Modern life has a fast-paced rhythm.
Some people go with its flow and seem to have the time of their life… until they burn out or they end up prisoners of the many commitments they made along the way.
Personally, I don’t like being a prisoner.
I’m sure you don’t like it either.
In the last few years (way before that “simple living” was a thing) I embraced a simpler lifestyle. I worked on decluttering my life and on keeping only what I value the most.
As a result, today I have tons of free time and I am relatively free from the shackles of modern living.
Here is how it happened for me and how you can make it happen for yourself…
When was the last time you had time?
I’m talking about time for yourself, time for your family, time for your friends… time to escape your busy daily routine.
Really, when was it?
Let me tell you a short story…
The freedom paradox
I have a very good friend.
We have been friends now for over 30 years.
He’s a very active guy and he’s very good with his hands. He builds stuff.
He works as an independent carpenter.
We grew together and we shared a number of adventures and many good memories.
For as long as I can remember, he’s been dreaming of going on a road trip around the country and visits all the remarkable places we have here.
Now, to put this in context, you should know that our country (Estonia) is quite tiny… about half the size of the state of Indiana.
This means one could see every corner of the place in just about 2 weeks.
Well, 30 years have passed and my friend never had time to set aside 14 days of free time to make this dream come true.
Recently I found myself wondering about this fact (because – you see – I have free time to wonder about stuff).
How is it possible that he doesn’t have time?
As he doesn’t have an employer, one might think he is in control of his own schedule. He can do whatever he wants, right?
Well, apparently that’s wrong.
Like all of us, he needs money to live.
He has a mortgage to pay, a car lease, a few other financial obligations.
This need for money forces him to fill his schedule with jobs and to look for more jobs whenever he has some spare time… so that his income-generating schedule doesn’t run empty.
This sort of lifestyle is very common for self-employed people.
It’s a brave lifestyle that provides freedom of decision but little freedom of time.
Yes, you can decide with which job you’ll fill your time… but you can not make the decision to fill your time with anything else.
Work you must.
…and if you are not self-employed you might have it even worse!
A bigger hamsterwheel
Most people work in a 9-5 job.
There is a pretty good chance you are one of them.
While there is nothing wrong with it, the very fact you have an employer puts some limits ot your freedom (and that is still fine, as long as you are on with it).
The biggest limitation is the fact that you are required to be at your job for 8 hours straight, which eats up a good chunk of your time.
But work you must, cause you bought that car and you have a lease to pay, cause you got a family and you’ve got bills to pay.
And work you do, day after day.
If only your financials would get a little better, you could afford working a bit less…
But here is the thing: when you have a job, the only things that are going to make your life financially better are a raise or an advancement in your career (with consequent raise of your salary).
Those are occasions that don’t come around that often.
But HEY… when they happen you have a chance at slowing down, right?
Well, most people here get sidetracked by the new influx of cash and they take over more financial obligations.
They up their lifestyle. They buy more stuff.
…and with more stuff you end up having even less time.
In the end of the story, the modern ways of living lead us to build for ourselves hamster wheels of different sizes.
The more successful you are, the bigger your wheel will be… but it is still a damn wheel and for it to work it requires you pushing it, most of your awake time.
Breaking the wheel
Wait, you say… is this like a vicious cycle?
Yes, that’s exactly what it is.
At age 44, I found myself with the free time for stopping to contemplate this conundrum, while being able to sit down and share my thoughts with you.
You may see this as a “luxury” and you may think I’m “lucky”… but the thing is that this “opportunity” I have is the direct result of a lifestyle I’ve been living for the past 6 years.
Full disclosure: it is not that I engineered this lifestyle it because I am very smart. I just did what I felt like doing and only now I realized the enormous benefits of the choices I made.
Here is how it happened…
There was a time where I used to pay a rent for living in a flat in the city.
I used to have several bills to pay, plus a demanding wife to make happy.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), my marriage wasn’t doing so well, so I had to rethink my living arrangements.
That’s where I decided to “downsize” my life and move to a tiny house.
Sidenote: that was actually a micro-house of about 3 x 4 meters. That’s all I could afford at the time.
Looking back this was one of the best things that ever happened to me because it forced me to reconsider what was really dear and important to me.
I sold most of my material possessions and jumped with both feet into this new reality.
Over time, I got used to living with less stuff.
The microhouse was so small that I paid for it upfront and I basically had no bill to pay.
With no bill to pay the cost of living went down dramatically and I didn’t have to work as much as I did before to pay for just being alive.
I started to have more free time.
I spent that free time with friends, and in one of our interesting conversations I found the inspiration to start what today you know as Avrame.
Bottom line, you wouldn’t be reading this if I hadn’t embraced simple living.
A better lifestyle: Simple Living
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
In other words: what is “better” for someone might be perceived as “worse” by others.
However, here is the choice everyone of us is called to make…
There are just two options:
- be wise with your consumption and gain the freedom to do what you want with your time;
- be slave of a job because you have to pay for a fast-paced lifestyle (and for all the stuff that come with it).
Honestly, I wonder who (in their right mind) would choose option two.
But the thing is that most people are just not aware of the alternative.
They think that consumerism is all there is today, the only way of living.
So they go by default with option two.
I would argue that there is a better lifestyle, a lifestyle where you live with less but your life is easier and you can enjoy plenty of free time.
All you have to do to start claiming back your free time is to stop buying crap you don’t need.
You still don’t see it?
Ok, I’ll make you a few examples:
- Netflix: cut it off entirely – (3 hours/day).
- Playstation: sell it – (4 hours/weekend).
- That other addiction you have that starts with P: not good use of your time. Stop it. – (you do the math here).
- Your leased car: do you really need it to be that fancy? …do you really need a car at all?
Change it for a smaller model (or get rid of it for good). This will save you money every month.
- You say you can’t get rid of the car because you need to drive to work?
Simple: change your job for one that allows remote working (Covid made this very simple for all of us). – (minimum 1-4 hours/day of commuting).
- Check your smartphone and see how much screentime you have in a week.
When you are done feeling sorry for yourself, imagine what you could do instead if you weren’t using Facebook, Instagram, and whatever other time-sucking app you have on your phone. – (really… how much time can you save on this one???)
Now, if you are an average human being, by putting into practice the Simple Living tips of the list above, you’d get back between 30 and 40 hours of time per week.
That’s the equivalent of the time you spend at work…
Let this sink in your mind.
…and we even didn’t start to cut on material possessions.
Cutting on stuff
My general rule for Simple Living is this:
Every item you buy asks for some of your time.
Consequently, the less stuff you own, the more time you have available for yourself.
Think about all the stuff you bought and used just once.
It is still there, taking space in your home… space you pay for with your labor.
Sidenote: some folks rent storage space to drop stuff they don’t use.
This is completely nuts… they are literally buying stuff to lock it away in a place they don’t own, ending up to having to pay for having it.
What if you didn’t own that stuff in the first place?
Then you would not need that space.
This applies to any material thing, including your clothes, your house appliances, your furniture.
If you don’t own all that stuff, your house can be smaller… and a smaller house is way less expensive.
A less expensive house require smaller mortgage payments.
Smaller mortgage payments allow you to bring home less money… hence to work less.
Why am I talking about the house now?
Because the house is the biggest material possession you have.
Not only that, it contains all the other things you own.
So it is worth to start your plan for simple living with the end in mind: cutting on the biggest item of all, your home.
When it comes to homes, Avrame’s philosophy is to provide fabulous looking A-frame houses that don’t cost a fortune.
In the end, owning my home free of a mortgage, is what allowed me to live as free as I am today.
That is my dream for you as well.
That is why Avrame exists.
Nowadays, most people are stuck in their routines and they don’t have time to spend doing anything else than what they “have to do” every single day.
Without realizing, they’ve become prisoners of their own choices.
Whatever is the lifestyle you are living today, that’s the result of your own choices. If you are unhappy with it, it just means you made less than optimal choices somewhere along the road.
People tend to think things “happen” to them.
While this is partially true, we are in full control of how we respond to any event that happens to us. This means we always maintain a certain degree of control (and responsibility) for our situation.
I find this empowering.
The good news is that you created this lifestyle and you can change it.
You created your hamsterwheel and, if you want, you can bring it to a stop and step out of it.
Start by stopping buying stuff and by cutting down on the consumption of all the things that use your time.
As you own less and less stuff, you’ll be able to downsize your living space… and that’s where the big saving comes into play.
The ultimate goal is to own your own home mortgage-free and to become able to work less to sustain yourself and your family.
This is not just a dream.
I did it, and so did many others.
You can do it as well, if you really want to.