Why I Decide to Live Off Pennies

living off pennies

Guest post by David Damron of The Minimalist Path

This time last year, I was bringing home (after taxes and retirement contributions) about $1,000 every two weeks. I know that, by many standards, this may not be a lot of money, but in my eyes, it’s a kings ransom these days. Why you ask? Because I am the sole contributor to my income this year. In other words, I am living off pennies.

This article was inspired by Corbett’s question Is Lifestyle Design Dead Already? Hopefully, this post will help show you the realities of lifestyle design and why you should still focus on creating your own.

Lifestyle design can be somewhat utopian I must confess, but the dreams and desires come at a price. I am responsible for continued income flow and the only way this happens is by working until 4:00 am on projects like my book PROJECT M-31, which drive my income. If I decide to lay around and play Modern Warfare 2 for hours on end, my progress comes to a halt and the productivity continues to fall from there.

I must continue the progress started months earlier while juggling every aspect of running a small business. Designing the lifestyle you want is a joy, but running it is another story.

My days begin early and my nights end late. I have set myself up to do this. I enjoy working for 2-3 hours at a time with intermittent breaks for rest, workouts, running, eating, etc. By not working the typical 9-5 hours, I have chosen to work sporadically throughout the day. Sure, it is nice to hit the gym at 8:00 am when no one is there, but that also means that around 9:00 pm at night I am working on some project, replying to e-mails, paying affiliates, tweeting random things and writing new articles until the wee hours of the morning.

These give and takes vary for every person. I read that Sean Ogle tends to work 6 hours in the morning and then enjoy the afternoon followed by a little work in the evening. I like to follow that similar path, but even this example is different than mine. The key is putting in more hours than you think you need to. In your own business, there is always something that goes wrong or something you need to take care of, so the hours tend to grow longer. All of this is done in hopes of one day having a stream of income flowing without me being glued to the monitor.

The worst part of lifestyle design is clearly the support factor. When you create a lifestyle that is supported by the hope that others will enjoy your product, you tend to constantly worry.

This is not any different than your local small business owner. Everything, at least at first, is on your shoulders. Running your own business is like being beaten by George St. Pierre for 3 5-minute rounds in an octagon all while holding a bag of cement above your head. There is always something wrong and it is up to you to fix each and every issue. I couldn’t tell you the amount of time I wasted working on WordPress issues this week. With all that said, my decision is the right one for me.

My main goal is to be financially self sufficient. There are many other goals, but this one in particular will effect the other goals the most.

Total Expenses Plus 30% for WTF Moments

Currently, living in Phoenix and renting a room with my girlfriend from a friend is helping keep my financial situation in good shape. I have chosen to practically live off pennies because, well, that’s what I am making. Okay, I am making a few greenbacks, but not much. To do this, I have decided to follow the one and only Tim Ferriss (I think you all have heard of him) and his Monthly Expense Calculator. Being that debt is a small issue in my life, I am able to limit my expenses to the survival needs.

Roughly, my expenses total $750 before the added 30% increase for the WTF moments that happen in life. If you divide the total $750 that is absolutely necessary by 30 day’s/month, you will get 25. So, I just need to make $25/ day to break even.

I am sure there is either one of the two following thoughts going through your head right now: 1) “Do you really want to live on $25/day for the rest of your life?” or 2) “Wow, $25/day is really do-able in your situation.” Let me answer the first one by saying that I definitely do not want to live my life on only $25/day forever. But, to reach my goals, I am willing to scrape by now to one day make $50/day and then $100/day and then $250/day and so on.

As for the second thought that may have gone through your head, $25/day is definitely do-able. Just by launching PROJECT M-31, I have been able to generate this and that is only one source of income. Whichever way you look at it, the end result is continued growth. Getting to that destination is the difficult part.

By now, you are probably still asking why in the world I would live off pennies rather than go back to my old job and bring home much more right away to go along with my passive income. Well, my ultimate goal is to be my own boss, make way more than I did prior to my 9-5 departure and be happy. Most of my bosses in my life have been great, I have made decent wages, and I was somewhat happy. However, all of these were not helping me follow my LifeExcursion motto of Living Life to The Max.

Why would I want to settle for an okay life when I could live a kick-a** one? I understand that we need trash collectors, but it doesn’t have to be me. So, I took the giant leap of leaving comfort for excitement and true passionate success. That is the reason we, lifestyle designers, choose the life we want. It may not be to have all the security in the world at times, but is your “day job,” honestly, all that secure anyways? Living off of pennies is just a short term issue that really isn’t that big of an issue.

What I want you to take away from this article is that it is possible to design your utopian lifestyle. Sure, it may take a while to become perfect, but the journey is exciting and your own. This has been occurring since the dawn of man and will never stop.

The paths all may be different, but the desire to live the life we want is still possible, alive, and strong. Design your life and be more than society says you can be. I promise you will be happier and more successful this way.

David Damron writes at The Minimalist Path and is the author of PROJECT M-31: Simplify Your Life in 31 Days.

photo by Jonathan Pobre

I'm Corbett Barr, co-founder of Fizzle and entrepreneur for a decade. Get my weekly curated email of useful things for independent entrepreneurs »

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