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.
Choosing happiness through minimalist living
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.
Adopting a minimalist living made us happier. Decluttering our home has been a great exercise to make us rethink 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.
- Finally sold an extra pair of skis for $80.
- After staying unused for years, we sold an old iPod for $100.
- Sold four PlayStation games for $15 each.
- Looked through our garage and 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 traveling 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.
14 replies on “Living a Simple Life with Less”
I’m in the process of un-cluttering myself and have a bunch of old things that legitimately have little value anymore, but someone out there might be able to use them. Currently sitting on my floor is an old discman, an old PC monitor, and various other junk to me that will be treasures. Most of it doesn’t have much value, but I’ll at least get a tax write off.
When things are not worth reselling (pretty much anything under $10) we like to give it to charity. Everything can help someone in need.
I never thought i was going to get Ms Blue Ribbon on board but we watched the minimalism documentary on Netflix and began decluttering. Even when we thought there wasn’t any more to get rid of we found it. Our lives are so much Fuller and less stressful. Even now one of us will get into purging moods and then we both start filling a donation box.
The Minimalist documentary is great, we watched it too! Highly recommend it to anyone new to the idea.
Great summary of the power of living with less. We’ve seen a lot of the same benefits – it’s an incredibly freeing feeling to not be weighed down by all that “stuff”!
Stuff is just stuff, don’t let it run your life.
I was surprised how much money was made just selling some of me and hubby’s old stuff here and there.
It was $100 here, $20 there, $35 for the tower fan etc. and this was all on Craig’s List so we didn’t have shipping fees or processing fees. One day we were looking for cash to tip the pizza delivery driver and we saw that we basically had over $420 dollars in our nightstand. Crazy! We never noticed; and we definitely didn’t miss the old stuff we sold.
That’s it! Once you start selling, you don’t even notice it gone.
Nice post. I like how you’re “choosing your way out”.
We find living without cable TV has helped us tune out the noise begging us to consume. We realized this when visiting family over Christmas. Their TV was on and the constant bombardment to buy, buy, buy was very annoying.
Every time we are at someone’s place with TV we simply cannot believe how many ads there are! It is literally one-third of air time (20 minutes of show for each 30 on air) and they still have the guts to charge for this “service”. Crazy!
What a beautiful post! This summarizes many “hidden” truths in an eloquent way. I especially like the aspect of not allowing material possessions to own you. After moving into a new house 7 months ago, we have been working hard to constantly challenge each item in our house… ridding ourselves of the items that do not bring us some type of value or enjoyment. Its amazing how much you can part with when you ask yourself “is it worth it to store/clean/maintain/deal with/trip over this item?”.
Definitively something to ask yourself when dusting up all your stuff. 🙂
I love the chart on diminishing returns! It is true that there’s a decreasing marginal utility to “stuff”. I don’t even like stuff anymore. I’m into experiences. They’re much lighter to carry around too. Great article.
Super light! haha