Being fairly new to the Financial Freedom movement, I’m not particular good at a lot of things. I don’t make big bucks. I don’t reap fantastic investment returns.
But I do have one ‘superpower’ (if you can call it that) when it comes to personal finance. And I like to think that it’s made all the difference in the world.
What’s this superpower?
My ability to enjoy the very simple things in life. Simple pleasures.
It’s unlikely. It’s under-stated. It probably made you raise one eyebrow in curiosity.
But in my honest opinion, it’s a superpower that’ll grant you infinite freedom.
What are Simple Pleasures?
“Simple” is entirely subjective.
To a world-class celebrity earning hundreds of millions of dollars, simple could mean dinner at an expensive restaurant, instead of sailing across the world in a private jet.
To a more average person, simple could mean buying a beat-up Honda instead of a brand new sparkling Mercedes-Benz.
To me, simple means being content with what I already have, or spending only a few dollars for a little entertainment.
A simple pleasure is scoring a great $0.50 DVD for Friday movie nights, along with a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
A simple pleasure is trudging through one of Mother Nature’s forests, the leaves rustling under your feet, the birds chirping away happily.
A simple pleasure is walking by the beach, listening to the gentle lapping of waves against the shore, watching the twinkling lights of ships a distance away.
Simple pleasures that anyone can enjoy.
Why is it a Superpower?
When you plan for life after quitting your job, you’re going to have to set a budget for housing, food, transport, entertainment, health. The list goes on, and on.
Let’s keep things simple. Let’s say you make $50,000 a year. And you spend, annually, $18,000 on housing, $10,000 on food, $8,000 on transport, and $4,000 on entertainment. This adds up to $40,000 a year. According to the famous 4% rule, you’d need a portfolio of $1 million to maintain your standard of living. Your savings of $10,000 a year, or a savings rate of 20%, would mean you’re 36.7 years away from financial freedom.
But what if you enjoy living in a tiny house? What if you enjoy economical home-cooked meals? What if you take public transport? What if your entertainment is entirely free? Your expenses could then be $20,000 a year, or even less. You’d need a portfolio of $500K, or even less. Your savings of $30,000 a year, or a savings rate of 60%, would put you only 12.4 years away from financial freedom.
This amazing superpower has the ability to slash the size of the nest egg that you need. Not only that, it helps reduce the expenses that you have now, boosting your savings rate. What does this mean? You’re drastically decreasing the amount of time you need to work, before you reach financial freedom.
You could quit working in a cubicle maybe 10 years from now, instead of slaving away for the next 36.
That’s 2.5 decades where you spend your time doing things that are meaningful, instead of pushing paper in an office. How wonderful is that?
When you enjoy the simple things in life, you won’t need to worry about your portfolio dwindling during a recession. You won’t need to fret about out-living your ever-shrinking portfolio.
Because almost everything you love is absolutely free.
When you enjoy the simple things, you could go about your daily life spending no more than just a few bucks on absolute necessities.
This superpower of enjoying simple pleasures is what allows me to save as much as I do. Despite earning no more than $2,825 from my corporate job, and a few hundred dollars from side hustles and interest income, I’m able to save 75% of my monthly salary.
And you know what? I don’t feel deprived. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on life, or that life is passing me by.
In fact, when I tabulate my monthly savings at the end of each month, a wave of accomplishment rushes over me.
When I get a good workout in, or hike in the woods, my soul feels at ease with the world.
When I finish writing a blog post that I’m proud of, my heart sings.
When I listen to an amazing song, or learn how to play a sick beat, my body feels like it’s on fire.
When I read a fantastic book that I borrowed from the library, I feel like I’m transported to another dimension.
Apart from the initial investment for blog hosting or buying a new musical instrument, these things don’t cost a cent.
I could do all these things that bring happiness into my life, for years and years, without forking over an exorbitant sum of money.
So, remember. Next time you’re slogging it out at your corporate job, aiming for your $1 million portfolio that’ll take the next 2-3 decades to achieve, hating your life every miserable second of the way, remember that you have other options.
Enjoyment and happiness is only a stone’s throw away, only if you have the desire to look for it.
Financial freedom is available for everyone. The freedom to be happy is out there. The freedom to live life on your own terms every single day, is right before your very eyes.
Don’t let it elude you in exchange for a fancy house, a luxurious car and nights filled with caviar and champagne.
A Simple, Yet Inspiring, Story
I’d like to end this post with a little story I heard when I was younger. It’s a story about a fisherman, who lives in a quaint little town.
A businessman, while vacationing in the little town, strikes up a conversation with the fisherman. “This is a charming little village. You live here?”
The fisherman grins proudly. “Yes, I do. It’s great, really. I live in a little low-maintenance cottage. I fish to feed myself. And I spend the rest of my day hiking and enjoying nature.”
“That’s a wonderful, relaxing way of life! I want to relax like you do, after I retire in 20 years. My job is just too stressful, I can’t do it forever.” The businessman replies, a hint of envy plain in his voice.
The fisherman furrows his brows and looks at the businessman with eyes filled with doubt. His response shakes the businessman’s very core. “But why go through 20 years of misery, when you can have all the simple pleasures of life, right here, right now?”
Just a little food for thought.
What an awesome way to look at it. It truly is a rare superpower that not many people have. Great post!
Thanks, Joel! I agree with you and I really hope to inspire more people to have this superpower in the future 🙂
Perfectly said Liz! As a person who has early retired, I would agree with you, that having the ability to enjoy simple pleasures is extremely important. With so much of my old life is gone with my full-time job, I’ve had to create a new life (new routines, new community, new activities), and that’s slow going. So in the meantime, I try to enjoy the little things that are going right for me every day (which is actually a lot)! Thanks for the reminder!
Thank you, Dragon Gal! I’m loving the sound of your slow-living lifestyle, it sounds amazing and I’m certainly looking forward to that when I reach financial freedom too. So happy to hear that you have many things going right for you every single day – that’s a fantastic attitude for embracing everything life has to offer. 🙂
I’ve been saying for years that this stuff needs to be taught to Teens in schools in Australia – real life, finances & relationships is stuff all people have to learn after school finishes and navigate in their 20’s 30’s etc and some don’t learn it at all. Get them early whilst still young so by the time they leave school they’re more equipped on how to be a little financially savvy & intentional from the get go !
Yeah, totally agree! Somehow, nowhere in this world do they ever teach kids about personal finance and real life. Which is why we all mostly suck at managing our money. Learn it when you’re older, and it’s going to be a huge culture shock. It’s hard to win in this situation. Hopefully things change in the future 🙂