So I took the week off to relax and catch up on life. I’m just enjoying life, having a coffee, and listening to some music when suddenly..Jay-Z is rapping about financial independence. Woah.
“Financial freedom my only hope. Fuck livin’ rich and dyin’ broke.” – Jay Z
The Story of O.J. tells a much more heartbreaking story than just that of financial independence, of course. The song has to be one of my favourite Jay songs and probably will go down as one of the best songs of all time (seriously, give it a decade for the rest of the world to catch up). The above lyric really stuck out to me, as hip hop as of late has become an example of excessive consumption and selling consumerism. To have such a prominent artist telling the story of investing rather than spending is a step in a more positive direction for the hip hop industry. Don’t buy chains buy bonds. Buy the Rolex that will gain value, not the one with the most after-market gems. Ball out without financial fallout.
There is more to life than working and spending money.
I’ve seen a lot of articles lately talking about how minimalism is only something afforded to the rich. I see where these authors are coming from. When you’re poor, you’re not minimal by ‘choice’. When you’re rich, you can be minimal by ‘choice’. Rich people also have the circumstances to afford sleek minimal furniture, durable clothes to keep a minimal wardrobe, etc.
I would argue against this, however. The more effort one puts in, the better results they’ll get from their minimalism. While thrift shopping I’ve managed to pickup durable t-shirts and clothing that is ‘Made In Canada’. In my short life, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a t-shirt in a retail store that is made in Canada. Now I own a wardrobe made up of robust pieces, that I only wash when they’re dirty or smelly, and hang dry to increase longevity.
By spending more time hunting down sales, checking prices, thinking through purchases, I’ll be able to save a lot of money. Alternately, this money may not going into monetary instruments, but be invested into higher quality needs (a new pair of winter boots, for instance).
I haven’t come up with a good way to quantify how much money I am saving by my new found passion and lifestyle, but I am sure in the long term it will benefit my mentality and my wallet. Minimalism, to me, is more than just saving money. The mental benefits it brings me are far more valuable and I believe you should do things that make you happy first and foremost.
Regardless of what your lifestyle is, move with intent, and think before you spend.
My journey to live with a smaller footprint has been amazing. It seemed daunting at first, but I can’t remember half of the things I’ve recycled, given away, or sold. The fact that I can’t remember is a testament to how valuable these items were in my life.
Onto the main point of this post: agility. Having less stuff makes being mobile a lot easier. Whether this be taking a last minute trip, moving, or changing jobs, having less stuff holding you back is hugely beneficial. I recently was assigned to work out of a client office and realized I was tied down to my home office. I had some plants, notebooks and such that tied me mentally to that space. I’ve moved the plants back to my apartment, ditched the notebooks in favour of taking notes on my mobile phone, and generally made myself more agile.
Continued progress towards living more minimally will make me more agile should new career opportunities arise. I could safely move with about a weeks notice now. I’d like to be at a point where I could get up and moving in about 3 days. It’s an interesting challenge to try and meet and a good reminder not to get comfortable.
To preface this, I didn’t grow up using chopsticks. I learned how to use them so that I could eat sushi and Korean BBQ. Also, I still don’t hold them properly. What I can say though, is they are the most versatile utensil out there.
With a pair of chopsticks, I can cook and eat a dish of just about anything. When I’m done cooking, a simple rinse and wipe of each stick results in clean chopsticks ready to eat the final product. Typically, one requires cooking tools (flipper, spoons, whatever) to prepare the dish, a fork to eat it, and perhaps a spoon too. Chopsticks seem to accomplish it all.
Imagine if instead of having a cutlery drawer, with an organizer, and 8 sets of 2 spoons, 2 forks, and a knife; you just had 8 pairs of chopsticks. As someone looking to reduce stuff in the junk drawer, this is a great way to eliminate about 40 pieces of silverware I seldom use.
If you’re fortunate enough to have not loaded up your kitchen yet, or haven’t purchased anything at all, get a good knife and a pair of chopsticks and see how you make out!
Commuting is probably the biggest time-suck in the modern person’s life. Currently, I can work remotely a day or 2 a week, but otherwise need to be in my office or my client’s office. When I was using the GO train to commute into Toronto everyday, I was losing about thirty, 24-hour days a year. I was throwing away a month per year (and this is all awake time, so really it’s about 33% more)!
Each day it would take 1 hour and 20 minutes on the train, and another 40 minutes walking to/from the office from Union station and getting to the station from my house. 2 hours each way, 5 days a week, 48 working weeks a year. 1200 hours a year on a train.
I have since moved closer to work. Now I walk an hour a day, during that hour I can listen to music and explore the city, something you can’t do while seated in a train for hours (after being seated in the office for hours).
What is your time worth? My freelance rate is about $100/hr, so commuting was costing me about $120,000 a year not including the cost of tickets. I’m not going to spend that much time freelancing, but you get the gist of how valuable your time is. Please, move closer to work. You’ll get time back in your day to do the things you want to do.
If you must commute, find ways to do less desirable tasks while travelling, catch up on reading, and use that time as effectively as you possibly can.
Take back your time.
Although my blog is very new, it’s something I’ve been planning on for a while. I read a lot of blogs and learn so much from bloggers that I wanted to pass on things I’ve learned. I’m big on self improvement and bettering myself, and have found techniques that anyone can use.
My biggest inspiration has to be Jacob at http://earlyretirementextreme.com/. Jacob’s no-nonsense, logical approach to cutting costs and life optimization is excellent. He’s a much better writer than myself, and has a better handle on solving complex problems. Hopefully, I can reach his level someday.
I read his blog daily, and finally ordered his book. I can’t wait to get my hands on it and absorb as much as I can. Everyone has a source of inspiration; what’s yours?