“FREE123: Freedom In Less” is a monthly step-by-step account of pursuing financial freedom by pursuing less: Less stuff, less complexity and less spending. The purpose is not deprivation but to achieve more financial goals while experiencing contentment and purpose. Take a look:
Less Is More
Every month in this series I reference that happy place we all have where just being there is enough. For me that is in Kauai Hawaii, on a beach, with a 84 degree sunny day (every day seems 84 degrees and sunny to me there). When I am there, just experiencing the beauty, I am content, happy, joyful and grateful. To say the least, when I am there, I want nothing else. It is simple and I am content. Then I got to thinking: Why can’t I experience that simplicity and contentment more often? Like at home? In my everyday life? The answer is I can. And a simple contented life would greatly enhance my goal of financial freedom.
The Goal: Purposeful Simplification
For the next season in life, I am going to purposefully simplify my life by finding freedom in less. Less stuff, less complexity and less spending as a means to reaching my financial freedom goals and find more contentment and purpose. The hypothesis is that living on a frugal budget with clear goals and a renewed focus on reducing consumption will lead to more contentment and true freedom.
What I learned in October 2015
This month I simply put my credit card away and used an all cash system for discretionary spending. So simple. One benefit of this action was some savings in my discretionary spending (shown below). No surprise there, right? But the primary benefit, that I did not anticipate, was how comfortable I became to walk away from seemingly important expenditures when I did not have the cash. As it turns out, things I thought I NEEDED were really not that important. And when I did not get them due to lack of cash, I did not miss them. Take a look at each area of savings with brief commentary:
- Saved $360 this month just by not eating out as much or cutting back on healthy snack purchases. Found out that many (most) of the time I think I am hungry, I really am just thirsty and water does the trick!
- Saved $220 this month JUST NOT BUYING STUFF from our discretionary spending budget. This is similar to my experience in September. By consciously avoiding going into retail store for certain items lead to less “add-on” or impulse buys. You know, go to Home Depot for fertilizer and come home with a new shovel and rake too!
- Saved $125 in family activities. We switched out football games, going to the movies frequently and book fairs for walks in the park, frozen yogurt instead of a meal and simple family fun around our favorite reality show!
October’s FREE123: Freedom In Less Summary
This month we experienced the shift in thinking from “buying” our entertainment and family time activities to making our entertainment with what we had. In this case, with cash or not at all. By purposefully reducing spending to the amount of cash on hand, we saved a lot of money and found more contentment and freedom, not to mention we proved to ourselves that many things we thought we needed were actually not. I did not track our hours saved like I said I would last month because I couldn’t figure out how to quantify it easily. But I still feel our savings (and freedom) in less includes both money savings and time savings. Maybe I’ll try to measure hours next month. In the meantime, I am going to enjoy living more purposefully with less so that I can experience more!