Wednesday, September 11, 2013


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 first to 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 lifestyle choices?

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 better alternatives.  
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.
Remember that 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 practices:

- Pick up trash while on a walk or run.
- Help out an elderly, sick, disabled or underprivileged community member.

- 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

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

An Engineer’s Epiphany

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” – Michael Pollan.

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 problems interdependently.

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 solution?

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.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Free Yourself from Fear

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 stage.

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.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Slow Down for Increased Productivity

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:

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 happier lives.

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. 


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Car Free Commuting Tips to Prevent or Reverse Diabetes

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 fasten.


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.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Creating Sustainable Income for Financial Freedom

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

-          Information products

-          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.
RENTAL 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 environment.

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.

INFORMATIONAL 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 experiences.
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 Ivanko.  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Free Yourself from Cubicle Captivity

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.


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 skin.

-        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.  

Recommended resources:

“Your Money or Your Life”, by Vicky Robin and Joe Dominguez

“Affluenza”, by John DeGraf and David Wann

“The Overspent American”, by Juliet Schor

“I AM” documentary, by Tom Shadyac