The top 10 advantages of low-rent living

Trap

One of the biggest threats to happiness at work is having too many fixed expenses at home. When you’re completely dependent on bringing home a pay check (or two!) every single month, you’re vulnerable. If work turns out to be unbearable you can’t simply up and leave and take three months without income.

I’ve chosen low-rent living for myself. At first it was through accident rather than planning but now I would never live any other way. Read on to see how it has made me happy at work – and in life.

Some years ago, my wonderful girlfriend Patricia and I were hunting for a new place to live in Copenhagen. We were living in her small, 1-bedroom apartment and we really longed for more space, more rooms and a bigger kitchen. Homes are getting ludicrously expensive in all European capitals including Copenhagen, so we went through a process that is common to many people hunting for a new home:

  1. We started looking at places within our budget that we could easily afford.
  2. But those places weren’t really cool so we started looking at more and more expensive places
  3. Untill we’d reached our threshold of pain and were only considering the most expensive places we could conceivably afford

We actually submitted bids on two different (expensive) homes and narrowly lost out in each case to other bidders. Back then we were devastated – we really had our minds set on those two places. Today we’re incredibly relieved that it never came through. We’re still living in Patricia’s apartment which costs us next to nothing and looking back I can see how much of an advantage that has been for the both of us. Obviously this applies not only to your mortgage or rent but to all fixed expenses. Rent/mortgage just happens to be the largest fixed expense most of us have.

Leaving lots of breathing room in my economy has brought me some huge advantages:

1: Freedom to leave a bad job
When a job doesn’t make me happy, I can quit without worrying about the money. I’ve done it once, Patricia twice. It’s not that we’ve quit at the fist sign of trouble – we have always tried to make it work. But when we’ve realized that a particular job wasn’t going to make us happy, we’ve had the freedom to say sayonara without first finding a new job.

2: Freedom to take a chance
In the startup I’ve been running the past three years I’ve been able to take some chances and focus more on building a happy, sustainable business than on bringing home a big pay-check every month. It has allowed the business to grow organically which has paid off immensely now that the business is up and running.

3: Freedom to do what I enjoy
I can decide to do stuff that lets me learn, meet interesting people or plain have fun but may not make any money here and now. This is a huge boon to me and my business in the long run because it means that I’m constantly developing and learning.

4: Freedom to do what’s right
I can do what’s right rather than what makes me more money. I can decide to work for free for a company that really needs me, but can’t afford me. I can give stuff away if I think people need it. I can set a high ethical standard and not need to worry about having to compromise it for profit.

5: Freedom to work less hours
There’s no pressure on me to work 50, 60 or 80 hours a week. I can if I want to and sometimes I do and if I’d rather work 20 hours one week I can do that. I’ve once and for all left The Cult of Overwork.

6: Freedom to say no to some customers
Some customers just aren’t right for your business. The chemistry is wrong, their needs dont’ match your solutions or they’re just too much trouble. I have the freedom to say no to some customers and yes to the best customers.

All of the above really comes down to short-term vs. long-term planning. Economic freedom let’s you invest in your future by doing things now that make less money, but will eventually make you more.

7: Peace of mind
I spend almost zero time and energy worrying about money – it’s just not an issue. I also don’t need to worry whether the interest rates go up or down half a point. Or whether there really is a housing bubble and house prices are about to start falling. That’s a huge relief and gives me more time and energy for business and life.

8: Focus on what really matters
When I’m not concerned with a bigger home, bigger car or bigger TV I focus on what really matters. My girlfriend, family, friends, business, writing, networking, learning, reading, etc… I waste no time keeping up with the Joneses.

9: Simple living
Living in a small appartment has taught us to own only the things we really need. We’ve been getting really good at throwing or giving away clothes, linens, kitchenware, furniture, knick-knacks etc. that we don’t use regularly. And this is a huge relief because you can form a huge attachment to the things you own and paring them down to only the things you really need teaches you to let go of that. There’s a mental relief and freedom that comes from that. Less stuff in your home = less stuff on your mind.

10: More money for fun stuff
When less money goes into the stuff I own, there’s more money for the stuff I do. Like snowboarding, conferences, travelling and more.

I want to make two things very clear:
1: This is not about being unambitious at work or setting small business goals. I can assure you that my aspirations are as big as the next person’s. It’s about realizing that economic wiggle room frees you to do things and take chances that lead to more happiness and therefore to great results in your work life and your private life.

2: I’m not knocking anybody else’s lifestyle and financial decisions. This is simply an observation of something that I discovered mostly by accident but which works incredibly well for me. Maybe you would be terribly miserable living in a small appartment instead of a huge house.

But I know that many people feel trapped in jobs they don’t like because their financial situation is precarious and leaves them no wiggle room. If that’s the case for you maybe you should consider trying the low-rent life and granting yourself some financial freedom. It’s a huge step towards more happiness at work and in life.

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126 thoughts on “The top 10 advantages of low-rent living”

  1. This post fell like a glove to me!
    These ideas is much like I long inside my mind.
    Only in mind for now, but it’s a great beginning, I guess.

  2. A good post; I only wish that more people could realise, as you have, that the more ‘stuff’ you have, the less freedom you have. It’s a direct correlation. ‘Stuff’ has to be looked after…and replaced…and insured…and kept clean…and gets in the way…and provides an incentive to thieves, so it requires security measures…and often uses energy, which costs you even more…it’s nothing less than a gigantic millstone around your neck, dragging you down and wasting your time until one day you find you’re dying and have never really lived. Tell everybody you know not to do it!

    Welcome to the land of the truly free. :)

  3. Maybe that works in Copenhagen, but in a place like NYC, living in a low rent neighborhood comes with a significant violent crime risk.

  4. I have a similar philosophy but I have to remind myself about it occasionally – I try to keep the relationship between me and my stuff clear… I own the stuff, it doesn’t own me. Singer/songwriter Mac McAnally said it nicely in his song “Meanwhile”…

    “A lot of things are different than they seem
    Theres a lot of ways to wind up chasing someone elses dream
    Full speed ahead and flying blind
    Sometimes the things you love get left behind

    I used to think I wanted everything
    I never gave much thought to all the trouble that might bring
    You end up counting money all day long
    And all that wealth needs watching when youre gone

    And meanwhile summer turns to fall
    Roses bloom and fade
    Life goes on you can measure it all
    By the difference that it made”

  5. “May I live simply so others may simply live” -Ghandi

    Or, in my own words and example:

    Some Say That I Am Cheap

    I live on common ground
    Though could afford to dwell among the elite
    vacations in modest quarters
    Yet could enjoy extravagant villas
    Some say that I am cheap

    The finest cars can grace my garage
    Wines of the finest vintage could tumble across lips
    Young women beyond number
    could pass before my threshold
    All these things I am told that I should desire
    Am I cheap or is it that I can’t hear

    Things pass
    Decaying hubris to soil
    Hands wither in search of lotion
    Unnecessarily exposed to winter’s harsh touch

    I spend my money to purchase time
    Time to spend alone
    To conjure upon snails and window pots
    The next time we meet
    You will find out what they have told me
    What value do you bring to me
    Tell me now who is cheap

  6. Thanks for all the great comments everybody!

    Leandro, JM, Angel, Robert Winter: Thanks! :o)

    dalroth5: Yep! When we started getting rod of the stuff that wouldn’t fit in the small apartment it was difficult. But with a little practice it becomes really liberating.

    NooYorker: Good point. In some places in cheap living is very, vey difficult. Copenhagen is getting ridiculous, but at least it ain’t New York yet.

    Chris White: Mac hits it right on the head. Thanks!

  7. I have lived like this across the UK for the past 10 years, and love it.

    The freedom of being able to change is amazing, like you say you don’t have to pack up and leave a job on a whim.
    Its the choice that is liberating.

    Good on you, and all the best for the future.

  8. living in the subs of the bay area can be really expensive (like anywhere in the bay is cheap). most of my friends and co-workers who rent, spend quite a bit of money to live in gated communities or places with nice apperances and amnemities. my girlfriend and i live in two bedroom apartment for half the price of what most people are paying. its not as nice by all means. it could use some paint and some better landscaping. our pool isnt resort standards. we only have one covered parking spot. but i guess it doesnt matter, as we find we have more money to spend on getting away from the palce, while others are constantly saying, ‘eh, can afford it this weekend.’

    great post. i can fully relate.

  9. I have a different take on that. I think that one should spend according to his/her income. If you have loads of cash at your disposal, live a life of a king. The whole money game is somewhat weird. Nobody can be sure when he/she would get lucky with money. Be ambitious, be passionate about your job, let money come by itself, and once you have it, spend it to fulfil your constructive desires. I dont see anything wrong with having a desire of living in a big penthouse.

    If the money goes, you shift to your old lifestyle. Actually shifting to your old lyfestyle would be a difficult thing. But I believe its giving worth a shot. At least at the end of your life you wouldnt have any regrets that there were some things that you wanted to do/have and you couldnt.

    Having said that, it all depends on the desires you have. Snowboarding for someone, flying a plane for someone else, or living in a penthouse for another. Different strokes for different folks.

    That was my 2 cents:)

  10. You’ve got a pretty good blog Alexander.

    Scott – I hope you don’t think this is rude, but ‘Ghandi’ is actually spelt Gandhi.

  11. A number of years ago, when I moved to London, I got rid of nearly everything I owned. I was able to fit everything into 2 boxes. One move in London was made in the back of a black cab…only 2 trips. I now rent inexpensive apartments, typically on a month to month basis. This gives me the ultimate flexibility to change direction in life and business whenever I want. In a blog entry, I wrote about the correlation between money and happiness. http://www.goalfree.com/?p=242

  12. Hi, another take on this.. I did the opposite, I selected a spacious new, 2 bdrm/2bath loft apt, with the following in mind… fit in a lot of ppl comfortably. I selected the nicest apt that ppl would want to live in, great downtown location.. thus securing demand for this space.
    So now I’ve got 1 guy in the living room (gravyeard shift), one guy in the loft space (travles a lot), and one guy in the bedroom downstairs. This has reduced my rent substantially (70% reduction!), and I still have a large spacious master and clean house, and great lifestyle.
    Use Craigslist as your resource to find the right roomies.. you’d be surprised, there’s lot of ppl willing to pay a little less rent for say a living room or partitioned loft space, its a win-win for everyone. Just make sure you do you background check, etc.

  13. Well DUH of course your going to live in the cheapest place that you can afford. Theres not even any numbers in this “article”. whats low rent? $250 and you have to share the toillete? $650 with no roomamtes? a small apt in the city for 800$?

    why dont you write your next article on “spend less than what you earn”. like these are essential life skills that everyone should know. who wants to pay more rent then they have to? well its a tradeoff. i hate these no content obvious blog posts damnit!!!!

  14. No, this is a fantastic post. In North America we only see a glimpse of what a low property or frugal lifestyle could give us. Most people, sometimes myself included, eill buy what ever they can afford at all times and have to continually make more to stay above water..

    If this was Digg, I would Digg the article

  15. This is what used to be considered common sense. Unfortuneately, this kind of common sense has mostly been forgotten, especially in the US where the mantra for the past few years has been “Buy the biggest house you can possibly afford”. It has put a lot of people in a huge amount of debt such that you need two people working full time making good money to barely afford the lifestyle (and then they’re not saving anything). If one person loses a job or some other unexpected financial event occurs, it’s pretty much over.

  16. “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can let alone.”

    “Our life is frittered away by detail….Simplify simplify simplify!”

    — Thoreau

    Everything old is new again :-)

  17. @ NooYorker

    I hear ya. Moved from London to NYC and set up home in a basement studio in Williamsburg, Brkln. When the landlord put my rent up to $1,400 I just thought this is crazy. I’m going to be living to work! Madness!

    So I bit the bullet moved to the less trendy Grand/Union part of Wburg and flatshared. As a grown man I hated the idea but my roomates are never there and when they are they are sweet and considerate.

    The area is a little down at heel but close to the Lorimer stop, a few decent bars and places to eat.

    My room is okay and I have a roof to sit on and watch the Empire State in the sunset all for $680!

    Great post and I agree – I never even think about rent day (I used to dread it) and spend the extra dough on things to make life more fun and interesting…even managed to open a savings account!

    Downsizing is the way forward!

  18. It’s called “living within your means” and it’s a shame that everyone doesn’t do this. You don’t have to rent. You simply have to determine what is a value to you and come up with a plan. For me it was homeownership so that I have the additional equity biulding up over the years as well as the ability to borrow money against my home for an emergency.

  19. Good article. I do not understand the logic of two people living in a space with more than two rooms, or even one person living in a space with more than one room.

    After all, if a couple lives in a three-room apartment, then they could never use the space to it’s full capacity, at most they could get to 66%, and most of the time it would only be 1/3rd utilized. And a single person could never be in more than one room simultaneously, of course, so why have more than one room?

    I’ve tried to convince my wife of this but she doesn’t seem to go for it. :)

  20. Parker: That only applies if the one or two rooms are absolutely gigantic. Not everywhere is so open-plan. In my house I need a separate office as the living room (or bedroom) is not big enough :-( If we could all live in giant open-plan lofts it’d be nice though ;-)

  21. @Parker: That’s too simple a view. “Using a space” only seems to involve physically being in it for you. But what about storage? Or specific room uses?
    Let’s say you have a primarily at-home job (like say, a freelance designer). I wouldn’t want my office in my bedroom, it detracts from being able to just put away the work and go to sleep. On the other hand, an office in the living room doesn’t work either, when you have to get work done and your spouse is entertaining guests or just watching TV.

    Sure you can mix stuff up… I mean, when you’re a college student your dorm room basically IS all three. But let’s face it, we never got any work done in our dorm rooms, did we :)

  22. Peter, Guy: yes, I admit my idea about room capacity is a bit simplistic. But sometimes its fun to think about taking efficiency to ridiculous extremes. Its similar to how a lot of US households have 2 licensed drivers but 3 or more cars (one for commuting to work, one for trips to Wal-Mart, and one for showing off). How many cars can they possibly drive at once? I wonder if this is just something that we SUV-loving Americans do, for some reason I can’t imagine other societies being so silly in this regard.

  23. Hi I am in the US Peace Corps volunteer program serving in the jungles of Guatemala. I live in a simple wooden cabin with a latrin, one light bulb and a computer. I have no kitchen, sink, running water nor fridge. I totally agree with you, as this has the biggest lesson from my experience, we can live so much happier with less. With the money that I save, I can travel the world which is my passion and help people which ultimately make me happier by giving meaning to life.

    One extension which is not mention to your writing, is that a larger house is not just rent or mortgage, but more furniture, more maintenance, more taxes, more ..more more… and with all the above not only does it require more time at work to earn the money to sustain it but also more time investing in upkeeping in cleaning, organizing, maintanance.. More is more and less is more..! great article.

  24. I am 61 with terminal cancer. I have lived very much within my means and thus have been able to have a great degree of autonomy in my life. Thank goodness since it will soon be over.

  25. I’ve been doing the same thing for almost 3 years now.

    Left Verizon, Inc., here in New Jersey, worked a gig last year for another company which paid for me to see Europe for most of last year (AWESOME!) and I convinced my wife to sell our home last year as well, at the peak, to which we have rented since that time and saved $$$THOUSANDS$$$.

    People who once thought we were crazy are now envious and all we ever hear is about other people’s debt. We have NONE and have made money in the commodities market, MORE than we could have ever by putting it into a bank or another home.

    Congradulations!

  26. Great post, Alex. My top budget priority each month is to pay off several hundred dollars worth of debt. When I get that paid off, I intend to buy a few acres of land far enough out in the country to be cheap, and put a used trailer on it. The bargaining power of labor would be enormously improved if most workers knew they could survive unemployment if necessary. There’s nothing that equalizes things between you and the boss like several thousand $$ of “fuck you” money in the bank.

  27. I’m a roommate in $1m home 92660. NW$20m. Frugal! Total living costs under $1k/month. Travel 6-10 months/year!
    Been 2 over 65 countries. Jet skiied 7 countries in 1 year 13k miles(North America), motorcycled 3 countries 33,000 miles 1yr. Average Gross profit is 1117% last 190 real estate deals with a 22 month avg. hold. =50%/mo/Gross. No Brag, Just Fact! But most of all I don’t smoke, drink, do drugs, have STDs and I’m happy with no debt & can buy any investment in real estate with CASH.

    John Jason Chun RETIRED LANDLORD-PARALEGAL
    XRealtor XStockBroker XInsurance XTaxMan
    Box 7249 Newport Beach CA 92658
    Box 5301 Berkeley Ca 94705
    Box 30635 Laughlin Nv 89028
    Cell 888-532-7999 Fax 888-595-6299
    20 minute Powerpoint Slide show Resume!!
    http://spaces.msn.com/members/repo4sale/
    http://www.johnjasonchun.com

  28. Hm… one of the advantages of living alone… I try to spend A LOT, but it seems that always have money on my bank account in the end of the month :)

    Anyway, good read, as always. Go Alex Go!

  29. I always thought I’d grow up, go to college, get a car, house.. maybe some kids and pets. Well here I am living what most consider the American Dream. Dream? I don’t think so .. not mine, perhaps someone else’s. I am the most miserable I have ever been. I hate having to clean extra bathrooms!! I once was poor enough that I had to get food at the salvation army and live out of a car. I have to say the misery with all the bills and the upkeep and the cleaning and the crap to keep simplifying is just as miserable as being homeless. There is always so much in my head that there isn’t any room for the simple pleasures in life anymore! It is pretty bad when you sit back and have all this stuff and aren’t even thankful for it. Money does matter, but the real key to happiness is knowing how not to spend it!! Thanks for the advice! We are preparing to sell our home and start doing what really matters! Living our own dream and not the so called American dream.

  30. I know people at work who are working 60-hour weeks and have mortgage payments, but constantly shop around the Internet for the new big-screen TV or convertible they’re dying to have. Their mortgage is probably almost nothing down with a 40-year term–and any equity they miraculously manage to accumulate will be cased out at Ditech for some fancy consumer goods. Of course, they’re probably a month’s pay away from getting thrown out of that McMansion, so they’d better pray to God that everything goes absolutely perfectly in their lives and they’re always “blessed” with those 60-hr weeks.

    Slavery.

  31. I cannot believe this! My wife and I are sitting here reading this and amazed how this seems to be ME writing this article! I live in Charleston, SC. In an Apartment townhome 1.4 miles from my work. Everything about the housing purchases you almost made were identical to ours. Everything about my business, free time and everything else is the same! wow…

    This guy is RIGHT…rock on

  32. Thanks again for all the great comments and the added perspective on living below your means.

    Am I the only one who sees more and more people realize this and leave the notion that more stuff and a bigger home to lock it up in is a path to happiness?

    Scott: Thanks – those are words to live by.

    Harry: I like your approach. Spend what you have, then switch to a simpler lifestyle when it’s gone is a great way to rid detach from the need to attain a specific (expensive) lifestyle.

    mixonic: “One simplify would have sufficed” – Walt Whitman :o)

    Ming: You’re right it’s not just more. It’s more more!

    Dan: I can say nothing except offer my deepest condolences!

    Kevin, Kristina: The american nightmare, huh?

    Keith: Hey, transatlantic synchronicity. Great to hear t works for you too!

  33. I am there as well – living in a small but affordable place – and being happy with it :-) But unfortunately most people can’t get a cheap apartment here in Copenhagen – and moving around from one sublet to another is probably ok for a couple of years but I can understand it when people give up and buy something too expensive to get out of that trap/trip from place to place.

  34. I love reading this site! I just bought a $280 round trip ticket back to Waikiki (cheap/frugal). 2 weeks in Waikiki/Hawaii surfing, boogie board, fishing, diving, sunning, eating, drinking, riding an AirCon bus all over the island for $2(cheap) with friendly non-violent people. Not like Los Angeles (body & head gear on the bus) with pepper spray & medical mask (diseases). Filth 2 the max! The hostels in Waikiki are less than $17/night with party schedule from 8am to 5am! Or the other mellow hostels by the university/waikiki/NorthShore that don’t go bonkers all the time!. My friends go nuts when I spend most of my time traveling, spending REC.$ 4 investment research & burning cell minutes! One thing when you rent cheap. You realize the DEBT-Club is really not a happy gang of people! They live on stress and are “bitchie/bitchey/bitchy” all the time I’m traveling. My no-debt friends say stop “rubbing salt in their cuts”….oh well!
    250 photos of me all over the world (65 countries) here:
    http://spaces.msn.com/members/repo4sale/
    1 major tip for all international travelers:
    A=Register at the Local American Embassy & get the Attorney Approved 4 Americans List (free list of English Speaking American Educated Attorneys) that have to treat Americans well or they get removed! (Very Good list).
    B=Make appointments at 11am every day with 1 type of “special field” attorney that “perks your mind”… 1 hour is free.
    C=GO SEE THE ATTORNEY, and bring an American gift (cheap T shirt, etc.)
    D=Get a free 1 hour education on that Countries laws!
    E=OFFER A FREE LUNCH, flatter the Attorney! Talk 15% only, Listen 85%!!
    F=LEARN 2 HOURS FREE if you want.
    G=With this method of Touring, I have earned a PhD in Law!
    H=Did this in almost 35 countries!
    Conclusion???? USA IS THE BEST FOR ALL REASONS! We are the BEST in=
    Business, Family laws, Immigration, Civil rights, freedom, Everything!
    It’s fun being in a different country for 1-2 weeks, but it get’s booooring & sometimes dangerous. Like Sept-Oct2005 in Paris cheering on the young unemployed college grad Muslum males protest by burning 11,000 cars! No guns like Los Angeles or USA, so they went nuts burning up to 600 cars in 1 night! Was like Los Angeles and Chicago Riots with cops protecting the protesters not the property! “French are different”…. very different! Or like in Shanghai (1 year gold Chinese visa/in/out unlimited visa). This was my 4th visit to China. Was ready 2 put some big money$$ in Shanghai. But the economy is weak, like bamboo, the people are “primitive”, water dirty, sewer system (?duh? wher is it), air so dirty I had to take Advil at 10am every day, and the soot on your skin could be scraped off under your nales every day at 5pm. The construction is D grade as in Dangerous! The spitting occurs day/night/outside/inside building/female/male! Yeeeeehaa! Where was my “mask”… And they read every email and I got “black balled” or “86” from every internet cafe and my wifi was blocked by the Chinese govt. Complained 2 the US embassy! They said too bad, it happens to about 50% of all Americans because they email bad stuff! Wow, NSA for verbal bad words in China is very 100% efficient. I was kicked out of internet cafes 3 times!!! Oh well, rattling on, enjoy the 250 photos!!
    See you on the waves in Waikiki or the Convertible in Newport Beach 2 Malibu Pacific Coast Hwy #1 Drive!

  35. I’m currently paying $950 for a decent sized studio in the Los Angeles area. I hate, hate, hate, hate this. And it’s hardly top of the line housing or anything. Even worse is that I’ve heard some economic predictions that rents may increase to bring them more in line with housing costs!!! Heaven help us!

    Unfortunately I am finding the options for saving money in California to be harsh, and the options of saving money by leaving California to be plentiful.

  36. I figured this out years ago, have always lived below my means housing-wise, and now solved the problem of “needing more space” by moving from the inlaw apt to the main house … and finding a (series of) housemates to occupy the attic, and pay just enough to make the monthly nut about 30-35% of what I bring in, from part-time online writing and editing. Still a few things that I could stand to have, but am pretty happy most of the way, marking my own hours on my terms.

  37. “giving away clothes”

    Yeah, I’ve been doing that because I had not enough room in my closets. I felt very nice when I donated a large bag full of old clothes to a neighbourhood community. I also donated an old Palm PDA and a digital camera (this one was so old that didn’t have LCD display). In short, it makes me feel good…

  38. so true.
    I used to subscribe to that philosophy, travelled the world and lived out of 2 suitcases.
    Then along came my daughter and all the extra baggage – which I’d not miss out for on the world – but it does lead to a review of the priorities.
    We’ve since settled (though moved 4 times in the last 5 years including to a different country) by keeping the minimal “stuff” approach
    It’s hard to get into the habbit, but once you’re there it’s a good feeling

  39. I am glad to see that economic minimalism is growing in popularity.

    Shameless plug:

    http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/Economic_minimalism

    I hope the practice grows, and I hope at some point the movement includes not just
    the downshifters we all love, but also pre-career and non-career adults with _intelligent_
    strategies for bypassing the economic maximalism (i.e. “career”) game in the first place.

    The golfomercials of brokerage firms these days are of course
    jumping on the baby-boomers-as-retirees-NOT bandwagon in a way I
    can only imagine most chronological “boomers” must find grating in
    the extreme. The punch line (and presumably the cautionary tale
    for us post-boomers) seems to be that membership in the high-end professions,
    combined with prudent saving (i.e. “wealth management”), is
    how one pays one’s dues to become eligible for such
    “altruistic” callings as “teaching.”

  40. How tedious. All your advantages are the same thing — you’ve traded real estate for less money. Could have made a much shorter post.

  41. I share a 5br 5bath home valued at about $800k 3car garage & 1 lemo to share, 4000sqft. 1 outdoor & 1 indoor Jacuzzi! 15 minutes from the beach in Southern California! $775/month + utilities! 2 Tvs per room, I have a 2bedroom SUITE. This home would cost me about $6-7k/month if I purchased it. But the investment returns would be “negative per year”. So, while living “frugalllllyyyyyy” I visited 66 countries backpacking, traveling 6-10 months year, sold 192 properties (my own deals), motorcycled (3bikes) 3 countries 33k miles, jet skied 6 countries 14,000 miles (gps) and did my “investments” via email and internet. All this in the last 8 years. On my 4th passport, 4th has only about 4 pages left 2 fill. Learned USA is the best and we better be nice 2 USA and APPRECIATE IT AND KISS THE GROUND. Liberals! you will turn conservative after 5-10 countries! Oh, have graph of GOVT. TAX BITE FOR THE TOP 48 ECONOMIC POWERS! USA IS 6TH CHEAPEST COUNTRY TO LIVE IN! YUP 6th CHEAPEST!!! Cheaper is the Oil Countries and 1-2 African Jungles! I mix with the Los Angeles & Orange County Citizens. Most are just making it, or don’t want to “disclose” debt! Most live ATM-Home Equity style. I’m a frequent Swap meet participant & 24hr Fitness Fanatic! 90% of the time I’m driving around in a convertible sports car that “burns rubber” like a motorcycle and has a SUPER HEATER that permits me to drive TOPLESS in 40 degree weather, sometimes all the way to the mountains 2 Snowboard on a week day! Women that show “cash poor behavior” or as we say “18% MORTGAGE PERSONALITY” I stay away. I meet some of the hottest gals at the Orange County Swap meet, where it’s more like an “UPPER CLASS SWAP MEET”… (:-) Oh, I do credit checks, background checks, and blood checks, also “State & Fed” checks if the gal looks like a winner but something is “fishy”… $9, $50, $100 fees are worth it to avoid problems! Examples: 3 dui convictions! 34 negatives on credit report, 2 open warrants, not divorced as stated, 1-3 bankruptcies, Herpes, family with many felons, 2-3 jobs per year type, AA, drug convictions! Finding Frugal Educated Normal Honest Funny Employed Sober Smart Gals are tough in California (37 million). Hey, I’ll pay you $10,000 if your introduction lasts 6 months with me! and $15,000 if we get hitched. If she gives me a child, I’ll pay you a fee to $10,000 each! With 2 kids your fees could exceed $45,000. Prenuptial contact a requirement with age 25-35 & no luggage with the qualities above. Asian/White desired. My file is on match dot come Name EzAloha and on Yahoo.com it’s EzAloha or Repo4sale. Anyway, I’m tired of rambling. Everyone have a safe New Year! and prosper in 2007. Yours truly, http://www.johnjasonchun.com

  42. Oh, forgot to tell you the Homeland Security is 100% efficient! Each of us has a state department file. My file is about 7-8 computer pages! Because of this, and the amount of travel, I have had the “super special pleasure” of being in handcuffs 3 times in the last 4 years. Niagara Falls, Los Angels, New York! Each time it’s because I have extensive travel records. Almost in New Mexico and Vancouver too! Yup, the Canadians have access to the USA computers! The usual questions for a “PERSON OF INTEREST” that travels a lot is:
    1-Why do you travel so much? Answer: I’m semi-retired Single Guy.
    2-Where do you get your money? Answer: Landlord-Realtor-Paralegal LA!
    3-Why do you travel with only a backpack? Answer:I’m cheap & travel alone!
    4-Why do you visit so many countries? Answer: I want to see the world!
    5-Can you verify the answers above? Yes, google REPO4SALE! 2500 hits!
    6-Will you submit to a search? Yes, I avoid drugs drinking smoking & STD!
    7-Do you have any references? Yes, on my cell phone I have many govt. #s.

    1 HOT TIP FROM AN X-FED. (don’t know what branch). Every time you email, fly, train, bust, call, atm, charge, visa, master card, any electronic transaction, sometimes postage, UPS, FedEx, Dhl, etc. this is considered a “country visit”. I have been through UK about 12x, Japan about 7x, Hong Kong 5x, Canada 10x, Mexico 20x, Brussels 4x, France 4x, etc. etc. 66 countries, each 1-20 times! Can you imagine what my “STATE COMPUTER FILE LOOKS LIKE”…. Almost like a printout from “THE DEPARTURE SCREEN”.

    2ND TIP: If you have been to 10-20 countries or more. Avoid the NEW CUSTOMS AGENTS! These new guys/gals tend to PRESS THE PANIC BUTTON FAST! They don’t like making mistakes, and I understand and support them but I’m a “unique case”. Oh Well, Asian Blond, 66 counties, could be a problem! Read my other post above! I need female referrals: Good ones in California, Hawaii, Arizona, Oregon, Canada, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Washington. Call me if you have a friend or “person of interest” toll free 888-532-7999. Interview me and invest 1-5minutes @ my cost. You could make $10-25-35-45k with a good referral. Again, my profile is at:
    http://www.johnjasonchun.com and match.com name ezaloha!

  43. How to be smarter than 99% of the Population! Read 20,000 pages a year! Or about 100 pages a working day! My sources are News/blogs/reports, etc. from GOOGLE, YAHOO, AOL, ETC. ETC. EMAILED 2 MY MAILBOX. One of the best sources for real estate is http://www.patrick.net But I get many email articles from .com .gov .net .uk and many other dot etcs.

  44. I think this is such a great idea. My question, however, is how do you find low rental places that are in neighborhoods good enough for a single early 20s female to feel safe? I’ve looked at craigslist and can’t get many responses (probably because I’m moving from another state), rent.com, and apartments.com. One thing I have learned is that a rental place owned by an individual owner (rather than an apartment complex) tends to be kept up better, and if anything goes wrong (internet stops working, AC unit breaks, etc.) response (and repair) from the owner tends to be quick, friendly, and hassle-free. I even lived in a place where after the 1-yr lease was up, my rent didn’t increase.

  45. I used to owe quite a lot on money, imprudently spent on things I bought on credit. After being partnered in 1998, I took out a loan, repaid all the credit card debt, and haven’t run a balance since. I put away a good portion of my salary toward my pension, also save a bit in a savings account, and live in a relatively low rent flat here in the centre of high-rent London.

    So when two years ago or more my then boss took me into a meeting room and said, “We may have to make you redundant.” he was shocked when I said, “Hey, no problems! That’s fantastic news. Thanks.” I spent a year and a half as a consultant for the company, not making as much money but working when I wanted to. At the same time I conducted software testing training courses that I enjoyed quite a bit, travelled some, and never went without. Every time I saw my old boss I thanked him profusely for the opportunity he gave me to have a wonderful time once I was set free. He was totally confused and very unsettled about it. I expect he may be one of those people who doesn’t understand what makes work satisfying and gives meaning to people’s lives.

  46. A few benefits from the “HIGH DEBT” pople:
    1=Got 2 newer Fujitsu 17″ Notebooks from a Co going BK. $500 each! http://www.fujitsu.com said these sold for $2500 about 1 year ago!
    2=Got a $100 round trip ticket(California 2 Hawaii) last minute fly out from a Teacher doing 3 jobs to pay a big mortgage!
    3=Will try to make it to Hawaii and Mexico about 10 times this 2007! Many cheap tickets 2 Hawaii from California under $200! Tired and burned out on International Travel!
    4=Land Auctions getting popular! Just listed about 12 land deals! 5=Sunday I will be picking up a $6000 New Honda Xr650L Dual Sport motorcycle for $3500(350miles). The guy is 1 month late on his mortgage payment, lost his job and his wife is working part time!
    6=I FEEL LIKE IT’S GETTING TO THE POINT OF SEMI CRISIS FOR THE HOME OWNERS OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA! Prices going down now!
    7=Everyone! Read the articles from http://www.patrick.net
    8=The articles will make you smarter than 99% of the public!!
    9=Any Single Gals out there just a FRUGAL? 25-35? check out my home page for a small bio, then check out the links for 300 photos!

  47. Pingback: Financial Hack
  48. As a young (25 years old) medical student one learns to either live like you want to (and pay for it down the line; I will be $225,000 in debt when I am finished, mostly school/book costs which I cut down as much as possible; F’ US medical education it is a for profit industry!) or cut corners. I myself am an avid cyclist and musician. What does this mean? Well, it means learning to live on a $16,000 (USD) budget while trying to do what I want, which is bike when I want, afford the musical equipment/software I want, travel when I want, and go out when I want to (2-4 times/week). This seems like asking a lot, but it is not. I live in an old (but perfect condition) apt. on a not so perfect part of town. LOW RENT, very low. I have ~1000 sq. ft. of living with 7 bikes, a music studio, and room to study, plus storage and room for a washer and dryer. I travel anytime that time permits (from school; every few weeks-months). I keep my heating and general utilities low. I grocery shop for at least 2/3 of my meals, mostly vegetarian (some chicken), although I am an avid meat-eater I have learned that one can consume this a few times a week (no more) and be in shape, healthy (Americans such as myself are accustomed to eating way toooooooo much meat, not preaching), and happy. This allows me to effectively have my cake, and eat it too. My place is very cool ( I can send pics if you want), low budget decorations, and I go out any night I want with little worry about running out of money. Lastly I can afford to travel to conferences for school interests or go on random excursions with friends who aren’t as tied down scholastically as I am. My life is good. It wasn’t always.

    Key point. Check your priorities. Are you living for tomorrow on today’s budget? Are you going to live where you are for the rest of your life? Can you do the things you want? Do NOT use credit cards beyond what you can pay for in a month or two (max). I had this trouble in undergrad, and it took a full year of work between med school and the former to rid myself of this burden. DEBT FREE = FREEDOM. You may not have the $5,000 you don’t really have, but you don’t really have it, so who cares. Fun is not what you have, it is what you do or what you work towards.

    D

  49. so true, im currently providing the money for my partner and I while she finishes the last 18 months of her degree. I found myself wanting to quit and start a degree full time myself, but that would leave us with a big dent in our earnings which wouldn’t allow us to cover the rent and expenses.

    I wish now that I had us living in a sharehouse or something more modest (though on a charity employees income it’s still pretty modest) so that we had the room to both be learning in such a way.

  50. I was living alone until two year ago. Just like you say… in fact, I stoped with working and I’ve studied for three years Philosophy. Just working as a civil engineer the summers, and the money I saved before, because I’ve never spend too much… just good books, some beers etc.

    Now I’m living with my girl friend and my new born son…. everything changed, but that’s other story!

  51. I agree that living with less has its advantages in giving you the most prescious commodity: TIME. Time to NOT HAVE to work, time to travel more, volunteer more, see friends more often and to self-study. Its worth more than any piece of property you could ever own.

    Farrah Ashline

  52. As a student, I am longing for a job and a bigger house but reading your entry (passed on by a friend), I can say that I really really adore student living more than ever now! – In fact, I will continue to do that once I get a job so that I have more economic freedom in other things…!!!

  53. Hi Alex,

    I really appreciate reading this on your blog!

    It’s always been a big thing for me to keep my basic cost of living low! I appreciate you stating very clearly, that this has nothing to do with not being ambitious or setting goals. Especially since I live in the US (originally from Germany via UK) and folks here are masters in overstretching themselves and obviously think I am a weirdo, because I choose to have a cheap car and a cheap apartment, who I share with a friend, who is just that, a friend it is nice to know there are folks like you who think this is a very viable choice. Living below my means is especially hard to consolidate for folks, since I have actually a pretty good professional career and our company’s cleaning guy drives a car that is more expensive by orders of magitude than mine! (Can you tell I’m secretly a little proud of that :-)

    But I have exactly what you are listing:
    – Wiggle room when it comes to my career and life choices,
    – less stuff which I can move with a few friends to a new place in no more than two hours without a truck AND
    – money to spend on toys (I have a fleet of kayaks) and experiences (travel, concerts…) while
    – still saving more money for financial security than most.

    I can’t wait to show your article to folks who either do the same thing OR who just can’t understand why a person my age/social status would rent and even worse share an apartment and on top of that drive a beaten up car! :-)

    Rosie

  54. I say to people ‘Develop the desire to aquire money, not things’.. because then you’ll have the money for the things you need. Most people are just focused on the STUFF, so they buy it, and then worry about paying for it later. No wonder they’re unhappy and loaded down with debt!

  55. I completely concur. I’ve lived in NYC, San Francisco, and Memphis, TN (my hometown), and I’ve lived cheaply in all three. If you are willing to make “sacrifices” (do without the top-of-the-line electronics, pay attention to your surroundings, and choose your enighborhood carefully), you CAN live well within your means, and WELL!!!

    I lived in Harlem, Crown Heights, and Bed-Stuy during the 9+ years I lived in New York, and my apartment was ONCE broken into, and NOTHING was stolen! And I lived ALONE most of those years! I lived in one of the worst neighborhoods in San Francisco, and then in Oakland, and NEVER had a problem! I now live in North Memphis (to give you an idea of what kind of neighborhood it is, my mother bought me a stun gun!), and again, I have only ONCE had a problem – my place was broken into, and they stole my stereo and printer – but left the laptop! My neighbors speak to one another, we look out for each other, and my rent is LESS than one WEEK’S after-tax pay (actually about 3/4 of it – for a 2 bedroom place). My utilities is the other 1/4 – only because I hate the cold! In the summer it’s a LOT less.

    BTW, I’m not some big muscle-bound guy. I’m barely 5’5″, weigh about 150 lbs, and am female. I just learned how to take care of myself and watch my surroundings, and NEVER look or act like a victim. I’ve NEVER been mugged, RARELY threatened (maybe 2-3 times), and in 20 years of living on my own, in some pretty questionable neighborhoods, I’ve had 2 break-ins. I know people in “good” neighborhoods who’ve had more trouble!

  56. No mortgage and less taxes = occupational freedom…

    I lived for about 11 years after college without a mortgage and very reasonable rent payments. It was liberating in the beginning of my career to be able to tell some manager bearding me about doing something that I would not do the aspects of the request that I did not enjoy doing. I’ve written computer software for about 15 years now. Being a creative introvert , I’m not particularly good at customer support…so I simply said I would not and could not do it. They already had 35 out of about 500 employees doing that and adding me as one more didn’t make sense, anyway.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a hard worker (I worked many 16 hour days because I wanted to, not because I had to) and like doing my job on my terms to help a company achieve a goal…especially because there was more qualified people doing the extraneous stuff I was being asked to do. More than once a manager in a different department tried to “get rid of me” for not being a “team player” (that is, not buckling to his will and doing stuff I never want to do nor are good at doing). Fortunately, someone knew that it was better to keep me doing what I was good and productive doing rather than try to make me do things I simply don’t desire to do or are not particularly good at doing. aka the guy in the back spitting out code, designing systems and getting “filtered” information about bugs and enhancement requests via a support team. That’s my happy place in life and it was very satisfying.

    This all started to change, however. They started dangling carrots in front of me (stock options, bonuses, etc.). Greed crept in and I found myself wanting more and more money. This lead to a me obtaining a mortgage…and now I realize that I had a sense of indentured servitude that I allowed myself to fall into.

    Fast forward to today. Now, I work at a small company that was shifting to do software and has now reversed course on that decision. I was trying to get in on the ground floor of something that could have been really huge. This was so I could finally not have to work, but rather choose to work. However, they asked me to do support because they cannot/have not adequately staffed the support department, yet they want world class 24/7/365 support.

    I agreed to start doing support because I thought that it was a means to an end. I now realize how wrong I was. It was a means to a bad end. I have indentured myself and am now doing the exact things I do not want to do.

    So, you see my conundrum…with a mortgage on two houses (primary dwellings we had before marriage) and both of us “lucky” to still have our jobs after the morons in charge of mortgage backed securities and our fiat-currency system screwed up, we have begun discussing some options.

    We decided to sell both of our houses in the near future and we will be outright purchasing a different, more modest home with the equity we have in our two homes. I estimate that we should be able to have disposable income of about 80% of what we make at that point if we decide to continue doing the same jobs. My wife has a great job that she loves and her med-benefits cover both of us.

    I am starting to realize that the things you buy (i.o.w, buy but do not own: i.e. mortgage, loans, etc.) begin to own you, to paraphrase Tyler Durden in Fight Club. I basically allowed myself to become a drone, mindlessly allowing myself to be bullied and told to do things I was neither good at nor desired to do.

    That’s all about to change…realization is the first step to enlightment.

    I have a whole new attitude about life and work. I started to feel that same feeling I did until 4 years ago, before I allowed myself to become another yes-man/corporate drone. I can even feel the creativity returning to my mind and body. I think I may even quit doing full-time software and go to culinary school or even just start doing hardwood flooring installation. Now I have that chance because we will never allow debt to enslave us if we do not absolutely have to. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that the existence of debt is bad. Debt as a tool, used wisely, can help you achieve your goals if you are willing to give a lot of control to the people that employ you. I just think that if you use debt to provide a roof over your head, a car to drive and depend upon a salary provided by people that are mostly interested in exploiting you to pay those bills that you have lost a little bit of your freedom. You have willingly indentured yourself to a company (or even society) to achieve a particular goal.

    I, for one, will no longer partake of this poison if I do not have to.

  57. I’ve lived cheap all my life. I cannot wait to switch to high rent. When you are single or just a couple, it may be ok. However, when you have children, you need space. Smaller places tend to be more cluttered, regardless of how much you try to donate/get rid of stuff. Also, if you have hobbies (e.g. you mention snowboarding) you are bound to have a lot of gear too.

    The small space is now dictating my life. I don’t buy a XYZ which I NEED for myself or my child because I have no space. My husband and I have not bought new clothes in years because we have no space. I don’t invite more than 2-4 people over for dinner because I have no space (even though I’d like to). I share an office with my husband – we both like to work as much as possible from home to be close to the kid- we drive each other crazy because none of us can focus in the presence of the other (have you ever done any good creative work next to a buddy?). We love skiing – can’t buy gear because we have no space. We have no garage, so we park on the street – it’s a very safe neighborhood. I have had 3 hit-and-runs (cars bumping my car and driving off) – that I have had to fix out of pocket.

    I get the gist of it- don’t buy or rent beyond your means, but quality of life is defined by more than freedom to fly off the seat of your pants.

  58. Ivy,

    While I can appreciate the things you feel you DON’T have, it’s important to focus on the things that you DO have.

    I’ve chosen to live below my means and it has afforded me Alex has mentioned. We don’t have the ‘room’ for the many ‘things’ we used to own either (we used to live in a 4,000 sf home – 5 bdrm 4 bth + a studio, large office and a 4 car heated garage). We now live in a townhome cottage only 890 sf and a 1 car garage. It’s a 1 level, no basement, 2bdrm (1 used as our office). We rent a storage unit for $75/mo for the ‘things’ we feel we needed (like hunting gear, etc.) that didn’t fit at home. We’ve learned to utilize and organize space in ways we never did before.

    After nearly 3 years living like this, the only thing we’re possibly looking into MAYBE someday is a place with one extra bedroom and a bathroom simply for the times when someone needs to stay over night because their drive home is far (our 7 kids are grown and married now). Otherwise, our place has made us ‘see the light’ if you will. We have freedom beyond words… The freedom to HAVE a life… One that affords us to be debt free and have ‘extra’ money at the end of the month.

    So, my recommendation to you is that you focus hard on the good and simply RENT a space for all the ‘stuff’ you think you need!

  59. P.S.

    Think of all those people confined to a wheel chair.. How much space are they restricted to? I for one am thankful for my and my husband’s and kids’ health.

  60. Here’s how I think of it, Sandy. I think of the amount of any recurring expense like rent on increased space, and the amount of time I have to work to earn that amount of money. Then I think of that space as a claim for that amount of time by my employer every single month, forever. I never buy anything without thinking of how many hours of slavery it translates into.

    And I really can’t think of any kind of wage labor where I wouldn’t feel this way. It’s not really the working conditions so much as the fact of surrendering control of my time for eight hours and using my time for what someone else tells me to do rather than the way I choose to organize it. It’s wage labor as such–the transition from “my time” to “company time” when I punch the clock–that bothers me. It was the same when I was a kid in school–it was the bare fact of taking direction from an authority figure behind a desk and accepting their priorities and judgment over my own, rather than the intrinsic nature of the subject matter being learned, that I didn’t like.

    I instinctively think of jobs as places that interfere with real productive work, and schools as places that interfere with genuine learning.

  61. Kevin – good analysis indeed … even with my own currently low-wage situation (from part time and contract work, to supplement book editing, along with songwriting & the book I will one day complete that I intend to become my ‘annuity fund’), I look at the hourly pay as its portion of expenses. (I keep the part-time pizza-delivery work in order to pay for health insurance of sorts, and scratch off the first 3-4 hours each week as money I’ll never see. I also know that a good night for gratuities means I get to eat out a little better …)

    Still seeking to raise the bar just enough to have a reserve fund, a small nest-egg for the future, and money to record some songs and so forth … but I value my time more and more as I go on.

  62. Kevin,

    Actually, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I never mentioned that everything that we rent or may have a recurring expense for, we find a way to ‘fund’ it since driving a car, even if it’s paid for, is a liability and a recurring expense due its constant need for gas and maintenance.

    We have created several streams of income to cover all of our living and other expenses now, and continue to create more. It was nice to get up this morning to see how much our income streams have dropped into our bank accounts today.

  63. P.S. For some of you, remember that even something like Caretaking (think out of the box here, too) is a way to pay your rent with just a few hours of your time a month!

  64. I am not one to go against the grain, but just upgraded from a 900 sq. ft. victorian home (built in 1901) to a 3100 sq. ft. house built in 2004. I LOVE LIFE once again! I don’t care that I have little disposable income – my house is my sanctuary now. Sandy, your kids are grown and out of the house now that’s why scaling down made sense. My kids are toddlers, and they need space to move and explore safely. The small house had so little storage space that many things had to be stored in places that kids could reach and potentially harm themselves. I had to watch them like a hawk all the time (and they still managed to get into things they should not, just because we had no cabinets up high to store stuff like underarm deodorant and contact lens solution). My parents (both retired) love to come over and take care of the kids for weeks at a time (they live in a different state), but I had no space for them in my old tiny home. I get it, money in the bank is good, but money in the bank really earns negative interest (if you factor in inflation which is likely to skyrocket soon), and the stock market has been, well we all know what it has been… I don’t collect clutter and I periodically clean out closets and such, it’s just that with kids who every month grow out of clothes, carseats, etc., space is a necessity, just like food on the table. The small space affected my sanity and my relationship with the rest of the family. For example, by the time I was done making dinner (after balancing things on my head for lack of counter space) I was so annoyed I didn’t even care to eat it. Cleaning the small home was tantamount to rearranging stuff just to make believe I was cleaning. What can I say, I chose to buy space with my hard earned cash…

  65. I don’t think anyone would question a home you were able to pay for free and clear. I think the main concern in Alex’s post was over stuff that requires an ongoing revenue stream that might well evaporate next month. Speaking only for myself, it’s a very liberating feeling to look at my necessities of life and know which of them I’d still have even if I ceased to get a paycheck. And there’s nothing that conduces to a feeling of slavery than knowing I’m six weeks away from homelessness and keeping a roof over my head means swallowing whatever kind of shit my boss decides to dish out to me.

  66. I’m all about “low-rent living”. Doesn’t the quote from Henry Ford apply in this instance: If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right. Isn’t part of it just getting your mindset correct? As a society we are conditioned to want more, better, bigger…maybe that has to change?

  67. THAT’s EXACTLY how I live!!! FOR ONCE finally someone agrees with me! Money is not a problem, no worries, free to do what I want, no over working, no clutter, no debt, still live decently and comfortably etc etc. Do you have a twin brother I could marry? LOL

  68. My husband and I have been caretaking a large property that requires very little time managing it because we have a full-time maintenance guy and landscape and snowplow people. We live for free in a nice cottage, though it is much smaller than our former 4,000 sf home. I LOVE the freedom it provides because I’m not enslaved to my job or a boss that I hate. I can change – or quit – any job that I choose to take. I’m currently working part-time in a job that I love, and in my NEW career field, while I finish school (again)! We plan to pay cash for everything from now on, including our next home. The exchange is totally worth it!

  69. Oh thanks so much for the encouraging words. I’ve come full circle to a place that is one room and very fortunately, the parlor of a very beautiful riverside mansion with a majestic fireplace. I have lived at the very breaking point of my budget for the past few years because I was broke for so long, raising two children as a single mom and going to school to get to the income I needed to raise my children. Paradox that life is, by the time I had enough income, they were grown and gone and leading very productive lives. So I traded up a number of times until I was at the bursting point.

    Moving to one room was very difficult. Putting in storage all of the things that reminded me of the life I have lived and the children I had raised came with a grieving I hadn’t anticipated. But it is sinking in that my life is only now forward. The past was and no longer is. I am me because of where I have been and because of the parts of me that I have left behind that weren’t really me.

    I am adjusting, and in six months, when the contract renewal for the storage space comes due, I’m likely to put all of it in a big dumpster and not look back.

  70. Update. Got downsized in July 2010 since my last last post. That company was going nowhere. Gross mismanagement.

    Within 3 weeks of the layoff, a different department in the company I originally left…to go for that ground floor opportunity…contracted me as a Senior UNIX Administrator…a job I do not 100% know because I was a software developer, but I was more than capable of picking up the missing pieces quickly due to having some experience doing that job during development.

    Best thing that ever happened to me.

    I am truly happy again. I was hired full-time within two months, doing a job I love and getting an appropriate salary because they appreciated my skills and knew I added value because of my quick learning ability and domain-specific knowledge of their business.

    Our disposable income is now being used to support some family that has fallen on hard times recently due to their unemployment. They get to keep their houses with the extra help we provide and keep the roof over our nieces’ and nephews’ heads. We still have enough money left-over to sponsor some dogs at the local shelter until their adoption. I feel great.

    It’s the best thing we ever did. We get to help a lot of family that has not been so fortunate due to the liberation of our excess.

    Alex, I never realized how indentured I had become to the system…and how much we could help others with a simple change to our living habits. Our efforts allow us to help family members under duress because our lifestyle doesn’t eat it all up, and I owe it all to your insight. Thank you.

  71. Debit Free= Freedom
    this the simple equation for happy life.
    you plan your life to spent only a part of your income and keep another part for emergancies.

  72. Great article. Like Kristina, we found ourselves in the American “nightmare”, living paycheck to paycheck as indentured servants and maxing our credit cards to afford our home. It was not entirely our fault as a series of very unfortunate financial events occurred in our lives (think “worse case scenario”). We sold that home last summer (June 2010) and are now renting a small 2BR apartment (yes, with two children who — God forbid — are sharing a room). We are much much happier as a family.

    We recently looked at purchasing another home that caught our eye, but the price was at the very upper end of what we might could afford. In discussing it, our children overheard us and it was our 8-yr-old son who begged us not to buy a home that was expensive again. See, our children are enjoying having stress-free parents who are beginning to enjoy life again, more so than they enjoy a large home with no one ever there b/c everyone is working to give them the “best” – and still barely making it.

    It’s a myth that children need their own “space” or their own “yard”. We had it and were all miserable (due to the financial strain that no everyone may endure). Children need happy parents and a happy home. We are a financially AND emotionally healthier family now.

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  74. Even though 6-7 years have passed since you posted this article – its still so very much true! And I wish that I could go and live after these devices, but I cantt … I am afarid. I have to live my life all over again, and then maybe!

  75. Low rent living is a good idea especially when you want to save more on your rent expense. As long as it serves the purpose and it gives the comfort and convenience of a home, it is more than fine with me.

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