Friday, October 16, 2015

5 Reasons You Will Eventually Own Nothing

This isn't an infomercial for minimalism so much as it is a look at society's relationship with possessions. We are increasingly becoming a transient society with a loose grip on what we own. Here are 5 reasons why you will eventually own nothing.

1. Technology moves too fast. 

Technology is changing so fast that it becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the latest trends. Most technology is obsolete within a narrow window of two to three years, and that gap is ever increasing. Just think about all of the accessories you purchased for your iphone 4, or all of the games for your wii console, or your year old laptop that doesn't have touchscreen technology to enhance Windows 8.1.

So why buy, when you can rent? To keep up in the business world, you have to be on top of the game. Can I even say that it's inappropriate not to have a modern smartphone or a new operating system on your computer?

You already sort of rent your smartphone from your provider. You fork down an upfront amount, then pay if off every month until your contract is up. You think you own it , but if you try to back out of your contract too soon, do you really own it? No, you pay for the rest of the cost of the phone or turn it back in.

Flickr/CC-BY-2.0/ O Palsson
2. We are a transient society. 

Gone are the days when your great great grandparents built a house on acreage and past it down through the generations. Natural disasters, job opportunities, housing prices, and recreational activities have made this generational more transient than the ones before it.

Cheap furniture warehouses like Ikea, and used goods sites like free cycle and Craig's List, have made it easier than ever to sell your household items and cheaply furnish an apartment at your new destination.

At the rate professionals are migrating around the country looking for favorable job markets, furnished apartments are become popular. Anywhere outside of the US, this is almost expected.

Most young people are staying single until their late 20's or early 30's, with extremely transient roommates. One arrives with a couch, while the other leaves with the microwave.  Young adults are constantly furnishing and re-furnishing their apartments as waves of roommates enter their lives.

Buying a $100 couch at a thrift store, then selling it for $100 on Craig's List is practically a rental program, right?

Flickr/CC-BY-SA-2.0/Chris Isherwood
3. You have to factor is the cost, space, and time. 

Every item you buy costs you money, space, and time. In a society where hobbies are taken as seriously as professions, and everyone is a player of them all and a master of none, it is nearly impossible to own full setups of gear for your favorite hobbies.

Sports cars, dive gear, camera equipment, parachutes, sewing machines, and your rock climbing rack all take up a tremendous amount of space on your property.

The thing is, is that products are cheap, so a high quality scuba setup for your annual trip to Hawaii may not cause you to sweat in the checkout line, but it will cost in terms of upkeep, space, and your time. The gear will need about $100-200 invested into it each year for maintenance, as well as the time spend taking it to a qualified dive shop and a picking it up several days or weeks later. When you rent, there is no time wasted, you only pay a low rental fee, you have space in your garage, and if you rent it onsite, you don't have to lug wet dirty gear home with you on the airplane or in your car. Renting doesn't sound so bad now, does it?

4. Entrepreneurs are creating renting businesses. 

With companies like Uber and Zipcar, owning a vehicle isn't a necessity but a luxury. Take into account that you may use your car, on average, only an hour a day. Then, for the other 23 hours it sits there rusting and unoccupied. Enter in the car sharing model: wouldn't it be cheaper to share a car instead of everyone owning their own?

In the last few years I have seen everything from sowing machines to lawn mowers being put on the rental market. From neighbors lending neighbors to tool libraries to online trading organizations, your choices of rental products is daily increasing.
Personal Document Scanner

5. Data storage is the way of the world. 

DVD's, snail mail bills, hardcover books, paper newspapers, CD's, and filing cabinets are on their way out in the same way that record players and floppy disks have exited the scene.

Want to go paperless? Try a Personal Scanner to input all of your documents into your computer for easy organization.

Seriously, when was the last time you read a one made out of paper?

There you have it, 5 reasons why you will eventually own nothing. Minimalism isn't just a trendy way of life, but is increasingly becoming the mainstream because of the five reasons above. Happy minimizing.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Have You Found Yourself?

The Lost Generation 

I wonder how many people go through life, not really knowing who they area and what they want.  How many people get to the finish line and want a do-over?

In school children are taught useful knowledge, but are they taught how to find themselves.  I believe many in my generation are drifters, living a chaotic lifestyle, like a ship without a rudder.

Our colleges spit out young adults who know calculus, but have no idea what career path to choose or how to carve out a life for themselves.  They are lost, being told conflicting information about how the world works, and being thrown into a society that praises the facade, over the truth.

The more young adults I talk to in the 22-35 category, the more I realize that they haven't got a clue.  They burrow into jobs they think will bring them the success and money that they desire, but it only brings stress and unhappiness.  Just look into the face of a 28 year old in a suit, read the lines in his face, study his eyes, and his softening features.  Has he found what he was searching for?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Life Passes in a Flash

Image Source: Flickr/Flowercarole
It's unbelievable how quickly time passes under our noses.

I remember being 7 years old and waiting all morning for my birthday party to start.  My mother gave me chores to do to get the house ready, and it seemed like it took years for the clock to strike noon. Now, years fly by in a flash, hardly noticed.

9 years ago, almost to the day, I left for college, with truckloads of dreams and a wide eyed ambitions. Life was so big, so long, so hopeful.  It felt like the time in life when things really begin, things happen, life really starts.

What's even crazier is that it's been five years since I graduated.  In my mind, I still feel wide-eyed and full of wonder, but what I am frightened of, is how quickly that is fading.

I swore that I would never be a hardened old lady, too set in her ways to see all of the marvelous wonders in life.  I wanted the wisdom of an adult and the faith of a child.  Fear creeps in and we try so hard to hold onto something that isn't even ours.

With last week's death of Robin Williams, it has caused all of us, who grew up being entertained by him, to think about the heavy topic of mortality.

There is a scene in one of Robin's films, The Dead Poet's society, where he has his students crowd around a trophy case and picture of students who had gone before.  He tells them to look really hard at the image of the men men in their prime, then he tells them that all of those men are now fertilizing daffodils.

It doesn't matter your worldly accomplishments, because in 30,50,80, years, you will be fertilizing daffodils.  What life ought you to live?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

50th Post Reflection

It's amazing how time flies, even in the blogging world.  It's been just shy of two years since I started this blogging journey.  Here are some things I've learned along the way.
  1. Home is OK too.  After having years of wanderlust, and being moved around like a rag doll, it has been nice to settle in one apartment for two and a half years. 
  2. Persevere in Writing.  There is a rumor that when a blog hits 50 posts, it is seen as reliable and traffic increase.  Several blogs have noticed an increase when hitting the 50th post mark.  I'll tell you what, I think it's true.  It can be very difficult to put in that much effort on blind faith, but it is worth it. 
  3. Minimalism is still king.  My house is kept neater, my head is less clogged, even my desk at work is more organized. 
  4. I need Minimalism.  I've discovered that I get very tense and unhappy around clutter, or people who love dwelling in clutter.  Stuff literally stresses me out.  
  5. I can't live with non-minimalists.  I wrote an article, How to Live with Non-Minimalists, but it is aimed more at those unfortunate souls who are already stuck with non-minimalists.  As for myself, I honestly doesn't think i could marry someone with differing values in this category. Clutter literally affects my mood and emotional health.
  6. Writing is what I want to do forever.  I have discovered that it is my gift and calling, something that brings me immense joy, and something I could see myself doing everyday for the rest of my life.  It has been a great joy to see my writing have an affect on people.  I self-published two short stories this year, The Recluse, and Into Her Chambers, which has been an extremely rewarding experience.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How to Move Like a Minimalist

Image Source: Flickr/ Cyril Caton
One of the awesome benefits of Minimalism is moving is stress free.  When your stuff is organized, and you only own things that you need, moving is a piece of cake.

Before I moved into my first apartment, I had a chucking party, where I threw out or gave away everything I didn't need.  Seriously, I moved into my apartment, with only a Honda Civic and a friend's pick-up truck for my bed.  It only took three hours to be moved and settled.  Piece of cake. 

With another possible move on the horizon, I thought I'd share some ways you can make your move stress free.   

1. Get Rid of Clutter 

As soon as you know that you are going to move, start going through your makeup drawer, your nightstand, bookcase, underwear drawer, under your bed, your kitchen utensils, and the storage closet.  If you can help it, don't buy anymore cleaning supplies, spices, food stock, or other items you use on a daily basis.  Instead, try to use up as much as you can before the move.  

2. Organize Everything Into Boxes and Bins

Storage bins with handles
make moving a cinch.
What made my move super easy was having everything in bins.  If you have no loose objects, and everything is in a container, then you just pick up your bin and carry it to the next house, no packing required.  

I keep my loose items, year-round, in bins and containers.  My cosmetics are in a bin with a handle, my rock climbing gear is in another, and even my scarves are in a small box in the closet.   

3.  Have Everything Packed Before the Movers Arrive 

Having all of your small stuff packed ahead of time will make moving day quick and easy.  Even if it is only a friend helping you move your furniture in his truck, having everything organized and out of the way, will make for a stress free move for everyone involved.  There is nothing worse than tripping on clutter while trying to get the couch out of the door.  My suggestion is to take all of your bins and pile them up away from the furniture, so that there is plenty of space to move the larger items.

More Posts on Minimalism 

Minimalism is a State of Mind

Minimalism and Freedom

How to Emotionally Detach From Items

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Do What You Love

Image Source: Flickr: Islxndx
Happiness is sitting on my porch, a dark roast in hand, no black marks on the calendar, and my fingers typing away at my laptop.

My goals are simple: Live simply and write.

The two goals and completely intertwined.  By living simply, I have more time to write.  The more I write, the less I will have to endure other economic pursuits, which will allow me to live more simply.

What Do You Love To Do? 

We live in an age, where you can make a living doing almost anything.  Here are some odd ways I have seen people make a living:
  • Rescuing golf balls from golf course ponds.  
  • Writing E-books 
  • Making funny viral Youtube vidoes
  • Bloging/article writing 
  • Treasure hinting for $40,000 18th century wine bottles at the bottom of the ocean. 
  • Beach combing at low tide after hot summer days
  • Gold panning 
Whatever your passion, there is a way to make money from doing it.  

Time Is Short! 

I am convinced that life is too short to be stuck doing something you hate.  You compromise, in order to get ahead, taking a job that wears you down.  Months turn into years, and years into decades.

A lot of people take jobs they don't like so that they can buy stuff that they think will make them happy.   They think that they need to keep their six figure job because it will allow them to keep up a luxury lifestyle.  However, all of that time work takes away from doing what they want.  They take a fancy job so that they can play all of the nicest golf courses, then that job consumes them and they don't have enough time to go to the driving range.  Soon, they are only playing five or six games a year and complaining about being overworked.

What's Your Ideal Lifestyle?

The cost of your ideal lifestyle is probably much cheaper than you think.

In the above paragraph I used the example of a business executive who enjoys playing golf.  Maybe if he cut back on some luxuries, quit his day job, gave private lessons to the tune of $80 and hour at the nearest country club, he would have time in between lessons to work on his game, and maybe even a few complimentary games at the club.

My Lifestyle

For me, I can live very nicely off of $35,000.  I enjoy living in small spaces, hate shopping, and have very simple and inexpensive tastes.  Most of the things I like to do are practically free: Scuba diving (I own my own gear), hiking, backpacking, day tripping.  I would love to have more time to do those activities.

So what would I have to do to make $35,000 a year, doing something I love?  That's only $2,900 a month.  How much would I have to write to make that happen?

It's not out of the question to kick my writing into high gear and produce $50/month from HubPages, $100/month from WebAnswers, and $200/month from my self-hosted sites.  I've been watching my earnings grow, and I'm convinced that if I wrote for 2 hours a day, I can pull this off before Christmas.

That leaves $2,550 that needs to be earned from other writing sources.  I've begun writing E-books this month.  How many E-books would I have to sell to get $2,550 a month.  Selling one E-book for $2.09, it would take 1200 copies to earn that amount.  However, once I have a whole collection of E-books, that amount doesn't look so daunting.

Let's say I have 15 short stories, all selling for $0.35, two collections selling for $2.09, and two novels selling for $4.49 each.  With just one novel, it would take 567 copies to make my livable wage.  That's only 18 copies a day.  If I could convince 18 people to buy my book, I could quit my day job.  Not so bad, eh?

If I sold one copy a day of each of my short stories, that would be $5.25 a day. 2 copies a day of each of my collections would be $17.96/day.  Together, that's almost $700/month.  That leaves $1750/month from two novels.  That's 389 novels needed to be sold, or about 11 novels a day.

When you run the numbers, living a free and ideal lifestyle doesn't look very far out of reach.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Simple Lessons From Mud, Sweat, and Tears

“Above all, I feel a quiet pride that for the rest of my days I can look at myself in the mirror and know that once upon a time I was good enough. Good enough to call myself a member of the SAS. Some things don’t have a price tag.” -Bear Grylls, Mud, Sweat, Tears 

Bear Gryll's autobiography Mud, Sweat, and Tears has had a profound affect on me and my pursuit of an adventurous life.  He writes not as a far off Hollywood TV star, but as a humble man who's found himself on many of life's mountain faces and has refused to give up the push to the top.

He's more than a man running a muck and eating strange delicacies on prime time, he has scaled Everest, was selected for the prestigious British SAS, and broken numerous world records.  Call it what you like for his TV appearances, but the man is tough as nails.

In sync with the above quote, what makes Grylls wildly entertaining and personable is his quiet self-confidence and genuine humble enthusiasm.  More than all of the money or possessions in the world, to feel content with one's life, that is a profound gift and something that can never be taken from you.

The lessons learned are better said in his own words.

On Fame and Money: 

“Time and experience have taught me that fame and money very rarely go to the worthy, by the way - hence we shouldn't ever be too impressed by either of those impostors. Value folk for who they are, how they live and what they give - that's a much better benchmark.” 

On Possessions: 

"I love the quote she once gave me: “When supply seems to have dried up, look around you quickly for something to give away.” It is a law of the universe: to get good things you must first give away good things. (And of course this applies to love and friendship, as well.)” 

On Life: 

“Aim to live a wild, generous, full, exciting life—blessing those around you and seeing the good in all.” 

I get the impression that Grylls views life as being very simple when all of the distractions are gone, that's something every minimalist can enjoy.

Read about Bear Gryll's show The Island and some of the simple living and life lessons on the show.