I wrote an article not too long ago that discussed how I’m actually richer than I appear to be due to my lack of desire for most things in life.
If you were to make a list of the things most people covet, chances are pretty good that I don’t want any of it.
Couldn’t desire it less.
That’s a huge pass.
This isn’t out of some kind of effort to adhere to frugality tenets. There’s no misplaced loyalty to an ideology. I don’t pass up on this stuff because I’d rather hoard money. I’m not virtue signaling here.
It’s exceedingly simple.
I genuinely lack the desire for most physical possessions in life.
I almost never get that feeling in the pit of my stomach – that exhilaration – that is common when someone sees something they want.
Now, I used to get that feeling when I was younger. I used to waste my money on all kinds of stuff in my youth, which is what led to an epiphany of sorts. I started to chase after FIRE when I realized that the stuff didn’t make me happy.
So I know what that’s like to desire stuff. Truly. But I don’t get that feeling anymore.
When I see most of the things that people go crazy for, I now just shake my head. I’m totally oblivious to it.
But I did notice something interesting in the comments section of the article I wrote about my lack of desire.
The word “luxury” came up a number of times in comments.
Even though I never mentioned that word in my article, it seems like at least a few people thought I was talking about lacking a desire for luxury goods and/or services.
Well, that’s not necessarily true.
What I meant was, I lack a desire for most things – luxury or not.
It’s not just a McMansion that I don’t desire. I don’t desire a small house, either.
Likewise, it doesn’t matter to me if it’s a Toyota or a Ferrari – I don’t want to own a car at all.
In fact, you could give me a house for free, yet I still would not want it. I’d sell it in a heartbeat and go back to my life.
It’s not about money. It’s about a genuine lifestyle preference. I don’t like the form factor of a house, nor do I want to live in the kind of physical location where houses usually are. This lifestyle preference just happens to make me relatively wealthy, or at least wealthier than I’d otherwise be if I had this desire.
That was the message I was trying to convey.
However, something occurred to me after reading these comments.
There actually is a luxury that I enjoy in my life.
No, I’m not talking about FIRE. While I believe that financial freedom is the “ultimate status symbol”, there’s a more worldly luxury that I’ve slowly become accustomed to.
In fact, it’s a luxury that I really enjoy.
It took some time for this acclimatization process to unfold. After all, I grew up very poor in Detroit. So I’ve always felt, well, maybe a little bit uncomfortable around luxury. I’m weird like that.
But after experiencing this particular luxury so much here in Thailand, I’d be hard-pressed to ever go back to a life that didn’t have it.
That luxury is… drum roll, please…
I’ll relate this back to the things I don’t desire, in order to better explain what I love about convenience.
The best example of this is a car.
So I’ve already mentioned that I don’t want a car. Wouldn’t take one if you gave it to me (other than to immediately sell it).
However, I sometimes need access to a car. Even though my favorite mode of transportation is walking, I can’t walk everywhere. I occasionally need to go somewhere across town.
Well, in these cases, I simply pull up an app and hire an on-demand car and driver for a couple dollars. I hit a button. A car shows up in less than a minute. I’m then chauffeured around, which is an incredible luxury and convenience. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that being chauffeured around by a private driver was a luxury that only the very wealthy had access to. Now it’s been democratized. It’s amazing.
If I lived in a city with better public transit, I’d prefer to just hop on a bus or train. I’m a big fan of public transportation, and I’ve been using some form of it for many years now.
But this is all convenience. It’s far more convenient to sit down and be chauffeured to your destination while you check your email than to sit behind a wheel and fight traffic while stressing out. I’ve done both. It’s not even a competition.
(I think I’m simply ahead of the curve on this one, which I mentioned back when I decided to let my driver’s license lapse. There will surely be a time in the future in which self-driving cars are omnipresent and private car ownership has gone the way of the dodo. People will look back on driving and wonder what in the world we were doing.)
Another example is my abode.
Instead of living in some far-flung, slowly rotting, resource-sucking structure in the suburbs or country, I rent a furnished apartment right in the city center.
I have everything I could possibly want right at my fingertips. Talk about convenience.
And if something in the apartment breaks, I walk downstairs to the office or make a quick call to get it resolved. Takes me seconds. It’s fantastic.
No maintenance. No need to fix anything. Everything is taken care of for me.
Also, how I go about eating is a great example.
I don’t cook. When I want to eat, I stroll out to any one of the dozens of markets and restaurants that are within a few hundred meters of my apartment. Or I can hop on an app and have food delivered to me. That means no meal planning, grocery shopping, lugging around groceries, storing food, cooking, cleaning, etc. It’s so convenient. I love it.
If you love grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning, have at it. I think that’s great. But I personally don’t care for any of that.
Lastly, I don’t even clean my space.
When the apartment is dirty, I let the manager know and they schedule a maid to come and clean the place. It’s amazing. No need to buy and store cleaning materials, then spend an hour or two cleaning. This is a convenience that I don’t think I’d ever want to do without, now that I’ve experienced it.
Convenience Abroad Versus USA
There you have it.
It’s all about convenience for me.
That’s a luxury that I’m more than willing to pay for. I’m unashamed to admit that I love it.
The thing is, I live a far more convenient life now than I ever lived in the States.
After moving abroad to Thailand, I’ve been able to totally eliminate tedious tasks like cleaning and cooking.
A maid can be had for about $5 over here, for instance. And the Thai markets offer quality food that’s highly accessible and cheap. Even restaurants serving Western food are much cheaper. Plus, no tax or tip.
It’s funny to me, because a lot of Americans seem to have this very incorrect worldview about a lot of places. That’s probably because most Americans don’t travel internationally – only about 1/3 of Americans even have a passport. So they rely on the media to brainwash them… err, tell them about the world.
In the US, which is this very wealthy place by all statistical measures, most people are apparently economically struggling.
The majority of Americans can’t afford a $1,000 emergency. Simultaneously, adding insult to injury, they have to take care of these tedious tasks by themselves.
All while having that big house, owning that car, and everything else.
It’s a lack of convenience and simultaneous abundance of stress.
Meanwhile, I live this incredibly convenient life.
I don’t have mow a lawn, fix things, cook my own food, drive myself anywhere, or even clean my space.
If you like mowing your lawn and cleaning dishes, go for it. I’m not saying any of that is bad. But I’ve never found an ounce of joy in any of it, so I’m glad to be rid of it all.
I can now focus more of my resources in areas where I can add value and find joy.
This extra time, energy, and freedom allows me to pursue my passions. I can stimulate my mind with reading and writing. I’m free to hit the gym, stimulate my body, and live a healthy lifestyle. There’s an ability to be more present in the moments. Life is fun. It’s wonderful.
I don’t work for my lifestyle. My lifestyle works for me.
That really sums up convenience for me. Convenience, particularly within the framework of FIRE, creates a lifestyle that works for you. This is in stark contrast to the way lot of people out there are busy working hard for their house, car, etc.
Convenience is a luxury.
And it’s one that I’m very happy to have in my life.
Now, I’m not saying that you should also love convenience, nor am I saying that you should also not desire a house or a car (or whatever, really). I’m only sharing my perspectives and experiences here.
But I never knew how amazing full-blown convenience was until I started to fully experience and take advantage of it after moving abroad. Now that I have so much convenience in my life, I don’t see why I’d ever want to go back to living a life that didn’t have it.
So while I don’t desire most of the products and/or services that most consumers go after, I do value convenience highly. A nice watch means nothing to me. But having someone clean my apartment and cook my food is gold.
I was going to end this article by noting that convenience is worth every penny to me. But it just so happens that my lifestyle costs much less than the way most Americans, even with their lack of convenience, go about their lives.
Comes down to individual choices and values, really. I personally value a lifestyle that naturally doesn’t cost very much. The fact that it’s so convenient is icing on an already delicious cake.
What about you? Do you have any luxuries in your life? What do you value? What luxury do you most covet?
Thanks for reading.
P.S. If you’re interested in living a more convenient and free life, check out some awesome tools I used on my way to becoming financially free at 33!