I decided that I wanted to live a life doing the things that I love, and only work to be able to pay for the things that I need. And okay, a few things that I want too. I work a 4-day-week, and I take about 2 months or more of vacation a year. I don’t owe any debt, I have some savings, and I have all the time I need to do the things I love. The secret? I don’t own much, and I don’t spend much.
Of course there are things in life that involve money. I have to work to be able to pay for the necessities, such as my housing, and my food. Then I add the things I need in order to get going, such as my car and my phone. Add to this the things I can’t live without: wine and travels. That’s pretty much it. My wardrobe consists of only the essentials. I don’t shop, and if I do, it’s to replace something that broke or ripped. I realized that I didn’t need to make much money in order to live the life of my dreams. The importance is to decide what it is that is important for you. What are the things that make you the most happy? But mostly, what are the things you can happily live without?
Here are examples of things I did:
Cut on services
Cutting down on cable was a great first step. I love watching movies and documentaries, but I found that cable sucked my time away by sitting there and zapping until I find something average to watch. Instead, I read a book, take my dogs for a hike, or have a girlfriend over for a glass of wine.
Choose outdoor exercise
I don’t go to the gym. In fact, it’s never been my scene. Instead, I’d rather go for a hike in the wilderness or go for a nice long swim in a lake. Spending time in nature has strong benefits for the health, and it’s free.
Cook at home
I opt for home cooking instead of dining out. I put on some music, pour myself a glass of wine, and use whatever I have in my fridge to whip up a feast. I get to try new things, and never spend more than a few bucks a day. Plus, cooking makes me very happy 🙂
Choose free activities
When I spend time with friends, I much prefer outdoor activities that don’t involve much money. Going for a hike, a picnic, a canoe paddle, or a camping trip into the woods are just examples of really fun and free things to do.
Opt for travelling rather than touristing
People may find travelling expensive. They are right: After plane tickets, insurances, ground transportation and vaccines, it all adds up to be a nice bill. However, travelling is a choice that I make, just like someone will choose to buy a new car. I avoid all-inclusives, and I stay away from resorts. Instead, I choose backpacking and I stay in hostels, or host families. I try to live like the locals by attempting to assimilate to their culture and to adopt certain customs and ways of life. Once I am abroad, everything is so cheap. It costs me less to be overseas, than it is to be at home. Plus, I get to spend my money and my time within communities that are in need. It is true what they say: travelling is the one thing that costs money, but makes you richer 😉
Live in a trailer
When the housing crisis erupted in my town, I found the urge to find an alternative for accommodation. I wasn’t quite ready to settle and purchase a half million dollar one-bedroom condo, so I bought a trailer. I’ve lived in it for nearly a year now, and I can’t believe I haven’t done it earlier. I only have to pay the campground fees, and everything else is included. This way, I save over half of what I’d pay to rent in town. Plus, I don’t have any mortgage, and I can resell my trailer for the same value of purchase, or even more! Oh, and did I tell you how stunning my backyard is?
Adopt a mutt
I see way too many people parading with their pure breed dog in the streets. Paying $1,000 for a dog is absolutely ridiculous. Plus, pure breed are most likely to be in-breed, against nature, suggesting problems in the long run. If you want a dog, I urge you to save a mutt. There are too many dogs in the streets that need to be rescued. Not only are they free (after neutering/spaying and vaccines), but they are usually problem-free, friendly and loyal. I have two. They are my adventure partners and we do everything together. In fact, they keep me away from spending money and encourage me to spend more time outdoors.
Having time for ourselves is essential. We are only here once and it is important to figure out what matters the most to us. It’s to understand what it is that our lives are worth and how we can change our habits and spendings in order to enhance our time on this planet. It is to determine the difference between our wants and our needs, and define the success that we want to lead through our journey.
I might not have a fancy wardrobe, a shiny car, a well-combed pomeranian, or a luxurious home, but I am rich in time, and for me, it is all I need, and it is enough.