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- How to Budget on a Low Income - January 27, 2020
Today I’m excited to share a guest post from Jill at Five Senses of Living. She dives into the philosophy behind minimalism and how this concept can supercharge your path to financial independence. She challenges conventional consumerism and if you read until the end, she has a challenge for you. Enjoy!
The road to FI is so much more than just finances. It’s a shift in mindset and to some degree a move toward minimalism. I was never a big fan of the word minimalism but I have grown to like it.
Obstacles to FI (Financial Independence)
One of the biggest obstacles we face in the FI world is the relentless push of consumerism. You see, our society does a terrific job of funneling us down this rabbit hole of being satiated through buying stuff.
From a young age we are taught we must work hard for the things we want. Our first car, the fancy stereo and so on. It’s easy to get caught up in the race with the Joneses. Wanting the big house and fancy car are inevitable until we make a change in our mindset.
Fight The Normal
Our society has developed over hundreds of years to what it is today. There’s a general idea of what a “normal” life looks like and in my opinion, we’re emphasizing all the wrong stuff.
Success in our society is too often measured by the “stuff.” The big house, fancy car, and moving up the corporate ladder to that private office. As we make more money in our careers society drives us towards owning more, upgrading the car or buying that dream house.
Is that really what life is all about? Do you want to wait ’til your 65 before you’re independent and free?
We Owe it to The Millennials
Since World War II the American dream has been focused on work, more work, and then maybe you can live a happy retirement. That is of course if you’re still healthy and capable.
Well, we owe it to the millennials to mix things up a bit and offer an alternative to the post-WWII “normal.”
So what exactly do we owe to the millennials?
It’s a new measure of success and a different approach to life and ultimately what life means. It’s taking a fresh look at life and how you want it to look. It is the realization that there isn’t a normal and what’s right for you isn’t always what’s right for someone else. It’s about ignoring life’s interstate and instead exploring the side roads.
Value Over Quantity
If you haven’t had a chance take a look at the Tiny Home or Van Life revolution that is going on it’s worth a look. In fact, there are entire communities of Tiny Homes going up.
What’s driving this movement is the realization that less is more. It’s prioritizing value over quantity. This is a crucial step in moving towards FI.
Breaking away from the “normal” and not competing with the Joneses isn’t really about having less. You’re not actually giving anything up. Instead, you are offered a whole new appreciation of what life is about.
Possessions Are Debt
I like to think of possessions as debt. It’s easy to fall into the vicious cycle of wanting more “stuff” to be happy. The temporary high of that purchase quickly fades leaving a gaping hole. Driving the need to buy more to feel good again. It’s an addiction really.
If we manage possessions like we do our debt and limit ourselves to the things that actually add value to our life we come out ahead. The societal pressure and keeping up with the Joneses isn’t actually driving us towards buying things that add value to our lives.
It’s about focusing on the people and things that add value and happiness to your life. By focusing on fewer possessions you’ll actually end up with things that add more value to your life. Would you rather have 10 acquaintances or 3 really good friends?
By freeing yourself from the belief that more is better you’ll be less distracted and able to focus on the things in life that bring you joy and value.
Putting Yourself First and Job Second
“The world is your oyster.” Do you remember being told that, perhaps when you were just a kid? That feeling as a kid that you can do anything. Astronaut, fighter pilot, heck even Superman.
For a lot of us, we have stopped evaluating our life goals. Stopped thinking about our dreams. Instead, we put more emphasis on the prestige and salary when picking a career. We are letting the societal “normal” influence our decisions based on the false sense of need for “stuff.”
It’s time we take a look again at our dreams. What do you want your life to look like? As you take that last breath will you have any regrets?
In today’s world, anything is possible.
For my husband and I, two of the most important characteristics we want in our lives are spontaneity and freedom. These are every child’s wishes and ones that we realized later in life that we didn’t want to give up.
This simple realization is what drove us to FI and lit our fire for a better life.
How To Make It Happen
When we travel overseas for long periods of time or spend months living in our van, we always come to the same conclusion. And that is, we don’t miss the majority of our belongings back home.
When we finish up a long trip in the van and start heading home I actually get anxiety thinking about all the stuff back home. The beauty of less stuff is that you have less to worry about. If it can’t fit it in my van than I don’t need it.
Taking breaks from home is a great way to help prioritize just want belongings are important to you. It can be real eye opener once you are away from some things just how little value they add to your life.
As we approach location independent living it’s time for us to slim down our belongings. We are making it a point to purge ourselves from so many belongings. We started to gather things that we hadn’t touched in years. And eventually found homes for them somewhere else.
As we began to declutter our home we were rewarded with a sense of freedom. We didn’t realize how stressful it can be to walk into a cluttered room.
What’s Stopping You?
The best part with all of this is you can start today. Make it a point to purge yourself from belongings. Go through your house today and thin things out a bit. Start in the kitchen and dig deep behind the things you actually use. I promise there are pots, pans, silverware, and numerous other things you could free yourself from.
Gather these things up and put them in a box. Re-organize and enjoy your new found freedom and room that you created. If you’re unsure you can keep the box for a week or two to give it some thought.
But I assure you, everyone has plenty of things they would be better off without. I think you’ll find that getting rid of things can be not only liberating but fun. Give it a try today and let us know how it’s going.