Happier with Less

I read a lot of blogs, I enjoy the insight they give in to the reality of being human. It’s true that some people blog in a very censored manner, afraid to fully open up and share who they really are with the world, but others, (my favourite types of bloggers) write very honestly about their lives, their ups and downs and the emotions they experience throughout the trials and tribulations of life.

In the past, I have tried to write ‘no punches pulled’ blog posts, tweets and Facebook updates, but I always found they made me sound moody, ungrateful or even down right depressed. At times, I suppose I was. My biggest problem has always been, trying to be someone I’m not. I didn’t do it in an attempt to impress others, I did it because I didn’t really know who I was and found myself constantly trying to fit in, to conform in the right ways to appear ‘normal’. Recently a few bloggers have really helped me to climb out of this rut, and take a fresh look at the world and my place within it.

I now, officially, couldn’t care less what other people think of me or the way I choose to live.

So, who are these bloggers, and what are they writing about that has been such an eye-opener for me? Well, they are people who take a ‘less is more’ approach to life. Call it what you will, simple living or minimalism. Suddenly I woke up and realised I’ve been on the verge of such a lifestyle for much of my life, but felt it was temporary, just while I was figuring out who to be and where to settle. Finally, in my late thirties, I’ve finally worked it all out. So what if I don’t want to earn the big bucks, get married, buy a house, start a family. There is actually nothing wrong with that, or me.

The blog I have enjoyed most (on this subject) is Minimal Student, written in an upbeat and intelligent manner by Jessica Dang. Okay, so she is in a different phase of life to me, why shouldn’t a student live an exciting, carefree lifestyle? But minimalism isn’t an option exclusive to the young. As I’ve stated to friends and family on numerous occasions, if I have very few responsibilities, why should I behave as if I have many?

So there you go, this is me, renting a room and living with so few possessions that they fit into two easy to carry bags. Not worrying about tomorrow, because I haven’t finished enjoying today. With a few small changes, I will find myself becoming wealthier financially, and healthier physically and mentally.

Future posts will all relate to my new minimalist lifestyle in large or small ways. Stay tuned!

Ian Goes Electric

On the first day of 2013 the landlord of my local pub, and one of his regular customers, both stopped smoking and bought electronic cigarettes. The decision to stop smoking is one I have previously made, many times. It doesn’t matter which quitting aid I try, the result is always the same. Even if I get past the worst of the cravings, I really miss the physical act of smoking. It is something I have done for over 20 years and I feel lost without it. I viewed the ‘E-Cig’ option with the same scepticism. If I were to use this currently popular method to wean myself from my Nicotine addiction, I knew that as soon as I felt comfortable enough to put the electronic cigarette away, I would miss smoking again within hours. But that is because I assumed the E-Cig was intended to be a short term replacement for smoking. However, other people have taken a different approach.

10MotivesECig

The pub landlord and his customer have remained successfully smoke free for almost a year now. The reason for this is that they have never attempted to quit the Nicotine filled vapour of their E-Cigs. For a while, this was a situation that I criticised. I felt that they were kidding themselves. After all, it’s plain for all to see, their addiction to Nicotine is as strong now as it was when they smoked. But it seems my opinion of the electronic alternative to smoking has been a somewhat narrow view.

If we compare traditional smoking against using E-Cigs, the benefits are plain to see. Obviously, ‘vaping’ is far more healthy than smoking, but it’s the financial aspect that really makes the case clear. Using myself as an example, let’s see exactly why my pub friends are not actually kidding themselves at all, but are in fact getting the last laugh.

I smoke 20 cigarettes per day, at an average cost of £7.00. However you look at it, it’s a lot of money.

  • Daily: £7
  • Weekly: £49
  • Monthly: £213
  • Yearly: £2555

Now, using a rechargeable electronic cigarette from 10 Motives for example, let’s take a look at the cost of ‘vaping’ instead of smoking. If we ignore the one off cost of the rechargeable starter unit (£10.99-£13.99 depending where purchased), a pack of 5 refills usually costs £6.99 and should easily last a week for a 20 a day smoker, like me. So, to make the maths easier, we will call it £7 per week. Hmm, real cigarettes: £7 per day, E-Cigs: £7 per week. You can see where this is going.

  • Daily: £1
  • Weekly: £7
  • Monthly: £30-£31
  • Yearly: £365

It kind of puts things into perspective doesn’t it. There I was, dismissing people’s claims that they had quit smoking, because their addiction was still as strong as ever. But completely ignoring the facts. The pub landlord and his regular customer are healthier than me, richer than me, and still enjoy the act of smoking. Plus they don’t have to keep going out in the cold and rain like I do!

Using this example, set by people I know, I am making a few changes to my own smoking habits. I have no intention of committing myself to a completely smoke free life, I enjoy smoking and will continue to do so. However, by using my new electronic cig in place of many of my usual cigarettes, I might save a few quid, and who knows, maybe I will gradually drift in the less smoky direction.

The Futile Financial Application

CreditCards

I don’t have any debt, not a penny. I’m not saying this to be boastful, I’m not wealthy either, not even particularly comfortable financially speaking. I just don’t like debt, if I can’t afford to buy it outright, then I can’t have it. If I want or need something, I save up. That’s the way I was raised and it makes perfect sense to me.

Oh, I just remembered. Technically, I do still owe an ex girlfriend the cost of one of my tattoos, but to be honest, I would rather just pull my arm off and give it to her when I’ve finished using it!

Anyway, a few months ago I received a credit card application form from my bank. Nothing unusual about that, it happens to us all from time to time. Needless to say, I filed it neatly away through the snarling jaws of my paper shredder and thought no more about it. Then a month later, I received a credit card application form from my bank. Needless to say, I filed it neatly away through the snarling jaws of my paper shredder and thought, what a waste of time and paper. Then a month later, I received a credit card application form from my bank. This time it didn’t suffer the fate of being torn into tiny pieces by my ever hungry shredding machine. This time, in large bold letters I wrote, ‘PLEASE STOP SENDING THESE, I DO NOT WANT A CREDIT CARD’ across the form and returned it in the postage paid envelope supplied. The form already had my name and address printed on it, so I felt sure the message would suffice.

Then a month later, I received a credit card application form from my bank.

So, this was the way they wanted to play was it? Well I knew how to win this game! What I was about to do would ensure they never sent another one of these forms ever again. I sat down at my desk, picked up the trusty Parker pen that I’ve had since school and I applied for a credit card from my bank.

I’m not entirely sure why I did it, I guess I just wasn’t in the mood to fight it any longer, and to be honest, I thought they might reject the application on the grounds that I have no credit history. But as it turned out, they accepted the application and sent me a card within a week. I even used it a few days later. I can’t imagine that I’ll use it much, but it is nice to know it’s there. And most importantly, less trees will die now that there is no need to pester me on a monthly basis.

Then a month later, I received a credit card application form from my bank.