Last year, my friend Peter self-published his book, The Happy Minimalist – Financial Independence, Good Health, and A Better Planet for Us All. Peter is a Singaporean American, though his philosophy and way of living may be appealing to all those who want to live a simpler, happier life. I’ve been meaning to write and review the book since, and thought it would make sense given these economic times. Most recently, Cynthia Cheng from The Santa Clara Weekly did a nice review of the book which captures his premise:
“In The Happy Minimalist, Lawrence defines what a minimalist is, explains the benefits of living with minimal means, and shares a lot of quotes from great names in history who have endorsed simple living. He discusses how his lifestyle, marked by non-consumption and simplicity, contributes to his financial independence and health. Lawrence also gives his thoughts about the urgency of preserving the planet’s resources.”
Peter is in his mid-40s and already “retired,” but I’m not so sure I, or many Americans, would choose to live how Peter does: not having a bed and sleeping in a sleeping bag, no furniture, a television or other modern conveniences. He outlines how he diligently saved and bought a rental property to cover the mortgage and how he made extra mortgage payments to pay off his home as soon as possible by not maximizing his 401(k), but maximizing employer’s match which these days, have become 101(k)’s – making the prescient point that “a house is a tangible, physical asset. Regardless of whether the price goes up or down, you need a place to live … From March 2000 to Oct 2002, the S&P … declined more than 49 percent and the NASDAQ fell over 77 percent..”
Peter’s way of living is definitely not for everyone, and he agrees that it may be a bit too ascetic for many and take a certain “Athenian philosopher” mindset. But if you are tired of society’s “Keeping up with the Jones” mentality, you might just want to consider Peter’s minimalist point of view. You can learn more about Peter and his book at his website or some reviews on Amazon.com. In the meantime, I’ll continue to enjoy my flat screen HDTV.