Everywhere we turn, we are told to consume. New gadgets, new clothes and new cars are coming out constantly.
Do you really need to buy all that new stuff to be happy?
Having the latest gadgets can be cool, but they are largely unnecessary.
Realizing that I can consume radically small amount and be happy has tremendously increased my freedom, because I no longer have to earn a lot of money to support my spending habits.
I was never a big spender, and I’ve always enjoyed saving. Lately I’ve taken it to an extreme. My girlfriend and I don’t eat out, eat meat, buy gadgets or even clothes regularly.
We love it.
I value my freedom more than buying stuff, which is why I enjoy living this lifestyle. I don’t have to have a huge income. I can live anywhere and I can take a vacation when I want because of my minimalistic lifestyle.
I may very well change my lifestyle in the future, but this is how I am living now. Just the realization that I do not have to do what everyone else does is exhilarating.
In order to consume less, I’ve had to develop my awareness and become more aware of my thoughts.
Whenever I feel the urge to buy something, like a new laptop, I stop, breathe and observe. Why do I want one? Do I need one? Would it really make me happy?
Stopping and asking myself these simple questions almost always helps me realize that I don’t need this stuff and I wouldn’t be happy with a new laptop for more than a few weeks.
Sure, a new laptop would be nice, but it would quickly become commonplace and my happiness level would default to where it was before my purchase.
There’s a reason why studies show that lottery winners are back to their pre-lottery happiness within a year.
This is because happiness doesn’t come from things. It comes from inside. We feel our thinking, and our thinking fluctuates regardless of if we have zero or a million in the bank.
This does not mean you shouldn’t consume. I love consuming, but only when it doesn’t get in the way of me living my life the way I want to live it.
Getting out of this constant need to consume to make yourself happy will boost your freedom. It will increase your probability of breaking free from the 9-to-5 because the income you need will drop significantly.
Mental Burdens of Ownership
Not only does consuming less leave you with more income, it also relieves many mental burdens that come with ownership.
I strategically chose an apartment that is close to a store, a buss stop and a train station. This eliminates the need for a car or any kind of vehicle.
Owning a car is nice, but I’m not willing to spend money on one when I don’t need it. It would be nice for my ego, but it isn’t worth it.
Next time you’re thinking about buying something new, stop and ask yourself if you need it. The message I’m trying to get across in is that if you reduce the income you need, you decrease the amount of time it will take to be able to make a living doing what you love.
Update on Ownership
This article was originally written in 2010 when I was living in Spain with my girlfriend.
We are now back in Scandinavia, and we have two kids. We have a house, and we have a small car. Owning a car and a house now makes sense, because it makes life easier.
We are still very frugal in the other areas of our life.
Ability to Work Less
Since I spend less, I have to earn less, which means I have more choice in the work I do.
This allows me free time to explore other interests I have, spend time with my family, and other opportunities life offers.
It also allows me to build my business with more freedom and relaxation.
All the best,