Last week I talked about how I’m attempting to live a simple life even though I currently live in the big sprawl of Los Angeles. I covered how I’m trying to handle technology, avoiding running all over the place in my car, and dealing with the urban noise that goes on in my own head.
This week I’ll be covering three more areas: money, stuff and time!
Money! Money! Money!
Let’s start with money since this is, ya know, technically a personal finance blog. “Hey man, quit trying to label me!” 🙂
There was a time not that long ago when I was a freelancer, that I’d sprint to the mailbox to see if a client check had come, only to find myself in panic mode when the check hadn’t arrived.
I would shuffle funds around to make sure I was covered with my basic bills and necessities, and I managed to survive. But what I wasn’t doing was thriving.
If you’re in a tough financial position I completely empathize. I’m in no position to tell you that, “all you have to do is _____.” How annoying, yes?
But if you’re in a position where you can save and just aren’t, I’m going to have to smack you around a bit like Christian Grey in 50 Shades of Grey. Yes, I watched that movie last night and it’s 1.5 hours of my life I’ll never get back. I mean seriously, how did they deliver those lines with a straight face? I digress…
Living paycheck to paycheck to FOMO or YOLO your life away can cause massive stress. And may you never have to deal with a major emergency, but if you do, it’s way, WAY better to have plenty of funds set aside for whatever comes your way.
My solution? (I’m going to get more into the nitty gritty of how I manage my finances in another post, so this is more about lifestyle)
I find spending for the most part to be stressful. There was a time when I didn’t get stressed when I spent money, but later I’d have massive stress from looking at my bank account or credit card bill. “Man, did I really eat out that much?”
For those of you who are spenders versus savers, frugality might be a learned skill, but it can be learned. It can become a habit.
I’m a huge movie fan and used to see films at the theater all the time. Now I’ve trained myself that in most cases, I can wait for Redbox, which is a huge difference in cost.
I love having food with my friends, but 98% of the time now I suggest coming over for dinner, potlucks, or brown-bagging it with my co-workers.
I went to a lot of concerts in my younger days, but I can still enjoy music for free (and use Amazon, Pandora, Spotify, or Youtube) and find free concerts on the beach/park if I really need to see something live. I’m personally blown away by the average cost of a concert ticket these days.
Sure if I check FB every five seconds I get FOMO and jealous if my friends are out to eat without me or are all at a concert, so the solution to that of course is stop checking FB or Instagram so much. lol! Problem solved.
And my friends when all is said and done, you’re the one that is going to be sitting pretty with a huge financial cushion and/or the ability to retire early or even retire at all.
BTW, I don’t expect anyone to live like a hermit. Myself included. But I ask you to take a step back and really focus on only spending on things that will really enrich your life. Meaning don’t spend $16 on a movie ticket if it got 6% in Rotten Tomatoes and you’re feeling “meh” about it. Or $100 on a (insert sports team here) ticket when you really could care less about sports, but all your friends are going. You get the picture.
Related Reading: Simple Living and Saving Money
When I moved from Seattle to LA 14 years ago, I had a big storage locker in the basement of the apartment complex I was living in.
I needed to go through that locker, which was filled to the brim, before I moved. It was in a basement. In damp Seattle. That could only mean one thing: spiders!
(I’ll give you a moment to recover from the chills)
I spent many spine-tingling and tedious hours going through (let’s just call it what it is) sh*t that I didn’t need or want (and had spent money on-ugh!).
That experience of sifting through crap and endless heebie-jeebies of feeling like things were crawling on me, prompted me to be more of a minimalist.
In fact now I have a detached garage with exactly zero things in it. Everything fits neatly into my small LA apartment, which feels….ahhhhhhhhh! This helps keep life nice and simple only having things on hand that I need or really like and use. It also makes future packing much easier!
My solution? (for people who are weighed down by their stuff)
Many people who live in big cities have small spaces. It kind of goes with the territory. I recommend spending at least twice a year purging.
Stop worrying if you will “someday” need that snowboard jacket (even though you haven’t snowboarded in 20 years) and get rid of it. We live in a sharing economy these days and you can either borrow something if you really need it, or find it on Craigslist or some other site used (and cheaper).
It may cause anxiety at first, but I guarantee you probably won’t miss that “thing” you got rid of, and it makes life so much more breathable and manageable.
Related Reading: A Quest for a Slow & Simple Life
Hear that sound? It’s time ticking away, and as Ferris Bueller once said, ” life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”
One thing I’ve become more guarded over as I’ve gotten older is my time. Funny how that realization that you might be half-way through (lord willing) makes you think about that kind of stuff.
But I still know people who when you ask them how they are, their standard response is ALWAYS, “busy.” Ugh! I hate the “B” word. It’s so…empty!
First, eliminate the word busy from your life. It does not make you seem more important. Maybe choose the words “productive” or “I have several projects or life events I’m tackling right now.” Anything to get you to stop using that word and/or wearing it like a badge of honor.
Second, get clear about what you want (or don’t want). Someone trying to rope you into that fundraiser or committee? Here are my favorite words to say these days: “that sounds nice, but let me take some time to think about it and I’ll get back to you.” That way you can step away and make a more informed decision when you have time to think about all the other committees and fundraisers you already said “yes” to.
I’m sort of lucky in that I’m a hard-core introvert who doesn’t usually have trouble saying “no” to social events, because I love staying home. A lot. But even still I often have trouble prioritizing certain tasks, so I picked up the book Essentialism last year, and for me it was life-changing! But I still have to re-read it from time to time if I get off track.
Related Reading: Addicted to Busy?
How do you manage your money, stuff and time to live a more simple life?