Hey everyone! This past week, I’ve been thinking about the concept of what it means to ‘live differently’ when it comes to your money. As you’ll find out below, I was inspired by a quote from a fellow personal finance blogger.
To illustrate the power of living differently, as opposed to following what most consider to be the ‘normal’ materialistic pursuits of our western culture, I’ve highlighted a few who decided to take seemingly radical steps in order to transform their financial future.
Rather than detail their stories here, I’ve provided a link to each of their sites, so that you can head over there after and gain inspiration from their experience.
Consider this post part blog round-up, part consumerism rant. : )
Bobby Hoyt, a fellow personal finance blogger also known as Millennial Money Man, has the following quote on his website:
“Live Differently. Your bank account will thank me later.” – M$M
It’s such a simple proclamation, written with a light-hearted tone, but I’ve always loved it because there’s so much truth to those 9 words.
It’s a great example of cause and effect. A ‘healthy bank account’ being the result of an action, in this case, living differently.
Even the charge to ‘live differently” is more significant than it lets on. It reads almost nonchalant, yet Bobby is suggesting something very radical, nothing short of life altering change.
I know this because I know Bobby’s story, at least what he’s shared with his readers. He and his wife Coral know first hand what it means to live differently, and have seen both the financial and life rewards that come with it.
WHY LIVE DIFFERENTLY?
To borrow a song lyric, in our world, “success is equated with excess”. The monster house, the fancy car. The pattern for what society considers a ‘normal’ life involves the constant pursuit of more money, in order to attain more luxury and convenience.
The problem is that there’s no finish line.
It’s an endless chase and you never arrive.
There is always something nicer and newer. The process will leave you forever unsatisfied.
We live a life that was reserved for kings and queens only a couple of generations ago.
Destination weddings, expensive hobbies, private schools and private boxes, smart phones and smart homes. We’ve been programmed to believe these things are connected to happiness, but they’re not. In fact, the more we complicate our lives with stuff, the more miserable we can become.
By freeing yourself from the pressure to attain certain materialistic goals, you can experience so much more freedom, including more time to spend on things that really matter, like relationships, creative pursuits, and life experiences.
THERE’S A MOVEMENT TO LIVE DIFFERENTLY
There are others like Bobby Hoyt, people who have chosen not to accept society’s definition of normal when it comes to their financial future. I’ve only room to highlight a few here, but there are many whose financial freedom stories inspire me daily.
THE OTHER HALF OF THE STORY
On her blog, Montana Money Adventures, Ms. M (aka Jillian) shares an inspiring story which involves making choices. More specifically, the choice not to buy things simply because they’re affordable. She and her husband made this choice over and over again for several years, while paying off $50,000 of debt. Even after they got rid of their debt and saved a very large sum of money, they made the choice yet again to bypass what they could afford, even though it ran counter to what society would consider ‘normal’. They bought a house for only $50,000, with cash, and in doing so, secured a greater level of financial freedom. You can check out the whole story here, it’s something else.
MIND THE ‘STACHE
This tweet came across my feed earlier today, and I was reminded of the power of living differently. If you’re familiar with this individual, you realize that he might not fill that gas tank until 2018. He’s very wealthy, but he didn’t get that way by living a normal life. In a nutshell, he and his wife created a fulfilling life while spending a fraction of that of the average North American household.
To some, it may sound extreme, even ridiculous. But it helped him to retire at age 30. He now lives a life of financial independence, with the freedom to choose how he expends his energy each day, even if that means, in his own words, “making money typing s**t into a computer”.
KEEP THRIFTY, MY FRIENDS
Then there’s this guy. By most peoples standards, in great financial shape, free of consumer debt, on the home stretch of paying off a mortgage in his mid-30’s. Married, with three small children. Many in this situation would want to reward themselves for all of their prudence and hard work. A new hot tub in the backyard, a new car in the driveway, an expensive vacation. After all, upgrading your life by acquiring nicer things is a sign of financial success, is it not?
Not for this family. Instead, they sold the house, and rented a small apartment for their family of five. This is AFTER they experimented by living inside half of the square footage of their house for an extended period of time, to determine whether they could make it work.
They’re now completely debt free, and if and when they decide to buy another house, they say it’ll likely be with cash.
I mean, who does that? Why embrace less space, less convenience, when you don’t have to? I would suspect it’s because they have a real sense of what’s truly important in life. They understand the freedom that living differently offers.
HOW TO BEGIN LIVING DIFFERENTLY
Like any new lifestyle change, you have to know where to begin. Here are a few ideas, which include shifting your mindset, as well as practical changes you make right away! Some are more radical than others, but all of these will begin to move you in the right direction.
Stop worrying about what other people think.
I get it. Our money and our emotions get all mixed up. It’s tough to remove feelings such as fear, pride or insecurity from our spending decisions. But it can be done. The first step is recognizing that they exist.
Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses.
The Joneses are broke, and they’re stressed out.
Their monster house and $60K SUV aren’t symbols of happiness, they’re chains around their hands and feet. They’re the cause of longer hours at work, and less time for their kids and each other.
Will buying an expensive home make you feel unique, or rich? In my mind, there’s nothing more ordinary than living in the modern suburb, where everyone has the same house, with the same SUV in the driveway, the same trendy countertops to match the same trendy backsplash, the same furnishings, the same tiny yard and the same enormous property tax bill.
Buy less house than you can afford.
There is no such thing as your ‘forever home’. After all, you can’t take it with you when you go.
Build an emergency fund.
If you don’t have savings, the time to start is now! Even if you have debt, you should still be saving. Start with an emergency fund. It will enable you to shift away from using credit to fund emergencies, breaking the cycle of debt. Start with $1000, and build from there.
Track your spending.
If you don’t have a handle on where you’re money is going, get all over it. Track every penny, and identify where money is being wasted. Review a 3-6 month history of your bank and credit card accounts. Warning: this activity is not for the faint of heart.
Don’t overspend on depreciating assets.
Buy vehicles used. $8-10,000 can get you a stylish and reliable vehicle that if cared for, can last you many years. At this price range, it’s not a stretch to imagine paying cash and freeing yourself from a burdensome car payment.
Remember that just about every item in your home is losing value. So don’t overspend.
Exchange expensive activities for free/inexpensive ones.
Bonfires, walks, hiking, bike rides, board games, bird-watching, an afternoon drive. There are countless activities that promote physical health, strong relationships and overall happiness, and they cost very little, or nothing at all.
For a more comprehensive list of ways to improve your finances, check out this post I wrote a few months back. It’s been viewed thousands of times, even going viral on Pinterest. It’s packed with great money saving advice!
That’s all I’ve got, thanks for reading! Please be sure to head over to the sites of the fine bloggers I’ve mentioned, and like I said earlier, be inspired!
To follow Mr. Hoyt’s lead, I’ll close with my own ‘live differently’ quote. I know, I know, it’s pretty profound. 😉
“Whatever it takes, live differently.” – Mystery Money Man.