Minimalism for students: the new way to budget smart

Lois King on 12 January 2021

Over lockdown, a lot of us have been watching The Minimalists documentaries and decluttering… But how can you use minimalism to stay on-budget and help you find happiness in these difficult times?

A new year means a fresh start. But, of course, lockdown has scuppered our plans for holidays away and road trips along the coast… So, what better to do than blow your student loan on a new TV, shoes you won’t be able to wear for four months (let’s face it, we all live in pyjamas now) and a swanky new phone just to relieve the boredom of taking selfies in the same four walls? Instead of wasting your money, maybe it’s time to embrace minimalism.


You can think about minimalism as saving on the small things to afford what really matters to you. Minimalism sees objects as just that - material things that have little value and don’t make us happy. Whereas experiences and essentials like your laptop, your living space and your friendships enrich your life.

How does minimalism work and how will it save me money?

Over lockdown, many of us have been buying crap that we don’t need. Instead, we can save up that money to go out for meals, holidays or buy bigger purchases in the future that will truly make us happy. By delving into minimalism, your once meagre student budget will stretch, and you’ll see how it’s possible to save up for things like your first car. And not only will it save you money, but it’ll also help with your mental health. A decluttered space leads to a clutter-free mind. 

For inspiration, check out this video about how The Minimalists started their journey:

Feeling inspired? Minimalist student rooms are oh-so-aesthetic, so here’s how you can be a student minimalist.

1. Get clued up 

To kick-start your journey as a minimalist, save money and find happiness along the way, then you’ll want to check out the minimalism documentaries on Netflix, both part 1 and part 2. Trust us, it’s addictive.

2. Start small and challenge yourself 

There are two minimalist games that you can try to test your willpower as a minimalist. They both involve decluttering your possessions to see what is truly important in your life. The first game says you must get rid of one item each day, so decluttering a total of 30 items over a month. The second is trickier; on the first day you must declutter one item, the second day two, the third day three, and so on. Once you build up momentum, you’ll see you’re living with loads of things you don’t really need.

3. Know that minimalism doesn’t have to be extreme 

Of course, there will be some people who take minimalism to the next level. Truth is, you don’t need to go totally minimalist to make your student loan stretch. 

4. Focus on what makes you happy

Make a list of all the things that make you happy - it’s likely that your iPhone, Macbook and earpods aren’t top of the list. Beginning to see what minimalism is all about?

5. Be mindful of your purchases 

Minimalism is all about avoiding consumerism and mindless spending. What would you rather spend your student budget on - the latest iPhone when your old one works perfectly, or on experiences, such as spending time with your friends and family? The coronavirus pandemic has taught us all that the most important things in life are free. Material objects can’t fill the void of experiences. 

Finally, we’ll leave you with this quote about consumerism, which you might recognise if you’ve seen Fight Club:

“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”

Mind blown. Now, take a look around and see what you might be able to declutter from your life to find your own happiness. For other resources on how to boost your happiness levels and mental well-being, click here.

Spoiler: none of them recommend buying material things ;) 

If you’ve got advice to share on minimalist student living, or making the most of your student loan, join our panel of student writers today. 

Lois King
Lois King on 12 January 2021