|A Simple Life: How to Live Well with Less|
|By Jing J.|
From making a six-figure income as a financial consultant to going back to school and pursuing my passion, the last year has been a big transition for me. And it’s not been an easy one, because it’s affected every aspect of my life – most significantly, how I spend my time and money.
I used to make a lot of money doing something I was good at, but not necessarily something I was passionate about. Now I spend every hour of the day doing what I love and what I care about – but I’m living on my savings, which means I need to find ways to simplify my life and stretch my dollars as far as possible.
This has forced me to reevaluate my priorities in life – and my relationship with money. Money means different things to different people. To me, the most valuable thing money can offer is time. It can buy you time, allowing you the freedom to pursue your passion.
I think following one’s passion and doing what you love is what most people want, but the fear of money is perhaps the biggest obstacle preventing many from doing so. There are, after all, bills to pay – rent, mortgage, car payments, and health insurance – a responsibility most of us must bear.
So I decided to tackle this problem head-on: Is it possible, in our seemingly materialistic society, to live a simple life without much money, but with the luxury of time?
It turns out that I’m not alone on this quest. In my Google search, I found many articles sharing tips from people who live “well” on $10-20,000 a year in the U.S.
How do they do it? The secret is to simply your life, stripping it down to the bare essentials.
Here are some practical tips:
1. The biggest expense for most people is rent or mortgage. People who live with less find ways to reduce how much they spend on putting a roof over their heads. Some live in a RV. Some share a room with others. And some move to the low-rent district.
2. Another big expense is a car payment. People who live with less cut down their car expenses by riding bikes, taking public transit, or owning a cheap car outright without monthly lease or loan payments.
3. The third big expense is health insurance. People who live with less do their best to stay healthy, and many opt to purchase a high-deductible/low premium health insurance policy.
4. Eat well. This is perhaps the biggest expense for people who live well with less. Eating healthy foods gives them a sense of abundance and a feeling of living well. Many of them shop at farmers’ markets and health food stores. And they learn to cook yummy, nutritious meals at home.
5. Cut down distractions and unnecessary spending, such as dining out, barhopping, shopping for clothes, or buying things that you don’t really need. Living with the bare minimum really forces you to get your priorities straight.
6. Save. What amazes me is that many people who live with less than $20,000 a year still manage to save and put money away in their savings or retirement accounts.
7. Enjoy. By simplifying their life, many people who live with less also seem to enjoy life more, by having more time to do things they really enjoy, and by learning to appreciate the simple pleasures in life – those things money can’t buy.
It’s encouraging to know that it’s possible to live well with less, and that many people have done it – or are doing it. A simple life may just be the answer to following your passion, and living a content and happy life.
I thought I’d already been living a simple life. But perhaps there are ways to simply it even further. I’m going to try. And I’ll let you know if my hypothesis is true…