The Real Secret of Minimalist Freedom Success

September 13th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

This is an important post, probably one of the most important that’s ever been written on this blog.

I’ve decided to share with you the secret of success.

I’m sharing this secret with you, because I just realized it myself.

There’s been a lot of changes in my life over the last two weeks, and I wanted to share them with you as well. I’m really in the process of redefining everything about what it is to be me, and rather quickly at that.

I was going to include what’s going on with my life in this post, but then this post ended up being way longer than I thought, so I’ve decided to split it up into two posts. Don’t miss the 2nd part, sign up for free updates via EMAIL or in your RSS reader (such as google reader). Also, I say a lot of things that I don’t say here on Twitter, but you already knew that, didn’t you?

Alright, so what is ‘the secret’?

I’ll make this as short as possible, so you can print it off and paste it right above your LCD screen on your laptop. So you don’t forget it when you’re globe trotting through the world with other people who have mastered the secret like the case-studies I will list below.

You need to lead a lifestyle that you want people to live.

This secret came to me recently when I was meeting with a soon-to-be minimalist business success story Jonathan Wondrusch of Grokkery and the upcoming site By Bloggers where he’s partnering with Sam Spurlin to teach people how to design successful businesses.

Jonathan and I met for a coffee at Ritual Coffee in San Francisco’s Mission District (where I’m also writing this post), and we were discussing how to make his new partnership with Sam Spurlin grow until he doesn’t have to work more than 2 hours per day.

And the secret came spilling out:

You need to lead a lifestyle that you want people to live.

So lead a cool lifestyle, and describe it on your blog.

This is the only reason why my blog has grown to nearly 6,000 subscribers and 70,000 readers in only 11 months since launch. This is why I make a full time nearly passive income from this blog. It’s because I stood up and said “I want you to live the freedom lifestyle that I’m living, and I’ll teach you how.”

I even say it in the sidebar –> right over there if you’re reading this on my blog. Look over there right now. “I will teach you live and work from anywhere.”

[Please also note, that it is next to a picture of my face. The picture of my face was taken as I was living and working from anywhere. So important, and so many of you aren’t doing this. It makes me angry when I see a blog that isn’t doing this. Put a picture of your face on the site!]

This is why so many minimalist blogs that focus on the details of clearing table tops and renting dumpsters don’t take off. Why? Because we all know how to burn all of our stuff if we wanted to.

It takes someone who actually burned all of his stuff to lead you to that place.

Now, you’re probably saying ‘how many minimalist bloggers can there be?’ Well, here’s the thing, this approach applies to every thing you want to do on this planet.

As these case studies will emphasize:

Secret of success case study #1: Tyler Tervooren.

You probably don’t remember Tyler’s blog before this one, because it sucked (sorry Tyler, but it’s true and you knew it, so that’s why you started a new one.) The reason that it didn’t work is because Tyler wasn’t describing a lifestyle that he wanted people to live.

A few months ago (it might even be less than that) Tyler relaunched his blog as ‘Advanced Riskology‘ with the explicit purpose of teaching people to take risks, overcome their fears.

How did Tyler become this self-professed Professor of Riskology? He started climbing mountains, one mountain at a time. He takes risks with his money, like trading in $15,000 in credit for some sort of government approved coin that he then deposits in the bank for in order to earn thousands of airline miles.

The new and improved climbing mountain, risk-taking Tyler’s blog is now super successful. He has literally thousands of subscribers and has been mentioned all over the media in a very short time.

Why? Because he describes a lifestyle that he wants you to live.

Secret of success case study #2: Mikko Kemppe

Here’s a good example of someone who’s about to do this in a very real way: Mikko Kemppe. I know Mikko because occasionally when I tweet that I’m going to Yoga to the People in SF, he shows up and we have enlightening conversations about lifestyle design and building a freedom lifestyle.

There’s nothing cool about that, so many people have conversations about lifestyle design. Here’s what makes Mikko different from say a dude sitting in his apartment watching TV discussing lifestyle design with his boring wife.

Mikko lives in an RV in San Francisco, he’s a tango instructor and dating advice expert. He lives in an RV because that’s the idea of ultimate freedom for him. Now, living in an RV isn’t something that everyone will do. But it is a dream that EVERYONE has at some point in their life.

The reason Mikko is going to become so damn popular in a short time is because he’s actually living the lifestyle he designed. He’s rocking out the RV in San Francisco and dating hot girls who tango. This is the lifestyle he describes, because he lives it. This is why he’ll be such a success.

Again: lead the lifestyle you want to live.

Secret of success case study #3: Corbett Barr.

When I first met Corbett a few days after I got to San Francisco, he was a little frustrated with both of his blogs (Think Traffic and Free Pursuits). He knew how to grow them, but he wasn’t making heaps of cash off them either.

He was just getting by, going through the motions of what Problogger and other blogs that think they know how to teach you how to make a successful blog, but actually don’t, tend to tell you. You know what I’m talking about ‘guest post on other people’s blogs’ ‘comment on a-list bloggers blogs’ etc, that garbage that doesn’t actually work.

And then I shared with him the secret to success (or he realized it himself, I can’t remember we had too many beers.)

I said, DUDE. Here’s the problem with your blogs: in real life you’re a really damn cool person, but it doesn’t come across on your blog. You go on long sailing runs up to Vancouver on expensive sailing vessels. You’re rocking out in the mission district. You drink beer. You live in Mexico for half the year. You don’t have a job. Etc. Etc. there too many awesome things to mention about Corbett’s lifestyle.

All he needed to do was describe the lifestyle he was already living on his blog, and his revenue would go through the roof.

So you know what he did? He wrote this brilliant post about the real Corbett. He came out to the world as being a really cool person who actually does things with his life.

And what do you know? The next month he launches Affiliate Marketing for Beginners and does a 11k launch. All because he described the lifestyle that he was ALREADY LIVING. Then he went sailing for a few weeks, because doing great work must lead to living your life.

The real secret to minimalist freedom success (or really any success) is that you need to lead the lifestyle that you want people to live.

Does that make sense yet? I hope it does, because now I’m going to move on to the hard part.

You actually have to live a lifestyle that you want people to live in order to do this.

No one would care about Peter Pan if he was just another lost boy. He had to teach Wendy how to fly. Then we remembered that he existed.

This is the hard part, and what most people aren’t doing. You see, you can’t really create an all star lifestyle design blog if you’re sitting in your kitchen eating chicken nuggets and drinking a milkshake that you just bought when you were driving your Hummer three blocks to Burger King and sideswiping bicyclists while destroying the planet.

It just doesn’t work that way.

No one wants to read a blog about eating chicken nuggets. That’s just lame.

So, the only answer to this problem is that you need to stop being lame and start living an unconventional life. The easiest way to do this, and the one that I’ve described in both of my books and on this blog for the last 11 months, is to destroy all of your crap and quit your day job.

Obviously there are other ways to live, but this is the lifestyle that I describe, and that I want you to live.

But your freedom doesn’t need to be restricted to the way that I live. You can go about it in any number of ways. There are any number of leaders that you can follow who will teach you how to live in other ways. This is just the way that I describe.

The reality of the secret of success.

The thing is, most of you won’t do what I’ve just told you. Instead, you’ll continue to eat chicken nuggets. You’ll keep driving to work every day and doing as you’re told.

You won’t stand up and be a leader, because you’re asleep at the wheel eating chicken nuggets.

But some of you will. Like the case-studies I mentioned above, you will show people the lifestyle that you want them to live.

Here are few other examples of things I’m really into that do this:

I used to be really into two bands when I was a teenager. The first was Smashing Pumpkins, and the second was a power-emo-pop band called Kill Hannah.

Both of these bands were so successful for the very reason that I mentioned above. They showed you the way that they wanted you to live. They both had this ‘it’s raining all the time I’m a man who feels and sings like a girl’ lifestyle that I was incredibly attracted too as a teenager.

Yes, I even used to sing like a girl. Deal with it.

They describe the Peter Pan lifestyle. I won’t grow up, so frak you (Battlestar Galactica is another great example of harnessing this power.) I’m going to do exactly what society doesn’t want me to do. I will put on eye-liner and I will get on stage, and I will have thousands of teenage girls come to my show and jump up and down and want to meet me after the show.

Everyone wants to live this way, but hardly anyone actually does.

Both of these bands had an image that coincided with a message that described the lifestyle that they wanted you to live. You wanted to be Billy Corgan and Mat Divine, that’s why you bought the albums and went to every single show when they were in town.

Now, obviously Billy did this way better than Mat did. Everyone has heard of The Smashing Pumpkins but only a couple hundred thousand teenagers who grew up in Chicago in the ’90s know about Kill Hannah. But the fact that they weren’t ever a national sensation didn’t matter, because a couple hundred thousand teenagers are plenty to support a band where the lead singer sings like a girl.

If you’re older and don’t know these bands, another great example of this is David Bowie. I’d actually argue that Kill Hannah and even Lady Gaga are so successful because they just replicated exactly how David Bowie looked and acted. I’d argue that I’m so successful because I copy what David Bowie looked like.

Lead the lifestyle that you want people to live. Then describe it.

In order to do that, you need to live a lifestyle that people want to live. Not just eat pizza all day and wish you did.

And there you have it. The secret to success. Now you can all go and be successful. There’s no need to thank me.

The dangers of this reality.

Now that I told you the secret of success, I want you to realize that it doesn’t come without dangers. Here are the two most important.

1. You have to actually live an interesting life for it to work.

Would anyone subscribe to Exile Lifestyle if it was about staying home in Kansas, getting married, dropping zero-down on a house you can’t afford and popping out two little critters? No.

(if you’ve already done the aforementioned thing, there’s a huge market for describing the lifestyle where you’ve got two kids and figured out how to still be awesome. This is why Joshua Becker is so successful.)

You need actually pursue an interesting life for people to pay attention to the life you describe. If you’re boring, you fail at success. It’s not hard to be interesting, just stop watching TV and get out into the world once in awhile. Don’t be afraid to live it up.

This is also the exact reason why your blog stopped being popular when you went back to Kansas after that around the world plane ticket ran out. The Wizard of Oz wouldn’t be such a hit if Dorothy hadn’t run into that tornado. No one cares what happened to Dorothy after she left Oz.

The solution to this problem is to never leave the bridge of the Enterprise. To never leave Never Never Land.

Or, like Kurt Cobain, die before you do.

2. A lot of people will hate you because they can’t live the way you do.

Living a lifestyle that blows people’s minds isn’t for everyone. Not everyone has the ability to set up a minimalist business in order to work 2-hours a day. Not everyone can live with less stuff. To be quiet honest, most people are pretty damn boring.

If you live in a way that’s courageous, if you really do want to change the world, people will hate you.

Part of living an extraordinary life is learning to ignore people who want to tear down what you’ve built. For every love letter I get, I get a hate letter as well. Love letters get a reply, haters get marked as spam so I never have to hear from them again.

Haters really hate it when you mark them as spam by the way, but you can’t change a troll. You have to focus your super powers on good people who want to live a better life.

So, in conclusion.

In order to be successful, you need to live a meaningful life.

You can’t just expect to sit around eating potato chips and also expect people to pay you to live a meaningful life. If you do, you’re delusional.

The solution to all of this is for you to stand up and live in a way that matters. I don’t care what way that is. I just think that it’s easier to live in a way that’s forever in pursuit of the important if you embrace a minimalist lifestyle. That way you don’t ever have to settle for less than the best, because you’re not subjected to the laws of consumerism.

If you want to learn how to live the life that I lead, I wrote this book called The Art of Being Minimalist that tells you how. Abandoning consumerism is so much easier when you know how to do it. Live on less in order to find freedom.


A lot has changed in my life over the last few weeks, and I want to share it with you. I’ll be posting another post later this week will the full details. Don’t miss out, sign up for free updates via EMAIL or RSS.

And don’t forget to share this article. Imagine if everyone knew this? We could maybe actually save the world. That’d be pretty cool.

Imagine a World Without Books

August 27th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

How to Liberate Your Library in 3 Simple Steps

[Note, before you read this: Far Beyond The Stars is written for digital nomads and vagabonding minimalists (see sidebar), not necessarily academics with huge libraries — though they are welcome to read.

Obviously there are great reasons to have a huge book collection, and books as artifacts and souvenirs will never go away. What I’m offering here is an alternative to the status-quo based on what I perceive the future to be.

That being said, I do still read physical books. I just don’t keep them after I’m done with them. I gift, donate, recycle. If I kept them, I wouldn’t be as free as I am now.]

Seth Godin announced last week that Linchpin was the last book that he’d publish in the traditional form.

In addition, Tim Ferriss published a sizable post about how authors really make money. His answer: not by selling books.

Who knows if Seth is pulling a Brett Favre or actually abandoning the publishing industry, but the point he makes is clear:

Physical books are a thing of the past.

They’re expensive to produce, difficult to distribute, and it’s hard to get one published. More importantly, the publishing industry does not compensate writers nearly enough for their time and impact on the world– for example, Chris Guillebeau is spending more money out of pocket on his book tour than he was paid to publish his upcoming book.

The world is changing.

Ebook sales on Amazon have outpaced the sales of hardback books. It’s no secret why, physical books just aren’t practical anymore.

Yes, books are kind of nice to hold and read, but for a digital vagabond the idea of lugging around a library is terrifying.

This is the age of the digital, it’s only natural that authors will start moving towards complete digital distribution.

I already have started pursuing this digital reality, with my own reading habits and the way that I’ve published my books.

I’ve never been involved in the physical publishing industry, and probably never will be. Though I have been courted by lit agents promising me riches (really?) and fame, in exchange for giving up my profitable business. That’s nonsense.

Would you get on the Titanic if you knew it was going to sink?

There are of course many more reasons to abandon the idea of a physical book, many of which benefit the reader more than the author.

1. Less impact on the environment.

Printed books are produced on paper (which comes from trees) and then shipped all over the country. A large amount of fuel is wasted between the creation of the work and the eventual arrival in your hands.

2. Ultra-mobility sans library.

When I made the decision to begin living a minimalist lifestyle, I abandoned the idea of having a physical library of books. Any physical books that I purchase I eventually gift, recycle, or resell to a used bookstore. Why? Because maintaining a large library and being location independent is a costly endeavor. If I kept all of my books, I never would have this life.

Shipping an entire library every time I picked a new city to live in would be financially irresponsible and would impede my freedom.

3. Less barriers to entry for writers.

Writing a book is easy, getting a publisher to publish your book is about as impossible as winning the lottery. You have to prove that your book will sell ahead of time, and for most people this is a difficult task — sometimes you don’t actually know how well a book will do until you put it out into the world.

If you skip the publisher and go straight to the digital market, you’re skipping the gatekeepers and have an easier chance at success.

4. You actually support the author with your purchase.

When you buy a physical book, the author is lucky if they get 10-15% of the sale price. Where does the rest of your money go? Production costs and fat people sitting behind desks deciding what your read — we like to call these people gatekeepers, and they’re obsolete.

If you buy digital the author can get anywhere from 30% to 100% of your money, depending on the platform. Amazon’s Kindle platform pays anywhere from 30% to now 70%! (If you let them control the price.) My own sales from my Minimalist Business Bookstore achieve 50%-100% of sales, and all of the money that I’m not getting goes to readers who are supporting my work.

That is an amazing change and allows me and a growing number of idea makers to have the ability to actually make a living from our work. Why choose to get your book printed if you can actually make a profitable business around a packaged digital idea?

For example, one of my top sellers this month for my books was the amazing Tammy Strobel, who was recently featured in The New York Times.

5. Access to your library anywhere.

Our society is increasingly mobile. Sometimes you’ll want to check a fact in a book, but you’re in Thailand (with Ross Hill, Cody McKibben, and very soon Colin Wright) and your book is sitting in a basement in Idaho. This conundrum is avoided by building a digital library that is accessible from anywhere in the world.

6. Less waiting for books to arrive.

When you buy a physical book, chances are you’ll have to either commute to pick the book up or order it from Amazon. Either way you have to wait for the book to arrive. You can avoid this by declaring independence from the physical and downloading books from the Internet.

With bookstores closing as fast as they are, it’s even harder now to find a bookstore that will stock the book you want to read anyway. Most bookstores only stock bestsellers and new books. If you want a rare but brilliant find, good luck!

7. Knowledge over ownership.

The information in the book is in you after you read it. The information, if valuable, becomes a part of your brain’s knowledge-base.

Why keep a physical reminder of the ideas?

Truth be told most or us will never read a book twice, so why are we keeping books around for our entire lifetimes? To me that’s just silly. Read the book and get rid of it. Alternatively, just buy digital on Kindle or from indie authors and read on a device or computer.

8. You need less fans to support the work.

With traditional book publishing, you need hundreds of thousands of people to make a book a success. This is because of the costs of distribution — most of the money you spend on a book goes towards the printing and shipping of the physical object.

When you go digital you only need Kevin Kelly’s 1000 true fans.

This means a lot more authors have a chance at being successful in a digital world. If I’d gone with traditional publishing, I would have starved long before my message reached the world — but because I embraced the digital world my writing business is insanely profitable. To me that decision is a no-brainer.

9. It’s a simple way to achieve freedom.

All of these reasons lead back to the central theme behind this blog: freedom is our goal. Embracing the digitization of knowledge will lead us father along with that journey.

How to liberate your library from the physical.

Alright, so by this point I imagine I’ve convinced you that maintaining a physical library is a pointless act routed in the idea of what our lives should look like.

The American dream of everyone having their very own private library is a fallacy and is directly imposing on our quest for freedom.

So how do you make a change?

Liberating your library is incredibly simple:

1. Embrace the idea of information abundance.

You can have most books at your fingers instantly using Amazon’s Kindle distribution system, by searching for information, or purchasing independent digital books like mine and others. This means that you don’t have to maintain a library at all, because the library is a shared resource that we all enjoy at any moment. This is a brilliant moment in the evolution of the human race, we should embrace information abundance and free our minds.

2. Downsize and eventually eliminate your library.

Your physical library is keeping you from being free, so you need to eliminate it. This is no easy process, I know from experience. We tend to become very sentimentally attached to the books we’ve read.

We say ‘what if I want to reread page 324 of Harry Potter 4 someday?’ Well, you can always download that book again! However, chances are you’ll never re-read 99% of the books you’ve already read, so saving them is pointless.

Start by getting rid of every book that you’ve read that you didn’t like or are certain you’ll never read again.

Next eliminate every book you’ve already read.

Then move on to books that you wish you’d read but seriously have never had the time. Really, you’re actually going to read the collected works of William Shakespeare from start to finish? I think not. Even if you do wake up in the middle of the night wishing you could decode Hamlet, you can download it online.

Then read and eliminate systematically every book you still own that you actually want and can read.

Then donate, sell in bulk, or recycle all books.

3. Declare yourself free from the idea of the physical book.

Once you’ve embraced the idea of information abundance, you can basically do anything you want. Travel for five weeks in the Australian outback, hike up to Machu Picchu, or perhaps sit on the beach in Nicaragua for seven weeks. The possibilities are, as always, endless.

When you combine the ideas that I present in The Art of Being Minimalist with your freedom from your books, you can become free and live and work anywhere in the world.


Thank you, as always, for your help spreading the word about this story.

I have an interview with Tammy Strobel coming up on Monday about her new book Smalltopia. Don’t miss out! Join 5,700+ subscribers and sign up for free updates via RSS or Email.


Don’t forget, you can still comment, even though I disabled comments. Write about this on your blog, or get in touch on Twitter.

The True Purpose of Simplicity

August 16th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

We sometimes forget why we’re here, we aren’t looking where we’re going, or even where we’ve been.

We get all caught up in an idea about what we should be doing, and forget about what we really want to do.

I think what we want to do is to be free.

Instead we’re told by society that we’re supposed to buy a new car. We’re supposed to get our hair done a specific way. We’re supposed to go to college. We’re supposed to work all day and still somehow we’re in outrageous debt, and we wonder why.

There’s a weird misunderstanding about what simplicity actually is.

I get a lot of emails from people saying that they would never want to live this life.

For example, recently someone told me that the only reason they’d ever stop driving is if there was a mass extinction of the human race. I asked her why she was reading my blog if she was so opposed to everything it stands for.

The problem is, that I haven’t really defined what this blog is about, so it’s understandable that some people would be confused.

Far Beyond The Stars is about one very specific thing:

1. How to achieve freedom.

It’s not about skipping your coffee in the morning, it’s not about getting out of debt, it’s not about growing your food in your backyard, it’s not about checking yourself into the monastery on the corner and meditating 17 hours a day.

The origins of my simplification, and how it helps you.

I never intended to follow the set career path that society laid out for us. I didn’t go to high school, instead I took ballet and modern dance classes every day. I went to college to become an artist, and then hopefully at the end I secretly hoped that I would be inducted into the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers.

But it didn’t happen.

Instead I watched in horror as society crushed the dreams of every single artist friend I had. One by one every single one of them settled in some way for an outcome that wasn’t what they intended.

Slowly, one by one we didn’t make the audition for the dream that we’d always had.

Instead, we went out and got jobs at restaurants, we stayed in the basement of the university library, we did a good interview at a corporate job and got fat and lazy sitting at a desk all day.

Maybe in our spare time we kept working on our art, secretly hoping that we’d get a record deal or a publisher would pull us up by our bootstraps.

Seldom does Deux Ex Machina happen in real life though — the only person who can save you is you.

I believe this is actually everyone’s story. Some of us made it farther along the road than others, like we actually got into dance school or we had one show at CBGB’s on the Bowery with a packed house before it closed.

Eventually I gave up and settled for a job, because everyone else did.

Four years later I woke up and realized that I was missing the point, that somewhere along the way we all did, and this is why we failed.

The reality that was broken.

So every morning I woke up and took the subway into work. I sat at a desk and made other people’s stories look nice (meanwhile being told every time I pitched an idea that I’d never be a writer- HA, now who’s the more successful writer?) It was fun, we thought we were doing good work. I was paid just enough to survive, but it was never enough. My student loans just sat there accumulating interest.

But slowly on the fringes of my social radar, I noticed as one by one people started to drop off the radar. They said ‘fuck you’ to the corporations and started wandering the streets of America searching for the answer — what the tiny little voice in their back of their heads said.

“There must be a better way.”

What these people did, and what I did, was to radically refine our meaning of success.

We start to realize that the success that we thought we needed was implanted in our heads by the advertisers.

  • Coca Cola wanted us to think success was sitting at the movies chugging cokes watching Tom Cruise dodge explosions.
  • American Airlines wanted us to think of success as once a year taking an expensive flight to the caribbean.
  • Nikon and Canon want you to believe that you’ll be a famous photographer if you just buy one more camera lens.
  • The Bush administration wanted us to think success was not getting blown to bits by terrorists (which statistically is much lower than the fact that you have a 1 in 100 chance of being crushed by a car or flying through your Subaru’s windshield) while getting our permission to bomb the crap out of a foreign country in order to keep oil prices low.
  • American Idol wanted us to think success was texting 1 to their magic number while we sat in our chairs and munched on Lean Cuisine.

You get the idea.

Meanwhile I saw one by one my friends wake up and realize it was all a big fake magic reality that we’d have if we just bought one more Budweiser in the Meatpacking District.

We were in The Matrix, and the only freedom was truly to opt out.

So I did, I destroyed all of my stuff, quit my job, and got off the grid permanently.

Far Beyond The Stars is about waking you up.

It’s about telling you that your reality is broken, and there is another option.

You didn’t make the choices you made because you wanted to, you did it because The Man Behind The Television told you (because he wants your money.)

The Internet gave us the tools to create this revolution in the way that we think. We no longer live in the illusion that buying one more video game will make us happier. We no longer believe that a fancy handbag will make us find love.

We no longer believe that success = Donald Trump.

Instead we’re slowing redefining freedom as a reality you can have right now, if you just stop consuming.

Destroy all of that crap the television told you to buy and never go to the mall again.

Because buying more isn’t the answer. Freedom is.

And that my friends, is what Far Beyond The Stars is about.


Oh! And retweet this, because I can’t change reality by myself, I need you to join us in this movement, because we can make a difference.

P.S. I’m still on a digital sabbatical. That’s why commenting is off. I can’t answer your emails until I get back from the forest on August 23rd.

But don’t worry, I’m still posting work while I’m gone. That’s the magic of automation. Don’t miss out, sign up for free updates via EMAIL or RSS.

Why I Live With 57 Things (and what they are)

July 30th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

The less you have, the more epic your life.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Long time readers of this blog, and anyone who’s picked up a copy of The Art of Being Minimalist know that I’ve had a storied relationship with the personal possessions that I own and acquire.

Why you have so much stuff.

Basically, I think that we’ve been duped into buying things by an advertisement-dominated society for the last 50 years. The Internet is just now allowing us to break free of this mess and start to realize that the junk doesn’t matter.

Because I live with less stuff, and don’t buy much, all of the money I make from my minimalist business can go towards experiences such as travel and learning.

In my mind experiences are what life is worth living for, not possessions.

Last year, when I quit my job with $3,000 in the bank and moved to Portland, Or. I had 97 things. By the time I wandered back to the East coast, I had 75 things. When Alix and moved to San Francisco bay, I reduced my possessions to 50 things and a few weeks after I confessed that I really needed to live with more stuff than just 50 things.

Well, I just did one of my occasional stuff-counts, and it looks like I was right but not by much.

Even after saying that I was going to scale up the stuff, I only have 57 things.

Disclaimer that every minimalist blogger does about their stuff:

Now, obviously Alix and I have a bunch of shared items such kitchen and bedroom stuff. We got two used stools for our kitchen, we found an inexpensive couch and chair. We have a bed. I also hang my jackets on hangers. So before you leave a comment asking if I sleep on a bed, the answer is yes, I do.

Our kitchen stuff is just the essentials, but we recently purchased a blender/food processor which is decidedly un-minimalist, but allows us to have one of the best simple breakfasts known to man: freshly made fruit smoothies. My energy levels have skyrocketed and I’ve continued to lose weight because of this investment.

I’m counting my underwear and socks together because every other minimalist blogger does too. We’re allowed to cheat on undergarments because we always have. :)

I also have a few books that I’m reading right now. I usually pass my books on to people who really need them. For instance, I just read Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You to be Rich, which I’m giving to my brother because he really needs some personal finance advice at the moment.

Big purchases since moving to Cali.

I’ve made two big purchases since moving to Cali. The first was a new bike, a Surly Steamroller fixie. I’ve always wanted one, so I decided now was the time. The bike market here is outrageous, so I would have spent almost as much on a good used bike as this simple fixed gear bike, so I opted to order it from online.

I also purchased the new iPhone 4, because my old iPhone screen broke when I was in Brooklyn. I use the iPhone as a way to keep in touch with readers over Twitter and to write 85% of my blog posts. I’ve also started using Internet tethering on the iPhone which gives me Internet anywhere that I go and eliminates the need for Internet in our house –though there are bandwidth restrictions, which might be problematic if you watch a lot of TV online. We’ve gone over a once so far but it still seems to be cheaper than a dedicated line.

In the outbox:

A good minimalist always has an outbox, and I’ve put one thing in mine that I think are important to note here.

I decided recently that I should give away my Canon SLR camera. I haven’t used it more than once since moving to San Francisco, and only a dozen times in the last year. It definitely isn’t fitting into my ‘one-month-rule’, and so needs to go. This is hard for me, because I was a photographer for a long time. As some of you remember, I closed down my photography business for good around six months ago in order to focus exclusively on writing.

To be honest, I’ve made 2000% more as a writer than I ever did as a photographer, so that was a good move from a business perspective. It’s still hard, because the camera cost so much in the first place and the resell value is incredibly low now that consumer cameras are everywhere.

All of the photos you see on this blog were taken on my iPhone (including the one above) — you can see all of my photos here. It’s honestly way better for casual captures than my Digital Rebel ever was.

I’ve discarded a significant amount of clothing because of wear and tear over the last few months as well, so my clothes have actually become more streamlined. For instance, I used to have two hoodies, now I only have one new one. However, I’ve purchased more underwear, which has helped with not having to do laundry so much. I also have more pairs of jeans and more shoes than I used to.

Here’s my list of 57 things:

  1. MacBook Pro
  2. Macbook cleaning cloth
  3. iPhone 4
  4. iPhone earbuds
  5. Black Yoga Mat
  6. Moleskin notebook
  7. Pen to write in moleskin notebook
  8. Surly Steamroller Fixie
  9. Helmet
  10. Bike lock
  11. Frye Boots
  12. Belt
  13. Gray Converse Allstars
  14. Tom’s Shoes
  15. REI two-person backpacking tent
  16. Sleeping bag
  17. Gray hoodie
  18. Wind breaker
  19. Sunglasses
  20. Army jacket
  21. Tweed jacket
  22. Black heavier jacket
  23. Gray backpack
  24. Black Diamond Gray Backpacking bag
  25. Jeans
  26. Jeans
  27. Cutoff old jeans
  28. Purple tank
  29. Purple tank
  30. Gray tank
  31. Gray long-sleeve sweatshirt
  32. Gray long-sleeve T
  33. Coffee tank
  34. Gray v-neck
  35. Gray v-neck
  36. Black v-neck
  37. Blue v-neck
  38. Purple T
  39. Gray T
  40. Gray T
  41. Black T
  42. Toothbrush
  43. Deodorant
  44. Swim Trunks
  45. Keys to apartment + bike lock
  46. Minimalist “wallet” (really just a paper clamp that I keep my cards and cash in)
  47. Gray sweatpants
  48. Brown sweatpants
  49. Brown button cowboy shirt
  50. Gray button-down
  51. Socks (about 10 pairs)
  52. Underwear (about 10 pairs)
  53. Sewing repair kit for clothes
  54. Travel towel
  55. Knit hat that Alix made me
  56. 1 TB harddrive
  57. 500 Gb harddrive (looking into cloud backup options)

Obviously you don’t need much to have a great life. I certainly don’t have much of anything.

The point is to focus your possessions around what really matters to you, so this number will be bigger or smaller depending on your specific interests.

I live a location independent life working on the Internet, my main interests are writing and practicing yoga. This allows me to really only need two things for my interests: a yoga mat and a computer. Your life might be different, and it’s okay to have more.

I’m flexible with my things though, so I may buy more things. I may get rid of them. Who knows, I’m not really stressing about a specific number. Once I start traveling, I imagine I’m going to travel with less than 57 things, because I have a home-base here in Oakland now.

Why carry so many things when I can travel with 25 or 30 things?

The idea is that we need to curb our consumerism in order to focus on the important. This is why I live with less, because I’ve decided to stop consuming and start living.


For Monday I’ve written an epic post (over 4500+ words!), which is already scheduled about how I work less than 2 hours per day, and how you can too. Don’t miss out, did you know you can sign up to receive my blog posts in your email? Otherwise, it’s always great to read my blog via RSS.

[UPDATE: The epic blog post I had scheduled kept being deleted by WordPress, so I’ve decided that I’m going to release the post as a free e-book instead. Check back on Tuesday for the free e-book: Minimalist Workday.]

Stop back on Monday, it’s worth your time, I promise.

The Secret of Ultra-Mobility Without Owning a Car

July 26th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

You don’t need the gas, insurance, and car payment to have mobility when you need it

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

My girlfriend and I took a three-day mini-vacation last week, driving over to Lake Tahoe and down through Yosemite. We camped for two days on the banks of the Truckee river and enjoyed s’mores’ and wine by an open fire.

A few people emailed in to ask how I could possibly go all of that distance without owning a car. Well, this is true. I don’t own a car, and I only drive a few times a year.

The way I see it, the object of not owning a car is not to live in a hole, without the ability to travel when necessary.

A few of you are probably guessing already how I was able to go all of that distance without owning a car, but first I want to go over a few reasons why I don’t own a car.

The reasons not to own a car.

  1. Cars are expensive, costing the average American $8,000+ a year. When people buy cars, they only look at the sticker price-per-month, but they don’t think about car insurance, damage, problems, and tickets. If I had a car, I’d have to make more money to pay for it. It’s a vicious cycle that never ends.
  2. Maintaining a car can be stressful and time intensive. You have to get the oil checked, and make sure all of your papers are in order. This would take time away from my business and pleasures. Instead, I opt not to own a car.
  3. Cars are bad from the environment. They emit greenhouse gases, and most use a diminishing resource called oil, which is currently still spilling out all over the Gulf of Mexico, and we’re still mired in two wars over. If we’re ever going to live free, we need to stop being so dependent on oil to get around on a daily basis.
  4. Driving every day increases the likelihood that you will die or kill someone with your vehicle. Cars are dangerous weapons, enough said.

That being said, a few times a year it might be necessary to have the mobility of a car to leave the city and explore the greatness of America.

Please note: Before you head straight for the comments and scream ‘hypocrite’ at me for driving a few times a year. There’s a huge difference between driving a car for hours every single day over the course of a year, and driving a car for a few hours a couple of times a year.

Yes, occasionally I drive. It is necessary sometimes in order to escape the city. No, I wouldn’t dream of commuting two hours both ways to work every day like so many Americans do.

The secret to ultra-mobility without owning a car.

I’m a member of Zipcar.

For those who don’t know already. Zipcar is a car-sharing program that has been expanding rapidly in most cities in the US.

The premise is simple: most people don’t need to drive a car every day. If you treat a car kind of like a library book, thousands of people can share one car throughout a year.

By crowd-sourcing the cost of the vehicle, the cost on any one individual is greatly diminished.

If I needed a car right now for a quick run to a place that I couldn’t reach via public transit, I could have my choice of more than 20 different vehicles within a mile of the coffee shop where I’m writing this. Most of them cost around $9.50 an hour or $88 a day. If I know I need the Zipcar in advance, the cost is even less. If I were to take an ad-sponsored Zipcar, like the Wicked-wrapped Ford Focus over at the Bart stop, I’ll only have to pay $6.50 for my hour of driving.

Here are some other benefits of being a member of Zipcar

  1. You can change up what car you drive. Sick of driving your Prius? Switch it up and sport a Mazda Hatchback. Every time I drive, I have a completely new driving experience. Over the last year I’ve had the pleasure of test-driving over a dozen separate vehicles for long periods of time.
  2. Gas, insurance, licensing and maintenance is included in the cost-per-hour. Every Zipcar includes a gas card, which you can use to fill up for free at any self-serve gas station. I can’t over-stress how important it is that you don’t have to worry about these costs. Imagine not having that sinking feeling in your stomach when you’ve just put away $30-40 for a full tank of gas in this economy? Eliminated by Zipcar.
  3. Using Zipcar so incredibly simple. I can reserve a car in route via my iPhone, or on my computer in advance. I use a simple plastic credit-card-like Zipcard to let myself in and out of the car when I get to the location. Then I’m driving within seconds.
  4. If the Zipcar is damaged in an accident, you only have to pay a $500 damage fee. This can also be offset, if you’re for whatever reason more accident prone, by paying an additional insurance fee to Zipcar. I’ve never damaged a car in my life, I have driving reflexes like a cat, so I’m not too worried about this.
  5. You can use Zipcar in any of 50+ cities across the United States and the UK. For example, if I were to fly into Brooklyn for a few days, and needed to get upstate, it’d be no problem for me to reserve a car there. If I headed to San Diego, no problem! London, a Zipcar is there waiting for me. Imagine trying to get your car to another continent? That’d be expensive, but this way there’s very little cost involved.
  6. Zipcar reduces your impact on the environment. Zipcar estimates that for every car they put into action, it takes 15-20 cars off the streets. I imagine as time goes on, that number will rise dramatically. The more cars we share, the less we need our own. Almost all Zipcars are brand new fuel efficient/hybrid vehicles, so you’re also never going to be driving a clunker (which is the alternative budget car for most people.)

For a full list of Zipcar benefits, visit their website.

If you join soon, Zipcar has authorized me to give you $25 in free driving credits.

This reduces the fee to join Zipcar to essentially only $25. That’s pretty much nothing compared to the $8,000 and all of the time you’d save if you got rid of your car, isn’t it?

If you live in an urban area, there’s really no reason not to ditch your car and join Zipcar. Save yourself tons of money a year, free yourself from the obligation of maintaining a car, drive a different car every time you take a trip, and save the planet. Not a bad deal, right?

Subsection for power users: how to use Zipcar for free.

Here’s a final tip, and with the right amount of effort can work for the right people:

It’s possible to use Zipcars for free.

How? Zipcar has an affiliate program that allows you to sign up drivers for driving credit commission. For example, if you were able to sign up 100 drivers via your blog, you’d be able to drive Zipcar anywhere from $2500-$5000 ‘Zip Credit Hours’, depending on which affiliate link you use.

I choose the ‘you get $25, I get $25′ for these links, because I want you to have some free time riding around in the car as well. This way you’ll know how to write about Zipcar on your own site in order to get your own free driving time.

I used my affiliate link to Zipcar in this post. So, if you sign up for an account, I’ll get a small credit that I can use towards my own driving. You can do this too, once you get the account.

Obviously results will vary depending on the size of your network. I have almost 5,000 subscribers to Far Beyond The Stars, so chances are a few dozen (probably many more) will take me up the offer. Your blog might have a larger or smaller following, so results will vary.

This works just like the affiliate system for my e-books –the only difference is that my affiliates get paid in cash. To read more, check out the affiliate section of the new Minimalist Business Bookstore.

For more on driving car-free, I definitely suggest checking out my friend Tammy Strobel’s blog, Rowdy Kittens. She’s an expert on this subject.


I’m interviewing Joshua Becker about his new book on Wednesday. Don’t miss out, sign up to receive my blog posts via EMAIL or RSS.

Oh! And don’t forget to check out my guest post on Julien Smith’s (co-author of Trust Agents) blog: One Way to Abolish Risk.


If you enjoyed this post, I’d love if you’d share it on Twitter or StumbleUpon. Thanks so much.



How to Make Money No Object (with very little)

July 7th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Why It’s Easier to Succeed if You Have Nothing to Lose

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

“If money were no object for me I’d…”

“When I win the lottery I’ll…”

I hear these sayings all the time, we all do.

I want to take a moment to help you discover how to make money no object with very little money.

Why? Because I honestly think the idea that you need to wait until you have a large amount of resources is holding people back from achieving a reality where they can live and work from anywhere — or whatever your plans are.

I feel that eliminating excuses through simple experimentation has gone a long way towards helping me discover my own full potential, and I hope this will too.

Why the risk is really what you fear to lose.

When we truly dissect the above excuses, we can see quite easily what is really at stake: losing everything.

We’re afraid if we pursue the reality that we always dreamed of, we’ll end up losing the reality that we have now.

So we wait for the day when money is no longer an object. When we’ve made the millions that will support our every dream and ambition.

There are two elements that make this assumption completely absurd.

First I’ll break down the assumptions, and tell you why they’re wrong. Second, I’ll show you how to make money no longer an object through one simple practice that I’m sure you’re already aware of.

…and they are:

1. You’ll never make millions if you never take risks.

People think that if they sit around at a desk, someday they’ll get promoted and make millions. This isn’t true, because employers have an infinite choice of hiring potential. Who are they going to hire when it’s time to fill a new position? Someone new, exciting, and who appears more ambitious than you in a 45 minute interview. Also, while you sit around, you’re getting older and your dreams are rapidly turning to stone.

2. You’re not simply going to ‘get lucky’.

You can’t win the lottery if you don’t play. Buying a lottery ticket is a risk you have to take for impossible odds. If you don’t play, you also can’t win. This is a metaphor, of course, because it’s dumb to actually play the lottery. If you don’t risk something, you can’t move to the next level.

Okay, so now that I’ve dispelled those myths, I want to show you to beat the system. How to make the risk of following your dreams negligible.

Reduce what you’re risking as much as possible.

Risking putting everything on the table when you have a lot to lose is an awful lot to ask. ‘What if I lose the Porsche? How will I ever survive?’

One of my heroes, Julien Smith the co-author of Trust Agents, has a saying that “Cultural Transparency ÷ Risk = Upward Mobility“. From my experiences, I genuinely believe this to be true.

In order to move up in society, you need to both take risks and learn about how the world actually works — which is oddly enough not how everyone tells you it works.

So this is what you need to do, in order to eliminate as much risk as possible in order to pursue your dreams — which could be much more profitable and ultimately rewarding than the life you’re currently leading.

1. Eliminate anything, and everything, in your life that you fear to lose.

You can’t feel the pain of loss if you have nothing to lose. Give away the Porsche, junk the flatscreen TV, downsize to a smaller house, donate the Gucci handbag to someone who doesn’t need to risk anything.

Make a list of everything you think you can’t live without.

Now, sell everything on that list.

You can keep your clothes and your laptop if you think you need them. Maybe you need shoes. Maybe you don’t!

All of you junk is holding you back from your pursuit of your dreams. It’s best if you eliminate everything to the point that you’re living out of a bag or somewhere close to that.

I’ve been living out of a bag for a year now, this is the single most important factor in my ability to take risks in order to build my business to be as profitable as it is now.

2. Pay off all of your debts.

Every debt that you take on makes it harder to take risks. If you pay off all of your debts and resolve never to take on another again, you’ll be able to risk it all so much easier.

For more on paying off your debts see my article on Minimalism Vs. Debt.

3. Start taking risks.

You have to start small. Now that you have nothing to lose, I want you to go ahead and start taking some small risks just to be uncomfortable. The object is simply to push your boundaries and nothing more:

A simple risk taking activity to inspire you:

During a busy rush hour commute I want you to go to a public place where, more than 150 people are present — public transit is best, but a mall or plaza can do, with headphones and some sort of music playing device such as an iPod.

Now, pick a song that’s danceable and has lyrics you know by heart. I usually do this with Smashing Pumpkin’s ‘Ava Adore‘, but you know what you know.

Now, turn the song on, walk into the middle of the public place and start dancing + singing as loud and as extravagantly as possible. Stay in one place in the most crowded location possible. Do not stop until the song is over. There is nothing illegal about singing and dancing, you will not get in trouble.

People will probably look at you like you’re a crazy person. That’s okay.

Once you’re done, just walk out of there like nothing ever happened.

I realize the idea of doing this is terrifying to a lot of people. Being weird is frowned upon everywhere.

The idea is not to be weird, or to attract attention, it’s to start exploring what it feels like to take a risk. You might look like a fool if your simple business bombs. You might feel bad when your wife asks where the Porsche went. Feeling weird is part of risk taking.

The truth of the matter is that you’ll never succeed if you don’t try.

And the easiest way to try is to have nothing to lose.

I believe this is one of the fundamental lessons behind Minimalist Business.

How to Avoid Scaling Your Life-Overhead With Your Income

June 23rd, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Why minimalism can keep your overhead low and your freedom high

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

One of the biggest challenges of minimalism, especially when you apply it to the idea of creating a minimalist business, is avoiding the inevitable pull and pressures to scale up your life expenses with the rise of your personal wealth.

There’s a good deal of pressure in society to spend more money. We congregate around malls in most parts of the country, there are advertisements to buy buy buy everywhere, there are endless luxuries that we’re told will make us happier.

Why spending more won’t make you happier.

Obviously if you’ve been following my writing for any amount of time, you know that I’m convinced that buying stuff doesn’t make you happier — it just tethers you location and consumes your income.

I originally discovered the idea of minimalism when I left my day job to pursue a location independent life. In order to do that, I had to figure out how to live on very limited resources.

I asked the question: how do I survive without money? Inevitably that lead to minimalism, which lead to living with less than 100 things and being able to live and work from anywhere.

However inevitable it might have been from the beginning, I never conceived of the idea that my income would reach the level that it has in such a short amount of time.

The dangers of income growth.

Once your minimalist business grows (and if you do the right things it will) you might discover the same challenge.

You’ll suddenly find yourself working less than 10 hours a week, and making more than you did at your day job.

When you don’t scale your income with your overhead, you suddenly produce a surplus of money which you can use to your advantage — say to get out of debt, retire early, or simply pursue the dreams that you’re passionate about.

That’s why I’ve prepared this list of 16 strategies to keep your life-overhead from scaling in direct proportion to your income. I hope this list can help you keep your spending low and your income high, whether you’ve successfully created a minimalist business, or you’re trying to leave your soul-sucking day job.

Here are 16 strategies to keep your overhead from scaling with your income:

1. Use free transportation.

One of the easiest and healthiest ways to keep your overhead low is to use free or inexpensive transportation. We live in a society where having a car is the norm, however cars are expensive, destructive, dirty, and anti-social. If you care about the state of the Gulf oil spill, I’d better not see you driving. The truth about the matter is that it’s fairly easy to live car-free by purchasing a bike, walking, or simply using public transportation.

2. Live in a place that’s walkable.

Not all cities are created equal. Places like Portland, OR. New York, and San Francisco are created in a way that you can obtain everything you need to survive by walking a couple of blocks. If you live in a city or the suburbs where sprawl is the norm, you’re keeping your overhead high by needing a car to obtain your groceries. Stop, think about where you’re living, and make the right choice in order to keep your overhead low.

3. Prepare your own food.

Eating out for every meal is costly, and also not healthy. Fast food, and even most restaurant food, is filled with stuff you don’t even want to know about, especially salt, fat, and processed sugar that metabolizes faster than our bodies can handle. If you prepare your own food out of whole ingredients such as vegetables, meats, beans and grains, you’ll both lose weight and save money. Shop the periphery of the supermarket, only buy unprocessed food. Jules just came out with a free minimalist cookbook that can help you with this.

4. Track your possessions.

Nothing can blow your overhead out of proportion like buying lots of junk you don’t need. The easiest way to keep your stuff under control is to commit to living with less than 100 personal possessions. I’ve been doing it long enough now that I wouldn’t even dream of living any other way, it’s just not practical to have to worry about lots of stuff everywhere.

5. Live in a smaller space.

One of the big fallacies of the American Dream is the McMansion that MTV convinced us we were supposed to buy. Having a big house with a huge yard and a two-car garage can or will blow your overhead out of proportion. Opt-out of this lie and rent a smaller space in a walkable area.

6. Avoid watching TV.

The television is designed with handy 5-minute breaks to convince you to buy an unrealistic amount of stuff that will quickly swell your overhead. If you ate all of the junk food that comes up in one hour of typical commercial breaks, you’d die. Avoid this situation by not being a passive consumer of mindless entertainment, destroy your TV and cancel your cable.

7. Avoid reading mass media.

Newspapers and magazines are created around the same advertising model, which is largely unsustainable — that’s why the newspaper and magazine industries are dying. If you look at your average fashion magazine, you’ll be convinced the only way to be cool is to spend $6000 on a handbag. This is absurd, you don’t five-hundred beauty products and sparkling gold jewels. All of this stuff was created to make other people rich and brain wash you into living a life with no meaning. Don’t read newspapers or magazines as most of them encourage consumption (and also kill trees.)

8. Establish a minimalist social circle.

Be careful who you hang around with. If your best friend’s idea of having fun is racking up credit card debt at the mall, you have a social circle problem. Cultivate relationships around less and encourage people you know to embrace minimalism, or find friends who already have. A great way to do this to share minimalist writing through your social networks like Facebook and Twitter in order to make it clear to people where your priorities lie. Invite friends over for dinner and enjoy good conversation over inexpensive home-prepared food instead of going to the movies or spending hundreds of dollars out at the bar.

9. Share resources.

We all done need everything that we’ve been told we do. Cars for instance are quickly becoming a shared commodity in most cities because of amazing resources like Zipcar. There are of course countless other ways to share resources. Join a tool lending library for when you need to create things (these exist Portland and Oakland, and if your cities doesn’t have one you should convince them it’s necessary.) Use Zikol to rent anything that you need ,or offer your own useful items for rent in your neighborhood. Consider setting up small neighborhood collectives to share things that you might not need on a regular basis. This is becoming easier with social networking and the rise of the Internet.

10. Pursue simple pleasures.

The idea that you have to spend money to be happy is absurd. Realize that simple things such as sitting at the beach, or on a bench at the park can be a free or inexpensive way to spend time. Cooking food can be a great way to get enjoyment and also pass the time. Read books about things that matter in order to improve your knowledge of the world and pass time. Lately I’ve been volunteering to crew sailboats on San Francisco bay, which is a free and helpful way to have an amazing day.

11. Use simple tools.

There are so many expensive gadgets and tools out there to buy. The pressure to upgrade to the latest and greatest nonsense is absurd. You don’t need five different ways to access the Internet, you only need one. You don’t need to invest in the top of the line gadget when you only need a simple tool to get the job done. Sometimes a simple pad of paper is the best way to get any job done.

12. Do less.

Walk slower, breathe oxygen, simply be content sitting and watching the trees sway back and forth. All of the endless and frantic running around won’t be remembered, it will just make you tired. When you slow down and do less, you begin to realize that everyone is doing way too much. Why work 60 hours a week when you can work 10? Why run to the grocery store when you can walk slowly? Walk slowly, breathe, do less.

13. Focus on the work that matters.

Not all work is created equal. A large number of people I know are caught up in routines that just spend lots of time, but aren’t creating any value. When you spend your time creating things that help people, and automating your distribution process, you can eventually spend a lot less time working and a lot more time enjoying your minimalist life. Eliminate all activities that aren’t creating value for you, or anyone else, and focus on the important.

14. Dedicate time to self-education over all else.

We’re taught that we need to be taught to learn things, I’ve found that the opposite is true. Self-education can be the most effective way to use your time. There are hundreds of free, or inexpensive resources that can help you learn a huge amount of information. If you’re wondering what to do with your life, don’t go buy a pizza and play video games. Instead, log on to TED and watch some of the world’s greatest minds talk about the ideas that they’re passionate about. Don’t spend $150,000 on a business degree when Empire Builder or a Personal MBA can give you the tools to create a very small business for a small fraction of that price. Resolve to read a book a week for the rest of your life — believe it or not simply reading give you the keys to creating your ideal reality.

15. Realize that you already have more than enough.

We’ve been living with so much more than we ever needed for generations. When you wake up and realize that advertising tricked you into consuming so much more than you ever needed, and that you can be content right here and now, you suddenly have the key to keeping your overhead low in order to prevent your life from scaling with your income. You don’t need anything else, everything you have now is enough.

16. Keep the end goal in mind.

The end is the beginning is the end. Don’t get distracted by meaningless pursuits by setting an end goal that has some meaning to you. Do you want to leave your soul-sucking day job in order to pursue a minimalist life and live and work from anywhere? Maybe you want to build a boat and sail all around the world? Maybe you just want to sit on your porch and read a good book.

There’s no reason that your end goal has to scale with your income. If it doesn’t scale, your income will skyrocket with no-relation to your spending, and freedom can become an inevitability.


If this helped, you know the deal. Share it with people, it’s the only way my work finds new people it can help. Thanks!

How to Live With 50 Things (and Why I Decided to Stop)

June 6th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

When you opt-out of the endless cycle of consumerism, you can discover freedom.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Around two months ago, I made an announcement on Twitter that blew some people’s minds: I decided to live with less than 50 possessions.

I haven’t talked much about it on the blog, because I’ve been focused on producing content that helps people. Promoting the fact that I was living with 50 things just seemed to be bragging, so I haven’t talked too much about it until now.

For those who are joining us recently, the 50 things movement was started by Leo Babauta on his blog Mnmlist. Colin Wright and Henri Juntilla are also living with around the same number of things.

The 50 things movement doesn’t count shared items like cooking supplies, bedding, and furniture. I was only counting personal possessions that only belong to me.

Why I decided to live with 50 things.

I’m a big fan of trying out everything once, so I decided to jump on board and try it for awhile. I’ve been living with 75 things for awhile, and reducing that number to 50 didn’t seem like a huge leap. So, I went for it.

Here are the benefits of living with 50 things, from my experience living with less for two months between March 2010 – and May 2010. I no longer live with 50 things, and I’ll explain why further down.

1. It’s incredibly easy to relocate to anywhere in the world.

I moved to Oakland, CA from Brooklyn, NY on May 15th with my girlfriend Alix and Lola the cat. I tossed one backpack into luggage (I only did this because we had Lola the cat, and I wanted to simplify our trip on the plane even further or I would have carried it on.) And carried on a small bag with my laptop, a hoodie, and Jack Kerouac’s On The Road in it. All of my possessions moved easily from the East coast to the West coast.

In my previous moves with 100 things, I often felt like I was carrying entirely too much with me. When I had my stuffed-full backpacking bag (with sleeping bag and tent), plus my camera bag, plus my stuffed-full laptop bag. The combined weight made it difficult to move around easily. With 50 things I could easily carry all of my possessions without stressing my body.

2. It’s incredibly easy to find things.

When you have 50 things there is no way to lose things. I’m convinced that once we pass 150 things our minds can no longer pinpoint the exact location of all our individual possessions.

My theory about this is that up until recent history humans didn’t have more than 150 possessions, so we haven’t evolved to keep track of more than 150. This is why people with over 150 things are known to lose things (where are my sunglasses?)

When I had 100 things, I could easily pinpoint the location of any of my possessions in my mind before going to find them (the cleaning cloth of my laptop is in the left-front pocket of my laptop bag.) When I had 50 things, this superhuman ability became magnified. Because I had less to worry about, it was even easier to locate things.

3. You save a lot more money.

When you have 50 things, the urge to entertain yourself by spending money is incredibly diminished. I only made a couple of significant clothing purchases during the early months of this year, and that was to replace clothing items that had worn out.

My Frye boots that I’d owned for a number of years finally gave out, and I had to replace them with a new pair. I purchased a few new pairs of underwear and tank shirts for doing yoga in. Other than those purchases to replace completely destroyed clothes, I did not spend money on possessions.

4. You can pursue alternative ways of finding happiness.

Buying things doesn’t make you happy. The televisions have told us to buy things for the last 50 years, so it’s almost completely ingrained in our culture. “If I only had another gizmo, I’d be happier.” This isn’t true, and when you reduce your possessions in order to be conscious of your consumption, you start to find ways to fill the time which don’t involve purchasing junk.

5. More time to focus on the important.

When you have less things, you can focus on doing important work. One of the benefits of living with less, for me, has been that I can create work that matters. Instead of organizing my junk, I’ve been able to write two e-books, The Art of Being Minimalist, and the upcoming Minimalist Business, that now provide all of the income I need to survive.

I’ve known people with massive amounts of stuff in large spaces. What I’ve observed is that these people spend endless amounts of time organizing and cleaning their possessions. They also spend a lot more money on their spaces, because they need extra room for the stuff they don’t need. The junk starts to rule their lives. When you live with less the need for large spaces, and the time you have to spend on organizing, cleaning, and buying more stuff disappears. All of this free time can be dedicated to focusing on the important.

6. Financial freedom.

Ultimately this all leads to financial freedom. When you need less space, because you have less stuff, you can work less to support yourself. Many people can’t escape their debt because of oversized houses, junk-buying habits, and having no time to focus on the important. Living with less can solve that problem.

I suppose all of these apply to living with 75 things as well, but when you live with 50 things they are amplified.

Why I decided to stop living with 50 things.

Living with 50 things was incredibly liberating, but since moving to California I’ve decided to abandon the experiment and move back to living with 75 things. Why? There are two main reasons.

1. I need to simplify my laundry days.

Living with 50 things means you have to clean your clothing more often. I found myself at the laundromat once a week like clockwork. This was fine in Brooklyn because the laundromat was three buildings away, but the laundromat in Oakland is six blocks away, which means I have to dedicate a significant amount of time once a week to laundry-doing.

In order to simplify my laundry schedule in order to focus on the important, I’m gradually purchasing more clothing to save time doing laundry.

On Wednesday I purchased two pairs (I was living with one pair that was starting to show wear) of high-quality denim jeans, which fit well. I’ve also purchased a few more t-shirts and underwear in order to lengthen time between laundromat visits. Eventually I hope to be able to do laundry once every two weeks.

Side-note: I now have a 29 inch waist. This is down from toping out at 33 inches when I had my day job. Apparently living a free and independent minimalist life is very good for your waist size.

Obviously you could argue that I could wash my clothing in my sink. I don’t own quick-dry clothing, though I would purchase some if I were to go abroad. I’ve found that hand-washing is much more of a time-sink than laundromat washing. This time would be better spent working on the important, so I’ve opted not to hand-wash clothing items.

2. I missed my Moleskin and pen.

One of the items I downsized when moving to 50-things was all of my paper, so I tossed my Moleskin notebook that I use for free-writing and brainstorming. This meant that I couldn’t do hand-written brainstorming sessions.

While eliminating my Moleskin simplified my life by directing all of my brainstorming sessions into Evernote, I found that the experience of typing ideas into Evernote on my iPhone was less than satisfactory. Writing by hand is both an inexpensive and also a simple way to capture ideas for later use.

I’ve also found that writing my hand helps center the hemispheres of my brain, and more easily allows me to move to a creative place. There is also no Twitter application to accidentally open in my Moleskin.

In conclusion.

I realize that living with 75 things is still very little for most people, and the 50 things that I had was an incredibly small number. I haven’t updated my possessions list to reflect what I currently have, I’ll be sure to do that soon.

Living with less isn’t for everyone, but I’ve discovered that it can make life a lot simpler when you decide to opt out of the endless cycle of consumerism.

For more on how I was able to reduce my possessions to less than 100 things in order to live anywhere, check out my e-book The Art of Being Minimalist.


The New Escapologist interviewed me yesterday about minimalist freedom and escaping from the dying magazine industry.

On Tuesday I’m interviewing Karol Gajda of Ridiculously Extraordinary about how he lives and works from anywhere. Don’t miss out, sign up for free updates via RSS or EMAIL.

How to Live Like a Prince on Less Than Six-Figures a Year

June 1st, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Why time is more important than spending money on things you don’t need

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

It’s been a little over two weeks since Alix and I (and Lola the cat) moved to Oakland, CA. and one of the things that struck me recently was how good life is out here.

There are trees everywhere, and panoramic views of the fog rolling in over the bay from our rooftop. It’s everything I could have asked for and more. –’More’ being the Whole Foods a mere five blocks from the cheapest apartment I’ve ever rented in my life, one that also has 13 windows that all look out on the hills over Berkeley.

Anyway, I just want to share with you an observation that occurred to me as I was lying awake tonight:

You can live like a prince on a lot less than six-figures a year.

One of my goals with my minimalist business was to generate six-figures of income by the end of one year. I’m pretty much certain at this moment that whether or not I continue to pursue that goal this outcome will happen. However, making that much money doesn’t need to be a requirement to live a good life.

My current income level is more than enough to support everything that I do.

So many people live their lives waiting. They tell themselves, “if only I had a million dollars, I’d do X” (X being what you wish you’d do with your life.)

After my experiences from the last year, I’m convinced that this is simply an excuse to not face the fact that doing what you want is difficult and involves sacrificing a couple of huge expenses that you don’t really need anyway.

Simply put, doing what you want involves killing a couple of “necessities” in order to actually live your life in the name of minimalism.

Here are a couple of things that you need to give up to live like a prince on less than six-figures a year.

1. Give up your car.

I’m convinced that I’d never have been able to achieve this life if I was also making car payments, insurance payments, and $3.15 a gallon on gas. Cars rule our lives financially, and they also make our cities inhospitable. Oh! cars also kill people (and squirrels.) Give up your car, and you can allocate $5,000-$8,000 a year to living like a prince. What do you have to do to live without a car? Move to a place where you don’t need a car (these places are better anyway.) Get a bike, it’ll make you healthier. In most places in the United States the money you spent on your car can cover the rent on your prince’s palace.

2. Give up your storage.

I’m convinced that I’d never be able to live this life if I was also paying for storage. So many people insist on renting or mortgaging a space that is 5x the size they need to store junk they never use. Our apartment in Oakland has 13 windows but only one bedroom. This is possible because we don’t need three spare bedrooms, an attic, and a two-car garage to fill up with junk we don’t use. The storage industry has profits in the billions of dollars because people own more than they can even keep in their oversized houses. Lose the junk, and you can live like a prince on less than six-figures a year.

3. Give up on entertaining yourself until death.

One of the final remaining elements of this equation is eliminating most forms of expensive, and especially subscription, entertainment. Destroy your TV, cancel your cable, stop dragging yourself to the movies every Friday to see the latest Hollywood rehash. What matters in your life is experiences, and by experiences I’m not talking about how 3D the glasses made them look. Most good things in life can be experienced by putting on your shoes and walking outside.

4. Give up the idea of trading time for money.

My last article was so successful for a reason: two weeks of vacation a year is a crime. They call it wage slavery for a reason, and it’s the slavery part that I need to emphasize here. When you opt-out of trading time for money, and begin to instead contribute value to the world, you have a chance to begin to reclaim the time you deserve.

Tim Ferriss has a term he uses called The New Rich. A lot of people misinterpret this term as referring to money. Let me let you into a secret that is obvious to a select few: it’s not about money.

The New Rich is about paying yourself with time and mobility to do what matters to you.

I can’t take everyone by the hand and physically remove the junk they don’t need from their lives.

I can’t come to your house and drive your car to the dump or stop you from buying a new one every couple of years.

Why can’t I? because I’m too busy wandering around the magnificent San Francisco during my 80% spare time.

The decision to be free is one you need to make for yourself. Only you can change your consumption patterns in order to live like a prince on less than six-figures a year.

You don’t need to be a millionaire to make this change, you simply need to simplify your life in order to focus on the important.


If you have time, I want you to check out a remarkable blog I’ve been reading by Eric Heins. He’s a young leather worker who decided to simplify his life in order to live and work from anywhere. Read the blog from start to finish, it’s guaranteed to inspire: The Barter Project.


If this article helped you, it only takes 10 seconds to retweet it or share it in your favorite manner. Your support is only reason that more people hear about my work. Thank you.

Minimalist Business Success at the Basis of Existence

May 12th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

On moving to SF Bay, and how minimalism makes small goals reach success.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

First of all, I just wanted to say thank you for everyone who came out to support the launch of Minimalist Business.

The turnout was simply extraordinary. You’ve blown me away with your enthusiasm. I’ve received an incredible amount of email over the last two days, and I apologize if it’s taking me awhile to get back to everyone.

So far the feedback has been 95% positive, constructive, or simply thanking me for doing this work. Thank you.

How successful was the pre-launch of Minimalist Business?

Because Minimalist Business is truly riding on the idea that a location independent digital business can support an individual, I think it’s best if we have complete transparency about how much money came in from the pre-launch for my latest product.

I’m doing this not to gloat over the money (because it really isn’t that much, but it’s plenty compared to how much money I spend maintaining my minimal lifestyle.) But because I want you to see what’s possible if you put in the work to make this kind of business a reality for you.

The launch brought in just over $6000 over 24 hours.

My goal with this release was $2000, which I passed in the first hour. The pre-release of Minimalist Business did far better than I ever could have anticipated.

Depending on your perspective, that figure is either a lot or very little. I have friends who bring home a paycheck this size every week (and they spend it just as quickly.) If you remember from my writing last year, I survived on $3000 in Portland for three months. Needless to say, this is more than enough to support my on-going work for an extended period of time, — my life-overhead is so incredibly low.

Also, this figure is above and beyond the income already coming in from The Art of Being Minimalist and the affiliate work that I do for other work that I believe in. I see it as more of an investment in future work.

Long time readers know that I live with 50-things, so don’t expect to see me go on shopping sprees or anything like that. I’m just not interested in wasting money supporting consumerism, when the work is so much more important.

The myth that you can’t pay the bills working as a writer.

The biggest element of this whole story, the one that’s a real shocker to a lot of people in the world, is the fact that you truly can make a living as a writer by creating great work.

I spoke in Minimalist Business about the idea that we don’t need middlemen anymore. When you stop waiting around for a publishing house, an agent, a record label to come ‘discover’ your work, you free yourself up to start doing the work that supports you.

Far Beyond The Stars is named after a story in which a writer in the 1940s literally has his life destroyed because of middlemen who won’t publish his work. The fact that middlemen no longer rule the world is truly liberating to every artist in the world.

The first step is to recognize this fact, then we all need to actually start acting on it with the resources that we have at our disposal. I hope that Minimalist Business gives people the tools and inspiration to do this.

On location independence in SF Bay.

As most of you know, my girlfriend and I are moving to The San Francisco bay area on Saturday May 15th. We’ll probably be setting up shop in Oakland, because it seems to be the kind of neighborhood that we’d enjoy living in.

We’re staying in a room in an apartment we booked at Airbnb. They’re letting us bring the cat, this is awesome.

As we’re moving in only a couple of days, I may be less in-contact than I normally am. Moving is fairly easy for me, being that all of my stuff fits into a bag, but I’ll be busy locating an apartment that rocks in a neighborhood that rocks.

I haven’t lived in a new place since returning to Brooklyn in January, so I’m incredibly excited about exploring a new place.

On the affiliate relaunch of Minimalist Business.

One of the hardest decisions I had to make was whether to include my affiliate network in the initial launch of Minimalist Business. I made the decision to just distribute the initial release here, on my site only.

In my view, the work just isn’t ready for wider exposure yet. It stands on it’s own, but after the relaunch is will truly rock the world.

Think about it this way: you now have a month or so to become incredibly familiar with the work for the re-release. I’ll be distributing Minimalist Business with 50% commission, so you only need to sell two copies to make back your purchase price, or even more.

My true hope is that after you’ve read the e-book, it will be easier than ever for you to do this. I’ll be sure to give you more info as we get closer to the date about how to join the affiliate relaunch of Minimalist Business.

Thanks so much for sticking with me on this. I promise that it will pay off in the future with a stronger work for you to advocate for, if you’re part of my affiliate network, or are interested in joining.

On Minimalist Business feedback.

As I’ve been saying, a lot of the work that I’ll be doing over the next month will be on making Minimalist Business better. I want to hear from you. What wasn’t clear? What was missing? How can this help you better?

We’re already nailing the grammatical problems, but I honestly think these are less important — I’ve also already received emails from dozens of people offering to help with this, so rest assured the grammar will be spotless in the next release.

The overarching message of the work is most important to me.

We can spend all day discussing whether a sentence needs to be three inches to the left, or whether a comma is necessary or not. Copy editing is important, but it’s also easy to fix. What is important is making better the work that matters, this is the hard part — and hence the focus of 90% of my attention in the next month.

Contact me with your thoughts, I’d love to hear from you.

On creating work at the basis of existence.

We’re taught daily by society that money matters above all else. If only we had a little more money, everything would be better. We’d be able to live better, people would like us more, we’d be able to get a nicer handbag.

None of that matters. Money isn’t important.

I fully intend to continue living at the basis of existence, and using the resources that I’ve received by contributing value to continue contributing value to you. This is the most important element, and one that we should all consider when working on our own minimalist business ventures.

The basis of existence is an idea that you only need food and housing to survive, the rest of everything you think you need has been pushed on your by marketing and advertisers. You don’t need any of that, live simply and free yourself to work on what is important.

As Rolf Potts recently observed on Tim Ferriss’s 4 Hour Workweek blog “…neither self nor wealth can be measured in terms of what you consume or own.”

What matters most is the time you have to work on what matters most to you.

By supporting my work, you’ve given me the time to work on making the work even more valuable than it already is.

I fully expect $6000 to support my lifestyle for the next three to four months, due to living at the basis of existence. Will I have more money coming in from The Art of Being Minimalist? Of course. This doesn’t give me the permission to blow it on fruitless endeavors or consumerism. That would defeat the point.

When you stop trading time for money, and spending money to eat up time, you opt out of a perpetual cycle that is keeping you basically imprisoned in a corporate system.

Then you can be free to create work that matters.

Thank you all for your support, it means so much to know that I’m helping you make a difference.

Everett Bogue

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