The Happy Minimalist
  
The Happy Minimalist
Financial independence, Good health, and a better planet for us all
Published:
7/10/2008
Format:
Perfect Bound Softcover
Pages:
107
Size:
6x9
ISBN:
978-1-43634-862-1
Print Type:
B/W
The life of a minimalist does not have to be deprived. It is simple living focused on what is truly needed to make you happy. It can be filled with enriching experiences, as demonstrated by Peter’s life. Of humble beginnings, Peter is currently financially independent—not through winning a lottery, inheriting wealth, or joining a start-up. In this book, Peter poses questions, provides facts, and shares his personal experience. It is a timely call to examine one's life, to achieve financial independence, to attain good health, and to create a better planet for all.

What some readers have said about the book
"very timely and thought-provoking"
"Book is worth every cent!"
"I strongly recommend this book to my clients"
Awarded 5 stars by most Amazon reviewers

"Lawrence's book is short, and his prose is easy and unadorned. Readers may occasionally stumble over an awkwayd phrase, but they will never doubt the authenticity of the writer of the clarity of his message"
Received 4 of 5 Stars - Reviewed by ForeWord CLARION

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When you don’t need that much space, you don’t need to buy a big house. You can live in a much smaller house. This translates to lower mortgage payments. Saving on your mortgage payments can drastically cut back on the number of years you need to work to pay off your mortgage. WL, a friend of mine, is looking to purchase a bigger house than I have because he thinks he needs the space. It is easily going to cost him at least $300,000 more than if he were to settle for a smaller space and in a less “prestigious” part of the country. How many more years will he have to work to pay the difference off? Most people try to buy the biggest house they can afford. They stretch themselves. Some overstretch. I took the opposite path. I did not go by what I could afford. As a minimalist, I went with the smallest place I could get. I did not go for a fancy or prestigious neighborhood. As such, my mortgage payments were relatively lower. What I saved on my primary residence, I diverted toward a rental property. So instead of buying one big property to live in, I bought two: one small place for myself to live in and another to rent out. The rent from my tenant was able to cover my mortgage payments on the rental property. As far as my residential property was concerned, I made mortgage payments instead of rental payments. You either pay rent or mortgage. I chose the latter. Contrary to what most financial advisors will advise, I did not maximize my 401(k). I maximized to get the employer match, but not more. Instead I diverted any extra dollars I had every month toward paying off my mortgage. From the earlier section, you will have realized that a minimalist does not have a lot of the recurring costs that most people have (cable, high electric bills, etc). All these savings were plowed toward paying off my mortgage sooner. Over time, I was able to pay off both my mortgages. I am debt free now. It was possible because of my minimalist lifestyle, not because I won a lottery or joined a start-up. Slow and steady wins the race! (Once again, financial advisors will say that paying off your mortgage is not a good idea and that we should maximize our 401(k). Believe me; I know all the cold analysis behind that advice. Only time will tell which was a better move for me.) The way I saw it was: A house is a tangible, physical asset. Regardless of whether the price goes up or down, people need to live somewhere. As such, you derive utility out of it regardless of its prevailing market price. With securities it is different. From March 2000 to Oct 2002, the S&P index value declined more than 49 percent and the NASDAQ fell over 77 percent. If that was the time you were retiring and you still had outstanding mortgage payments and other debts, what were you to do? If you don’t need that money when the market is down, holding on to it does not yield you any utility like a physical asset such as a house does. The exception may be dividend-paying stocks. This is where the financial advisors would talk about the importance of diversification in your portfolio. Well, I consider the real estate that I own to provide that diversification. As long as you are paying mortgage, you don’t own the house. The bank owns it. When you own your house outright, regardless of the state of the economy, you don’t have to worry about the mortgage payments. Because you own your house, you are also shielding yourself from one aspect of inflation—rising costs of rent.
Peter Lawrence was born and raised in Singapore and lives in Santa Clara, California. He has been able to retire well before the normal retirement age not because he won a lottery, inherited wealth, or joined a start-up. In fact, he has humble beginnings. Peter attributes his early retirement to his minimalist lifestyle. The life of a minimalist does not have to be deprived. Rather, it is simple living focused on what is truly needed to make a person happy and can be filled with enriching experiences—as demonstrated by Peter’s life. Peter spent time in the army and in the monastery. He has bungee-jumped in New Zealand and sky dived in Australia. He has floated on the lowest point of Earth and ridden a camel to the Great Pyramids. He also spent time in Europe, South America, and Central America. Peter holds a Bachelor in Information Technology from an Australian University and an Executive MBA from an American University.
 
 


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