Financial mistakes, yes we made lots!

I’m a regular listener of the Choose FI podcast and a question they ask their guests each week is “What is your biggest financial mistake?”. This got me reflecting on my own life and, guess what – I’ve made quite a few!

I didn’t think we were “bad with money’, because we have always had a pretty good grip on the small stuff like managing day to day budgeting, avoiding credit card debt and saving regularly.

However we have made some pretty stupid decisions regarding the bigger material expenses. Needless to say these have been more impactful and damaging to our finances than, say, buying lunch at work each day.

I’ve read and listened to an enormous amount of material on personal finance and the FIRE movement over the past 12 months. As a result, I now have new role models, frames of reference, case studies and solid advice highlighting a better, more sustainable way forward.

Of cours,e it is easy in hindsight to say I would have done things differently. Instead of beating myself up about all the things we did “wrong”, I’m instead celebrating that I’m now more informed. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t make some of the same decisions. Hopefully sharing my big errors helps you avoid similar mistakes.

Financial mistakes aplenty
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A simple and meaningful life by focusing on the essentials

Is your working day characterized by endless meetings and an equally never ending to-do list? Do you lack the time to think and are you just in a cycle of doing?

I know the feeling, which is why I was excited to be given the excellent book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by author Greg McKeown.

Sitting down to read Essentialism with a cup of green tea

To my surprise, the applicability of lessons outlined in Essentialism extended far beyond the work context and time management strategies. At its core, this is a book about focusing on what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so you can concentrate on the things that really matter. For me, the book reaffirmed my belief that a simple life can be fulfilling, productive and meaningful.

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Tips on how to prepare for and enjoy travel photography

We are about to head off on an overseas trip tomorrow, so I thought I’d share some tips and thoughts about travel photography.

Travel provides the opportunity to experience new cultures, explore new locations and create amazing memories. Photography lets me capture some of those moments and preserve them for posterity.

My family tends to travel fairly lightly and we avoid buying souvenirs, so our travel photos are precious and important to us. Travel is transient but the experience can last a life time. Our travel photos help us recall those special times and inspire us to create more.

Below are some things to consider to prepare for and enjoy travel photography.

The benefit of getting up early! Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy
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How to live a more simple life without money worries

There is no one-size-fits-all definition of a simple life, but for me it is about uncomplicated, sustainable living. A life of happiness and intention which isn’t ruled by possessions or the expectations of others. Living a simple life is about having the time, energy, health and resources to focus on things, topics and people that matter. It’s about doing and having less, while gaining and giving more. It’s about choice, control and contentment, rather than reacting to societal pressures, norms and rampant consumerism. It’s about finding real happiness and a high quality of life.

“There is nothing that the busy man is less busy with than living: there is nothing harder to learn”

Seneca
Seeing what is important in life

Being clear about the life you want to lead is important. Below are ways I’m working towards that simple life:

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Minimalism Journey: Decluttering and generating some extra money in the process

I’ve posted previously about our liberating decision to start living with fewer possessions (The benefits of subtraction – the freedom and happiness gains of owning less). This has involved not only buying less, but also reducing the number of number of things we have in the house. Letting go of stuff is a process. Even when we are are ready emotionally to let things go, deciding what to do with the stuff is important.

What we’ve discovered in the process of decluttering and selling over 100 items in the last six months (in addition to everything we have donated or thrown away), is that the old adage “One man’s trash, is another man’s treasure” is true. We have managed to generate almost $7,000 in cash by selling unused and unwanted items including sporting equipment, comics, books, kids toys and some furniture. Old LEGO has been especially popular.

This wasn’t an emergency cash grab, but rather an intentional process of donating, selling and discarding superfluous stuff. Less physical clutter, creates more mental space and gratitude for the things we keep and value.

Minimalism: The process of decluttering can be a source of extra money
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Ways to combat overspending on impulse buys and save more money

I’m an aspiring frugal minimalist, working towards Financial Independence. Given that, saving should be second nature and easy for me, right? Well normally we are are pretty good and put money away like clockwork, but this week was a reality check as my monthly budget went up in flames. The budget collapse wasn’t due to any unforeseen disaster, medical emergency, or car problems. I simply overspent and purchased what could be classified as an unnecessary, luxury item.

So what went wrong and how do I avoid overspending in the future?

There goes the budget….

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The Pursuit of Happiness and Meaning

Have you ever felt a bit aimless, unmotivated or wondering what your purpose was in life? Maybe, like me, you’re working in a job that can sometimes feel a bit pointless and meaningless. Are you looking for something bigger than yourself or trying to forge a life that truly matters?

Finding purpose in life

There is an excellent book called “Man’s search for meaning” by Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, which outlines three ways one’s purpose in life is uncovered:

  1. By creating a work or doing a deed;
  2. By experiencing something or encountering someone;
  3. By the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering
Contemplating life’s purpose
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