I’m a big believer in limiting stress in one’s life.
Stress is like this invisible leech, sucking away your life force. It drains you and robs you of your energy, enthusiasm, and health.
Some reports have come out indicating that stress is actually as bad as smoking in terms of your overall health. Frankly, I would not doubt that one bit.
Achieving financial independence seems to be almost solely distilled down into money and time terms for most people: we have to spend a lot of time at a job we might not like too much for money, so let’s eliminate that job/barrier and free up our time for more enjoyable pursuits.
Makes a ton of sense. And a lot of my writing discusses this for good reason.
Being able to live life on your terms, having options, and living authentically are all incredible benefits of financial independence.
Of course, becoming financially independent in the first place usually requires reducing your expenses. Reducing your expenses usually thus reduces the number of bills in your life.
While we tend to concentrate on just the financial aspect of reducing bills (a reduction in spending), there’s a hidden aspect of this that I think merits attention.
But I think financial independence is about much more than just the balance between time and money.
And I’ll share one more non-thing, especially within the framework of financial independence, that’s an incredible luxury.
Not having bills is, for me, about much more than money.
I’m a minimalist. And minimalism is also, for me, about much more than money.
I don’t enjoy owning a bunch of stuff.
Not having stuff adds value to my life much in the same way that many other people believe having stuff adds value to their life. The simple act of being free from clutter reduces clutter in my mind, thus reducing stress.
Well, not having bills works the same way.
I approach the presence of bills, or lack of presence of bills, as a minimalist.
Forget about the money aspect of bills.
Let’s just concentrate on the actual having of bills.
Having multiple bills to worry/think about every month is an added stress in one’s life that should be looked at as an obstacle to rid oneself of.
You have to remember who’s getting paid what, when. Or you have to set your bills up on some kind of automatic payment system and remember to check in to make sure everyone is getting paid as they should be.
It’s cash coming in and going out, all of the time.
There’s the managing of the budget, which can quickly become unruly with a prolific number of bills.
Did I pay the electric bill?
Is my car insurance coming up for renewal?
When is that property tax bill coming in?
These are thoughts/concerns that never cross my mind – because I have almost no bills in my life.
It’s not just worrying about the paying of the bills; it’s just as much about the processing/handling of the bills.
Having an abundance of bills is like having this omnipresent cloud over your head, following you around wherever you go, taking up space in your mind that could otherwise be freed up.
Furthermore, I’ve been tracking every single penny I’ve spent for more than seven years now. And that’s been a much easier task when I haven’t had dozens of bills to track, compute, and discuss.
The simple act of reducing bills makes budgeting easier, which further motivates someone to reduce bills and spending. It’s an encouraging process that begets more saving and reductions.
Being Truly Free
Financial freedom is about more than just being free from a job. And it’s about more than being free from financial concerns.
It’s about being free from the very issues and stresses that come along with being financially beholden to an employer, as well as institutions and things in life.
I love renting for a number of reasons that have very little to do with finances; I’m free from all of the responsibilities that come along with owning, including the numerous bills (mortgage, property tax, insurance, maintenance, repairs, etc.).
And one of my favorite aspects about my current apartment here in Chiang Mai is that there’s just one bill every month that wraps up everything inside of it: rent, utilities, cable, wi-fi, cleaning, etc.
I don’t even need to think or worry about things. Management slips the bill my way just before the end of the month. I then get some cash and pay them in the office on my way out to lunch. Couldn’t be easier.
Another example is my love of car-free life.
I don’t choose to forgo a car and walk almost everywhere because I can’t afford a car.
Furthermore, I love not having all of the associated bills that come attached to a vehicle. And my disdain for those associated bills is not just because of the financial dynamics.
There’s no car payment, insurance bill, license plate paperwork, driver’s license payments, repair bills, etc.
Forget about the money. These are massive headaches!
But I’ve completely eliminated them from my life. I’m free from those worries. It’s a massive weight that has been lifted from my shoulders. And there’s a vacuum there that’s been subsequently filled with numerous other usages of my time and energy that are far more enjoyable.
And so when I think of the free in financial freedom, I think about being truly free.
To be truly free is to be free from not just having to job for money, but it’s also to be free from the concerns, worries, and stress that the ongoing obligations of a consumer-oriented life has on oneself.
To be free from the proliferation of bills is a wonderful aspect of true freedom.
So when you think about reducing your expenses in life, in order to become financially independent, think also about reducing the number of bills in your life, which can allow you to become closer to true freedom.
I mean, financial independence should be enjoyed and savored. Just think about how much more enjoyable life and FIRE can be when it’s more carefree.
There are almost no regular bills at all in my personal life.
That’s set up that way not because I’m simply trying to avoid spending money, but rather a large part of that is structured so as to limit stress and worries in my life.
It’s worked out wonderfully. My life today is significantly more carefree and less stressful than it used to be, due in part to the fact that I just don’t have to worry about all kinds of ongoing financial obligations.
And I really can’t stress (pun intended) enough how fantastic this is. I can’t recommend enough to all of you readers out there to build your life – or at least the one you’re striving toward as you slowly reach financial independence – in a way that minimizes your exposure to ongoing obligations and bills.
By significantly reducing the number of bills in your life, you’ll be freed up to spend that time and energy on other aspects of your life that will pay dividends (two puns in a row!).
We can’t eliminate all of our bills. We can’t eliminate all stress.
But we can structure a holistic life that achieves a large reduction in both, which will allow us to get closer to true freedom and happiness.
What do you think? Is having less bills in your life something you’re looking forward to, striving toward, or currently enjoying?
Thanks for reading.
Image courtesy of: bplanet at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
P.S. If you’d like to reduce the number of bills in your life, and the associated stress that comes along with worrying about and paying them, financial independence is a fantastic way to achieve that. Check out some amazing resources that I personally used to achieve financial freedom at 33 years old!