Steve and I haven’t always been committed to living a simple lifestyle.
We both grew up in hardworking, middle-class families watching our parents punch 70-hour weeks for decades. In university, we both worked as much as possible to avoid debt and pay for our education.
When Steve was offered a well-paid position in a remote location in 2013, we jumped at the opportunity to save as much cash as we could with the goal of buying our first home and building a financial safety net. At the time, we were living in a 450 square-foot apartment in Ottawa while I pursued a degree in Translation and worked 30 hours a week. We were so busy studying and working that we didn’t have time to adjust our spending to our new income. When you don’t have time to buy a new car, look for a bigger apartment, or take lavish vacations, money starts piling up—quickly.
A year later we moved back home to Newfoundland and bought a modest two-bedroom condo in St. John’s. We continued to put away the majority of our income each month, and resisted the temptation to spend on unnecessary luxuries. We did everything “right”, continued to save aggressively while our friends were buying $50,000 cars and 4000 square-foot homes they could barely afford the payments on. We kept pushing forward on the assumption that we would feel satisfied once we had “made it” to our arbitrary financial goal.
The truth is that even though we were doing everything “right”, we couldn’t shake a feeling of vague unhappiness. Not soul-crushing despair, just a nagging feeling that we were missing out on something. We were spending all our energy building a nest egg, and we weren’t even sure what we wanted that nest egg to cover, or how big it needed to be.
At one point that year, we realized our goal isn’t to accumulate money—it’s to buy free time. We don’t want to slave away in salaried jobs until we are too old to enjoy what’s left of life. We don’t want to spend our hard-earned money on things that don’t provide value.
So we started tracking our spending. We wanted to find out precisely how much money we needed to maintain our current standard of living. In the process, we were shocked to find out how much money we were throwing away every month on things that don’t contribute to our happiness.
From there, we have been constantly refining our hypothesis and critically analyzing our spending. We have already found countless ways to reach our goals more efficiently and enjoy our limited time together more thoroughly.
We may not live on a homestead just yet, but a few years into our life together we are well on our way to self-sufficiency and freedom. As an added bonus, our efforts to live more simply have helped us eat healthier, get in better shape, learn kickass new skills, change professions, and stop making excuses.
We started this blog because we thought it would be fun to share our experience, successes and failures with like-minded people. Hopefully you have some experience to share with us too!
Have a look around. The beginning is a good place to start, so start here. Subscribe to Hypothetical Homestead if you’d like to receive regular ideas on living a life full of happiness