When it comes to designing a life with less work, conventional wisdom says you have two options. You can either work hard for a short while to save money then eventually work less, or you charge more for what little work you do do.
The former sounds like a death sentence (retirement) to me, and generally speaking, once humans get a whiff of financial rewards for hard work they tend to follow their greedier instincts, and get lost in a spiral of spending more to compensate for their loss of free time and energy. And that completely misses the point of what we’re trying to achieve here anyway.
The latter option (increasing your rates) is just a bit too cheeky. Expecting other people to fund your lifestyle choice doesn’t seem fair if you’re already charging a reasonable amount for your time and effort. And, as you should have deduced by now, a decent human freelancer takes charge of their own destiny.
Shit options aside, there’s a more empowering way to work less, which is quicker, easier and circumvents inflicting a burden on yourself or your clients. You do it by liberating more of what income you already earn by reducing your outgoings. Plus, as a happy byproduct, you instantly reduce the need to work as much, as well as the pressure to earn.
When people ask me what the secret is to being able to work only a few days a week, I mount my high horse and scoff because there is no secret. It’s just simple prudence and a few basic lifestyle changes which save me so much money.
Here are my top 5 ways to save a shit-load of money and thus obviate the need to work as much
- Eat less meat: twice a day every day is too much, and it’s not natural or healthy either. If you crave meat, treat yourself now and again but reducing the amount you consume is good for the planet, your gut and your wallet. Shrinking your meat expenditure can save you £3 or £4 each meal, and that soon adds up over the month.
- Eat whole foods or stuff that comes directly from the ground: expensive food isn’t always good food, despite what an ‘extra special’ label leads you to believe. Learn to cook because vegetables are surprisingly cheap from greengrocers.
- Stop buying shiny shit: it doesn’t make you happy and you know it. The feeling of contentment that follows your purchase only happened because you momentarily don’t want anything anymore. Imagine having that feeling all the time, because you can. Rationalising between wants and needs is the most powerful discount you’ll ever get – up to 100% in fact.
- Walk, cycle, take the bus or book trains and coaches in advance: cars are just polluting money pits. Enjoy someone else driving you around instead, while you meet new people or read a book. If you really need to get somewhere off the beaten track then hire a car, but don’t own a status symbol.
- Cancel your subscriptions: leisure doesn’t cost money so drop Sky, the gym membership. Alternatives are radio (it’s free), borrowed or second hand books, games, art or chatting.
If you make these changes you’ll not only be better off monetarily, you’ll feel more content (smug) and live a healthier, independent lifestyle. I also promise you that it’s possible to live sustainably like this without turning into a mung bean-growing hippy who lives inside a yurt made of carrier bags.
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