Today I will discuss Minimalism-Valuing Freedom over Things
This is Dan of Vagabond Awake. I was lucky enough to fail at business the first time when I was 21 years old. If I had not failed at such a young age, I don’t think I would have learned the lessons that made me free today.
Failure has allowed me to visit 65 countries and live all over the world without fear of running out of money. But I am not rich. I am just smart with money, or cheap. I will show you pictures of my travels as I explain.
When I was 20 years old, I owned a Porsche Targa, my own home, and a 25% stake in a real estate partnership that owned 28 homes in what is now called Silicon Valley, California. Today those homes are worth about 2 million dollars each. My share would be worth about $15 million today. But I lost everything when the real estate market crashed in 1981.
I lost everything I owned except the clothes on my back. My car was repossessed and I even lost my personal residence.
A few months later, I moved to Virginia on the east coast to pursue a new business opportunity. But that didn’t go well either. The economy didn’t do too well for a few years. But for some unknown reasons, I was happier in the middle of my financial crash than I was during the height of my previous success.
I didn’t understand why I was happy
At about the same time that it became apparent that the new business was failing, I noticed I was happy. I thought maybe I was happy because I had nothing else to lose. That was certainly part of it. There was literally no weight on my shoulders anymore. All of my bills were past due and I had zero income to pay them … zero. Yet I was happier. Somehow in the middle of my “young success identity” collapsing I felt a freedom and joyfulness that seemed contrary to all the evidence I had in front of me.
Now when I look back, I realize that I was experiencing a form of minimalism. It was minimalism forced upon me by my circumstances. Yet, I felt the freedom and joy of minimalism nonetheless. I was happy because I was valuing freedom over things.
Minimalism is having fewer things
I was happy because my life that had endured almost a year of constant fear of going broke was suddenly calm and silent. I had loaded myself up with responsibilities. I was constantly juggling 10 different things in the air at the same time hoping that everything would not come tumbling down at once. That fear never left me until a few months after everything came tumbling down.
I was free. There was nothing else to lose. Even the creditors had given up on me. I explained that as soon as I could afford to, I would be paying aa bankruptcy attorney. My life became simple.
I decided I would do my best to never create another business that required me to run as fast as I could every day just to keep my head above water.
I started intentionally creating freedom
I started paying cash for used items instead of financing things. I started throwing away everything that I hadn’t used in the last 30 days, except for my ski equipment. I started paying 20% of everything I earned first into my investment account and then living off what was left. I started watching where the money went and figuring out new ways to get the same benefits without paying as much.
The money would never put me on a hamster wheel again. From then on, I would put money on a hamster wheel making me more money.
My pride became about not spending money
Before, someone would look at my shoes and say, “Nice shoes, where did you get them?” I would say, “They were expensive but I loved them so much I had to buy them.” After going broke, I would say, “Thanks, they are normally $80 USD, but I got them at the outlet for $9.” The more I didn’t spend the more I had to invest and grow. My pride became about my investments instead of the things around me. The money would make me free one day. Things were a noose around my neck delaying my freedom.
You know how when you go to the bar or dinner with friends, some people will want to pick up the check for everyone around them? I no longer saw picking up the check as a sign of power. I began to see it as a sign of weakness. People are trying to prove their worth to others by playing big. I stay away from those testosterone-driven environments. I fly low under the radar now. I rather invite good friends over to my humble house and make them a nice dinner.
I enjoyed the power of choice
I noticed that by monitoring and spending less, I was getting more free time. Since I no longer had a car payment, or credit card payments, or large mortgage payments, I had more money to invest in early retirement and travel. I had choices that nobody else had. By giving up on things that I didn’t need or want now, and focusing on how I was giving myself more choices later, I became convinced I was on the right path. Before I left the USA in 2007, I was even able to go on many trips that international trips that very few people were able to do because they were living on the edge of their income. The choices growing every year for me by practicing minimalism was empowering me. Minimalism-Valuing Freedom over Things-gave me choices. It put me in charge of my life again.
I began to trust myself more
When I was trying to keep up with the Jones’ it didn’t really feel like me anymore. But after driving clean old cars for a few decades while watching my investments grow, it made me realize that I was one of the smartest people I knew. I am not sure I would have learned that had I not gone broke in my early twenties. I no longer judged myself by the external views of others. It was my internal view of life that had led me down a path that felt right for me.
Anyone can do this
There is nothing special about me. Anybody that wants can do what I have done. The one book that helped me with the money part of this was called, “The Richest Man from Babylon,” by George Clason. If you just follow what the book teaches about money and you add minimalism to your way of thinking, you will be living a life of freedom like me someday.
I learned about the book from a school teacher that retired at age 50. Can you imagine? How could a schoolteacher earn enough to retire early, right? I bought and read the book and it set me free. The book and my mindset about minimalism after going broke has set me free. By learning minimalism-Valuing Freedom over Things-I am more in charge of my destiny.
Also, if you would like to learn how I fired my boss and have traveled the world for 13 years, grab a free copy of my book here, “How I Fired My Boss and Traveled the World for 13 Years.”
Please like, comment, or subscribe if you have enjoyed this information. Thanks, Dan