We live in a culture where “keeping up with the Joneses” USED to be the financial train wreck of choice. But looking around us, I think you’d agree that, as a culture, we’ve REALLY amped that up over the past 20 years.
We’ve gone from keeping up with the elevated lifestyle of “the Joneses” just a few decades ago to the hyper-consumptive, hyper luxurious, elite status pursuing consumption of the Bill Gateses and the Kardashians.
I think you’d agree, it’s really gotten out of hand.
And I know this because I lived it myself. I completely understand the subtle and incessant pressure to “keep up” feels like first hand and it totally wrecked my own financial life.
This tractor beam hyper consumption, pulled me INTO a lifestyle where the end result was living paycheck to paycheck on six figures, buying stuff I couldn’t afford and trying to “keep up” INTO a giant $174,000 mountain of debt, a dead end music career and ultimately to a financial train wreck.
You could say I was in 1st place on that hedonic treadmill marathon.
But, fast forward about a decade and I eventually was able to sack 100% of that $174,000 debt and go on to build an over $700,00 net worth.
So what happened?
A complete and total financial meltdown, that’s what.
And while it wasn’t fun, it wound up being one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
Now, the process wasn’t easy but it was TOTALLY worth it.
So, my own personal financial train wreck actually became my “why” for starting the process of some serious financial organization, learning how to strategically budget, diligently track expenses and ultimately to sacking that giant pile of debt.
And along the way, something surprising happened. As I progressed through the process, I started to get momentum. I started to feel differently and to think differently about money, how it works and started to divorce myself from all the financial nonsense I saw going on around me.
And in this process, I sort of “accidentally” discovered minimalism and totally fell in love with it.
So today I want to talk about 6 weird, minimalist things my wife and I do to save money (even though at this point we don’t really “need” to) in order to live well within our means and to keep building our net worth toward more of a financial independence posture.
AND more importantly, I want to demonstrate how YOU can make a couple of small tweaks in your own mindset and behavior to start pursuing minimalism and Financial Independence for yourself.
Let’s get into it.
So, in that process of paying down that monster $174,000 of debt, I was REALLY able to develop a super solid financial skillset.
And by the way, I outline in great detail, the process I went through in my FREE “8 Steps To Erase Debt” guide.
For the first time in my life I was financially organized, had a watertight budget, knew where every dollar and cent was going and, much to my surprise, I was actually starting to “have fun” with the whole process..
Personal finance was basically becoming a ginormous game for me (and now for my wife as well) and we are totally hooked.
AND, especially once the debt was in the rearview mirror, all of a sudden the potential reality, the mathematical possibility of financial independence started to come more into focus. And we got even more excited.
We had control of our money, we were living WELL below our means, AND we were simultaneously figuring out ways to increase income.
So here are 6 weird minimalist things (and I say “weird” to our hyper-consumptive culture) that we do to reign in lifestyle creep (basically to save money) and continue to work our way toward greater financial independence.
Okay, I told you this was going to get weird!
We did this almost immediately when we got married about 10 years ago. So, no cable, no pay per view, actually also no Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ if you can believe that.
Now, have we taken advantage of some “free trials” over the years? Well… maybe??
We’ve just always felt like the free options on YouTube and other similar platforms helped us to think more creatively and at the same time challenge us to constantly be learning new things.
We love pets, but we recognized the ongoing costs involved like when you need to travel, vet expenses, food, kennels).
We get our “pet fix” by occasionally “farm sitting” for some of our friends who have lots of animals.
And, quite by happy accident, it’s actually turned into a modestly profitable side-hustle which I’ll talk more about later.
We’ve always been a one car family. Our situation is such that a second care is not really necessary and, although it might be “more convenient” at times, we always like to “run the numbers” to keep our culture’s “convenience addiction” in check.
So with that we’re skipping things like: a car payment, extra car insurance, additional maintenance expenses, gas and other carry costs.
So, I’d say if you can sack the second car, you should consider it.
People do give us that sideways head tilt on this one, and I get it. It’s weird in our culture to be approaching millionaire status and still rent, but let me give you some background.
In 2014, we sold our awesome little minimalist condo (due to some, shall we say, “neighborhood related” issues) and have since done things like rented a traditional apartment and are now in a friend’s basement apartment which is fortunately VERY economical for us right now.
We believe the property markets have been and are in a bubble for quite some time, so we’ve just been stacking cash in anticipation of “a sale”, you might say.
Now, I realize that this “renting” posture may not be an option for everyone, I just want to encourage you to try and think creatively about how you might be able to find a money saving situation yourself, without exposing yourself or your family to some “rougher” situations.
Dave Ramsey trigger alert! If you’re a Dave Ramsey follower, this will probably be blasphemy for you and I get it, after coaching students for the past decade, some folks should REALLY steer away from credit cards altogether.
If you have tons of debt, low self control, a shopping addiction, etc., then you should DEFINITELY steer clear of this one.
BUT, if you’re solidly organized, on a budget, tracking expenses, are consumer debt free AND just using cards like you would cash (i.e. not carrying a debt balance every month), then harvesting those dollars for some of the travel and cash back rewards on credit cards is definitely a solid strategy.
In fact, my wife and I have quite literally saved tens of thousands of dollars over the past 10 years on both domestic and international travel including BOTH flights and hotels.
So if credit card spending is not an issue for you, you should look into adopting some travel hacking strategies like this.
Side hustles are a great way to make some extra money to throw into that budget for: savings, investing, sinking funds for travel, upcoming needs, stuff for the kids, etc.
We’ve experimented with A TON of side hustles over the years and have been able to add thousands of dollars annually to our cash pile.
Here are some we’ve tried. My wife revived her seamstress skills to start earning money and has now turned it into a nice little side business for us.
I’ve driven for Lyft and Uber, I’ve done online surveys and focus groups (and still do actually) and started this ZeroDebtcoach platform as a side hustle that is now a full time, profitable business.
So I’m curious, leave me a comment below telling me which of these are just too weird for you to try and which one(s) are you going to give a whirl.
And you may be wondering...
1. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and click the notifications bell to make sure you get our new videos every week.
2. Download one of our free personal finance guides. You’ll learn some of the exact strategies I teach my private coaching students on how to organize and optimize their finances, obliterate debt and move on to financial independence by starting and growing online businesses.
3. If you’re looking for a community of motivated and like-minded people, go ahead and get on the waitlist to join our private financial coaching community. We only open it for new students a couple of times a year, so make sure to get on the waitlist.
4. If you need some help right now because you’ve got a burning issue, you need a problem solved, you want to talk through a complex situation, click on the button below.
All that said, let's keep on building your financial acumen and make this your best year yet!
Thanks so much for reading and we’ll see you in the next video post!