Minimalism + Simplicity = Freedom

The Cheap Bastards Guide to Living a Prime Time Boomer Life

For those of you who were not stopped by the word “minimalism” or put off by “bastards” and are still reading… let me define how the terms are being used here.

Cheap Bastards: How we jokingly refer to ourselves when seeking life hacks that add value to our lives without costing much money.

Minimalism: Living a de-cluttered life with less physical and mental baggage.  

Simplicity: Uncomplicated.

Freedom: Having choice.

Our ultimate goal was a life of freedom—not being restricted or constrained by anything that tied us to a location or routine. We sought to lead a digital nomadic life as we pursued our loves of photography and writing on our own terms.

We were already freelancers, so what was keeping us from living our dream life? Same as most boomers…commitments, overhead, money. Here’s how we used the principles of minimalism and simplicity to get the freedom we desired.

How we travel, stay healthy and fit, and have lasting happiness

Everyone’s personal view of freedom will differ. And your budget and tolerance for change and pushing comfort zones may vary, but—if motivated—you should be able to follow these steps to lighten your load and free yourself to travel or pursue the “someday” dreams you’ve been keeping on the back burner. Here’s what we do:

#1 WE DOWNSIZE CONTINUALLY

You’ve probably read stories of travelers who sold or gave away all their belongings in a matter of months and set off to roam the world, but that’s not what we did. Ours was a more gradual process. We’ve probably had more garage/yard/house/Craigslist sales and made more trips to Goodwill than anyone on the planet.

Miata in storage bin. Living with simplicity and minimalism

But over the course of TEN YEARS, we downsized from having a packed-solid 26-foot professional moving van for our move from Florida to North Carolina in 2007, to a 12’x6′ trailer hitched to our Jeep in 2016 for the move from Asheville to Wilmington. The clearing out process continued in our new home. When our one-year lease was over, we were able to put what was left of our belongings and one car in a 10’x20′ storage unit and hit the road with only what fit into the Jeep.

A nomadic life of house sitting may not be a choice for everyone, but it works for us and frees us from monthly rent and other costs, such as internet, cable, and utilities. However, even downsizing to a smaller home or apartment can cut your monthly expenses in a major way. Just get started!

#2 WE ARE HEALTH-CONSCIOUS

Fresh fruits and vegetables for a diet of simplicity and minimalismOur food budget is probably a third or more of our monthly expenses, but not because we eat out. We eat a mostly plant-based, organic diet and usually eat at home. Our belief that buying and eating good food is the best investment we can make for our health has served us well. At ages 67 and 72, we take no medications and rarely visit a physician outside of yearly wellness check ups.

We make time for fitness. We’re not big outdoor-activity people, but exercise regularly. Joe is a daily gym visitor and I take Pilates or yoga classes. We stretch almost every morning, knowing we’ll pay the price of stiffness if we don’t! Via our Medicare Advantage plans, we belong to Silver Sneakers, which enables us to find gyms offering free memberships to seniors almost everywhere we go. When that’s not available, we’ve been able to find low-cost facilities such as senior centers or local community centers. Since we’re not in one location for more than a few months, we make the best of what every area has to offer at little or no cost.

If you are not a gym person (and I can totally relate to that), check out online exercise, yoga and Pilates programs. Most offer a free trial and low-cost monthly plans or find hundreds of free videos on YouTube that can guide you in almost any form of exercise you choose. No excuses!

#3 WE TRAVEL LIGHT WITH MINIMAL WARDROBE AND GEAR

Did I lose you yet? It’s not as hard as you (or I) imagined. Rather, the peace of mind and reduced stress that comes with a minimalist wardrobe is remarkably preferable when it comes to time to pack or get dressed in the morning. And you can still be creative and fashionable with the right combination of clothes and accessories.

Almost as important as what you bring is what you pack it in. The right combination of packing aids and luggage changes everything.

packing for lifestyle of simplicity and minimalism

Pictured is the Rume wardrobe organizer we use. It folds into a 20″ suitcase and hangs in a closet or behind a door. Almost no unpacking necessary! Get 20% discount at checkout by clicking the link or the photo.

Packing cubes are also great organizers that keep our load slim. We use these from Biaggi and eBags.

We each have two pieces of luggage: Biaggi Zipsak 22” carry-on and the Zipsak Expandable Boost, which expands from 22” to 28” when unzipped. When not in use, these pieces fold down into themselves to a final size of 15″ x 10″ x 5,” which can easily be stored in a drawer, on a shelf, or under the bed.

Both the Rume wardrobe organizer and the packing cubes fit perfectly into the luggage. Using these aids makes finding what we need much easier when we are living out of our suitcases while traveling between house sits.

As far as tech stuff, that’s a work in progress. We travel with a iMac, MacBook, iPad mini, 2 iPhones (you’ve guessed we’re Apple people), Kindle ereader, Amazon Firestick, HDMI cable, and a selection of back-up drives. Clearly the iMac will have to be replaced with a laptop once the road trip is over and we travel abroad, but for now this is our traveling office.

What keeps us a little on the heavy side is Joe’s camera gear, which today is dramatically reduced from his past travels with cases of camera bodies, lenses, lights, cables, and more. He’s got it down to two relatively small bags…one for storage and one to hold his daily needs when he’s out shooting.

We do buy new things as we travel. However, to avoid adding to our load, we follow the rule of minimalism: Something in, something out.

#4 WE MEDITATE, GIVE GRATITUDE, AND LAUGH EVERY DAY

street sign about loveInner peace is the secret to lasting happiness, and the good news is that everyone can have it. The only thing you have to give up is the belief that someone or something else is responsible for how you feel. Once you begin to take accountability for your happiness and work at making choices that support your desires, it becomes much easier to live a peaceful life.

These kinds of changes are not overnight occurrences for most, and we spent way too many years discussing why were weren’t living the life we wanted. We got the wake up call several years ago with the painful loss of several dear friends. The attitude of “There’ll be time for that when…” was replaced by “If not now, when?”

Of course, the “how” was yet to be determined, but we instinctively knew the first change had to begin with our mindset. We chose to follow our bliss, no excuses.

Not enough money? We would make more or learn to live on less. Not enough time? We would eliminate activities that didn’t support or bring us closer to our goals. It’s amazing how much time and money shows up when you affirm you have it.

Daily meditation, conscious acknowledgement of gratitude, and doses of laughter were the means we chose to put us on the right path. Peace and happiness reside within each person, and it’s up to us to access it. Focusing on feeling good became our main objective. Before long we found we were always in the right place at the right time with the right people, and the way was clear.

Every day, every moment, we make choices on where to place our attention and how we will live. Watch the news and grumble about politics, or watch a Mel Brooks movie and laugh. Make a delicious, healthy meal with fresh ingredients, or run through the fast food drive-thru on your way home. These might be extreme examples, but you get the idea.

We all need a little help and guidance on the road to living a life of choice. Joe prefers audiobooks and his go-to picks are The Power of Now and A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. I’m a Kindle reader and the books I come back to again and again are The Four Agreements, The Mastery of Love, and The Fifth Agreement by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Lifestyle is a choice. Make yours wisely.

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