Do you ever have the feel like you’re being pulled in multiple directions, overworked and stressed, never have enough time or are constantly worrying about money? Me too.
Somewhat paradoxically “less” may be the secret to getting back control over your life. Focusing on the essentials, being more selective about what we do, minimizing the stuff we strive to obtain and consume, spending time with the people that matter. Living a life with less allows us to focus on what really matters. Cutting out the crap, the unnecessary and the toxic, is key to making this philosophy work.
Clearly there is some hyperbole in the title of this blog post, but as a society we should be more conscious of the real choices we are making in exchange for convenience.
Technology, services and products that save us time, provide broader access to solutions, satisfy our need for instant gratification, reduce effort or streamline processes can be very appealing. There is no question that in many instances these conveniences deliver short term benefits and momentarily boost happiness.
However we also need to be aware of the downsides associated with minimizing effort and difficulty. What appears to be a “no-brainer” convenience may result in more harm than good over the longer term for you (and society), impacting your finances, physical and mental health, relationships and sense of purpose.
As a family we LOVE to travel overseas. We get that invigorating feeling of adventure and excitement heading into the unknown. We are also grateful for the opportunity to visit amazing ancient monuments, incredible thriving cities and places of breathtaking natural beauty while experiencing new cultures and languages. Best of all we get concentrated time together as a family in inspiring, interesting and new environments. Exploring the world has resulted in some extraordinary experiences and lasting memories. Needless to say but we have a bad case of wanderlust!
For us, planning and preparation lays the groundwork for a successful holiday. As we’re in the process of working out details of our next trip, I thought it would be useful sharing our top tips for overseas travel preparation.
We have only just started on our journey towards financial independence (see my previous post for a quick overview of FIRE) so we haven’t yet built good and lasting habits or found a sustainable level when it comes to balancing saving and spending.
Reflecting on last month it feels like we often took one step forward and two steps back. It’s been a struggle at times. It’s also been exciting as we saw the impact of our decisions.
Overall though I think we made great progress in April and are off to a great start.
Moved to a smaller home, which will hopefully cost less to heat, cool and maintain
Changed banks and received a $500 signup bonus in the process
Cancelled our cable subscription and home phone line
Reviewed our auto insurance, changed insurers and saved ~50% in the process
As a result of lowering our expenses we’ve now set a new baseline for living costs and will be able to save more each month going forward. The pleasing thing is that we’ve stopped drifting through life and now are much more intentional about our finances.
A few months ago I discovered the FIRE lifestyle movement thanks to a friend at work. We were discussing possible passion projects / side-hustle opportunities and from memory I was lamenting the “golden handcuffs” of work. We both have families to support, mortgages to pay etc. and the excuses were numerous as to why we weren’t pursuing something more meaningful than our current jobs. He stopped me, looked me in the eye and asked two questions “what if money wasn’t a constraint?” and “what if you could pursue these ambitions without the pressure of needing to work?”
My wife and I made the decision a few months ago to live with fewer possessions. We’ve sold, donated or discarded a huge percentage of our family’s possessions. Tables, books, TV’s, desks, outdoor furniture, boxes of Lego, clothes, plus other things that now just didn’t seem necessary in our lives. When we actively started looking around at our “stuff”, we realized how superfluous a lot of it really was. It’s been a liberating process.
This intentional choice has delivered a number of tangible benefits for us: