We live a conscious life.
We consciously choose our purchases, our investments, and our lifestyle.
When we face a choice, we try to think of alternatives and try to pick the optimal option that will maximize our happiness while minimizing costs. Using the utilitarianism ethical theory, for example, “Happiness” here is defined as the maximization of pleasure and the minimization of pain. Pain here being; departing from our hard-earned dollars.
Jeremy Bentham, the founder of utilitarianism, described utility as the sum of all pleasure that results from an action, minus the suffering of anyone involved in the action. – Jeremy Bentham
There are greater consequences behind consumerism; everything we buy or choose not to buy is affecting someone else. The conspicuous consumption North Americans have become used to is affecting the lives of many around the globe. Production of so many goods is exhausting our planet’s recourses and exhausting workers across the globe. Factory workers in China, for example, often work over 16h a day, six days a week to produce all this stuff.
We chose the path of voluntary simplicity for our own and the greater good. Some live extremely frugally by refraining from luxury and indulgence but we are not ascetics. We still enjoy some material possessions and luxuries but we consciously choose where we splurge. Our decisions tend to balance value rather than completely depriving us of some things.
We restrain ourselves from unnecessary purchases and impulse buys and when we do want something, we see if anything we already own could accomplish the same utility or we try to find it used for less than half the retail price.
Companies like Amazon try to make effortless to spend your precious dollars. They offer Daily Deals, Lightning Deals, 1-Click Ordering and algorithms will always show you a product that you might want but the only function we like to use is the Wish List. Saving everything you want there, before completing your orders, will allow you to see if you actually need it. Wait a few days and come back to it. Half of the time, we forget stuff was actually saved there.
Source: ABC (Youtube)
Not only is consumption costly but it does not always make us happier. The diminishing marginal utility implies that your happiness and wellness level will increase when you first start buying things but after a certain level, any extra consumption will not make you happier.
We like having a 60’ TV, nice modern furniture, and staying in luxury hotels when we travel but we have a balance and live a life of luxuries without going into debt. Most of our furniture was bought second-hand, we never paid retail price for clothes, and we travel like kings for a fraction of the price using rewards points.
Choosing a stress-free life
Because we do not have any debts other than our mortgage, we enjoy a significant level of freedom. Our cars were paid cash, our furniture was never bought on payment plans, and we never carried any credit card debt. Living within our means increases our happiness and well-being considerably.
We are consistently bombarded with messages trying to convince us to consume more and it is all easily available through credit but living within our means allows us freedom. The freedom to live a stress-free, happy, life.
Own your stuff, do not let them own you.
Becoming minimalists made us happier and decluttering our home has been a great exercise to make us rethink about the things we actually like. This past year, we sold or gave away a lot of dust-collectors and clothes.
- We sold a TV and with a stand for $100. Who needs more than one television anyway. It was untouched for months.
- Gave away about 3 bags of clothing to our local charity. If we did not wear a certain article of clothing in the past three months, there probably is someone else who needs it more than us.
- Sold an extra pair of skis for $80.
- Sold an old iPod we never used anymore for $100.
- Sold four PlayStation games for $15 each.
- Sold a ceiling lamp for $20.
At the end of the day, we now have a cleaner, decluttered home, we gave a new life to our old stuff, passing along the joy it used to provide us, and we made $360 along the way!
Choosing our way out
By consuming less, we can also save a lot more. We are currently saving over half our incomes and at that rate, we are right on track to retire 10 short years after committing to this journey. Once we reach financial independence, (a bit more than 8 years left!) we will have the freedom to work, or not, on whatever we want. The projects, the hustles, the hobbies… Anything is possible once money is out of the equation.
Meanwhile, we enjoy every moment we can throughout our journey towards financial freedom. We opted for a good work–life balance, each working less than 40 hours a week with semi-flexible schedules and travelling the world a few weeks a year. We can enjoy our weekends together, both finish work around the same time, and follow each other’s schedule.
- On the work side, we do want to perform and grow our careers but we do limit the hours we are devoting to it just to keep our sanity.
- On the life side, we try to fill our lives with priceless experiences rather than pricey materialistic stuff.
We hope you are enjoying your journey as much as your destination. Mr. and Mrs. Xyz.