I have a dream…

Today, I received in my inbox a challenge from Joshua Becker on Becoming Minimalist to share my story. Any of you who are reading this blog have been following my minimalist journey for the past 4 years, so I’m not going to repeat myself. But as my journey shows; it’s no small thing to empower ordinary people to dream decent and good dreams. If we all made these small changes to our lifestyles, then our world starts to look very different. Minimalism is counter-cultural and far from being restrictive it is actually liberating. I am sure that this stems from the fact that setting good boundaries is a healthy and useful life skill.

You may not think that these small changes can really have a great impact. But let’s just look at some examples here:

Minimalism leads to less spending, which in turn leads to greater financial security, which in turns leads to greater peace of mind. That could directly lead to better mental health which means less reliance on the over-burdened NHS. Improved finances could mean families no longer relying on benefits. Imagine having spare money left over, that could be donated to help those less fortunate – every single month. Imagine how good that would make you feel and the positive impact that could have on your mental health. So, you can see that a small changes leads to several different cycles of change and a ripple effect – outwards.

Minimalism leads to less buying, which means that more of the earth’s resources are left intact for future generations to enjoy. Less buying means that less workers in poorer countries are being exploited to make stuff we don’t need. Less buying and manufacturing leads to less pollution which improves everyone’s health and slows down global warming. That in turn, means that more animals are around for us and future generations to enjoy. Less shopping means that we all start spending more time outdoors or with family, which improves all of our mental health and again, reduces the burden on the NHS. Less buying stuff on credit means that we are independent and have greater peace of mind. This relieves the pressure on debt counselling agencies, the benefits system and the NHS.

I could go on, but I think you get my point. What small change can you make today?

Advertisements

Aiming for Financial Independence

A huge part of being minimalist is that you are spending less. As I see it, there are 3 options as to what you can do with your money.

  1. Spend it
  2. Save it
  3. Give it

Obviously, minimalists are doing a whole lot less spending it! Whether you wish to give some money away is a really personal decision and there are a huge array of possibilities which I won’t go into now. Although if you are spending less, it may mean you can work less and give your valuable time away also. In order to reach this sort of position, you will want to be aiming for financial independence.

I am not a financial expert, but I do try to apply common sense to life. It’s been 4 years since I  discovered minimalism, started reading about alternative lifestyle choices and earnestly started trying to boost my income in any (legal) way possible (using lots of methods, including those I have already described on my blog). Since November 2012, I have added over £30,000 to our household income. I would absolutely not have believed this myself, had it not been for the fact that I have kept spreadsheets detailing every single penny that I’ve made (and lost) along the way. £30,000 may not have got us to our goal of financial independence yet, but it certainly has pushed us a lot further towards it! I imagine for a lot of people reading this blog, £30,000 would go a long way to a deposit on a house, paying off a mortgage or clearing personal debt.

The thing is, when you stop spending money on things that mean very little – you realise that you possibly don’t need to be working so hard or so long. You can start saving and if you get serious about this, you could aim for financial independence at a younger age than most people (that is if you are still young! But if you’re not, there is absolutely no reason why it wouldn’t be good to be financially independent too). The working until you’re 65 thing (or even older now) is so ingrained in our culture, that many people don’t even question it. Your goal doesn’t even need to be that you never work again, but minimalism might allow you to pursue a job that you’ll love, volunteer your time or money or do something even more amazing. Aiming for financial independence is about acquiring freedom  – to choose when, where, what and how much work you do, along with freedom from cultural norms and expectations. The truth is you can buy freedom through frugality (and investments).

That’s not to say that you won’t need to work hard at it, but I wanted to write this post to say – a little bit of effort every day goes a long way. Just filling out a few surveys, meeting your Swagbucks target, selling items you don’t need on eBay and using some shopping apps to get free food – it doesn’t take many minutes out of your day. In 4 years time, why don’t you write and tell me how much you’ve made! 🙂

Notes on Consumerism

IMG_0692

I’ve been watching the first episode of a BBC2 series ‘The Men Who Made Us Spend’- it is all about how consumerism is perpetually driven by product lifespans and ‘upgrades’. Interestingly, the concept of continual obsolescence was dreamt up by the CEO of General Motors in the 1950s. Consumer choice meant giving into what they want- a rainbow of high gloss colours just like nail varnish, different fabrics for seats, vast choice of models for every different budget and a new car range every year, but nothing actually mechanically different. In our modern society, giving objects social value, rather than simply utilitarian value and it is Apple who has taken on this mantle. So, does Apple really believe in great design or just in rolling upgrades to keep the cash flowing in? If you choose to stay part of this consumer culture, then simply- it will continue.

So what can you do to fight this? You could learn how to self-repair! Look up ifixit.com who’s philosophy is that to repair is noble; it creates freedom, it saves you money, saves the environment, it’s sustainable and it creates jobs. They created a special 5 point head screwdriver so you can self-repair your iPhone. In-fact, they have an encyclopaedia on-line of how to repair technology. One way to fight the disposable, throw-away culture of continuous spending.

This is just a mere snapshot of this fantastic programme. If this interests you too, or you want to catch up on previous episodes or just find out more information, go to:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/themenwhomadeusspend

This fab series of programmes is a collaboration between the BBC and the OU, so you can expect high quality!