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In this episode of The TFD Test Lab, host Jazmine tries adopting a financially minimalist budget. See everything she changed in her financial life, and how much she's saving in the long run.

In The TFD Test Lab, we're sharing real-life experiences challenging ourselves to live better, more budget-friendly lives. Whether through attempting a no-spend challenge, switching up a budget system, or tracking progress on a new healthy routine, we'll be highlighting all the risks *and* rewards of frugal living.

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Hey, everyone.

Welcome back to The Test Lab. I am your host Jazmine Reid Clark for The Financial Diet, and this is the space where I take on different financial challenges in hopes to live a healthier, happier, and more budget-friendly lifestyle.

And let's get into today's episode. So what is financial minimalism? Well, unlike some of the other challenges that I've done for the Test Lab, this one was more up to interpretation.

If you go to YouTube or Google financial minimalism, you're not going to find something with a ton of guardrails. There is no expert who's coined the phrase. But more so, it's taking the overall philosophy of minimalism, or having a quality life with less, and applying that to your finances.

So for some people, this might be joining the FIRE movement or simply learning to-- what I'm doing-- having a quality life with less. So when I took on this challenge, I knew exactly how I wanted to apply the idea of minimalism, but a little context is going to be helpful. So I turned 30 back in April.

And when I was leaving my 20s behind, I was really excited. I felt like I did my 20s right. But I had and have one goal for my 30s, and that is operation G.

A. S. me up. And gas, it's G period A period S period-- grown and sexy.

I just want to be grown and sexy this decade. And grown and sexy, yes, I do see myself in a little black dress and slinky tops. But more than that, I think being grown and sexy means you are accountable, responsible, and you honor your virtue and values by any means necessary.

So essentially, I would love to leave $100 bar tabs in my 20s along with a lot of other bad habits. But with that, in my 20s, I was able to hit a ton of financial milestones, including being debt free for the majority of my 20s, being able to build up my emergency savings fund, and even just making really smart financial decisions and articulate the relationship I have with money and the relationship I wanted to have with money for the rest of my life. Not to mention, I have almost six figures in savings for my retirement, and those are all things that I'm really grateful for.

And I attribute a ton of it to the TFD community and just having really hands-on parents who, if nothing else, drilled in the idea of financial planning. But for my 30s, I actually want to focus on less milestones and more minimalism. I just want to take out a lot of the unnecessary spending.

You guys are going to see I might have a chronic obsession with Target and throw pillows. And to be truly grown and sexy, I think you got to know where to draw that line. And that's what I want to learn this decade.

And just because I can't afford something doesn't necessarily always mean I should purchase it. So for me this week is going to be all about taking a magnifying glass or a fine tooth comb or whatever object to my budget, realizing where I can afford to pull back, and really seeing what I already have and making use of the things that I have already purchased. I hope by the end of this week, I have a deeper appreciation for the things I already own and feel less of that pull to buy things just to keep up with the Joneses.

For today's part of the challenge, I'm going to be looking at my budget and saying what can I afford to purge, delete, and deplete. I went into my credit card statement, and I was able to download all of the purchases I've made from April to August. March was the last time that I did this.

So everything that I decided to get rid of, like a G Suite account, things related to LegalZoom, I took that out. So now I am looking at what the last four months have really looked like. But I did want to show you the things that I had to stop and ask myself, does this bring me joy?

Here's what I came up with. So I have $1,300 going to counseling. I mean, counseling is the reason I have joy.

No, I am not going to take that out of my budget. And to me, the $130 I spend per session is so worth it. This is a real life look to the costs of self care, health and wellness, and that there is a level of privilege that comes with it.

Amazon-- so fun fact. I think during quarantine, like so many, I got a little crazy, got a little crazy with Amazon. And it's like the man versus man or like man versus himself internal battle.

Like, we all hate Amazon and Jeff Bezos, but yet we get so much from Amazon and Jeff Bezos. So one thing that I just decided to do that was both good for my mental health and my pocketbook was to give my husband the password to Amazon. I mean, this is true life, OK?

I gave him my password. He changes it, and if I really need something, I then have to go up to Jordan-- Frugal Frank-- and be like, hey, I need this thing. Something that I think is interesting is I don't know for the life of me where this annual membership fee is.

I know it's not Amazon. I don't think it's Skillshare. So that's just something I've been able to put to the side.

And I think that's one of the big things to take away-- that sometimes, we sign up for annual subscriptions because-- I know for me, I totally fall for them-- 20% savings. But I should probably just go back to month per month and see if I'm actually using the thing that I am giving my money towards. Going over to my Apple bill, I actually know that most of these are from when I had the Delta variant.

Yes, we are fully vaccinated. We stay in the house most of the time, but we did go to a family function. Long story short, I wound up with COVID, and I just kept buying episodes of old favorite TV shows, like How to Get Away with Murder, Sex and the City, and Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

The next was one that I definitely grappled with. It was the membership to my co-working space. I know that it has brought me so much joy, especially when my husband and I were both working under one roof.

However, my husband has since-- I was going to say been forced, but am I lying? He now is going back into the office, and I have the duplex to myself. And oh man, sweet silence.

So it really no longer made sense for me to keep my co-working space membership. Next-- so this comes with a preface. April is my birthday month, OK?

And I was turning 30, OK? And I had a party, OK? So with that said, my alcohol spending and consumption was definitely higher than usual, but I didn't want to redact things.

I didn't want to edit it. I wanted to keep it raw, real, honest. But in the last quarter, I have spent close to $450 on alcohol.

Again, that was-- I was throwing a party. I was celebrating my birthday. We did go on vacation and have some staycations.

But regardless, at the end of the day, does alcohol bring me joy? Not really. I love a glass of champagne.

I'm like such a bubbles girl. But lately-- and I actually say this throughout the video. I have been reevaluating my relationship with alcohol.

I know for me, when I was turning 30 and I was looking back on my 20s, the thing I said was, man, I think I've done-- like, I think I did my 20s right. I went out and I had fun and I had relationships and friendships and I traveled and all of the things that Pinterest would have us believe make a quintessential 20-something experience. But the one thing I looked back on was, damn, I'm not getting any younger.

My body is not really getting any younger, and I wish I hadn't taken my body and my organs for granted. Since then, I have been more active, going on more walks, and just trying to live a cleaner lifestyle. This is the only body that I have, and I want her to last.

And I hope that this is the body that takes me into my 60s, 70s, and 80s. But that can't happen if I am choosing to put and pump poison in my body. And then Etsy-- whenever I'm buying gifts for friends, I love Etsy.

Not only can things be handmade and customize-- as a fellow creator, not necessarily of like beautiful goods but just a creator in general, I love to support local shops around Dallas and then Etsy whenever I can. So my first niece was born. So I got her like a Teddy bear, and I don't really know what the $2.80 charges.

But-- oh, I think that was to get her name customized on it. So yeah, I spent $30 on a bear. OK, here's one that I definitely feel like people are going to come for my throat in the comment section.

Housekeeping-- I've been spoiling myself, and I get a housekeeping service to come to the home once a month. It does cost $215, and that's before tipping the housekeepers. So it is absolutely a luxury, and I know that isn't something that everyone agrees with.

I know for me, because, first of all, the team is incredible who comes-- they do such an incredible job, and they're so kind. And they're able to create my home and even so beautiful and welcoming and inviting, which, yes, there is a return on investment in my productivity and what I'm able to produce for different clients. But also, it brings me joy to have a dust-free home.

And when I am able to have the time, do I think I'll keep doing housekeeping? No, I didn't have it for years. I only recently invested in this.

But for now, it is bringing me joy. And Peloton, Peloton, Peloton-- I want to get this out in the public. I am someone, before the pandemic, I worked out pretty religiously at a boutique fitness gym here in Dallas.

And like so many people, I gained weight during quarantine to the tune of like 20, 25 pounds. And I just thought if I got a Peloton, it's just all going to come off. I love spinning.

It'll be great. And I realized I'm someone who needs that external motivation. So I've had my Peloton for nearly a year.

So I have decided to sell it. I financed it, and I spend $82 a month to pay for the machine itself. But then you all can see here I'm spending an extra nearly $170 a quarter, give or take, for an app that I'm really not using enough.

And now we are getting to the really incriminating part of this entire video, which is Target. First, let's play a quick, cute little game. How much do you think in about four months I've spent at Target?

Now granted, sometimes groceries, but it's mostly home decor. I know myself. And it is a whopping $721.10.

OK, there is something in the Target air. It is so intoxicating. So it brings me joy, but I don't-- but is it a joy I'll look back on in five years, five months, and be like, that was worth it?

Likely not. I think I can rein it in with Spot the Dog. And then Uber Postmates, another one where sometimes it's late or I don't want to eat the meal prep.

I have spent close to $230 over the course of four months, which, not the worst but also not the best. So I added everything up, and I'm spending close to $4,500. Not exactly, but I'm spending somewhere close to $4,500 between wellness, needs, Amazon, subscriptions, alcohol, gifts every four months, which is about a little bit over a grand.

So I went through and I asked myself, does this bring me joy does it not. And I decided that it was time to really carve out Amazon, my co-working space subscription, alcohol, my Peloton, and Postmates. OK, so with the changes I've made, I have an extra $430 a month.

And as much as my first thought is totally to rush to Target, I do know that I want to be really mindful with what I'm doing with that extra $400 a month, and I don't want it to just be sitting in my checking account. One, for a lot of reasons-- if it's just sitting there, it's not accruing interest or being compounded or my money isn't working for me. But also, if it's just sitting there, I might be tempted to spend it.

Click the link in our description to get started. After realizing that I was spending far too much money on eating out and Postmates, I thought I could spend Wednesday cleaning out our pantry and really seeing what do we have and what do we have to work with. So I hopped into our kitchen, cleaned out our pantry, organized it, and I was able to take inventory of what we have a surplus of and find recipes to match that food.

And when I did this organization detox or this pantry detox, it was really interesting just to turn around and see what are repeat purchases when we actually have a said food or ingredient already in the pantry just buried. And I'm realizing it does cost a lot of money to be disorganized. I did get all of my organization goodies from the dollar store.

Clearly, I need to re-evaluate my relationship with Target. I think we need to take some space from each other for a little bit. So I will be cheating on her with the Dollar Tree.

But I really love how everything came out. I love that I can see everything. And now I'm just more inspired to use what is already in my pantry and create something totally delicious without spending unnecessary money.

All right, the week is over, and I am excited to share my results as well as some of my key takeaways from the past week. Because this challenge was a bit open to interpretation, it was pretty hard to fail at it. But I still believe that I was successful in paring down a lot of my purchases, examining where my money was going, and ultimately finding a way to live a life that doesn't compromise its quality or entertainment while also spending less money.

I thought it was really interesting to just an afternoon of going through my budget. I was able to find an additional $400 to $450 extra a month that can go towards investment, savings, or candidly just activities that are going to bring me more fulfillment and joy rather than fleeting things like alcohol, Postmates, or Target runs. So I have a couple of key takeaways from the week that I'm taking with me as I go into the world, the first being the hard lesson.

That is, habits make the person. Purchases don't make the person. I think most of us are likely guilty of buying maybe a camera because we want to become the next Casey Neistat, a kitchenaid mixer because we want to become the next Claire Saffitz, or, in my case, the next Peloton because I wanted to be, like, Ally Love or something.

And I did have evidence. Pre-pandemic, I was really into spinning. I was going to a boutique fitness gym here in Dallas regularly, and most of the classes I took were the spin format.

However, I quickly learned-- although I did not quickly sell my Peloton, but I quickly learned that, for me, it wasn't necessarily the format that kept me going. It was the sense of community, the body representation that was so refreshing to be in a boutique studio in Dallas where there were other people who weren't super skinny and looked like me. There was a financial incentive.

We would get penalized-- I think it was $20-- if you were a no show or you canceled a class within a certain window of time. So between all of those things, that's what kept me coming back. And while it sometimes was hard to swallow the pill of pride, I understand that it is better to sell my Peloton now so that that money can go towards workout formats that I actually enjoy and that I can actually do.

The second lesson I learned is it is expensive to be disorganized. So by nature-- well, actually not by nature, but by survival need, I am an organized person. I like to keep a clean space.

I color coordinate everything. However, when it does come to the pantry, the refrigerator, and the freezer, very quickly my natural instinct takes over. And I realized that although I did have to invest-- "invest"-- $15 at the Dollar Tree, which perhaps isn't the most minimalistic thing I could have done, I was actually able to come up with all of these new recipes and ideas.

And I was creatively inspired again because I saw what was in my pantry, and I saw that we "don't have anything to eat." I just have to get a little bit creative and have a little bit of patience. But outside of the pantry, I can also look to other times in my life when being disorganized cost me a job, cost me doing a good job on a project at work. So ultimately, I still think that the philosophy holds true.

Being disorganized is expensive, and moving forward, I realized that I have to be thoughtful about organization in all parts of my life. Buying something new should be a last resort, or specifically, buying something new from Target should be a last resort. I can't lie.

I'm already cringing to share with the internet that I was spending that amount of money at Target, but this is my truth. And what's interesting is I actually do know better. When I financially had to be craftier, I was.

And it's interesting that the habits that we can sometimes outgrow or think we've outgrown or think we no longer have to do simply because-- it goes back to inflation, our lifestyle inflation. But I actually completely enjoy thrifting, and we have some killer pieces in our house that we just got off the curb. We get a lot of curbside donations.

But I think something that I've neglected to do over the years is I used to, back when I was freshly out of college, super broke, I would start on Craigslist and Dollar Tree, and Target would be a last resort if I ever made it to Target. And I think that's something I can definitely bring back into my lifestyle. I do little challenges around the house.

In fact, my patio-- my summer challenge was to not buy anything new. But I'm realizing that there's no reason I can't do that with other parts of my house or other parts of my life or honestly realizing that I don't always have to go straight to Target. I can go to the Dollar Tree or just do a little bit more research and find a sale.

So I think it goes back to every purchase should have intention, and you can shop around to find the best deal. And overall, financial lessons aside, I definitely learned that there is so much to be done with the things around us and the people around us. I don't know if it's being a millennial, growing up with technology, or living in a metro city-- probably a mix of all three.

But we're so quick to think that in order to have fun or to live a full life, that means that we have to be spending or we need to be financing it. And I think the past week was just that humbling reminder that I needed that you can enjoy incredible food without it being delivered. You can curate a beautiful space without having everything be new or marginally expensive.

And you can ultimately do more with less. All right, and that is my past week living on a financially minimalist lifestyle. How did I do?

What are some of the things that you would have done differently? Are there things from my budget that you would have kept? Sound off in the comments below and, while you're there, let me know what my next financial challenge should be.

I would love to get a little bit more creative and hands on with cooking or something more tangible. So let me know what you guys think. And while you're already there, you might as well subscribe, hit that like button, turn on the notification bell so that you never miss an episode of The Test Lab.

I am your host Jazmine Reed Clark for The Financial Diet, and I will see you guys in the next video. Bye!