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 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.



Interview with Karol Gajda: How to Live Anywhere

June 8th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Why you can build a freedom business in order to work from anywhere in the world

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Karol Gajda is a globe-trotting minimalist rockstar –he even brings his hand-made guitar with them anywhere. He lives a simple life, has traveled through India, Thailand, and is currently in Poland. He’s dedicated to helping 100 people establish “ridiculously extraordinary” freedom at his blog by the same name.

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Karol on a very special day — the release of his new product How to Live Anywhere. I’ve just read the e-book thoroughly, and I have to say, I’m incredibly impressed by the work he’s done. I won’t say more, I’d rather let the interview do the talking. I’m sure the e-book isn’t for everyone, but if you’re interested in pursuing a location independent life, How to Live Anywhere can help you.

Anyway, onward to the Interview. We spoke about Karol’s globe-trotting exploits, his changed attitude toward consumerism, and how to live anywhere in the world.

Everett Bogue: Karol, I’m fascinated by your ability to live and work from anywhere — many of your techniques I’ve been able to apply to my own business. As I understand your goals have morphed significantly over the last few years. How has your perspective on making a living shifted?

Karol Gajda: Thanks Everett! My living has always been based online, but I didn’t really start taking advantage of that until a couple years ago. Instead of embracing the opportunity to live and work anywhere I bought a big house, an expensive car, and useless toys. As you know I wrote more about that (and about how I got rid of everything) in the Minimalist Quick Start Guide here on Far Beyond The Stars.

Karol: My perspective has shifted from a blatant buy-buy-buy consumer to a careful consumer. I still buy things, but I live out of a 32 Liter backpack so I’ve given myself limits. For example, instead of buying a bunch of physical books I have an Amazon Kindle, which I can now use in almost any country I’m visiting. I’ve bought books while in India, Thailand, and Poland (which is where I am currently.)

Everett: I first interviewed you last year. I understand you’ve had quite a journey since. Can you give us an update on where you are now in your travels, where you’ve been, where you’re going?

Karol: Yeah, during that time I was in a small break between New Zealand and India, getting some vaccinations and catching up with friends/family for the holidays. Shortly after that interview I left for India to learn how to build guitars by hand. Technically I don’t call myself an ultralight packer anymore because I have a guitar in tow. But hey, I built it and it rules. The sacrifice of this piece of baggage is worth it. After 2 months in India I went to Thailand for 40 days. I was in Bangkok during the early parts of the protests, which unfortunately got violent and deadly about a week after I left Thailand for Poland. And I’m currently in Poland until October. I was born here, but my family left when I was a baby so I’m back to learn the language better and get to know some of my family. After Poland I’m going back to the US for about a month and likely Panama for 3-4 months after that. :)

Everett: How do you support yourself in order to live anywhere?

Karol: The easiest way to put it is Internet Marketing, but that’s such a general term. Over the past few years I’ve focused more on niche Web sites, doing affiliate marketing and niche info products. 80% of my income over the past 10 years has been through affiliate marketing. One of my favorite approaches is to use an infoproduct as a lead generator and then promoting infoproducts/memberships through affiliate marketing on the back end. For example, selling (or giving away) a small eBook about unique date ideas, and then promoting a dating site (or other dating products) on the backend.

And now, as of today, I’m launching my first product from my blog teaching people how to do what I do. The philosophy, logistics, and specific making money aspects of living anywhere.

Everett: What is your number one priority in releasing How to Live Anywhere?

Karol: When I started my blog in 2009 the goal was to help 100 people achieve Ridiculously Extraordinary Freedom, which is not defined by me, but by you. To me it’s the ability to live anywhere. To somebody else it might be to have a home base for most of the year, but move to Mexico or Japan or France for 3 months every year. It boils down to being able to do what you want, when you want, where you want, with whoever you want. How To Live Anywhere is essentially my life’s work, and can teach people how to make those kinds of awesome things happen.

Everett: In your mind, what is the single most important people should be doing with their work online if their goal is to live anywhere?

Karol: The quick answer is simple: provide value. But those words can come across as a bit empty sometimes. How exactly do we provide value? All of us have something unique we can teach people. For example, you started this blog and business by teaching people how to pare down their possessions and become minimalist. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that. Maybe you’re an amazing singer. You can teach that online. Maybe you rock at gardening. You can teach people your gardening secrets online. What I would say is don’t be like everybody else who is in your niche. Without showcasing your unique voice (we all have a unique voice) you’ll just get lost in the online crowd. If you’re truly giving people good content and giving us your personality, you will be heard through all the noise.

Everett: I imagine you’ve had to make some interesting lifestyle choices in order to live anywhere. Can you think of an unconventional strategy that you’ve had to employ to move anywhere?

Karol: Because of the way I travel I don’t need to be a minimalist. I’m visiting places for more than one month so I can chill out. Checking big baggage wouldn’t be a problem because I wouldn’t be lugging it around much. I’m not constantly on the move. That said, I live out of a 32 Liter backpack because minimalism makes life, whether you’re traveling or not, easier. Those of us in the minimalist community don’t think of it as unconventional at all. But this is a very small community. In general, whenever somebody sees my bag of possessions the first thing they always ask is, “Where is all your other stuff?” My answer: “This is it!” Minimalism is still quite an unconventional strategy even though it is becoming more mainstream.

Everett: Have you had to sacrifice anything?

Karol: Obviously I don’t get to see a lot of my friends back in the US. But then, a lot of my friends are constantly traveling as well. I do try to make it back to Michigan every New Year’s Eve because we throw a big party and reconnect. As far as things like technology, I’ve had to make no sacrifices. We live in an amazing time because so much can be done online, and a laptop is all you need. I haven’t even used a cell phone for 4 months. It has been fantastic!

Everett: Finally, what do you think the single most powerful benefit of living anywhere is?

Karol: Experiencing new people and new places teaches us to respect others and ourselves more. I used to sit at home all day, watching TV, going out with friends drinking, and stuff like that. The only lesson I learned from that is I wasn’t living life, life was living (and killing) me. By getting out into the world and living in new places I connect with new people (I used to be a big introvert and traveling has forced me to change that) and reconnect with myself. What I want out of life is awesome experiences. It took me a long time to learn this lesson, but the money I make is only important in that it allows me to seek out new people and experiences.


Be sure to check out Karol Gajda’s How to Live Anywhere, available today.

Minimalist Relocation: Move to Any City for $125

May 5th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Start over in any city for the cost of a plane ticket.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Moving doesn’t have to be difficult, unless you make it that way.

We’re living in a society that’s more mobile than it’s ever been. It’s becoming incredibly easy to separate your location from your income by creating a minimalist business.

And yet so many people continue make a big deal out of moving. They have every intention of renting an expensive U-Haul truck, they hold on to all of their stuff, they procrastinate and make excuses not to make the jump to a new city. Eventually they give up and never strike out to experience a new place for the first time.

Why? Because it’s costly to move when you have tons of junk.

You don’t need the U-Haul filled with excuses to move anywhere.

The reality is that you can relocate to a new locale for the cost of a plane ticket, plus new housing setup costs, if you design yourself a minimalist life.

On May 15th I’ll be getting on a place bound for San Francisco air, and the ticket will be my only moving cost. My ticket from New York to San Francisco was only $125. (Obviously prices will vary on airfare depending on where you’re going.)

If I was a Frequent Flier Master like Chris Guillebeau, I’d probably be able to relocate to a new city for free — I’ll be working on this if I ever move again. But I’m not an expert at gaming the airport system yet, so $125 will do just fine.

How to move for the cost of a plane ticket.

1. Reduce your possessions to a more meaningful amount. Minimalism is a running theme on this blog for a reason, because it works.

Moving your stuff is the single largest cost involved in any relocation. Reduce your possessions to less than 100 things and you’ll be able to move easily. I have 50 things now, which means I can move with a carry-on bag.

The truth is that most of the things you need for your apartment can be obtained for a small amount of money, or shared with new roomies, in any new location. One of the biggest factors tying people to their location is accumulating hundreds of thousands of inexpensive little gizmos that they never actually use. As I said in The Art of Being Minimalist, simply abandoning this junk will free you to pursue a location independent lifestyle.

The stuff is enslaving you, it’s keeping you trapped in one place, when you could be free.

2. Resolve your housing situation in your old location. Talk to the landlord and say that you’d like to move out. Offer to help find a new person, if necessary. Breaking leases is bad, but if required isn’t the end of the world. Be sure to give at least 30 days notice on a rental.

If you’re in the unfortunate situation of owning a house, find a management company to maintain the property while you’re gone. Or sell it, if that’s an option. Many people I talk to who own houses in the current climate are simply waiting until the value improves enough for them to leave with a profit. But what if the value never improves? Don’t delay your aspirations because your home value took a nose-dive. Sell the house now, cut your losses, and become a renter in your new city.

3. Find a temporary home base in your chosen city. It’s important to have a place to crash for a few days while you get a more permanent living situation. In some cities there are inexpensive hostels where you can stay for a few days, or hotel rooms that won’t cost much. Some people enjoy Couch Surfing in new locations. Personally, I booked a room for 15 days through the remarkable Airbnb.

4. Land the apartment after you get into town. People make a big deal out of getting apartments, it doesn’t need to be. Most landlords, outside of the East Village in Manhattan, are more than happy to have you give them your money — if you’ve got decent credit and don’t have a criminal history. Be sure to have at least first and last month’s rent + security ready to go the moment to find an apartment that fits your criteria.

Don’t try to find an apartment beforehand. It’s just too hard to coordinate money, avoid scammers, and guarantee that your apartment is livable when you can’t see it first. Never wire large sums of money over the Internet to people you haven’t met, it’s just a bad idea.

Act confident. Wear nice clothes and a smile on your face when you’re visiting new apartments. Even if you don’t have minimalist business income coming in at the moment, tell the owner that money will not be a problem. You’re leaving a security deposit for a reason, you don’t have to give a full financial picture to the landlord unless absolutely required — if required and you don’t have money coming in at the moment, move on to a landlord who won’t ask questions. There are plenty of landlords out there who only care about the security deposit, you don’t have to deal with ones who ask too many questions.

5. Be open to different living situations. Our society has wired us to think the only way to live is alone, but understand that it can be much easier to find a room with other people in a larger apartment. When I was in Portland I lived with two fine girls from the town. They helped me meet new people, and we even worked on a few projects together. The other benefit of entering into a shared space is that furniture and kitchen supplies will often already be present.

I’m not going to be looking for a shared space this time around, but I’ve had amazing experiences in them in the past (I used to live in a schoolhouse with 10 roomies, it was the best years of my life.) This can also save you a lot of money, and you’ll have more flexible move-out dates should decide that you want to head to Thailand in a few months.

Being in a shared space can also be a great way to open your mind to new things. When we live alone we tend to focus on the same-old, but roommates will have different stuff going on that can open your mind and help you learn new skills.

6. Live in cheaper neighborhoods bordering gentrified ones. One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they move to new cities is to try and live where the city was coolest in the 1970s. It isn’t the 1970s anymore, rent in Soho is $3000 a month. You can’t afford that unless you’re rich.

It’s not in your best interest to spend the majority of your income on your living situation. Rent an inexpensive, yet livable apartment, and you’ll have loads more cash to spend on experiences outside the apartment.

Here’s what I do: go to the hip place where you thought you were supposed to live, and walk 15 blocks in any direction (if you thought you were going to live in Manhattan, get on any train and take it 5 stops into Brooklyn.) This is where you look for an apartment. Art exists on the fringes of society, a neighborhood that’s a little rougher will always be cooler and also much cheaper than a gentrified neighborhood that had a reputation of being cool thirty years ago.

7. Don’t worry so much. So many people I know like to spend days or weeks making contingency plans for simple moves like this — this often leads to not moving at all. 99% of the time nothing will go wrong, so don’t spend 80% of your time making sure that 1% doesn’t happen. The world is pretty much the same everywhere (as long as you don’t move to a war zone,) you won’t have trouble finding an apartment if you’re a decent person. Spend the time you were going to spend worrying on setting up passive income sources so you can pay your rent.


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How Being Minimalist Can Make it Possible to Live Anywhere

March 11th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Karol Gajda can teach you to be free.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Some people are content to live their lives in three places 95% of the time.

They valiantly wake up every morning, put on clothes, and walk the five steps to their car.

They fire it up and drive to work, where they spend twelve hours checking Facebook and doing what they’re told.

Then they go home, exhausted.

Once a year they hop aboard a flight to a cheap beach somewhere and spend a few days getting sunburned and sipping tequila.

Does that life sound familiar?

These people have convinced themselves that this is the only reality. There is no other option but to maintain the status-quo and deal.

Until they get to retire at some point impossibly far into the future, after they’ve wasted their youth. Then what?

Well you might be taking that path, but it’s not the only option.

There are people who’ve decided to opt out of this life sentence of working until you die.

These people want to teach you how to free yourself (if you want to.)

I want to introduce you to my friend Karol Gajda.

Karol went from having the house and an expensive car to living and working from anywhere in very little time.

Currently he’s teaching people how to attain his level of freedom over at Ridiculously Extraordinary. He just made a guitar with his bare hands in India! How awesome is that?

You can do this too, Karol can teach you how.

A few weeks ago Karol emailed me a Minimalist Quick Start Guide based off my work in The Art of Being Minimalist.

I’ve delayed too long in releasing it,  so I’m just going to put it up here now!

The Minimalist Quick Start Guide explains Karol’s own journey towards living a minimalist life free from the confines of society’s expectation. It’s awesome, it’s free.

Download Karol Gajda’s Minimalist Quick Start Guide for free.

Definitely check out Karol’s work at Ridiculously Extraordinary.

I interviewed Karol a few months ago.

An Interview with Colin Wright: The Freedom of Working From Anywhere in Sexy Shoes

November 25th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Every Wednesday on Far Beyond The Stars I interview an important person on the subject of being minimalist.

Last week we visited with David Damron of A Minimalist Path, he spoke about plastic bag usage in the US and how to make your life more minimal.

Next week I’m excited to speak with Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and Mnmlist. Be sure to sign up for free updates so you don’t miss the interview!


For today’s interview, I spoke with Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle. Colin writes about location independent lifestyle design, and just published an outstanding free e-book on How to be Remarkable.

We talked about the challenge of moving to new countries every four months, minimizing possessions, working exclusively online, and his sexy shoes.

Check out the interview below!

Everett Bogue: You’ve set a goal of moving every four months to another country, which I imagine means that you’ve had to really streamline your possessions. What are the essential possessions that you take on on the road for a project like yours?

Colin Wright: Oh man, did I ever streamline. I went from having a two-story townhouse full of stuff (5 computers, a room-sized closet full of clothing, a car AND a scooter AND a bike, etc) to owning only what will fit in a single carry-on bag.

It’s been a major shift, but a really liberating one.

My essentials right now include:

  • Macbook Pro – this allows me to work from anywhere in the world
  • iPod Touch – for music and movies while traveling, but also to read books (I go through 6-8 per month), since I’ve gone paperless (except for toilet paper and business cards) and only read ebooks these days
  • Sexy shoes – they don’t necessarily have to be sexy, but they do have to be comfortable and versatile…the pair I got are Diesel’s that work well with a t-shirt and jeans, or to go clubbing equally well
  • One really awesome pair of jeans – mine are from Paper, Denim and Cloth. I’m not usually a $300 pair of jeans guy, but when you’re going to be wearing the same pair for good portion of your week, you want something sturdy, reliable and good-looking
  • Unlocked RAZR – I sold my iPhone when I left LA, and intentionally purchased the worst mobile phone I could find. I snagged a sweet deal on a refurbished and unlocked RAZR so that as I travel I can pop in local SIM cards.
  • Slim Slimmy Wallet – This is kind of a niche item, but in a lot of countries pick-pocketing is a lot worse than in the US, and Argentina is no exception. A good way to avoid having to worry about this is to get a super-slim, super-minimalist front-pocket wallet, which not only forces you to reduce the number of cards and such that you carry, but also keeps people from ganking your cash in a crowd
  • Panasonic LX3 Camera – I went with the LX3 instead of the Canon G10 because the processor is bigger and because it shoots HD-quality video

There’s not really much else…I have a half-dozen shirts, a few other pairs of pants, a newsie-style hat, 2 jackets (1 super-casual, 1 much nicer), a messenger bag, a pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes and some flip-flops. Most of these things are expendable, though, and I could definitely live without them or easily exchange/replace them.

BE: What was the hardest thing to leave behind when you left the country?

CW: Haha, well, one answer is ‘my friends,’ but I imagine you’re looking for something tangible, so definitely my iPhone. I became a bit dependent on it, always checking the GPS or my email or using it to take notes. It was crazy handy to have with me, but I didn’t want to depend on it while traveling and miss out on the confusion and learning experiences I would have without it.

So bye-bye iPhone. I miss you.

EB: When I relocate to a new place, one of the biggest struggles is finding semi-permanent place to live. Could you briefly outline the steps that you took to obtaining your current living situation?

CW: I actually tried really hard to challenge myself with this one. I know that I’ll be moving to a lot of different places, and I won’t always have connections or the ability to reserve a place ahead of time, so I decided to give myself two days in a hotel once I arrived in Buenos Aires in which to find an apartment.

In those two days I must have walked 40 miles, going from place to place looking for an apartment in my price range to rent. Eventually I found an agency that helps people from out of town rent furnished apartments longer term. I had to figure out ways around the system (the ATMs here only let you take out a certain amount of cash per day, this agency doesn’t take plastic, and I had to pay everything up front!), but I’ve found that in most cases, people will help you out if they can, even if it means breaking the rules a little.

EB: I’ve noticed that you’re attempting to engage in the post geo-graphical world by taking your business online. What is the biggest challenge that you’ve overcome in finding clients that will work with someone who they can’t meet in person?

CW: To be perfectly honest, most of what I’ve done for a long time has taken place online. I still do print design from time to time, but a lot of my work now is either web design and development or consultations; both are easy to do via email or Skype.

Some of my clients that are a little more old school initially had issues with it. However, after going back and forth a bit and showing them that working with them online from Buenos Aires isn’t much different from working with them online in Los Angeles, their concerns are largely assuaged.

EB: What is the most rewarding aspect of taking yourself and your business completely mobile?

CW: It’s amazing how not having a home can remove so much stress. All of a sudden I can travel without worrying about where my car is parked or if there are termites in my apartment or if I left the oven on…everything that I own in the world is right here with me.

Being able to travel to far-flung places has been great for building my network, too. I’ve met some absolutely AMAZING people here in Buenos Aires, and a lot of them also just happen to be great business connections. I’m going to do my best to help them, they’ll do their best to help me, and hopefully I can continue to build my network throughout the rest of the world.

EB: What is the number one way that you are pursuing income automation and how much success with it have you had so far?

CW: I’ve tried a number of different tactics – ads, affiliates, outsourcing, etc – and have found that none of the major existing methods of automating income is really my cup of tea. I care too much about my reputation and the design of my sites to inundate them with banners, I don’t want to risk losing my legitimacy by pitching too many products, and on and on.

At this point I’m basically planning on using Exile Lifestyle as a launch pad for businesses forking off in a few different directions.

My endgame for writing is to get a book published, and in pursuit of this I’m creating a lot of written content, making an effort to get out into the world and do interesting things and make connections that could lead to that kind of deal. I’m also looking at options related to creating video content, educational modules and even clothing (I’ve done illustrations and graphics for many t-shirts over the years).

My main focus is providing value, building a solid community and upping my numbers so that if and when an opportunity comes around to make use of the brand I’m building, I’ll be ready for it.

Check out Exile Lifestyle, and definitely read Colin’s free e-book on How to be Remarkable.


Are you interested in being interviewed about being minimalist? Drop me a note on Twitter.

Minimalist Ideas: 100 Things You Can Do Today to Live Simpler.

November 2nd, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Written and Photographed by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

When people think about minimalism, some of them think that it’s really hard and it involves throwing out all of their stuff and being a freegan or something. It doesn’t. Minimalism is about small steps toward a simple goal. It’s totally achievable, but the idea of running around with just a backpack is really terrifying for folks who have a house full of stuff and a packed schedule.

You’re not going to be a minimalist overnight, but by taking tiny steps you’re getting there slowly, and more important, simply.

If you can do one of the things on this list today, you’ll be a little more minimalist, and that helps! Yes, they’re small, but that’s fine. Maybe try doing one of these once a day for a hundred days? Maybe some of them will stick, and then you’re doing 100 things that make you more of a minimalist. That’d be pretty cool, and I think you can do it!

Here is 100 things you can do today to simplify your life and become more of a minimalist.

1, Recycle, donate, throw away one item.
2, Eat one less mouthful.
3, Spend one less dollar.
4, Drive one less mile.
5, Watch one less movie.
6, Count how many things you own (I own 79 things.)
7, Drink one less cup of coffee.
8, Cook one meal at home.
9, Think one freeing thought.
10, Walk to the store once.
11, Work one less hour.
12, Spend a half an hour meditating.
13, Skip dessert.
14, Skip the soda.
15, Drink one glass of pure water.
16, Cook with carrots.
17, Cook with kale.
18, Give one less gift, give a hug instead.
19, Bike to work for one day a week.
20, Walk around the block instead of anything.
21, Plant one plant that you can someday eat.
22, Write one list about how you could be more minimalist.
23, Read Tammy’s RowdyKittens.
25, Read Leo’s Mnmlist.
26, Read Dave’s Minimalist Path.
27, Donate one book after you read it.
28, Email one story about minimalism to your best friend.
29, Write one minimalist thing somewhere prominent in your house.
30, Read Walden by Thoreau.
31, Create one piece of art with one tool.
32, Do one thing at work that you’ve been meaning to do, but have done fifty things instead.
33, Take a plane trip somewhere with only a backpack.
34, Unfriend one friend on Facebook.
35, Unfollow one person on Twitter.
36, Follow me on Twitter.
37, Cook without meat for one meal.
38, Sit in front of a fire for an hour.
39, Sit under a tree for an hour.
40, Watch birds for an hour.
41, Dedicate one hour to reading a book.
42, Unplug your TV for one evening.
43, Write one paragraph on how you could become more minimalist.
44, Donate/recycle/trash one memento that you’ve cherished since high school.
45, Tell one person you love them.
46, Take the train to work once.
47, Take one yoga class.
48, Give some of your money to a charity that helps starving children.
49, Quit your job that you hate (don’t worry, you’ll be okay.)
50, Write one blog post on minimalism.
51, Tweet once about minimalism.
52, Dream one dream that you could never do if you had a house full of stuff.
53, Redefine your idea of success as being freer.
54, Work from home for one day.
55, Turn off the lights for one day.
56, Walk on a beach with a friend, once.
57, Make your own coffee in the morning, once.
58, Make one payment to get yourself closer to being out of debt.
59, Walk down Broadway between Houston and Canal in Manhattan and don’t buy anything.
60, Walk down Hawthorne in Portland without buying anything.
61, Read a book in a bookstore without buying it.
62, Take your lunch to work for one day.
63, Cancel your cable TV.
64, Cancel your Netflix.
65, Delete your Facebook.
66, Turn off your phone for one day, call everyone back the next day.
67, Don’t drink one more beer.
68, Do one action without doing any other action.
69, Watch a butterfly.
70, Watch a fruit fly.
71, Clean your counter top so the fruit fly goes away.
72, Clear your desk.
73, Take everything out of your car.
74, Decide what you’d take with you if you left today.
75, Realize that you can’t take it all with you when you die.
76, Think about what people will remember you for when you’re gone.
77, Send one short email that conveys just as much information as a long email.
78, Have one friend over to dinner.
79, Spend one day with your dog.
80, Subscribe to this RSS feed.
81, Buy one (necessary) thing with that jar of change that everyone has.
82, MP3 and sell/donate/recycle/trash one CD.
83, Stay home for one friday/saturday evening.
84, Take a photo of a tree.
85, Buy one less boxed thing at the grocery store.
86, Avoid buying in bulk once.
87, Breathe slower and more steadily.
88, Close your eyes for ten minutes.
89, Smile at someone you don’t know.
90, Walk slower.
91, Say thank you, smile, and look into the eyes of someone you don’t know.
92, Sit on a park bench.
93, Lie on a beach (with sunscreen on.)
94, Leave your house without a backpack.
95, Leave your house without your cellphone.
96, Sell/donate/recycle/trash one object you haven’t used in a month.
97, Sell/donate/recycle/trash one object that you haven’t used in a year.
98, Think one thought for 15 minutes.
99, Do one yoga pose.
100, Text your girlfriend/boyfriend/someone and tell them that you love them.

Whew, that was a lot of thinking for one morning.
If you like one of these ideas, share them with one person.

I probably left some out, can you think of one thing that you do to be a minimalist? Leave it in the comments.

Escape Consumerism and Stop Doing The Unimportant

October 10th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Post written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

One of the things that I’ve been focusing on exclusively, since quitting my job in July and moving across the United States to Portland, has been focusing on what’s important.

How does one decide what’s important?

1, Does this positively effect my life in the future?
2, Will this bring meaning to my actions?
3, Will this accomplish something, like furthering my goals?
4, Can I look back on what I did and be proud of myself?

And what do I think about when I am doing something that doesn’t fit my definition of important?

1, Am I wasting my time?
2, Is this really bringing value to my life?
3, Does my body think this feels good?
4, Does my mind think this feels good?

Now, these aren’t catch all answers. You’ll develop your own, based on your own priorities, which vary greatly from one person to the next.

My priorities are very simple:

1, To do yoga daily
2, To live a life of value
3, To take care of myself, and by doing so take care of others
4, To consume as little as possible

So far, I think I’m doing well. I do yoga daily. Every morning I feel like I’m valuing my life, and every night I go to bed feeling like I value my life. I’m taking care of myself by not eating bad things, and in doing so I’m saving a lot of money. I made a healthy sandwich yesterday for 50 cents! Portland is so inexpensive.

I consume as little as possible. Now this is really key, I feel like a big percentage of my re-directional focus is maintaining the sparse and simple life that I’ve been living so far. A lot of the problems that society faces in modern times is due to America’s over-consumption of just about everything.

I feel that by abstaining from this practice of consumerism, I’m both improving the world and becoming an example by which other people can choose to live their lives.

By consuming less, I also have to make a lot less money, and thus have to work a lot less, and then I have free time to do what is important. See the wisdom here?

How you can start escaping consumerism and focus on what is important:

1, Adopt a 30-day watch list for any item that you’re tempted to buy.
A lot of consumer is snap decisions that are based on marketing hype and societal conditioning. I’ve known a lot of people who are subject to this, they’ve every moment of their lives focused on stuff, and getting more stuff, their brains are conditioned to buy buy buy.

You can stop this cycle by, as Leo Babauta suggests in his guest post yesterday on Get Rich Slowly, adopting a 30-day list.

When you’re in the store, and you say to yourself: “gee, I could use that new deluxe sandwich slicer” stop yourself, pull out your notebook and turn to the page where your 30-day list is. Write the date, write the time, write what you want to buy.

After 30 days, return to the list. Do you still want the deluxe sandwich slicer? No? Good, now you haven’t bought it. Do this for everything, except necessities like food, which 30 days from now you won’t really need anymore if you put it on the list.

2, If you had to go today, could you take it all with you?
I always like to think leaving. Maybe there’s a big disaster, and your city is sinking into the ground. Or you find out that you got a job in Cincinnati that is going to make your dreams come true, but they won’t pay relocating fees and you have to be there tomorrow. Or your girlfriend wants to move to Japan, tomorrow. Will it be a big project to move, or will you just pack a bag and go?

I can pack a bag and go, because all of my stuff fits in a bag (well, three bags: one backpacker bag, one computer bag, and one camera bag.) Isn’t that nice? It really is. I can go anywhere, whenever I want.

3, Limit your exposure to advertising.
A lot of buying is the result of ads leading to you to believe that you want something that you don’t really need. By blocking ads, you’ll negate their effects instantly. Cut down on your TV, install Adblock for Firefox, don’t look at billboards (and if you do, laugh what they’re trying to accomplish.)

This is really difficult, and it won’t happen overnight. You’re being subjected to literally billions of dollars of research by advertising firms on how to manipulate people, every time you look at an advertisement. It’s a big battle to fight, but one that is extremely rewarding.

4, Breathe.
If absolutely must buy something, at least stop yourself and take ten deep breathes. Walk around the store and meditate on the item you “really must have this instant”. Do you really need it now? How will it benefit your life? Will it actually hurt your life? Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. It probably will, so think about that has you walk and breathe. You might be surprised what answers come to you.

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