AmbleAlong

I have written items related to this before, but I truly feel it is important that not every vacation be a mirror image of one that you took previously.  Even if you go to the same city or country, why would you not get out to explore it in a different way rather than the same old, same old? Now I am not saying that going to one destination multiple times is a bad idea, just that branching out truly has its own allure…

Take for instance my various jaunts to Italy.  I have one boss that just says “Italy, again?” anytime I put in a vacation request.  A couple of things here to note:  (a) I have not just gone to Italy for vacations during my decade plus with the firm, (b) I happen to really like Italy, (c) I have managed to enjoy very different types of trips…

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What it means to me to be a minimalist.

by Mike Aux-Tinee.

Several years ago, I was reading an article about a writer who became disillusioned with his job, quit, and moved from the east coast to the west coast. Up to that point, I was right along with him (I had a job that I was not excited about either.) But where he lost me was what he did with his things. They were not packed in boxes and trucked across the country. Instead, he sold what he could and rest was donated to charity. All he took along were some clothes, a few personal items and that was about it. He made the decision to change his life and to live with less – a lot less and become a minimalist. There was more to the story and what it means to be a minimalist. I had only tripped across the tip of the iceberg.

I did not understand was why he wanted to shed the American Dream and everything else that goes along with it. I thought he was crazy because it’s what everyone does. The relentless pursuit of the American Dream, as we are told, will bring us happiness.

As I continued to read about minimalism, I discovered there were more people doing the same thing to one degree or another. And this confused me. How can this person claim to be a minimalist if they were not following the exact same path as all the others? The problem (my problem), was not being flexible in the application of minimalism. Once I scaled back and took a broader view, I found everyone was doing the same things, more or less. What I discovered, is that there are countless and different ways to be a minimalist.

To be a minimalist, there are no hard fast rules. But there are the general guidelines or principles to follow and here is what I’ve discovered:

  1. Be debt free or close to it.
  2. Downsize your life.
  3. Reduce consumption.
  4. Establish and pursue passions and interests.

Afterwards, it’s however you wish to live your life – as a minimalist. With that said, in addition to working on the above, I want to share what it means to me to be a minimalist.

  1. I live to travel and explore.
  2. It’s about quality over quantity.
  3. Personal growth.
  4. To be Mike and nothing more, nothing less.

I don’t think I will ever cross a finish line, after all this is not a race. But rather this is a life long journey. Being a minimalist is something that I need to work on every day and try to keep what’s important to me front and center.

One last thing I’d like to point out, no one is going to point their finger at you and say, “You’re not a real minimalist!” So work on the commonalities and then decide for yourself how to play out the rest.

I’d like to hear what you do to be a minimalist!

Peace Dudes!

Mike

Making the most of my time.

by Mike Aux-Tinee.

It never fails. Every day I hear someone say something along the lines of  “If there was only more time in the day…”.  We’ve all been there and know what the problem is – too much to do and not enough time to get it all done.

Time is finite. Once the big and little hand on the clock run past, it’s all she wrote. The good thing, when we wake up tomorrow, there is another twenty-four hours! And maybe that’s part of the problem, we know there is a tomorrow so we kick the can down the road with the mindset that we’ll get to it tomorrow or the next day…or the next day…

By putting off until tomorrow, what you can do today, you are missing out on some awesome opportunities to accomplish something remarkable, have a new experience and even improve your life. The thing is, most of us are wasting valuable time on activities like watching television (the average American watches an average of six hours of TV a day!), playing video games or surfing the internet. Doing these things (we believe) make us happy, helps us to unwind after a stressful day or stay connected

I was paddling along in the same boat. My routine was nearly set in stone and went something like this. After work, I would head home, make dinner, turn on the TV and spend the next three to four hours staring at whatever was on. That was my life five nights a week and Sundays was even worse. I was stuck in a rut.

When I did make it out of the house to run an errand like going to the grocery store, I rushed to get it knocked out and be back home in time to watch TV. This was starting to take its toll. Frustrated, I decided that it was time to make some changes and discover for myself what life was like… out there…

When I began, my goal was to simplify my life and make the most of everyday. It was time to change my focus and establish priorities. It’s about spending time wisely on meaningful and quality activities instead of sitting around like a bump on a log.

I did a little brainstorming and established my priorities and here is (a very short list) what I came up with:

  • spend time outside
  • exercise
  • personal projects
  • take care of me first

With my priorities set, I had to come up with the time and that was the easy part. I was spending almost 21 hours a week watching TV. Then came countless hours spent on the internet; checking e-mails, writing blog posts and surfing websites (sometimes I would do both at the same time!). I cut down my TV time from 21 hours to 2-4 hours a week (including Sundays). I keep my internet time down to 2 hours at a time. Once the buzzer goes off, it’s time to move on to something else.

But there is more…

I hate to rush around from one task to another. I never sit and relax, taking the time to enjoy whatever I am doing at that moment. I discovered another problem – scheduling and multitasking.

We have been conditioned. We must get as much in as humanly possible every waking minute of the day. Because heaven forbid that something or someone wait a minute longer than whats ‘acceptable’. You know what I am referring to. Someone comes to us wanting something and we are expected to put down whatever we are doing, give them what they want so they can move along. There is a fire and we have to put it out…

To remedy this, I work to prevent over scheduling and multitasking. I make sure that I cover the basics, eating, sleeping and work. I have streamlined my life, paying bills when they arrive, shopping and doing laundry the same days of the week. Once those things are done, it’s then time for me to do whatever I want. When I head out and ride my bike, there are no plans to do anything else afterwards (other than eating, napping and taking a shower). This way, I can take all the time I want.

There have been some very noticeable benefits to this change. I am calmer and not as stressed out. I have become better at getting things knocked out so I can move onto something more important. I do not feel the need to be everywhere, do everything and have learned, that it’s not about the quantity but the quality.

If you have any suggestions, ideas or would like to drop in and say hello, I’d like to hear from you!

Peace Dudes!

Mike

A review of my book, Islands of Happiness.

by Mike Aux-Tinee.

I was out on Amazon today, copying the link for my book for another post, Islands of Happiness and came across this review:

5.0 out of 5 stars A Gem-Exellent Read February 3, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
I finished Islands of Happiness this morning, it’s just a little gem. I gave it 5 stars because I actually didn’t want to put it down, it was so interesting. I love books on minimalist living and creating a happy life and this book delivers. I was browsing the subject and the cover caught my attention, the tropical picture in -31 degrees right now is very appealing. However, it’s what’s written by Michael Aux-Tinee that makes this book so special. He tells his story of his determination to live a life without debt and stay that way. The author explains how he did it, doesn’t sugar-coat it and teaches how you could do it too. He makes you realize how important it is to live your own life and enjoy your work and be happy. His chapter about getting the extra clutter out of your life really makes you think about the reasons you are keeping boxed up items. Also, he clearly defines the reasons we often think expensive things will bring us our bliss when in reality having freedom, love, happiness and dreams are what make life worth living. Really great practical ideas, no matter what your age!
While its’ cloudy and cold outside, the review of my book did make me very happy!
Peace Dudes!
Mike

Another reason to use cash.

by Mike Aux-Tinee.

Don’t look now, but the next time you whip out that credit card for your next must-have splurge purchase, it may cost you an additional 1.5 to 4.0% of the purchase price. There’s nothing like a sucker punch coming right at you when you were least expecting it.

When I was watching the video, the thing that struck me as just odd was that the reporter kept saying ‘what I like about this…’ I got the feeling that she was not a reporter but a paid spokesperson for the credit card companies. I guess her bias is coming out front and center.

I wonder, when will we, the consumer, stand up for ourselves? Of course, why would we want to do that? Because we are being taken to the cleaners and here’s how.

1. Interest rates: Let’s face it, most of us are not paying off our credit card bill(s) every month. When this happens, more of your money is going to the credit card company’s bottom line and not your own bank account (They win and you lose!)

See, once expenses are taken out, what is left is their ‘profits’ and from the amount of money the credit card companies are making, business and profits are good! Since Visa and MasterCard are publicly traded companies, you can check for yourself just how much they are making. But prepare yourself… it’s A-L-O-T!

2. Other fees: This latest fee, the charge by retailers, is another sign of the companies making more money at your expense. In addition to this new fee, there are late fees, over limit fees, fees to avoid going over your limit and so on. I understand, these fees are ‘products’ that the company offers its customers. But it sounds more like taking candy from a baby…

I know. You are going to try to defend these fees because you think you cannot survive without your credit cards. But let me tell you a story.

A very long time ago, back before credit cards were as common as they are now, there were just two ways to pay for things: with cash or by check. Now, you had to keep track of how much money you had in the bank and could not spend any more than that. It was the perfect utopia for us consumers.

When credit cards came out, very few people could even get a credit card, let alone use it without two forms of identification! Again, we customers were in a state of nirvana!

But the problem was, those who wanted to make more money, called up our Federal Government and asked them to change the laws. At first, any loss or fraudulent use would come out of the business profits. The laws were changed and now it’s the customer’s problem. What happened you may wonder?? The number of credit cards in circulation just shot up (and so did the amount of our debt.) Everyone under the sun could and did get a credit card and that propelled us down the path we currently are on now. Where we are the losers and the retailers, credit card companies and banks are the winners. I know, leaves a bad taste in your mouth…

But there is a way out. It’s going to take a little adjustment on your part, but the end result will put more money in your bank account.

1. Once and for all pay off what you owe and never look back.

You may think this is easier said than done. If you are like millions of Americans, you could have several thousand to over ten thousand dollars of combined debt. The thing is, you might not be able to pay it off in the short-term, but you can in the mid to long-term.

I was in your position, being hit with fee after fee and I decided to get off the hamster wheel. I paid off what I owed, transitioned to using cash and changed my life dramatically! If you need help, I wrote a book about what I did titled, Islands of Happiness.

2, With a little planning, use cash or pay by check.

Once all of my debt was paid off, using cash required just a little planning. I created a budget and stuck to it. You may have to ask if you can pay by check and might get some weird looks, but it can be done.

There are going to be those who attempt to label you… Maybe they will say you are overreacting, or are thrifty (which is a compliment to me) or say – how about you move into the 21st century like the rest of us. Whatever is said, ignore them one hundred percent. This is about protecting yourself and your money. Doing these things are just as cool as they were then.

Why do I want you to do this? Well, when you run the numbers the amount of money you are losing to fees and interest is a staggering amount. Don’t believe me, then just add up those numbers and let it sit on the paper and stare back at you. It’s hard to sit there and think what you could be doing with the money (maybe a vacation, take a class or just save the money!)

I want you to take back control of your life and the first step in the process is realizing there is more to life than the story you’ve been given.

If you do pay off your debt and follow my advice, I’d love to hear from you!

Peace Dudes!

Mike

How to cope with debt stress.

by Mike Aux-Tinee.

There you stand, looking over the edge at the abyss. What has brought you here is so much debt – your own personal financial cliff. As you gaze into the bottomless, dark hole, you think to yourself, ‘Could I have avoided this?’, ‘What should I do?’ and ‘Is this the end?’.

You begin to sweat, your heart races and you can feel that sick prickly feeling just race through every nerve of your body. You wish things could have been different and maybe you are quietly praying, a last desperate attempt to prevent the inevitable.

This scenario has been playing on an endless loop lately. Millions of people have taken on too much debt trying to live the ideal of the American Dream. It’s no use trying to point the finger and blame anyone but yourself. That’s not going to make the situation any better or make it go away in the short-term.

The one thing that can change in the short-term is how to cope with the stress over the debt you have. While it may take several years to pay off what you owe, you do not need to allow the stress from it all to negatively affect your life anymore.

I know where you are. See, I was over my head in debt and lost my job. It was (and still is) one of the worst feelings that I have experienced. I expected to wake up from the nightmare to find myself clutching a pillow for security. Well, I did not wake up like that and the nightmare stayed with me for some time.

I had to do something about the stress. I had to take some control back and find a way to cope with it before it started to cause serious damage to my life and erode my health. What I am going to share with you are the ways I dealt with the stress of being in debt.

1. Come up with a debt reduction plan.

The one thing you need to do to bring about the end of this nightmare is to recognize that your life is unsustainable. You can no longer go on recklessly spending money. It’s time to come to grips with the idea that you must learn to live below your means. Otherwise this is going to be how your life will be forever… and I really mean forever!

Coming up with a debt reduction plan allows you to have something positive to look forward to – the day you will be completely debt free. This is creating the notion that there is a way out, albeit some time down the road.

To help you with your debt reduction plan, I wrote a book, Islands of Happiness

2. Exercise.

Stress unchecked, puts a lot of pressure on the body. And at some point the pressure will become too much and something will pop. Stress can contribute to some very serious health problems like high blood pressure, heart attacks and ulcers.

By getting out and exercising you are doing two things. One, helping your body burn off the pent-up stress and pressure. And two, building up resistance to stress. When you decide you want to begin exercising, consult your doctor.

3. Eat better food.

I know you already know this, but the body needs fuel and we get that fuel from eating food. What’s important is what kind of fuel you give your body. To give the body the nutrients needed for daily operation, fight off diseases and illnesses, you must give it the good stuff: fruit and vegetables and keep the bad stuff out: fast food, soda, candy…etc.

Another benefit to eating better, your body will not put as much of it into storage (a.k.a fat). If done right, you can improve your health and how you feel.

4. Find a quiet place.

This is pretty important for a number of reasons. You need to have a place where the distractions of life cannot enter in and bombard you all at once. It gives you the space and time you need to sort through any problems, and come up with better solutions.

Having a quiet place also gives you the opportunity to pursue personal interests like reading, painting or just sitting and watching mother nature at work. (no surprise…it should be some place outside and away from your home!).

As you incorporate these activities into your life, you will discover once your debt has been paid off, that you are a much healthier and happier person. Your life, as it is right now, is doing more harm than good. No matter how many things you can point to as signs of success. The price you have to pay to obtain those things is too high…

If you have other ways to cope with stress, please pass them along for the good of everyone else!

Peace Dudes!

Mike

My broken heart.

by Mike Aux-Tinee.

I have to share this with you. It’s another story about a dog who was abused and left to die in a plastic bag on the side of the road.

I would  like to introduce you to Buck and when you follow the link, what you are going to see is a very beautiful and kind dog.

I hope the person who did this suffers horribly.

To the person who found him and rush him to the hospital, thank you for demonstrating care and compassion.

Peace Dudes!

Mike