We all need it. Some of us need more than others because we refuse to live a lifestyle less than what we've already become accustomed to -- usually a lifestyle we were born into. What does it take to change your lifestyle to one that requires less? You'd think it would be rather simple, right? It should be simple -- how many different "things" do you actually use on a daily basis? Take a minute to think about it and add them up in your head: everything you use during an average day.
OK, now think about everything you own; down to the pen on your desk, toothbrush in your bathroom, even the clothes you're wearing, stuff in your closet and that shoe box under your table. Imagine your body stripped naked and piled next to you is all the stuff that belongs to you; clothes, electronics, cars, houses, tools, food, everything.
I don't know about you, but wow, that’s a pretty big pile next to me! Holy crap. How much of that stuff do I really use? I mean, if I were to actually use each thing for 1 minute, it would probably take me a couple of weeks, if not months, to use them all! There are several things, namely services, I couldn't even include in that pile: my cable TV service, Internet service, propane gas, auto gas, cell phone service, email and web hosting services -- the list goes on! If I were to take all of the physical infrastructure required for my services to exist and add them to that pile, the size of the pile would grow exponentially!
So I think I've made my point: there's a lot of stuff we own, and clutter our life with, that we don't actually need. OK, so that's not going to change overnight. I justify a lot of what I own by telling myself it would be stupid to sell it all at a loss, when the smarter choice would be to reduce what's unnecessary and maintain the rest. My three investment properties are a good example. As much of a struggle as it is to keep them, I know that in the long run they will solidify my financial future. Selling them now would cause me to loose money and I'd gain nothing in the long run (besides maybe some peace of mind, but that's a whole other post in and of itself).
My recent (or rather continuing) financial troubles have made me rethink a lot about what I own and what I need to live. I have observed how habits are what cause much of the unnecessary spending (Starbucks) and discovered that breaking those habits can be incredibly difficult. Instead of breaking them, simply reducing their frequency seems to be the best solution. I feel that my spending habits have reached a turning point, a roller coaster resting at the crest of a track, inching towards the long drop into the trough.
When I'm in a tight spot and I don't have enough money to pay bills, I'm constantly thinking about what I can do make more money. I've been brainstorming for the past few months about what could be done in my spare time to bring in extra cash. I ask myself, what makes a successful person and what have they done to become successful? I know for a fact that hard work makes people successful. But in this world of changing technologies and "work" that doesn't require any physical labor, there is something to be said about those who simply outsmart the masses -- who use their brains and figure out how to make money by using the tools technology has created; namely the Internet.
A friend of mine, who is several years younger than I, has come up with a business model that works very well. He's making 2x - 3x as much money as I, working only a few hours a week. Compare that to my 75+ hour work weeks and you'll probably be dying to know what he's doing. Without going too much into detail, I can say that his business model works on a simple principle: bridging the technological generation gap between those who grew up without the Internet and those who use it for almost every aspect of their lives. There's a generation of people whose only source of news comes from the daily newspaper. And then there's the generation who uses the Internet on a daily basis and has possibly never bought a newspaper. The latter being a generation whose lives move at the speed of light, with information in many different forms, pouring in from every direction.
At the end of the day, I don't take any money with me to bed. I don't go to sleep with my car, computer, food, auto gas, or for that matter my house. I sleep in my house, but might I might as well be sleeping in a cardboard box. When I wake up, I wake up with nothing but the skin on my bones. I need a safe shelter to sleep in, yes, but even shelter is a lifestyle item we've grown accustomed to having. I know many people who could not live in a basement -- I do, and I have no problem with it. For the past 6 years I have lived in either a basement or an attic, mainly because I don't see the point in wasting money on a full size apartment when I can save money in something smaller (living at my parents house would simply be taking advantage of those to whom I already owe my very existence, so that's out of the question).
When I was sitting in the 2 bedroom apartment of one of my rental units, I felt for a moment a sense of luxury. There was nothing luxurious about the place (luxurious, that is, to the average person living in the USA), but I felt as if that small 2 bedroom apartment was so beautiful, with all the light coming through the full size windows, high ceilings that I wasn't able to reach up and touch, and a full size living room with separate, closed off bedrooms. I then realized it felt so luxurious to me because I've been living a lifestyle which doesn't have those luxuries. Instead, I have learned to live with the open style basement or attic apartments, with low ceilings and few windows. I finally understood how grateful the people who actually have to live in cardboard boxes feel about simply having a solid roof above their heads.
The more I understand the driving force behind money, the more disgusted I become with myself and all that is wasted. If a human life is the standard with which we measure the value of material things, where does that leave the person who consumes the equivalent of 100 humans? Does that make the person morally obligated to support the very existence of that number of people? And if he doesn't directly support them does that mean he is committing, on a daily basis, one of the worst crimes known to man -- murder?