Making the Time and Money Connection – Minimalist Lifestyle

Saving Money To Travel The World

If you think commenting on my blog precludes you from being quoted later, guess again:

“i have everything a guy could want:

  • Badass Jaguar, Viper, Corvette (68), and lastly my prized shelby cobra
  • A 7000sqft house, filled to the gills with cool shit like plasma TV’s, etc etc.
  • King Air (it’s a plane guys, a plane)
  • An awesome Wife”

OK, beyond the fact that he lists his wife on a list of possessions, and she’s the last item on the list, I can completely understand where this guy is coming from.

From an early age we are taught that acquiring wealth is a sign of success. This cultural mindset often becomes apparent during travel. A westerner traveling to a country without modern luxuries might think, “Wow how do they live like that? They don’t have anything.” They might even wrongly assume that they are simple people, and admire them for their spirit, for the way “they smile despite everything…” Typically that “everything” is the fact that they don’t have significant wealth. We describe these qualities to them as a matter of condescension. “I could never live like that”. If you travel enough, you’ll find that these stereotypes are not always true. They are hustling like the rest of us. They are not simple and child-like, they just have different priorities. Of course poverty is a world wide issue, but is everyone without wealth, poor? Could it be they have something we don’t?

The person with the most stuff wins

My own path on the consumerism tread mill involved a beautiful house with an in-ground pool. My reasons for wanting a big house revolved around an over-compensation for growing up in an apartment and a sudden fit of nesting instincts. I genuinely thought that filling the house with art, books, modern furnishings and ‘stuff’ would bring me contentment. It did and it didn’t. The idea was wonderful, it felt great to think about. The reality of it was that I was never home to enjoy it.

At the time, I was working 60 hours weeks and commuting 2 hours a day. Besides the time I was at work, I was physically and mentally wiped out after work. I could switch jobs, find something less stressful, true. I eventually did change jobs, but not before I did some math that changed the way I thought about money and what I give up to get it.

What is your time worth?

We all trade our time (and knowledge, expertise and skills) for a salary. We assume we have to give at least 40 hours a week to a job, so we don’t count this time as ours. We give it away freely, without a second thought. But that time is ours, it’s a limited resource, and once it’s gone, there is no replacing it. I can’t beg, borrow or steal more time. It is, in fact, my life.

The Math

Say it costs me $100,000 a year to maintain this lifestyle. (*not my actual salary, just to demonstrate)

That’s $32 an hour at 60 hours a week.

If I lower my cost of living to $20,000 a year, I would only have to work 12 hours a week.

I was working 48 hours a week just to live in a big house, with lots of stuff.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against working hard or owning a house. But the idea that I was giving over 9 hours per weekday just to have an increased standard of living shocked me. Sure the house was nice, of course I loved swimming in the pool, but for that much of my time, I wanted more value.

From there I started breaking out the cost of everything by time.

Cable $100 or 3 hours a month
Car payment $375 or 11 hours a month
Name brand suit $400 or 12 hours
Fancy dinner $120 or 4 hours
And so on…

Lifestyle Redesign Phase I

This process hasn’t been overnight. For me to stop trading my time for things, I had to face the facts. We had to stop buying so much stuff! The End. (My husband had to talk me out of buying a book on “how to save money” and it took me a second to realize the irony). Inherently I already knew how to do it–reduce, reuse and refrain. Easy to say, harder to stick to…

Over the course of the last year we saved 50% our income. The next step? What to do with this financial freedom.

What’s your time worth?

The Emerald City Journal was create by the people for the people to express their views and voices. It's a Seattle newspaper that gives everyone a voice whether you agree with their view or not. The Emerald City Journal is an opinion newspaper for everyone wanting to share their voice with the World.

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