Ebook: The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Lifestyle

“Simplicity, clarity, singleness: these are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy.”– Richard Halloway

Post written by Leo Bbauta. Follow me on Twitter.

Yes, I know it’s ironic it’s not just one page or one sentence … but I’ve just finished writing a new ebook I hope you’ll enjoy: The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life.

I could have made it a sentence – “Eliminate the unnecessary” – but I tried to make it useful, and include chapters on different problems that people will face on their journey to a more minimalist life.

What will this ebook will help you with:

* Clearing clutter and reducing your possessions
* Figuring out what’s necessary, and how to be content with less
* Simplifying your schedule, your work, and living a less stressful life
* Creating a minimalist workspace, home, computer, financial life, diet and fitness program
* How to go paperless and digitize your life

The ebook is $9.95, is Uncopyrighted.

Buy The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life here.

Here’s a listing of the chapters:

  • A small irony
  • Notes on using this book
  • What is a minimalist life?
  • Overall minimalist principles
  • How to become a minimalist
  • Contentedness
  • Rethinking necessities
  • Simplify what you do
  • Clearing clutter
  • Minimalist home
  • Minimalist workspace
  • Minimalist computer
  • Going paperless, digitizing
  • Minimalist travel
  • Wardrobe and grooming
  • Minimalist food
  • Minimalist fitness
  • Minimalist finances
  • Finding simplicity with kids
  • Dealing with non-minimalist loved ones
  • Minimalism is the end of organizing
  • Step lightly upon this world: on sustainability
  • FAQs
  • Other resources

And here’s a preview of the first few chapters, so you can see what the ebook is like. As you’ll notice, the pages are pretty sparse, so while 104 pages on minimalism might seem like a lot, the chapters are actually pretty short.

The ebook is in PDF format, is DRM-free, is $9.95 and again is Uncopyrighted. I don’t plan to offer it in different formats.

It’s my hope that this book will help you live a simpler, happier life!

Buy The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life here.

Debt is Debt

One of the best decisions I ever made in my life was to make a conscious decision to be financially independent.

DEBT IS DEBT

To me there is no such thing as good debt, it just sounds like marketing nonsense.

It’s simply a way for banks to lull you into a false sense of security to make you think that overextending yourself financially by buying a house out of your price range is a good thing. Yeah right.

Whether you owe because you went college to get a bachelors, or whether you maxed out your credit card for a splashy vacation — it is still money you spent that you didn’t have to begin with, and you now owe it to someone else.

JOB DEPENDENCE IS A FORM OF INDEBTNESS

If you live on the financial edge, heavily in debt but without any savings, you will always be a slave to your job, because you will always need the money to make it to the next month.

Living paycheque to paycheque is not a life, you are not a slave to anyone or to any company unless you make yourself one.

YOU CANNOT BE FREE IF YOU ARE TIED TO FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS

If you find yourself thinking about your credit card balance as you are trying to fall asleep at night, it is a sign that it is a dark cloud that is choking your quality of life.

Thinking about your debt, lack of savings and lack of financial security for the future is not what modern life is supposed to be all about.

5 STEPS TO FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE

1. Get out of debt
Face your numbers, make a plan, muster up some discipline and stick to it. This is not as difficult as one might imagine, and there is a plethora of information out there on how to build a budget. You can start here with all of my best posts on debt and saving.

2. Stop borrowing
Cut yourself off from access to easy money; this means credit cards, lines of credit, borrowing from family members or friends and going past your bank account limit.

If you never stop borrowing, you will never be able to dig yourself out of the hole.

3. Live below your means
If you spend $2000 a month now, think creatively on how you can cut it down by half.

It might seem impossible to many of you: “HALF!?”, but it is a solid, quantifiable goal that will push you to go farther than just vaguely saying you want to spend less money.

It is very possible if you re-evaluate your mindset of why you should spend what you spend.

Start shopping smarter by saving at the grocery store, cooking at home rather than eating out, and learning how to tell yourself “No” when you are tempted.

4. Start saving
Even $10 a month is better than nothing, and with the magic of compounding interest, you could have $1000 in approximately 7 years.

Imagine if you saved $100? Or $500 a month? Think about it. You could have a lot more, sooner.

5. Ignore naysayers
People will tell you that your lifestyle is unsustainable.. and it most certainly it is, but not for you, for them.

If you can do it, go for it.

People told me all the time that putting 50% of my paycheque towards my debt was nuts, and I would never be able to do it.

Don’t be trapped by what people think you should do or buy. There are NO limitations to how far you can go because you are the only one who can judge your own comfort level.

Another good example is my lifestyle:
I’m a minimalist, so I don’t like to spend money on furniture because I don’t see a point for it in my life; all I own is a Japanese futon for the floor, a folding table and folding chairs.

I save a lot of cash doing this, because I never have to pay for moving costs (my minivan is enough), I don’t actually spend money on furniture, and I don’t need to maintain it.

However when I mention this, people look at me askew and I hear a lot of:

“How can you live like that?”

“You should get yourself to an IKEA, because they have cheap furniture if you can’t afford anything better.”

Does it hurt to hear that kind of negativity? Sometimes.

It’s hard not to feel defensive or attacked, when people automatically assume that you’re poor just because you don’t own a couch, a flat screen TV, lots of furniture and you would rather rent than buy a home.

You have to keep in mind that it is your life, not theirs, and you not wanting to do or buy things you are supposed to, doesn’t make you weird because there are plenty of others like you.

The Danger of Retirement

Retirement is a funny thing. So many people set their hopes on the day they get to retire, kick back, and relax. But if you talk to most retired people, they’ll tell you their lives seem busier than ever. I’ve heard it said that retirement is just getting new treads on the wheels. Get it? Re-tire.

Ok, but in all seriousness, why are retired people some of the busiest people?  Well, here’s the conclusions I’ve come to.

  1. Planning. The days that are planned out in more detail always seem to be more productive. Retired people let planning go to the way side and as a result end up with more stuff on their plate than they were “planning” on.
  2. People assume. Society looks at retired people as having loads of time. So, a retired person ends up with all the calls to watch grand-kids, help with house projects, and running errands.
  3. Obligation. Retired feel some sense of obligation to help with all the incoming requests because otherwise they feel lazy since they have no “real” work.

So what’s my advice to all retired people? Ironically, it can be found in my last post The Rule of 3s. Creating priorities and getting involved in something that defines their life and creates structure will help get the message across to others that even though they’re not working a 9-5, they still have a life.

Personally, I cringe at the thought of retirement. It goes against my whole life philosophy. I believe you should do what you love, and if you love what you do, why would you want to stop!? Problem solved.

The Rule of 3s

I’m really excited about this post.  The Rule of 3s is one of those life changing philosophies for me.  I’ve been mulling over it for over 30 days which is significant as you’ll come to find out.

I’ve been trying to figure out a general rule of thumb to live my life out by.  Through trial and error I’ve come to find out that my life areas work best in groups of 3.

History

There are certain numbers in the Bible that are considered special. They are: 3, 7, and 40. The number 3 denotes “divine perfection.” Examples of the number 3 are: Christ was buried and rose in 3 days; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and there’s a lot more.

How it’s applied.

How ironic is it that 3 denotes perfection and we’re looking for the perfect balance in our lives.  So, this is how it all comes together.

1. I use “3″ to define tasks in my life. For example, I’m an EMT, student, and intern in my church. My hobbies consist of swimming, blogging, and wakeboarding. I keep my to-do list to 3 things.

2. Making decisions. 3 days, 30 days, or 3 months. Depending on what kind of decision needs to be made will determine how long to wait but it’s pretty self explanatory. When asked to take on a new responsibility, wait 3 days. When deciding to purchase something, wait 30 days. When making a big/life changing decision (ie getting in a relationship, moving out, etc), wait 3 months.

3. Exceptions. Some decisions have to be made split second, but those are few and far between (like 1 in 100). I’m not saying don’t do anything more than 3 things.  I can volunteer at the soup kitchen or go running with a friend, but it’s not part of my regular routine.

My experience.

July and August were absolutely miserable months for me. I had overcommitted to numerous things and made some rash decisions.  There was nothing I could do about it once it was set in motion but wait for it to be over.  Now it’s September and my life has resumed to it’s normal pace.  All because I’ve incorporated the rule of 3.

Keeping things simple and staying focused on only a few things makes a huge difference. Try it for yourself and see how far you can group your life into 3s.

On the Virtue of Wasting Time

This is a great short post by Carl Trueman.  Well worth the read and definitely well worth putting into practice. He starts out by saying,

One of the amazing things about modern American culture is surely the pathological fear of wasting time

and ends by saying,

wasting time with a choice friend or two on a regular basis might be the best investment of time you ever make.

Interview with Tonia from Itty Bitty Impact

Tonia is the blogger behind Itty Bitty Impact. Her green lifestyle journey began when she and her fiancé Mike bought a home together two years ago. They started “greenifying” everyday household tasks and realized that their small changes were adding up and making a difference. As part of their process in “greenifying” their everyday lives, Tonia and Mike decided their greenification should include the whole of them — including their upcoming wedding.. We decided to talk to Tonia about her wedding plans and what’s she’s doing to make sure their special day is eco-friendly.

You can follow Tonia and Mike’s plans, along with adventures with their dog, Lake Superior on Twitter at @IttyBittyImpact or on her blog, Itty Bitty Impact.

JDB: First off, congratulations on the engagement and the pending wedding!

While many brides seem to give in to the pressure to have the biggest, baddest wedding ever, you and your fiancé have decided to take a more simple, eco-friendly/green route. Was this something you’ve wanted for a long time, or something you decided upon after getting engaged?

TS: I like to think of myself as a tomboy…or, at least I’m no girly-girl. However…I will admit that my BFF (best friend forever) and I used to buy wedding magazines when we were 14 or 15, and we’d sip hot chocolate at the bookstore and pretend we were brides-to-be planning our weddings. We did that all the time. I cringe now to think of what my wedding would be like if I had let my 15 year old self do the real planning. ;)

It wasn’t until I owned my own home that I got really into low-impact living. There’s something about watering your own lawn (and watching all that water get wasted), buying your own groceries (and realizing a lot of the stuff you eat comes all the way from Florida or Mexico), and washing your own laundry (and reading the ingredients list on the detergent bottle…yikes!), that made my fiancé and I think, “There’s gotta be a better way to do this stuff…”

Two years ago, we changed how we live at home and “got greener.” And as a result, a lot of our friends and relatives have made similar changes in their lives and reduced their daily impact on the environment. We realized that setting a good example for others is probably one of the most important results of living a greener lifestyle. We want our wedding to be one big green party– because it’s the right thing to do, and it’s who we are, and it sends a great message to all our loved ones.

JDB: Expound a little bit on vision for an eco-friendly wedding.

TS: Basically, we’re going to do most of the usual “weddingy” stuff, but do them more simply or more resourcefully. I say “most” because we are forgoing a few of the typical traditions (i.e. a wedding cake) either because we couldn’t pull it off it in a non-wasteful way, or because it just wasn’t meaningful to us in the first place.

Here are some of the main things we are doing to keep the wedding low-impact:

  • Rings: Our rings are custom made by Tamara McFarland, a vegan hobby-farmer in California. She uses 100% recycled metals and fair trade stones in her jewelry. The stone in my ring is man-made, which means it was not mined and did not impact the environment or society in a negative way.
  • Glassware: We are providing mason jars for guests to drink water/beer out of instead of using the disposable plastic cups that the bar provides.
  • Caterer: We asked every caterer in town whether they use disposable plates/flatware or not. Only one said that they do not use disposable. We went with them.
  • Decor: Our decorations/favors are almost completely thrift-store finds, and we’re making everything else ourselves, so we’re not buying any plastic crap that will promptly enter a landfill afterwards.
  • Registry: We are carefully choosing high-quality items that will last us a long time. My parents are still using many household items they received as gifts for their wedding. When something is made to last, there’s no need to ever replace it.
  • Save the Dates: We emailed our Save the Date announcements, expect for five of them because the recipients don’t use email.
  • Invites: Guests will receive a snail-mail invitation, but they will RSVP by going to our website. This reduces the paper we use, and is more convenient for most people. Our grandparents, and a few other guests who don’t use the Internet, will RSVP over the phone.
  • Rehearsal dinner: We wanted a BBQ, so my fiance’s parents tracked down a local WI guy who does pig-roasts. All his pigs are raised right there in town, free-range. He’ll also be grilling some fresh veggies for us from his garden.

JDB: Has this been an easy journey for the two of you or are you finding it harder than expected?

TS: Harder than expected! The thing is, we have other priorities besides keeping things green (gasp!). It’s really important to us that our guests feel appreciated and comfortable the whole weekend, so we had to really consider things like, “If we make everyone drink out of the same glass (mason jar) all night, will they get annoyed/want to rinse it out if they switch from, say, beer to lemonade?” With every decision we make, we have to weigh our different priorities against each other.

JDB: What’s the response been like from your close friends and family?

TS: Our immediate families have been really supportive and they totally believe in our vision. Our extended family and friends…well, most of them are from the Twin Cities or Chicago, and they have NO idea what they’re in for! The Minnesota relatives will probably say something neutral, like “Well this is a little different…” and the Chicago relatives will just tell us we’re hippies and then drink all our beer.

JDB: Have you had to make concessions along the way, or have you been able meet all your expectations and vision for an eco-friendly wedding?

TS: Yes, concessions have been made. One of my obsessions from the early days of planning was to have everyone sitting on handmade benches during the ceremony, which is taking place outside. I strongly dislike the look of folding chairs, and they’re super expensive to rent! But my family finally talked me into renting chairs after explaining to me that Nonna and Nonno just really won’t be comfortable on a wooded bench for an hour. And now looking back I think I must have been crazy to expect my dad and brother to hand-craft 50 benches, out of reclaimed wood no less!! Yeah…I’m over it. :)

The reception food was another concession. Our caterer wasn’t OK with the idea of us bringing in our own chicken (we wanted to provide locally raised, free-range chicken for the entree), but seeing as they’re the only caterer in town that doesn’t use disposable plates for their food, we decided we had to just go with whatever chicken they have, which is most likely not local or organic. =\

JDB: What are some simple things brides and grooms can do in planning their own weddings to keep it simple and eco-friendly?

TS: 1. Cut out the fat: Don’t do every single “weddingy” thing just for the sake of it. If it doesn’t mean something to you, then why do it? Your planning process will be instantly simplified if you stick to what really matters and lose the rest.
2. Eco-friendly is also budget friendly, so stick to your budget and you’ll naturally make greener decisions. For example, we saved tons of money because we didn’t mail out save-the-date cards. It was such an easy decision because it was good for our pocket as well as the Earth.
3. Explore alternatives. Your wedding will be more personal, and greener, if you don’t go with the first florist, the first caterer, or the first venue you find. Leave time for research…the really cool lady who grows organic peonies in her backyard and makes gorgeous bouquets might not pop up on the first page of Google, but she’s out there if you look for her.
4. Elbow grease! Why buy stuff that was made in China when you could make it yourself? And if you’re not crafty, I have one word for you: www.etsy.com

JDB: Thanks so much Tonia for sharing a bit of your experience with us. Best wishes on your upcoming wedding! May you and Mike be blessed for years to come.

Reply to: Carry less stuff

Jonathan at We Live Sim­ply chal­lenged peo­ple carry less stuff in their pock­ets, and take a pic­ture of what they carry before and after sim­pli­fy­ing it.  I’ve already had my pock­ets sim­pli­fied as much as pos­si­ble, so I only have one pic­ture of what I cur­rently carry.  Below is the following:

  • Cara­biner with car and office keys, thumb drive, and gym mem­ber­ship card
  • Knife/​money clip with 5 cards (DL, Debit, 2 cer­ti­fi­ca­tions for work)
  • LG Choco­late phone

Not Your Average Minimalist

Had a big talk at church the other night about what my min­i­mal­ism is all about.  There were some ini­tial con­cerns among some peo­ple, but finally things were clar­i­fied and here’s the outcome.

From this point on, I will be appar­ently clear about my inten­tions for a min­i­mal­is­tic lifestyle.  I’m a Chris­t­ian, and Chris­tian­ity con­sumes every aspect of my life.  Sim­plic­ity, as advo­cated by Bud­dhism, is for the pur­pose of self-​​improvement and self-​​happiness.  Chris­tian­ity is intrin­si­cally oppo­site because it’s focused on God and oth­ers.  So, a Chris­t­ian would apply min­i­mal­ism to their lives to free them up to serve oth­ers better.

The Bible fully sup­ports a min­i­mal­is­tic lifestyle, but the motive is com­pletely dif­fer­ent.  So, you’re not going to find me quot­ing guys like Bud­dha when the Bible has plenty to say about the same sub­ject mat­ter.  Even though Bud­dha and Jesus might share the same prin­ci­pals, the roots of both belief sys­tems are antithetical.

So there you go, I’m a min­i­mal­ist Chris­t­ian, and this blog will reflect it from a Chris­t­ian world­view.  This blog is my jour­ney and hope­fully a resource to others.

The #1 Tip for Becoming Rich

To “live free” through simplicity implies many things including financial freedom.  It doesn’t come without discipline, but it’s worthwhile.  This is accomplished through use of certain vocabulary.

“No” – we’re hard wired to think when there’s buy 1 get 1 free, we’re getting a deal when actually, you’re still spending money

“Not now” – legitimate needs aren’t always immediate needs

“I don’t need it” – some things we just plain don’t need. I suggest trying the 30-day challenge

A person asked me how I’ve made so much money in such a little time.  “Easy”, I said, “I don’t spend any of it.”

The Top 10 Links of the Week

10) Remove Your Seasonal Items to Make More Space | The Everyday Minimalist

If you don’t have a closet of a movie star or celebrity, but a small, perhaps oddly shaped on, the best thing to do is remove your seasonal items.

9) I’m Never Using the Five Letter “b” Word Again | thesimplerlife.net

The next time you find yourself being bored, try one of the following activities or make up one of your own.

8) Tapping into the Power of Values to Simplify Your Life | Becoming Minimalist

There is no ultimate and ideal Simple Life that exists as some perfect standard. There is only The Simpler Life that we make for ourselves — one decision at a time.

7) The Lost Art of Quitting | the middle finger project

Integrity will be capped off at some point, if we aren’t living an honest version of the life we aspire to have.  Hypocrites don’t make the best integritists.

6) The No. 1 Habit of Highly Creative People | ZenHabits

I picked a handful of creatives, almost at random — there are so many that picking the best would be impossible, so I just picked some that I admire, who came to mind when I thought of the word “creative”.

5) How to Save $100 in 30 Minutes and Be Happier | The Minimalist Path

This week is RUNNING WEEK at TMP to celebrate the launch of RunningSomewhere, my new running site to help you to…GET UP…GET OUT…RUN SOME.

4) 5 Lies You Tell Yourself That Keep You Spending | The Everyday Minimalist

It is when you are in the store, buying on impulse and trying to justify it with your spaving logic, that is the problem.

3) How to Stock a Minimalist Pantry | Stone Soup

I thought I’d have a crack at pulling together a list of the essentials and the nice-to-haves for stocking a minimalist pantry.

2) Motivation Tips for Slackers | Unclutterer

As a former procrastinator who has undergone a transformation into a tidy minimalist, I’d like to offer some compassionate, but straightforward, advice:

1) 7 Ways to Unload the Unnecessary | Sanity in Simplicity

We sold the house and are moving into a one bedroom apartment…So in honor of getting rid of stuff, here’s a list of my favorite ways to pare down.