People don’t have to work until they are sixty or seventy years old before they can get out of the rat race. Early financial independence – even as early as one’s mid-thirties if they get started by age twenty – is possible with a willingness to work hard, make some sacrifices, and be smart with money.
However, a critical step that anyone seeking to “retire” that early is to get the right perspective on material things. I talk about that in the video that follows, as well as in the text below.
(Please click on the video to get to the YouTube page to share this video with your online networks. TIA!)
***UPDATE 8-2020: in the spirit of full disclosure, I no longer care for the term “minimalism.” I prefer “simple living.”***
It’s hard not to be materialistic when the entire culture seems to be bound up in materialism. But thinking that accruing more things is the answer to happiness or success, is a recipe for debt and poverty.
Ten things you probably don’t need more of
- Clothing. You probably have enough pieces for every season to last you for a decade.
- Computers. No need to buy a new one until this one quits working.
- E-readers. The one you have is likely perfectly sufficient.
- Smart phones. You won’t lose anything if you don’t upgrade.
- Furniture. If you’re tired of looking at it, change the arrangement or change the appearance by throw pillows, covers, or paint.
- Magazines (or magazine subscriptions). Impulse buys, waste of money. If you are trying to stay up-to-date with a particular issue, say, mechanics or finances, there are plenty of blogs on such topics that you can subscribe to for free.
- Knick-knacks. Do I really have to explain this one?
- Toys. Your kids already have more than what they can play with. (Go ahead; tell them I said it so they won’t get mad at you.)
- Linens – bed, bath, and beyond. Thanks to planned obsolescence, fabrics don’t last nearly as long as they used to. However, they do last a lot longer than how some people treat them. Refrain from buying new sets until the current ones actually develop holes or – as in the case of towels – get so threadbare that they hardly absorb water anymore.
- Seasonal dishes and accessories. You don’t need to have a set of plates with autumn leaves once September rolls around.
I could go on and on with this list, but you get the picture. People spend a lot of money on things they don’t need.
“Do I have to be a minimalist?”
If you want early financial independence, a minimalist lifestyle is optional, but more helpful than you might think. It is also an ethical choice, since minimalists don’t support sweatshop and child labor nearly as much as mainstream consumers, because they don’t buy nearly as many material goods.
Minimalism does not mean living in a tiny house furnished with only a single chair and table a la Thoreau’s Walden Pond. It simply means giving up the consumer mindset, to the extent that you make no purchases unless you truly need something.
Yes, you are allowed an occasional splurge on luxury items, but make sure they are items that you will enjoy over and over again.
A sure-fire way to stop buying things you don’t need
Pay with cash only.
Yes, I know this means that you will no longer be supporting your favorite online store. But most people who will read this post live in a city or town, and can find what they need locally.
Studies show that people who buy things with cash only, spend less money. Why? It’s a lot more painful to see actual money – the bills and coins – leaving your wallet and pocket, than it is to use an abstract card.
If you have trouble with overspending, making the switch from card to cash is crucial. Even for those who don’t, they will still spend less money if they pay with cash. And no, debit cards don’t count as cash. They are still plastic.
I know, that will be a hard change. But you’re the one reading this post, wanting to know how to reach early financial independence, right?
It’s only stuff
Much of what we acquire in the way of material goods has no real intrinsic value. It looked cool, or pretty, or fashionable, so we snatched it off the store shelf. Other material goods that do have value – such as clothing and dishes – we usually have too much of. We certainly don’t need to buy more of it!
Stuff is stuff. And for many people, it is the sole reason that they are going to have to work until they are at least sixty before they accrue a large enough nest egg to retire on.
Don’t want to do that? Then pick up a copy of my book Hatching The Nest Egg, where I explain the steps to super-early retirement – which my husband and I achieved several years ago.