The Triple Bottom Line (TBL) of Sustainability is usually referred to as the optimization of People, Profit and Planet.
To combat 'green-fatigue', I propose a new TBL to optimize health, wealth and happiness. Then we will naturally tread lighter on the environment. This is a truly integrated, sustainable approach.
Sustainability is a process to learn and make conscious decisions. This is my journey, my manifesto.
My new TBL: People, Profit and the Pursuit of happiness.
Many people believe that tithing and giving will bring them
more wealth. However, I think we need to redefine that wealth. What if we lived
simpler lives and consumed less so that we didn’t need millions of dollars?
What if we valued our ecosystem services enough to put a dollar value on that?
If we changed our priorities to value true health, wealth
and happiness, we could live in a way that didn’t do the damage and harm to
people, animals and ecosystems and we wouldn’t need so many non-profit
organizations to put a band-aid on the symptoms while the problems persist.
As a society, we tend to focus on creating mass amounts of
monetary wealth, while polluting and exploiting local and global communities and ecosystems,
and then we call ourselves good citizens for our philanthropy and tithing. We
need to break this cycle. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do believe in donating and
volunteering with good non-profits, but if we truly value the mission of these
organizations, then why don’t we focus on changing
our behaviors firstto prevent or reduce many of the problems
associated with our high rates of consumption, and then we can supplement
with charitable giving for those things that we cannot impact by our
Trying to treat the symptoms interdependently without
solving the systemic problem is not
sustainable. The first step is to reduce the impact, then supplement with
It is simpler than you think to make these choices and it
will optimize your health, wealth and happiness. Who wouldn’t want that?
Here are some examples:
-If you are concerned about poverty and foreign
conflict, buy local or buy fair trade.
-If you are concerned about children getting
asthma, focus on reducing air pollution by minimizing trash generation (even
recycling), driving less and curtailing your energy consumption.
-If you are worried about childhood and adult cancers,
don’t buy products with chemicals.
If you must consume, research and understand the life cycle
of that consumer product from extraction, manufacturing, distribution, use and
disposal. So, once you are aware of the life cycle of a product, then buy
responsibly, buy (use) less, and buy local or fair trade.
Even 'green' products such as solar panels have a negative life cycle impact on communities and the environment, but they are better than fossil fuels, so reduce energy use first, then supplement with alternatives.
consumer decisions that encourage and support health, wealth and happiness for others will bring better results for
lifelong content. That is real
philanthropy. That is sustainable philanthropy.
Some further suggestions for sustainable best philanthropic
- Pick up trash while on a walk or run.
- Help out an elderly, sick, disabled or underprivileged community
- Ditch the puppy mills and breeders and adopt a pet.
- Support local and sustainable farming.
- Use less plastic.
- Drive less.
- Fly less.
Suggested reading: Life's Operating Manual, by Tom Shadyac; Slow Money, by Woody Tasch
I am an engineer by degree. I love math and science and all
things numbers, but I also like the arts and philosophy. I read a book recently
titled “How the Hippies Saved Physics”, by David Kaiser, and it is a very important story that I
see mimicking the sustainability movement. In a very brief summary, this story
is about how most physicists in the early days were also philosophers. They
spent time reflecting and pondering many different ideas. Einstein called it
‘daydreaming’. This was really the only way to understand the most complicated
of scientific processes, such as quantum physics. Well, once the two world wars
were over and we were going into the cold war era, the U.S. government decided
that having more trained physicists available would provide the best defense
against future enemies. So naturally, they wanted to churn out as many
physicists as possible. There is a chapter titled, “shut up and calculate” to
mean that the students were not encouraged to spend time in reflection, but
rather that all their time was spent learning calculations. Well, the results
were that the students did not fully grasp the strange nature of quantum
physics and were failing at very high rates.
I see this happening now in sustainability. This push for “faster”
is not always better. We want to rush to find the latest “innovation” that will
save us from a doomed planet, but we are not willing to change our behaviors.
We are not focusing on the systemic problems with this approach, but rather
just mask the symptoms.
“Don’t let today’s solutions be tomorrow’s problems” –
As engineers, we need to be responsible and be true problem
solvers. We need to focus on solving the systemic problems and not just focus
on the symptoms independently. Otherwise, we will never see true progress in
sustainability, and could even see things get worse if we don’t look at our
Case in point: Is it really a good idea to focus just on
fuel efficiency of cars, when we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic spiraling
out of control? What about the fact that we are damaging ecosystems and
habitats at an unprecedented rate due to road construction and sprawl? What
about those who can’t afford a car or those who wish to drive less, but are
living in an area where the infrastructure favors cars? Can’t we shift our
engineering focus from increasing miles to the gallon to creating environments that
allow us to reduce miles driven?
“Not everything that can be counted counts and not
everything that counts can be counted” – Einstein.
As a previous sustainability program manager, we were
burdened with so many metrics and constant reporting that we didn’t have much
time left to focus on the activities that would be much more impactful like
discussion based meetings and learning sessions. This is a typical number
cruncher mindset of engineers and business managers don’t always want to
understand the real issues, but rather see the ‘trend’ in numbers.
I think it is important to measure and understand the amount
of Green House Gases (GHGs) we are spewing into the atmosphere, however, many
of the things that will make each of our lives more fulfilling and meaningful
will automatically reduce our GHGs. Doesn’t this sound like a better solution?
A real solution? A sustainable
If we value community and contentment in our lives, we will
naturally drive less, live in smaller dwellings and support farmers markets,
all of which would make us healthier, save us money and increase security. It is good to count GHGs, but it is sustainable to focus on resiliency.
Sometimes us engineers need to slow down and ponder what
really needs to happen to achieve a truly sustainable world. This slower paced
society would far outweigh what technology can provide for us and it would
provide an instant cost savings (in addition to increased happiness) rather
than a hefty price to implement. But more importantly, we can do it now, we can
do it immediately and we can all participate, not just the technically trained.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t invest in cleaner technology,
but technology alone won’t solve our problems, especially when we try to
manipulate natural processes. We first need to make behavioral changes and then
supplement with technology. The technology may help reduce GHGs, but it won’t
benefit the health, wealth and happiness of the general society.
Fear is necessary. It is good to have enough fear to stay
safe while driving or riding a bike, or to be cautious around other situations
that can harm us. We evolved with the ‘fight or flight’ response to protect us
from immediate dangers. Fear can also be good to push us out of our comfort
zone with worthwhile activities for an adventurous, fulfilling life. For
example: public speaking, international volunteering, or playing an instrument on
However, we have become a society where fear pervades every
aspect of our lives, even for the most unlikely of instances. When we live in
fear, and fail to confront our fears, we give up our freedom and peace of mind.
We spend a ridiculous amount of money on home alarms, car
alarms and gated communities with security guards. This is a result of accumulating stuff, but mostly, we are putting so
much importance on that stuff that we
feel we need to isolate ourselves.
Also, thanks to our sensationalist 24 hour news broadcasts,
we are also afraid to let our children play outside or walk to school. This
leads to further isolation in our communities, which actually makes us less safe. What a catch-22!
What can we do? We can adopt a simple lifestyle, be a risk
taker and embrace community.
The best thing about taking the approach to a simple life is
that I live in content every day. I have almost eliminated the irrational fear
in my life. I still have appropriate fear to keep me safe while riding my bike and
to understand the importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise, but I
don’t have that fear of being robbed, getting my car stolen,not having enough money, or all the other
‘what ifs’ that we place on ourselves for the future.
To me, a simple life means that I don’t have a lot of things
and I don’t have attachment to any of it. It is all replaceable... period. I
know that most of my life’s desires can be accomplished relatively cheaply and
the best things in life truly are free. So while I like to work, I work because
I want to work, not because I have to work. I do not stress over getting or losing
a job with a big salary or spending 40 years slowly accumulating money in the
bank that I may never live to see or have the energy to enjoy. The things that
are most important to me are the things money can’t buy: family, friends,
health and control over my own work schedule and location.
I’m a risk taker. I took a risk investing in rental
properties and it paid off. I then took a risk and quit my job to work as a
freelancer. I still have fear with public speaking and pitching my business
services and products, but I confront the fear and move forward anyway.
I embrace community. Getting to know your neighbors will
provide more security and safety than any alarm system can provide and it is
free and comes with peace of mind.
I live in the moment and love just about every minute of it.
That is true freedom.
Many people may associate doing things slower as slacking
off, or laziness, however, that is far from the truth. We live in such a
hurried world that is far from how we evolved. This busyness is not bringing us
any greater productivity, if anything it is a contributor to increasing rates
of illness, debt and unhappiness among modern cultures. These are disastrous
for productivity. If we slowed down, worked less hours, and scheduled less
events, then we would actually be more rested, have more energy and have time
for focus, reflection and contemplation.
Check out this parable about the Mexican fisherman and the
investment banker: www.renewablewealth.com/the-parable-of-the-mexican-fisherman
The slow movement started with slow food as resistance to
fast food restaurants popping up all over the world. But, since then, the slow
movement has gone on to capture slow money, slow art and slow building.
Basically, the slow movement concept embodies a more natural and instinctual
way for us to live to combat modern stresses and live healthier, wealthier and
This is about quality.
We can’t achieve the same quality in a hurried world, so if
we want increased productivity and a sustainable economy, then we need to slow
down. Here is an illustration of that point: If corporations were to cut the 40
week work week down by about 5 hours or so, they will see that productivity
will actually increase, at no cost to the company or the workers. Reduced work
hours (even with a pay cut) will increase our health and happiness, which money
can’t buy. That is true wealth.
How do we achieve this balance?
Start with the work place. Can you get part time hours? Can
you ask for a few days of telecommuting to save the time spent getting ready
for work and driving to and from the office? Companies would be smart to offer
these options more often so that they can reduce absenteeism, increase
productivity and reduce costly turnover rates.Even better, can you try working freelance or build up residual income
(see previous post)?
Next, once you have more time from reduced work hours, try
to use the extra time to slow down in other aspects of your life.
Can you slow down with your family? Can you walk or ride a
bike to pick up your kids from school so that you and the kids are getting more
exercise? Can you schedule unstructured play time for the kids?
How about errands? Can you walk or bike to the store? Can
you avoid/donate clothes that need dry cleaning? Can you cut down on time spent
shopping for stuff?
What about meals? Can you plant a garden or spend a
leisurely Saturday morning at a community farmers market getting to know the
people who grow your food? Can you spend time making meals from whole, fresh
ingredients? Can you get your family to help with meal preparation?
How about the household chores? Try letting the grass grow
taller. You will save time mowing it every week, but also, you will cut down on
the need to water the grass and to use fertilizer. Better yet, replace the grass
with a low maintenance natural ecosystem. If you move to a smaller dwelling,
you will have less cleaning and maintenance both inside and out.
There are many other ways to achieve this slower paced life,
but I also recommend spending less time watching TV, or better yet, get rid of
it altogether (see previous post).
You will find that incorporating these concepts into your
life will profoundly simplify your life so that you can truly achieve optimum
health, wealth and happiness.
You will gain health through more physical exercise and
healthier eating. You will save money on driving, gym memberships, eating out
and home maintenance services. You will gain a tremendous sense of happiness
from a more balanced life.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted about going car free. After
that post, I had a conversation with someone who said that they themself and
their spouse have diabetes. In the same conversation, I happened to mention all
the exercise I am getting with my new car-free lifestyle. What I found
interesting was that this person made a point to talk about being safe on a
bicycle because cars don’t look for cyclists. Well, I know the intention was well
placed, but the paradox is that people often have images of the single accident
that can injure you, but forget that our modern sedentary lifestyle is the real
killer here, it just happens passively over time.
I do agree though
about being safe and I will not try to minimize the risks of commuting by
bicycle. However, we must remember that besides the health impacts of too much
driving, car accidents are one of the top causes of preventable deaths in
adults and children. Add in accidents that cause life-long injuries and
bicycling starts to sound benign in comparison, mostly due to the safety
precautions listed at the end of this post. If bicycling sounds too risky to
anyone, then you can always go car free with walking, running, public
transportation and carpooling. I personally like bicycling and find it to be an
extremely efficient form of transportation, and fun! I am very cautious
and I think the health, wealth and happiness benefits far outweigh the small
chance of an unavoidable accident. I would rather do what I can do to avoid
diabetes later, but more importantly feel better now.
As this conversation reminded me though, car drivers don’t always
look for cyclists and pedestrians. I do think that cycling, and particularly
walking and running, are much safer than driving, however, we do need to take
safety into consideration with everything we do. As both a pedestrian and a cyclist, never use a cell phone
while in motion, even hands free. Talking on the phone will take away your ability to pay full
attention to your surroundings and possible hazards that could cause a fall or
crash. Additionally, support stricter laws that make it illegal for drivers to
use cell phones in the car, even hands free, which causes distraction for
the driver and poses a significant safety risk for pedestrians, cyclists and
other drivers. I know we all feel this need to be able to stay in touch all the
time, but remember with a simpler life, you will have more time to make those
phone calls in the privacy of your own home where you can give your full
attention to that person. A future post will go into much more detail about the
hazards of cell phones and how to optimize and limit use. As a pedestrian, safety is somewhat simple. As I stated
above, don’t use a cell phone while walking, even hands free. Actively look
for cars and always expect that a car will not see or stop for pedestrians. We
need to be defensive and not assume our right away will always be granted, even
if it is the law. Bicycling takes a bit more thought to stay safe, so I have a
list of safety suggestions at the end of this post. However, I also strongly
recommend that everyone take a bike safety class or find an online forum to
learn from other people’s experience. There are many other tips from more
experienced riders that I have omitted in this post including wearing brightly
colored clothing, carrying a repair kit, riding at night and how to safeguard
against theft. Knowledge is power. If you incorporate these simple strategies and
those listed below into your commuting routine, then you will significantly
reduce your chance of an accident, and diabetes!
Bicycling safety tips:
1.ALWAYS wear a helmet: Try not to make excuses on
this one. Buy a new helmet so that there is not a chance of previous damage and
replace every couple of years. Get it fitted properly and learn how to properly
2.Ride like a pedestrian: I have been able to find
routes that allow me to stay off the streets about 90% of the time. When I am
not on trails, I ride slowly on
sidewalks, except for pedestrian heavy business districts where, I will either
ride cautiously in the street, or walk my bike on the sidewalk. I use
pedestrian crosswalks instead of riding in a traffic lane. I ride a hybrid so that
I can ride on non-paved terrain when needed. (Road bikes keep you strictly in
the street.) Yes, riding like a pedestrian takes a little more time and is not
quite as time or energy efficient, but if you take the principles to slow down
in life and work less hours, then the time won’t matter and the inefficiency
will only give you a better workout. Long term health and safety is optimized
with this approach. Just remember to never
compromise the safety of a pedestrian.
3.When in the streets: There are times where you
just have no option, but to get in the street. Avoid major streets and highways
where there is heavy, fast moving traffic. Only go on roads that are designated
as bike routes and have clearly marked paths with ample room for a bike lane.
Make sure to signal your turning intentions and always ride in the same
direction as the flow of traffic. Watch out for people in parked cars who may
open their door without looking for cyclists.
4.When on the off road paths: Bike paths are
great, but remember, that they are actually mixed use paths, so you will find
walkers, runners, in-line skaters, dogs, baby carriages and all ages of people.
Remember to respect others for their use of the path and keep speeds slower
than 15 mph. Always ride to the right and pass on the left, but look behind you
and in front of you first before moving to the left. Identify yourself to the
pedestrian when you pass, but do not shout as that startles the pedestrian and
could cause them to step in front of you. Pedestrians should give the same
consideration and look both ways before crossing or changing locations in a
lane. Bike paths are not for training speeds. If you want to train, then find a
good road. This blog is not about competition, so I won’t elaborate.
5.Get a tune-up at least once or twice a year.
Talk to a professional for an optimum schedule for your riding habits. Tune-ups
and bicycle repairs are a fraction of the costs of owning a car, so you can
stay safe and still be money ahead… way ahead. It is important to make sure
that your gears are shifting properly, your wheels are aligned and brakes in
good working condition. Brake pads and tires wear out from both use and the
outside elements, so make sure to replace when recommended. If a bike has been
sitting idle for a while, it is best to have a professional do a safety check.
Even though I have never been let go from a job, I still see
the reality that working for someone else, or exchanging an hour of time for an
hour of pay, may not always be sustainable. No job is 100% secure that you know
you will never be affected by layoffs, downsizing or furloughs. Even if you
aren’t affected by a potential layoff, organizations change and people change;
a job or career that you once loved, could turn into a daily grind that is
slowly killing you from boredom, stress or lack of physical exercise. Even with
freelancing, you need to find someone to want to buy your services or products,
and when the market demand changes, then you stop getting income. Therefore, the most practical way to create a sustainable
income is to diversify and build up residual income. This must be done so in
a way that is environmentally and socially responsible for true sustainability.
I don’t like the term ‘passive’ income, because I really
don’t think there is such a thing as a financial windfall that requires zero
monitoring whatsoever. Even if you win the lottery or have a trust fund, you
will most likely need to manage your earnings. And if there is such a thing as
‘passive’ income, I’m sure that very few people in the world get the
opportunity to experience this.
With that said, residual income is income that comes in
steady every month, without having to trade an hour of time for an hour of pay.
You will still need to work for residual income, but you can put in a few hours
up front and a few more per month for continued income for life.
There are many kinds of residual income, but there are three
that I decided to focus on because I could incorporate environmentally and
socially conscious business practices into these areas:
-Residential rental properties
-Selling products that you do not manufacture
The key is not to see someone else making good money and
then say “I want that also”, so you jump on board too quickly. The key is to
find something that you really enjoy; something that you don’t mind spending
hours researching and want to continue spending a lifetime of learning for
improvement. This is why I can’t stress enough that this is not ‘passive’
income, but rather ‘active’ work to create income, in an environmentally and
socially conscious way. The beauty is that you will be working on your terms,
not someone else’s. There is no better freedom than that.
PROPERTIES– This has created the minimum starting residual
income that I needed to cover my basic expenses and quit my job, while I work
on other endeavors. I focus on rental properties that fit in with simple and
environmentally and socially conscious living. The properties I own with my
partner are all attached condos, so there is very little to be responsible for
in terms of maintenance. Yes, we pay a monthly fee, but it is worth it for the
sake of simplicity. Plus, multi-family housing buildings are much less
destructive to the environment than 1-4 unit buildings. We choose units that
are small and located in walkable areas near public transportation. As a
landlord, we provide clean, safe housing at affordable prices. We are always
giving our tenants a discount in rent for holidays throughout the year. We even
have some tenants on a month to month basis instead of a year lease. We have
found that this makes them feel they have more freedom and they will stay
longer. We stay active with the management board to make sure that the rules
and regulations provide, safe comfortable housing for everyone and that the
buildings are being maintained in a responsible manner. When we need to make
repairs in the unit, we can use materials that are safe for the tenants and the
After I quit my job, I started with the informational
products and selling products. I am not making money at these yet, but I will
explain my reason for choosing these and my plan to succeed.
PRODUCTS – This blog is the start of this journey. As I work on this blog, I
am also working on ebooks to sell online. What I like about ebooks is that they
are not very damaging to the environment and I think that reading is so
important for an informed society. It is important to get all points of view
and then form your own opinions. Never stop reading and listening to other
opinions. Ebooks are cheap, so they don’t cause financial problems for people
to buy them and they can provide beneficial lifestyle recommendations
(self-improvement), continuous learning (technical subjects) or quality
entertainment (novels). To me, these are worthwhile products to purchase and
they fit in with a simple, clutter free, healthy life. Plus, it gives me an
opportunity to share my knowledge, expertise and positive lifestyle
SELLING PRODUCTS –
This one took me awhile to think about whether I could do this in a
conscientious way. I don’t like to encourage people to buy more ‘stuff’,
especially when the products are environmentally and socially destructive. I
also don’t like to see people waste their money on products that don’t bring
any health, wealth or happiness benefits. So, I had to really think about this
one and do a ton of research and evaluating. I decided to sell organic
skin care products.
First, I came to a realization that most people, especially
women, are going to buy skin care products. Secondly, most women are buying
products with potentially harmful chemicals to themselves and to their
families. It is very hard to find products without at least one harmful
chemical ingredient, even in health food stores. I figured if I can help one
person switch to a completely chemical free product, then I have done something
good. A win-win.
In addition, to the chemicals, below are other reasons why I found this to be a product I could feel good about. These are examples of conscientious thinking when considering different business models, products, services, etc...
-The products last a long time for less packaging
and shipping overall. This is because the organic plant products provide 30% more
nutrients for more potency and there are no fillers in the products, so every
ingredient is chosen for restorative properties.
-The company uses fair trade practices and
donates to non-profits.
-The company has won many awards for sustainable
packaging for post-consumer recycled content, compostable and recyclable
materials, origami folds to avoid toxic glue, and non-toxic ink.
To help assist with marketing the above products and to
further help others achieve true health, wealth and happiness, I am also offering
my services for freelance work on an hourly or project basis to coach, educate,
train, speak and strategize.
I know there are many other ways to create residual income,
but the key is to love the process and love the product. But for me, most importantly,
is to love people; I only work with products where I am making the most
positive impact for people and communities involved in the supply chain, use
and disposal phase.
Book recommendations: The Four Hour Work Week, by Timothy
Ferriss; Multiple Streams of Income, by Robert G. Allen; any of the Rich Dad
books, by Robert and Kim Kiyosaki; ECO-Preneuring, by Lisa Kivirist and John
I recently watched a movie describing how animals
in captivity get sick and die from stress. The stress is usually caused from lack of exercise
and a loss of natural habitat and freedom. This feeling was strikingly similar
to my days in a cubicle… and why I left the rat race.
First, let me clarify that semi-retiring does not mean just
golfing and traveling. It means that I can choose work that satisfies me
because I am working because I want
to, not because I have to. For you, it
might mean that with such little financial obligation, you can work part time
at any job you choose. This can take the form of self-employment, part-time
employment or full-time employment. The key for me is that I can leave a job at
any time, which makes it more enjoyable to work. I am not stuck anymore.
How do we do this? It is simple: reduce consumption.
Our current consumption patterns are unsustainable. Over-consuming
undermines our health, wealth and pursuit of happiness, not to mention it is
detrimental to the environment. If you want to learn more about how consumerism
breeds discontent and about the negative consequences to the environment, I
have listed several resources at the bottom of this post. However, this post is
intended to stay positive and highlight how to optimize health, wealth and
happiness first, and then the
environmental benefits will follow.
Reducing consumption does not mean depravation, but rather
freedom: time freedom, intellectual freedom and emotional freedom.
-Time freedom: when we cut our expenses and don’t
over-consume, then we have the opportunity to cut back on working hours, or
stop working altogether with enough residual income or savings. We don’t need
nearly as much in the bank if we don’t have an expensive lifestyle. Even if we
love our jobs and don’t want to cut back now, we can create a safety net for
the future, just in case.
-Intellectual freedom: When we practice conscious consumerism, our entertainment can actually be higher quality. We can take up stimulating
pursuits such as writing, learning a language/subject or playing a musical
instrument; join peer groups for intellectual conversation; start a garden and
learn to cook.
-Emotional freedom: When we free ourselves from
all the clutter, and adopt a minimalist lifestyle, we have the time to focus on
what is truly important in life and we gain back emotional balance. The focus
is on family, friends, volunteering and community.
HOW TO SLASH EXPENSES
I recommend everyone seek out minimalism. Regardless of how
much money is being made, or whether a person loves their job, this will provide
an opportunity to build an investment fund, eliminate debt and enjoy the
benefits of a simpler lifestyle.
The first place I started was to get rid of cable. It is not
just an unnecessary expense, but an unhealthy expense. Regardless of the money,
I am better off without it. (See my previous post on TV)
Second, I started looking at all my monthly expenses to
determine which ones were really necessary for true health and happiness. Some
were outright bad for me. I asked myself some simple questions. Do you need
both a land line and a cell phone? Do you really need internet access at home
when you can go to a coffee shop or the library for free? Is it wise to get
manicures and highlights with all the chemicals? Do you really need the latest gadgets? Can
you donate clothes that need to be dry-cleaned? Do you eat out too much? Can
you move to a smaller, cheaper house/apt or get a roommate? Can you use your
car less or sell it completely? (See previous post about going car-free)
Try to go without buying anything new for 6 months. Go to
the library to borrow free books, movies and music CDs. Try to be satisfied
with clothes and shoes that you have already purchased.
I know this may appear
harsh at first and maybe even like being deprived, but in reality, wealth
aside, many of these things are standing in the way of achieving true health
and happiness. Once you dive in, you will feel a tremendous sense of freedom
and content. As for wealth, each person needs to really contemplate and decide
if they want ‘stuff’ or freedom from wage slavery.
I made my choice. I chose freedom.
Now, I know that I will be working because I want to be working, not because I have to be working.
This is how I got there…
I made a list of all my expenses and then put them into
these categories: (1) Necessities (food, clothing, transportation, housing); (2)
Entertainment and recreation; (3) Expenses that are necessary for work (dry-cleaning,
owning a car, parking); (4) Expenses incurred because of lack of time (gardener,
maid service, convenience food).
I started cutting costs wherever I could while working and then
I planned on the additional costs that could be cut once I quit my job. I
realized that to live a prosperous and better
life, I should actually eliminate most of the costs associated with items 2-4.
In addition, I was able to keep costs in item #1 within the amount of money
that I was getting from rental properties. So… I decided I could quit my job.
What a freeing feeling!
Now, the wealth benefits to cost cutting are obvious, but there
are some areas where my simple lifestyle added
to my health and happiness. I want to re-emphasize that this is not
depravation, but rather an increase in my quality of life!
-I started eating cleaner, which means less
eating out and packaged food. I lost weight, gained energy, and have radiant
-I have a closet full of clothes and shoes, so I
don’t need to go shopping. I donated most of my clothes that need to be dry
cleaned. Even before I quit, I did the majority of my shopping at thrift stores
and always got compliments on my clothes.
-My favorite entertainment has always been
reading, watching movies and writing. I also find free yoga, meditation and
other classes at the library. There are many free days at museums and free
outdoor concerts that I seek out.
-My favorite recreation has always consisted of
walking, running, biking, hiking and swimming. All free to me with minimal
equipment needed. These simple activities can really have a hypnotic effect,
like meditation. Plus, it gets me outdoors.
-I started going car-lite while working to save
on gas and parking and then I sold my car after I quit my job. I have lost
weight, increased muscle tone and have bounds of energy. I now get up to two
hours (sometimes more) of physical exercise every day. I love it!
-I still donate money to good causes especially
when a friend is fund-raising, but I found volunteering my time to be much more
fulfilling. Plus, conscious consumerism minimizes or eliminates harm to other
people and the planet, which is much more effective than philanthropy.
-Now that I have freedom, I don’t have the
burning desire to travel four times a year like I did in the past. I still like
to travel, but I intend to find opportunities to go places for 6 months at a
time and do this only once every 2 years or so. That will greatly cut down on
the stress of constant travel and it will allow me to slow down and really
experience the cultures that I intend to visit, not to mention, cut down on the
pollution from travel!
With these strategies, I was able to minimize my costs to under $1,000 per month. There is nothing
that I am lacking. In fact, I have a more fulfilling and abundant life than before. I am
more content than I have ever been. Even though I have enough rental income to
cover my expenses at this time, I am still working on creative pursuits to
build more residual income so that my partner can semi-retire and travel with
me. I still love to work, but now work is on my terms.