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How To Be A Minimalist: Living With Less

Is being a successful internet marketer all about exotic cars, mansions and living the high-life? I would rather be a minimalist.

We have probably all seen those videos online about a guy that drives up to the camera in a Ferrari and telling you about how internet marketing has totally change his life to the better. Nothing wrong with that and it makes me glad to see and hear people that are having success online. If somebody is able to drive an exotic car as a results of their online work then they must be doing something right – right?  Wanting to have nice things is all well and fine. Nothing wrong with that. But so many get caught up in the “high-living”, thinking that the money will last or that their online business is going to take care of them for the rest of their lives. I’ve seen people going to the top and then back down again simply because they upgraded their lifestyle up to a point they could not sustain it. They neglected their businesses and hence their income reduced and they were back at square one.

Now don’t get me wrong. The purpose of this blogpost is not to bash out on people having nice things. I think it’s everybody’s right to live in an abundance.If you want to become rich and you put in the work then you completely deserve all the things coming to you. But not all people want the excess. The definition of “success” can mean so many things to different people. What is the ultimate success goal? Is it earning one million dollars a year? Some would say that. But let me tell you something. If you would achieve one million dollars a year in income and then go and buy a mansion, exotic cars, a boat and travel all year then the money is not going to last you for a long time. Things need maintenance. Bills have to be paid. People have to get paid. Things get damaged and need repairing. Things need insurance. Before you know it you have monthly liabilities that can easily make things difficult for you if you are not on your toes when it comes to your business. Work still has to be done.

After I have gotten older and “wiser” I am starting to realizing more and more what kind of life I really want to live. 10 years ago I thought buying a big house would make me happy. It didn’t. So I bought a big jeep. Didn’t matter. They actually made my life harder. I would constantly be taking care of the house, fixing things, taking care of the lawn and so on. Not to mention the mortgage payments that were not low. Before I knew it I had fallen into the trap so many people become victim to. Each month I was worried about my finances and even though I knew I could afford them on paper, I knew that in any case of uncertainty like unemployment, having an accident or some kind of economic disaster, things could easily go overboard for me. I had the things I wanted but somehow I felt like in a cage hanging slightly above water. I didn’t feel very secure. I was always living in constant fear of something bad happening that would cut my safety line and plunge me into the sea.

Guess what.

2008 we had a major major crash here in Iceland. A lot of people were effected including me. People lost their jobs and prices went up. At that time people had to adapt to new circumstances and working in the ad industry were things are tightly connected to the current state of economy I had to re-consider my situation and take a new road. My fears had come true. I had the ability to sustain the lifestyle that I had while things were in order but any slight bump in the road would make the train skid of it’s tracks. Almost all my money was spent paying bills. I had one source of income and I had put myself into the situation that my lifestyle was dependent on that income. This one income. If the flow would stop then everything would go down the drain.

This was quite some time ago and today I can honestly say that I have learned from my mistakes. Of course it wasn’t my fault that there was a major financial crisis in the world in 2008 that would have catastrophic consequences for so many people but yet it was my fault to not have been in a better overall situation with my life and not thinking long-term instead of buying all kind of crap I didn’t really need in my life. Maybe I would have been able to continue my lifestyle a little longer, maybe a few more year but at some point it would have become unsustainable. So for me I’m actually quite happy that I woke up in the crash of 2008.

Today I go by things a little differently. I’m more of a minimalist. I’m becoming more aware of what I’m doing in my life, how I want to live my life and how to plan it. To be more minimalist. To experience more rather than “have” things. You see it’s not about how much money you have. It’s how you adapt your lifestyle around the money you have. $1,000 a month could be an abundance for one person while it would not cover the basic necessities for another. For me a good life and peace of mind is being able to pay my monthly expenses, put aside a little for savings and still have enough left to allow myself to do something for fun. The thing is you don’t need to have $10,000 a month to be able to do this. Usually the number one factor in monthly expenses is housing. In my case I decided to rent a small studio apartment to minimize that factor. Of course that can be hard for many people but for me it’s a choice to be able to have more freedom. Renting for cheap is an asset. Yes it is. So many people think that buying a house on a mortgage is an asset. That is a misunderstanding. It’s a major liability. And remember a liability is something that costs you money each month. And paying a mortgage is a monthly cost. You are stuck paying that loan until you decide to get rid of your house. Renting for cheap (maybe even with furniture) is freedom in my opinion. You have no risk ask the apartment is not yours. You don’t have to worry about maintenance costs. You can leave the next month if you want. That’s freedom and freedom is an asset. If you have a mortgage you don’t have freedom. You have debt. Renting is not a debt. That’s what many people think. That you are throwing your money away. That is not true. You have freedom.

Another thing I changed in my life is not to own an expensive car. I own a small used car I paid in cash. It didn’t cost me a lot but it needed some fixing. Two years later it’s still working fine and the only thing I need to pay is gas and insurance. It’s still a liability but I took the decision to have a car because it gives me freedom to go places when I want. I could have gone with a fancy car but I don’t want that. I just want to go from A to B with the least amount of cost. I used to own an Audi and man it felt great driving it. But I was on monthly payments with it. And it used to swallow incredible amount of gas and thus I would not use it as often as I wanted because I was always trying to save money. And even though it was a German car it was always something wrong with it. Always some lights bleeping in the dashboard, some sensors always needed replacements and some service checks at the dealerships almost every month. It was a major liability and actually causing quite some more frustration in my life than enjoyment. It was nice to drive it but it came with a hefty price. And let me tell you something. Nobody cares if you have a nice car. You may think that you are cool but honestly no one thinks about it. To get a fancy car just to impress people with is just stupid in my opinion. Get a nice car if you truly are a car lover and you can afford to without having it affect your finances or lifestyle in a big way.

This is the reason I embrace the internet lifestyle. The only thing you need is a laptop. No need to have inventory. No need to manage staff (well except if you have virtual assistants or something similar) no need for an office, you don’t have to commute, if you are dealing with digital products like me than there is little production cost, no shipping costs and you can sell to anyone on the planet almost. I can run a business with minimal amount of costs. But the profit margins can be really high.

Now of course I’m not telling you how to live your life. I’m just telling you what works for me. Today my lifestyle is adaptable and all about freedom. I like to have money to travel, to do things when I want to but not to wait for the end of the month to get paid so I can do it. I don’t need designer clothes to feel good, expensive watches or jewelry. When I travel I buy clothes that are just fine for very little amounts. When they break I just replace them. I don’t buy expensive furniture as there is no point to it in my opinion.Why to buy a $3,000 couch when a $500 IKEA does just fine?

I do however spend money where it matters for me. It matters in my business. I have a good computer the allows me to do my work efficiently. I have a $2000 laptop because I need to be able to edit videos for example without having to wait all day. I do pay for web hosting, domains and other kind of web services as they are essential to my business.I do have a camera that is maybe a little bit expensive but for me that is fine. These are all investments that are supposed to help my business make more money. Let’s face it you have to spend money to make money. That is a truth. But spend it in the right areas.

For most people the definition of freedom is the freedom of movement and the freedom of money. I think being locked inside of a cell all day would be to loose someones freedom. Having no money is also loosing freedom. It’s not a lot you can do if you have no money. You can’t go many places if you can’t afford to. You can walk but you need energy to do it. And energy/food costs money. So why would you want to spend all your money on things that are only going to hold you back, to cost you every month, to be a liability to you and keep you from doing things that really make you happy?

Today I enjoy more traveling and see new places, to build my business, to help people and to grow as a person rather than buying things that I think will make me feel better. I have minimized all the clutter of my life. Taken out liabilities that were wasting my time and money. Streamlined everything so I don’t have to worry about things in the end of the month. If you are not feeling happy already – believe me – nothing you buy is going to fix that.

Plan your dreamlife. Envision it. Then go after it. What would it take for you to achieve it? What would it take for you to have the freedom you want? Maybe being minimalist is not for you. Find out what it is and go for it.

To your success,

Hafsteinn Thordarson / Next Step Freedom

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