My wife essentially asked me that question recently (worded differently) because of the many links I post on Facebook about things like tiny houses, my belief in The Secret, self-awareness. living simpler as well as my many years of blog posts about living below your means and spending time on figuring what makes you truly happy as I believe many people spend years pursuing what they think is happiness but turns out not to be. Add to that posts on the importance of volunteerism, hobby monetization and things I’ve learned from other people who influenced the path I’ve chosen.
Hippie nonsense is not about taking shortcuts in life or not working hard. Young people, in my opinion, need to pay their dues. I worked on trading floors (cubicle farms) for many years. As far as working hard, I believe that you get out of life what you put into it which is an argument for working more not less (I have two paying jobs and a third job with no monetary reward).
Our attitudes on how we choose to live our lives is usually some combination of what we learn from our parents (good and bad) and our own experiences. My parents made a lot of financial mistakes which I have been determined not to repeat. You can learn a lot from the mistakes others make, this applies to many, if not all aspects of life. As a kid I was sick for a short time in high school which has come to play an increasingly larger role in my thought process about making sure the right happiness plays a large role in my life. This also contributed to thinking about what my idea of happiness was and wasn’t at a relatively young age.
Things like living simpler (less stuff) and smaller (less house than you can afford, not getting new car every three years) have both financial and emotional benefits. Financially it is of course easier to pay a $1500 mortgage than a $3000 mortgage and easier to have no credit card payments or car payments. Emotionally there is less stress paying for a smaller financial life and while that is easier this becomes all the more important in the face of some sort of surprise event that invariably comes along like a job loss or large unexpected expense.
This is where things like tiny houses come into play. Living in 88 square feet is not going to be the solution for too many people but it shows that downsizing does not have to mean living in a trailer park. The interiors of some of the tiny houses are stunning and very high end. Smaller, even if not tiny, houses represent a path to a smaller financial footprint for anyone interested in pursuing that.
When things like this are figured out it becomes easier to know what kind of future you’re actually saving for. Just because you might be able to live a $10,000 monthly lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to. It is easier to live and save for a $500o lifestyle and that smaller nut makes it easier to absorb financial shocks as mentioned above and have more financial flexibility.
Volunteerism is a huge part of happiness in terms of personal satisfaction from helping others and finding purpose. Finding time to volunteer can be difficult, I consider myself lucky that my routine has allowed for so much time to devote to the fire department. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while or are a Facebook friend reading this then you have some idea of how much I’ve gotten out of my involvement. I would hope everyone could find something to commit to in this manner.
There can be a connection between monetizing a hobby and volunteerism. Monetizing a hobby is something we have been talking about here for ages. The idea is that many people will not have enough saved for retirement. Some sort of income from something you like doing, like a hobby, would be preferable to some sort of post-retirement job that you dread. If you have a hobby and really throw yourself into it then you would be in a position to understand whether or not any sort of income can be generated and if so then you can put the time into making it happen. There are no short cuts to this. I’ve said before that I think I’ve figured out how to monetize my firefighting should I ever need it as an example but it requires putting in time which fortunately I enjoy doing.
A big piece of hippie nonsense that I believe in is the Law of Attraction aka The Secret. Basically if you put out positive energy and remain optimistic then good things will happen. I also don’t discount being lucky although that is part of it too. Nine or ten years ago I was having a philosophical conversation at a Super Bowl party (when the Patriots beat the Panthers) and apparently I recited a couple of things verbatim from the The Secret despite never having heard of the book. I read the it shortly thereafter as more of a validation/confirmation. “Putting it out there” about winning Powerball seems unproductive but in terms of figuring out what sort of life you actually want and then setting out to make it happen can be very productive but there are no shortcuts.
There is no claim here of knowing what anyone should want out of their lives but I think I’ve come up with some things to consider as I tried to figure it out for myself. I write about this stuff to try to help anyone starting to try to figure this out for themselves and because there is a clear an obvious investing tie in.
What better picture for this post than a hippied-out fire truck?