“What are you hoping to accomplish with this?”
I’ve had this question asked a couple times already, and to be honest, it was something that I hadn’t put a ton of thought into.
In the end, what this is really about for me is happiness and freedom. We only live once, and really, shouldn’t our optimal life goal be to be as happy as possible?
I see minimalism as a way to achieve this maximum level of happiness. We spend so much time and money* on things that really don’t give us any lasting happiness. If we’re able to shift our focus away from these material possessions and focus on what actually brings us happiness, we’ll find that these things usually really aren’t very expensive. (Spending time with family and friends, going to the park with the dogs, getting exercise in the great outdoors, cook delicious and healthy meals, reading and learning, writing, meditating, and the list goes on.)
By limiting our spending to things that truly make us happy, we should soon find that our lifestyle becomes much more inexpensive to maintain. This opens up a whole set of doors in that it gives us the financial freedom to do what we want to do with your life, whether that’s retiring early** or finding work that we really enjoy regardless of how much it pays.
As much as I love my job, if money wasn’t a concern, I’d gladly take a pay cut to work 20 hours per week so that I could spend more time with my family and focus more time on the things that make me happy.
My wife and I have created a budget that would allow us to live off of her income only and place mine directly into investments. This is step 1 and we hope to cut our expenses down even further as we get better at this.
What would you do if you could permanently cut your living expenses in half? How would your life change?
*the average American credit card debt is currently over $15k. That’s nearly $3,000/yr given away to credit card companies; if that money was instead invested (and got a return of 7%), it would be worth $115,000+ in 20 years. So holding a $15k credit card balance could end up costing the average American $115,000 – no wonder banks and credit card companies are so rich.
**I’ve recently discovered the Mr Money Mustache blog (an excellent blog! I’m currently going post-by-post through it all). He and his wife were both software engineers who managed to retire at 30 so that they could spend more time with their child and do what they enjoy.