Saturday, February 26, 2022

How to enjoy reading


March is National Reading Month! Let's usher in March 2022 with a new, or renewed, commitment to reading. If reading for pleasure is a foreign concept to you, you're certainly not alone. So many people, especially those in school, decide early on that reading is incredibly dull and not at all enjoyable. Can you really blame people for thinking that way, though? Not so much, considering most required reading materials are far from stimulating and generate little interest in their forced audiences.

That said, if you, too, have decided that reading is dull beyond compare, then maybe it's time to give reading for pleasure another chance. With nothing to lose and plenty to gain, there really is no reason not to give it a try.

This post is really two-pronged in focus. First, let's discuss a few suggestions for making the experience of reading more enjoyable. Next, we'll look at three tips that will help you read more books by maximizing your time more efficiently.

How to make reading for pleasure an enjoyable experience

1. Determine your preferred genres.

You aren't likely to find much pleasure in reading if you're reading books that don't interest you. That's why figuring out your preferred genres is essential for making reading for pleasure a pleasurable experience. If you aren't sure which genres you'd be interested in, then think about the types of shows you enjoy watching on TV. Odds are, you'll enjoy reading books from the same genre. There may even be a series of books based on your favorite TV show. And let's not forget about your other hobbies and interests here - there most likely exists some wonderful literature out there about them, too. If you like certain sports and sports history, for example; or if you collect anything, like stamps, postcards, sports cards, coins, etc.; chances are high you'll find some great reading material.

My favorite genres are in the non-fiction realm. I enjoy books, articles, magazines, journals, and newspapers that cover subjects like personal finance, entrepreneurship and business, minimalism, history, biographies, music, inventions, travel, philosophy, sociology, politics, economics, and the Roman Catholic faith. I often find that these non-fiction reading genres closely align with my TV-viewing habits, as well. I love non-fiction TV shows and documentaries focused on history, travel and cuisine, biographies, business and finance, inventions, etc.

2. Make the act of reading about more than the book itself.

Sure, reading a good book can be its own reward, but there's so much more you could be doing to make the experience exceptional. To get the most out of your reading experience, push it to the next level. Start by finding yourself a cozy nook for reading, then settle in with a delicious beverage and some tasty treats by your side. Reading for pleasure becomes more enjoyable when adding external factors that make you happy.

3. Set aside any books you aren't enjoying.

Nothing makes reading less fun than slogging through a book you aren't enjoying. So, to make reading for pleasure an enjoyable experience, set aside any books you aren't enjoying and move on to a new one. Of course, that doesn't mean you have to give up on the book forever. You can always return to it later when you're in a different mood. It's also worth mentioning that many books that start slow hit their stride several pages into the text. For this reason, you should always give each book enough time to draw you in before completely giving up on it.

While reading for pleasure might not sound like your cup of tea initially, it could be a far more enjoyable hobby than you realize. After all, with countless books covering every imaginable topic, there are plenty of books out there you'll enjoy reading. You just need to find them. So, if sometime in the past you convinced yourself that reading for pleasure isn't your idea of a good time, then maybe you should give it another try. Who knows, you might end up with another vastly enjoyable hobby to fill your spare time.

Three tips that will help you read more books

Reading is a great way to escape for a little while from the hustle and bustle of daily life, while also increasing your overall knowledge. To reap the benefits of reading, however, you'll need to take the time to read some books. So, what are some lifestyle changes that can help you increase your time spent reading? Read on to find out. Here are three tips that will help you read more books.

1. Bring a book with you everywhere you go.

Life provides many opportunities for reading. To seize these opportunities, keep a book nearby so you'll be ready to read whenever these moments occur. That way, you can reach for your book and do a little reading the next time you're sitting on the school bus, waiting at the doctor's office, relaxing in the break room at your place of work, or in study hall with no other work that needs to be done.

2. Make it a habit to read each night before bed.

Rather than browsing through your social media or loading up another episode of your favorite TV show before bed, make it a habit to read a book instead. Reading for fifteen minutes before bed each night may not feel like a lot of effort, but it will increase your time spent reading by over ninety hours per year. As a bonus, reading before bed can make your eyes feel tired, which might make it easier for you to fall asleep.

3. Don't be afraid to replace certain books with others.

As previously discussed, if the thought of continuing a book you aren't enjoying has put you off reading altogether, then don't be afraid to find another book. There's no point in forcing yourself to finish a book if it's causing you to procrastinate beyond a reasonable amount. Unfortunately, while this tip can help you read more overall, it can only be implemented while reading for pleasure. If you must read a specific book for work or school, you'll still need to push through it the best you can, no matter how much you dislike it.


While reading for pleasure may sound or feel somewhat strange to you initially, it has the potential to be a far more enjoyable hobby than you realize. There are countless books covering every imaginable subject. While this post is primarily focused on books, let's not forget other sources of reading and learning, too, like articles, magazines, journals, newspapers, and audio books. You most likely have favorite TV shows and/or other hobbies and interests you enjoy. Chances are highly likely that there is some wonderful reading material out there on these subjects, too. You just need to find them.

So, if sometime in the past you convinced yourself that reading for pleasure isn't your idea of a good time, then maybe you should give it another try. Who knows, you might end up with another vastly enjoyable hobby to fill your spare time. There is much to be gained by reading more. Fortunately, reading more is easy if you're willing to accept a few simple lifestyle changes. After applying the preceding strategies and tips to your daily routine, you'll be reading more in no time. Happy reading!

Friday, February 25, 2022

Travel the world without leaving home

How to travel the world without leaving home

There are many reasons why a person may not be able to travel. Perhaps it's due to failing health or lack of funds. Maybe it's obligations at home, work, and/or school. It doesn't much matter what keeps a person from straying too far from home. What matters is making the most of the current situation. So, if you want to travel the world, but circumstances have left you unable to do so for whatever reason, then here's your answer - do it virtually!

All you need to do to travel virtually is think of a place you've always wanted to visit, then immerse yourself in that country's culture. By immersing yourself in the other culture, you can take a virtual vacation to another land without leaving home. Here are seven virtual travel ideas to get you started.

1. Pick up some travel guides.

Travel guides are an excellent resource for learning about the people, culture, and attractions in the country you'll be virtually visiting. Beyond traditional guidebooks, you can also pick up brochures at a local travel agency and visit some travel websites about the country in question. The more you learn about your virtual vacation destination, the more it will feel like you're actually exploring it.

2. Watch a travel documentary.

Travel documentaries take you off the beaten path and into places that guidebooks rarely mention. They may also introduce you to some colorful locals while discussing region-specific customs and cuisines. To watch a travel documentary, check what's available regarding your chosen destination in your cable or streaming provider's on-demand catalog. If no programs are available for the particular country, or your cable package doesn't include on-demand programming, try searching YouTube for documentaries instead.

3. Enjoy some international cuisine.

To make your at-home travel experience feel more authentic, align your daily menu with meals inspired by your chosen travel destination. To do this, you have two options - either order in from a local restaurant specializing in authentic cuisine, or try cooking some travel-inspired meals from scratch. If you need some inspiration for your travel-themed meals, search online for famous dishes from the country you're virtually visiting.

4. Listen to travel podcasts.

You can learn a lot about a particular country by listening to travel podcasts about it. To find podcasts featuring your virtual travel destination, type 'Travel podcasts about' followed by the country's name (e.g., Travel podcasts about Mexico) in Google's search engine. While not all searched countries bring up a list of travel-themed podcasts, many do. As for listening to the travel podcasts, you can listen to them whenever you wish, though a highly recommended time for listening is while you're in the car.

5. Listen to foreign music.

Listening to foreign music can help get you in the travel spirit. To find suitable songs, first search online for a list of musicians or bands from the country you're virtually visiting. This search should provide you with the names of the country's most famous artists, making it possible to search for their music on YouTube or other similar websites. While you're searching, create a custom playlist featuring popular songs from the artists on the list. Once the playlist is complete, listen to the music whenever your travel spirit needs a little boost. If the country's top musicians and bands are already in heavy rotation on your local radio stations, then consider searching for traditional music from the region instead.

6. Watch a foreign television show or movie.

Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video contain many international television shows and movies. If you currently subscribe to a streaming service, search the catalog for television shows or movies filmed in your chosen vacation destination. If you find a suitable program, but it's in a language you don't speak, look for a subtitles option to help you follow along. If you don't currently subscribe to a streaming service, check what's available through free options like YouTube or Tubi.

7. Learn some words and phrases in another language.

If you're going to be virtually traveling the world, then you might as well learn something new while you do. If the people in your chosen destination speak a language you don't currently know, then take the opportunity to learn some common words and phrases in the other language. Travel guides and brochures may be helpful in this regard, as would a dedicated language course if you feel like going the extra mile. Watching foreign-language media with the subtitles turned on can also help you pick up some frequently used words and phrases in the other language.

As you can see, there are many ways a person can virtually travel the world without leaving their home. So, keep these ideas in mind the next time you find yourself with a travel itch you can't scratch. With a bit of effort and creativity, you can create your own travel experience without ever leaving the comfort of your own home.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Better study habits


Many people find studying to be an unpleasant, grueling experience. Because of this, some people choose to avoid their studies, leading to unnecessary stress later on when they ultimately fall behind on their lessons. So then, how can you make studying feel less grueling, so the simple idea of cracking a book or writing notes no longer fills you with dread? It's easy. Train yourself to learn more efficiently and creatively. Studying more efficiently speeds up the learning process, helping you avoid the negative feelings associated with inefficient study sessions. Learning to incorporate more creativity into your study sessions through the use of different study methods and materials may - ahem - even make studying more fun and interesting! Or at least more tolerable. C'mon, work with me here...

Following are a number of strategies and ideas to hack your future study sessions so you can learn more efficiently and creatively. Consider this post to be your complete guide to getting the most out of your study sessions. Feel free to bookmark it, come back to it from time to time, and share this information with others.

The Environment

Getting serious about studying: Three tips for having more efficient study sessions

When you have a lot of studying to do, it is vitally important to work efficiently. Otherwise, you might not have much to show for your efforts - even after an hours-long study session. That said, if you're ready to get serious about your studies so you can truly tackle the topic at hand, try implementing the following three study tips.

1. Find a suitable study environment.

It's hard to stay focused on your studies when you're in the wrong environment. That's why, if you need absolute silence to study efficiently, you should look for the quietest available space to hold your study session. On the other hand, if you find silence itself distracting - and some people certainly do - seek out a study location with enough background noise to keep you focused. Perhaps you need the TV or music going quietly in the background, or maybe you enjoy studying at your local coffee shop.

2. Get rid of distractions.

Distractions are nearly guaranteed to break your focus. To help maintain focus on your studies, mute your cell phone and stop checking your social media accounts. Save such distractions for after your study sessions or during your scheduled (and timed!) breaks. We'll get to the subject of breaks a little later on.

3. Only multitask when necessary.

You can accomplish quite a bit when you focus all your attention on a single subject. While tackling many subjects at once may seem more productive, the constant switching between topics can actually slow you down in the long run. Try keeping each study session focused on a single subject so you can make more substantial progress on it.

If you want to have more efficient study sessions, it's time to get serious about your studies. So, when you're ready to get serious, find yourself a suitable study environment, get rid of any distractions, and only multitask when absolutely necessary. By following these three tips, you'll increase your productivity levels by having more efficient study sessions.

The Note-Taking Process

Retain more of what you're studying by rewriting your notes

There are countless reasons why rewriting your notes helps you retain more of what you're studying - especially if you rewrite your notes by hand. After all, a thorough rewrite lets you revisit topics you may have forgotten, refreshing the details in your mind. Here are four tips to help you retain more of what you're studying while rewriting your notes.

1. Grab a pen and rewrite your notes by hand - and avoid word-for-word rewrites.

Though technology can be a helpful study tool, many people learn more efficiently when transcribing their notes by hand. There's just something about personally writing your notes by hand that helps commit the information to memory faster than typing notes on a computer or laptop. Additionally, it's unlikely that you'll remember much after mindlessly copying words from one sheet to another. So, to retain more of what you're studying, rewrite your notes to express the same concepts with different words. This exercise will force you to think critically about the content, making it more likely you'll remember the details long-term. If you can only squeeze in a short study session, then quickly review the topic in question and rewrite the most critical points from the lesson by hand. Remember, the faster you can memorize your notes, the more efficient your study sessions will become.

2. Expand upon or correct passages as needed.

It's easy to miss essential information when taking real-time notes during a quickly-paced lecture. Take a moment during the rewriting process to consult related books and handouts so you can expand upon your previously constructed notes. Also, correct any passages if you find that you've accidentally copied down incorrect information.

3. Summarize the content.

End each portion of your rewritten notes with a concise summary of the topic. In doing so, you'll both review the lesson and create a handy overview of the subject matter containing the lesson's most vital details. The summarized text may also prove helpful during last-minute cram sessions when you're unable to review your notes in full.

4. Read through your rewritten notes.

After rewriting your notes, spend some time reading over what you've just written. Better yet, read the pages aloud so you can both see and hear the details covered during your study session. By reading your newly-created notes, you'll better connect with the material, allowing more information to stick in your memory.

It's a well-known fact that using a range of study methods generally leads to the best results. That's why, if you're looking to hold a successful study session, you should always schedule some time for rewriting your notes. By incorporating this additional method into your study routine, you'll be more likely to retain what you're studying, giving you a leg up on your next test or exam.

Additional memorization strategies when it comes to utilizing your notes

There are many ways to commit information to memory. While certain memory aids and memorization techniques will likely work better for you than others, there's no harm in trying several methods during your study sessions. With each unique approach to memorization, you'll review your study materials another time, which can help solidify the information in your memory. In addition to reading notes aloud, consider trying some of these other popular techniques the next time you study: creating flashcard quizzes, coming up with clever mnemonics, and drafting mock exams. After learning which methods work best for you, you'll start having more efficient study sessions.

Taking Breaks: An Absolute Neccessity

Three reasons why taking breaks helps you study more efficiently

Studying non-stop may seem like a great way to be more productive, but having non-stop study sessions can often do more harm than good. Why? Because non-stop study sessions can lead to mental and physical fatigue, preventing you from effectively absorbing information. So, how can you prevent yourself from becoming mentally and physically exhausted during your study sessions? It's simple. Take regularly scheduled breaks. Here are three reasons why taking breaks leads to more efficient study sessions.

1. Taking breaks fends off mental fatigue.

Being mentally exhausted makes it harder to focus on your studies. Having less focus makes it more challenging to absorb the information you're trying to learn. Mental fatigue can also negatively affect your memory, making it harder for you to recall previously known information during tests or exams.

2. Taking breaks releases physical tension.

Studying in one position for too long can lead to muscle tension and body aches. When this happens, you may focus more on your aches and pains than the subject you are trying to study. By scheduling breaks to move around and stretch your muscles, you'll relieve built-up muscle tension, helping you maintain peak levels of concentration.

3. Taking breaks helps you change your perspective.

It's far too easy to get caught up in a single perspective if you never look up from your work. Taking a break lets you step back from the topic, giving your brain a chance to process the subject matter from different angles. Approaching a subject from various perspectives is also helpful because it leaves you with a more thorough understanding of the content.

When scheduling breaks in your study sessions, aim to take breaks lasting for between five and fifteen minutes following each hour of studying. If you're having trouble keeping track of when it's time to take a break, let an alarm notify you when your hour-long study segment is complete. Consider also using the alarm to announce the end of your rest period so that you can resume your study session at the appropriate time.

The Importance of Sleep and Nutrition

Taking excellent care of yourself

Nothing breaks a person's concentration during a study session like a rumbling stomach or feelings of fatigue. To study more efficiently, take excellent care of yourself by paying close attention to your eating and sleeping habits. Once you understand your behaviors, you can improve your routine wherever necessary. For example, to ensure you're eating well, make an effort to choose more nutritious foods. Also, do your best to avoid skipping meals whenever possible. As for resting, aim to get a solid night's sleep as often as you can - especially before a big test or exam.


There are many ways you can increase overall learning efficiency and creativity during your study sessions. For instance, you could try rewriting your notes by hand, utilizing various memory aids and memorization techniques, and taking extra care of yourself. Finding the right study environment is certainly important, as well. Hopefully, by implementing these study strategies and hacks described above, you'll find studying far more enjoyable and learning much more efficient and creative.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Personal finance vocabulary list

Following, in alphabetical order, is a list of vocabulary words, along with my own definitions and explanations I wrote for them. These are ideal for high school students taking a personal finance class or simply wanting to get a better grasp of, or head start on, various money management concepts. By no means is this list of vocabulary words and their corresponding definitions and explanations meant to be exhaustive. Check back from time to time, as this personal finance vocabulary list for high school students may be expanded upon.

Budget - "A spending plan for your money. You are telling your money where to go and what to do." - Dave Ramsey

Checking - A checking account is an account you have, typically with a bank or credit union, allowing you to write checks to other people or to businesses without having to carry cash on you. The money for these checks comes out of your checking account when these other people or businesses cash your checks. These days, it's more common to see people using debit cards tied to their checking accounts for purchases rather than paper checks (see Debit). You are responsible at all times for keeping money in your checking account to cover your checks or debit card purchases. Not having enough money in your account when checks or card purchases are made against your account can result in heavy overdraft fees.

Credit Card - A plastic card issued to you by a bank, credit union, or credit card company. A credit card is a form of loan that must be paid back by you. When you use a credit card to make a purchase, you are not using your own cash to pay for the purchase. Rather, you are using money loaned to you by the issuer. Typically, if you don't pay your balance by the end of the month (or your assigned due date), you will also have to pay interest, which can be very high.

Debit - When we mention the word "debit," we're often talking about a debit card, but not always. A debit card is like a credit card, in that it is a plastic card with an account number and expiration date. It has your signature on the back. All like a credit card. The big difference, though, is that a debit card is backed by your own cash. It's really your money being used for purchases, not money loaned to you by a credit card issuer that you must pay back (and usually, with interest!) A debit card is usually tied to a checking account, meaning the money used to make debit card purchases comes right out of your checking (see Checking).

Debt - Put simply, debt is any amount of money, from one or from many different sources, that you owe. It could be money that you owe a family member or friend. It could be money you owe on credit cards, student loans, a mortgage, a car loan, etc.

Income - We usually think of income as money we earn from our jobs (wages, salaries, sales commissions, etc.), but income can come from a variety of sources. For example, income can be generated from investments you own, like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. It can also come from rental income on properties you may own. In this scenario, you own a home, apartment complex, commercial property, or even land, and other people (or businesses) are paying you to live there or run their business.

Investment - An investment, simply put, is you giving your money to an individual, a business, a financial advisor, or a bank in exchange for the potential to get your money back, along with more money just for you giving your original money in the first place! We say potential, because it is possible for you to lose money. Your investments may come in the forms of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, precious metals, or business opportunities, to name a few examples. Check out this previous blog post on the differences between stocks and bonds.

Loan - A loan is money issued to you on credit. The money is not yours. You don't get to keep it. You must pay it back, usually with interest. A few examples of loans include credit cards, student loans, a mortgage, a car loan, and a business loan.

Mortgage - A type of loan you take out from a bank or credit union allowing you to purchase a home or perhaps even a commercial building, if you're in business. Like any other loan (car loan, credit card, student loans, etc.), it must be paid back with interest added.

Salary - A salary is a type of income that you make from your job. Usually, when we discuss the term "salary," we are talking about an income that you are guaranteed to make in a full year. For example, you may get a job someday with a salary of $60,000, as opposed to being offered a wage of, say, $25.00 per hour. A big benefit of being paid in salary is that you know for sure what you'll make in a year. A major potential downside, though, is that you will most likely not receive any additional compensation for overtime, holidays, etc., like hourly wage earners would typically earn. You also will most likely end up putting in many more hours during the typical workweek than your wage-earning co-workers.

Savings - Money that you keep on reserve for an emergency, a "rainy day," or maybe for a particular thing you'd like to buy someday. While many people think of the word "savings" as money that is held in a savings account or Certificate of Deposit (CD) at the bank, it doesn't need to be. In any case, savings is money that is usually easily accessible, meaning it's not tied up in investment or retirement accounts.

What do you think of this attempt to build a solid working start to a list of high school personal finance class vocabulary words? What do you think of the definitions and explanations of money concepts presented here? What would you change, if anything? What words would you add to this list? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below! We appreciate your insights and contributions!

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Dave Ramsey and The Minimalists

As I'm drafting this post, I'm sitting in a high school personal finance class that I'm assisting in. I was last in a personal finance class a couple years ago, during the 2019-20 school year. Though the classroom teachers have been different, the content is largely the same, with many of the lessons and overarching concepts drawing from the work of Dave Ramsey and his team.

Dave Ramsey's teachings about saving, investing, budgeting, and spending wisely are phenomenal. A couple years ago, thanks to he and the personal finance class I was assisting in at the time, I tried a time-tested strategy known simply as the envelope system, or the envelope budgeting system. I'm still sticking to it, and it's working great for me.

I had a brief chat with the classroom teacher this morning about the immense value of a high school personal finance class. I told him that I have a love-hate relationship with the course. I hate it because it reminds me of all the money mistakes and poor choices I've made in the last 20 years. I never had a class like this, and had to learn by trial and error (mostly error) and my own research over the years. On the other hand, though, I absolutely love it. I love it because I'm genuinely excited for the futures of these students who are taking it. I love it because I still occasionally pick up strategies and ideas that can help me, like the envelope system. I firmly believe that personal finance should be a required course in high school, not an elective. My message to these students and to all of you who may be taking a course like this is: Take it seriously. Learn all you can. Take good notes. You have the greatest asset on your side right now - time. You have time. And if you treat your time like the wonderful asset it is, along with developing good money habits early on, then you can, in fact, become a millionaire at a relatively young age.

Anyway, the main point of this blog post is supposed to be that, if you're a high school (or even college) student taking a personal finance course, you should check out The Minimalists - Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, respectively.

The Minimalists' philosophy on money very closely mirrors Dave Ramsey's. In fact, Dave Ramsey has provided rave reviews for The Minimalists' books, and has made appearances in their film projects. But The Minimalists are approaching the subject of money from a different angle.

Whereas Dave Ramsey is largely more focused on the practical math and economics of saving, investing, and avoiding needless spending and debt, The Minimalists come at it from the perspective that getting rid of all the clutter in your life - the clothes you never wear; all the stuff in your basement, closets, and/or storage unit you're not using; the long hours you're working and mounds of debt you're taking on in order to keep up appearances and look "successful" to all your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and perhaps even family members ("Keeping up with the Joneses"), etc., etc. - can help you live a more meaningful, purposeful life. By living a simpler lifestyle and only holding onto the possessions that truly add value and/or joy to your life, you are able to devote more of your time, energy, and other resources to things that really do matter - to creative pursuits and hobbies that bring you joy; to the relationships in your life; to giving back to others; to making memories through unforgettable experiences like dream trips and life-changing goals you set for yourself; and so on.

So if you're a high school or college student taking a personal finance course, I highly recommend you look into The Minimalists on your own. Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus truly are rock stars, in my opinion. Dave Ramsey agrees. Or do I agree with Dave Ramsey? Anyways, their books, blog, podcast, and documentaries on living a more fulfilling life are awesome. Their own individual life stories on where they came from and what ultimately led them down the path of minimalism are inspiring. Their philosophy pairs very well with Dave Ramsey's.

In closing, make use of the greatest asset you have right now - your time. Work your time wisely, and make your time work for you. Listen to us older folks. Don't commit 20 years of painful financial and lifestyle mistakes if you don't need to.

The Minimalists

Love People Use Things | The Minimalists

I often don't have time to read many books fully from cover to cover these days. But one book that I just wrapped up (that I started reading back in August!), titled, Love People, Use Things: Because the Opposite Never Works, has had a profound impact on my life. I highly recommend it to others.

Written by childhood friends and business partners Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, whom, as a pair, are known as The Minimalists, I bought the book from my local Target store for reading material on my flights to and from Key West this past August. The book had just recently come out a month earlier, back in mid-July 2021. The Minimalists had written a few books before this one, which I have yet to explore. What prompted me to pick this one up, though, was discovering their 2016 documentary, Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, on Netflix. A few days ago, I just watched their most recent film (2021), also available on Netflix, titled, The Minimalists: Less Is Now. I highly recommend both of these documentaries. Very powerful and moving.

In Love People, Use Things, the duo reflect on how reducing all the clutter and noise in our lives - all the junk gathering dust in our closets, basements, and storage units; all the clothes we never seem to get around to wearing; the long hours we're putting in at work and the mounds of debt we're accumulating just to keep up appearances and look "successful" to all our friends, co-workers, neighbors, and even our own family members (The "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality), etc., etc. - can help us live more fulfilling, meaningful, productive lives. By committing to a simpler lifestyle and only holding onto the possessions that truly bring us joy or add value to our lives, we are free to devote more of our energy, time, talents, and other resources to the things that really do matter in life - to hobbies and creative endeavors that bring us joy; to the relationships in our lives; to giving back to others; to making memories through unforgettable experiences. Consuming less liberates us to be able to create more.

The pair reminisce on how they spent their 20s climbing the corporate ladder - at the same company but in different roles and departments - while raking in the dough and owning anything and everything they wanted, only to arrive at the realization that they weren't happy. Both of them grew up poor and in not the best of home/family circumstances, and this is what gave them the drive to push harder and harder for "success." In the end, though, it was all in vain. All they ended up with was the accumulation of stuff, massive credit card debt from acquiring said stuff, and a feeling of emptiness. As Millburn describes it, he was living the American Dream, but it wasn't his dream. In the same month, Millburn lost both his mom (to cancer) and his marriage. It was then that he realized something had to change. He was the first of the duo to stumble upon the philosophy of minimalism, and would later introduce it to childhood friend Nicodemus. Nicodemus noticed his longtime pal seemed happier, and so he took him out to lunch one day at a Subway to get the scoop. The rest, as they say, is history.

You can learn more about Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, The Minimalists, at this Wikipedia page dedicated to them. Check out their main website and explore their blog, podcast, and other creative works at