chose the right size and heel height and the perfect style. I loved them.

And that elated feeling lasted all of about 48 hours. Now they sit in my closet as a wonderful picture of Winston’s love—and a painful reminder of how stuff will never fulfill us. That’s because the finish line keeps moving farther and farther out with each new item we buy.

Where True Contentment Comes From

When it comes down to it, even minimalist living doesn’t hold every answer to finding contentment.

I’m going to be bold here and say that nothing on earth will fulfill you. Nothing. If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, nothing else will do. You’ll always be left wanting more. He’s the ultimate answer.

Jesus sets the foundation for how we view everything. A relationship with Him changes the way we think about money, stuff and people. Our priorities and actions shift dramatically when we follow Him.

Of course, even with Jesus’ help, the process takes time. I’m learning every day. I mean, remember those shoes? I’m still learning how to practice what I preach.

How Minimalist Living Could Change Your Life

I could not be more excited to have Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists on the show today. These guys live out what it means to value relationships and experiences over stuff—and I think we all have a lot to gain from their story.

Before we dive in, you might be wondering, What does minimalist living look like?

Maybe you’re picturing a drab apartment and a guy with one plate, one fork and one spoon in his cabinets. But Josh and Ryan see minimalist living in broader terms, describing minimalism as “the thing that gets us past the things to make room for life’s most important things—which aren’t things at all.”(1)

Take a look at that line again. There’s a lot going on there, and it’s so good.

The Minimalists applied this concept to their own lives. And as a result, they each paid off loads of debt and focused their energy and efforts on making more of life with less stuff.

On today’s show, they offer powerful minimalist living tips like:

  • First, ask yourself, How might my life be better with less?
  • Start small. Try the 30-day minimalism game with a friend. On the first day, each of you will part ways with one item. On the second day, you’ll get rid of two things, and on the third day, three. Keep going until one of you gives up. If you both make it to day 30, you’ll have gotten rid of 465 items!
  • Carefully consider the items you keep. Everything The Minimalists own either serves a purpose or brings them joy. If an item doesn’t fit one of those categories, it’s gone.
  • Buy quality over quantity. Spend a bit more money on items you intend to keep around for a long time. You’ll save money on the replacement costs, and you’ll save room too!
  • Remember: minimalism doesn’t mean deprivation. Your children can—and should—have toys to encourage learning through play. They don’t need every single toy on the market, but a big crate of stuff they love is just fine.
  • Live the example. The best way to encourage someone else to join you in minimalist living is to show them the benefits as you practice it in your own life.

You can find more ideas from The Minimalists through their blog, YouTube channel or podcast.

If you’d like practical tips or encouragement for getting out of debt, budgeting, and creating a life you love, check out my book Love Your Life, Not Theirs.

How to Bring Minimalist Living Into the Kitchen

Food is a struggle. We’re trying to eat healthy, not bust the budget, and keep our kids happy all at the same time. Show me a meal that does all three, and you’ll be my new favorite friend!

Well, lucky for us, my college friend, Jenna Waters, joins me in the kitchen today. Jenna’s a mom of three and a registered dietician, and she shares not one—but FIVE—family- and budget-friendly dinners we can make at home.

Want to know the best part? She repurposes ingredients throughout the week to save us time and money. I already loved Jenna, but now I love her more!

Jenna’s minimalist approach to meal planning: source and systemize

When it comes to sourcing healthy meals, Jenna suggests using the same recipes you know and love, but considering different ingredients:

  • Cut out high-fructose corn syrup
  • Exchange hydrogenated oils (like canola and soybean) for olive or avocado oil.
  • Replace junk food with a snack bin full of healthy treats like granola bars, unsweetened apple sauce, and fresh chopped veggies with a side of hummus, guacamole or peanut butter

As for systemizing, Jenna encourages us to check the calendar at the start of the week. Look for nights when you might be tempted to grab dinner out and plan to use the instant pot instead. For days when you have more time in the kitchen, cook ingredients in bulk so you can use them again later in the week.

With this in mind, Jenna walks us through five unique and healthy dinners:


Make a large batch of chicken fingers breaded with almond flour and flaxseed and serve with a mustard dipping sauce.


Use the leftover mustard sauce as a marinade for salmon. Roast the salmon with some vegetables all in the same pan. 


Make chicken parmesan by adding sauce and cheese to the prepared chicken tenders from Monday.


Create taco bowls using cauliflower rice, ground beef, bell peppers and guacamole from the snack bin.


Have pizza night using cubed-up chicken, pesto, cheese and a cauliflower crust.

You have to check out this segment to see for yourself how delicious each dinner looks. And I love the idea of repurposing ingredients throughout the week to make meal prep easier and cheaper too!

She Works Hard Saving Money

As we come to the best part of the show, I’ll make a totally not minimalist plea for more and more of your awesome #sheworkshardsavingmoney stories. I love the pictures you send in, but now I want videos. Give me all your awesome, money-saving stories!

A couple of my favorites from this episode:

"Our family is growing, and it was time to get a bigger vehicle. Just paid cash for a new-to-us Honda Odyssey!" — Abaigeal

"Emily worked hard the last three months saving her commissions for her pillow. She was so excited. Love this hardworking, loving girl. Give, save, spend." --Sarah

I hope each and every one of you found something to take away from today’s show. And remember to take control of your money and create a life you love.


Sponsors pay the producer of this show, The Lampo Group, LLC, advertising fees for mentioning their services or products during programing. Advertising fees are not based upon or otherwise tied to any product sale or business transacted between any consumer or sponsor. The following sponsors have paid for the programing you are viewing:

  • Zander Insurance
  • Home Chef

Documentary footage provided by The Minimalists.