This is the 39th edition of our periodic guest post series called 10 Questions and a Pizza Place. (The 1500′s are pizza fanatics.) We have a list of 17 questions we pose to fellow financial bloggers, and they are free to pick and choose 10 or answer all 17. Let us know if you would like to be featured in a future edition of 10 Questions.
Today’s 10 Question features Jonathan Look from Life Part 2. In 2011, at the age of 50, Jonathan decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world; one country at a time, one year at a time. His plan is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn’t intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.
Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
Life Part 2 is kind of a hybrid retirement, travel and lifestyle blog. I try to show people what is possible when they quit sacrificing their lives on the altar of consumerism and live life as an adventure. I don’t offer a lot of tips or advice but I do try to inspire people to wake up to some of the possibilities.
What is the worst financial mistake you made?
Pouring too much of my income into possessions that didn’t bring me happiness or improve my life. When I finally woke up and sold everything by I was appalled by how little value there is in a house (and driveway) full of “stuff”.
What would you do if you inherited $1,000,000 (after taxes) today?
I would get the zipper on my backpack repaired and buy a new pair of hiking sandals.
When it comes to possessions I am very happy living as a minimalist. As Henry David Thoreau said, “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone”. Seriously though, I would probably invest it in something safe but boring and continue pretty much as I do now. I might bring a few more friends along on some of my adventures. I might upgrade my old computer. I wouldn’t change much.
Who inspires you?
People that know how to balance work and pleasure. Anyone that is enjoying life in the moment. When I travel I get so inspired by people that have little materially but are enjoying rich full lives. So many people, especially in the developed world say, “I am going to be so happy when I get this.” In truth, if you are waiting for “something” to make you happy, you probably won’t have it even when the waiting is over.
What is the best financial move you have made?
Again, radically reducing my spending and expenses. A lot of people think they have income problems when in fact they have spending problems. Having very few expenses (or possessions) affords you a lot of flexibility. The life I have designed allows me the ability to live practically anywhere I want and if I choose, move tomorrow.
What’s your favorite tip for saving money?
Before making buying something ask yourself, “Would I buy this twice?” What I mean is
if you bought something and you lost it – right away – would you go out and purchase it again without hesitation. If the answer is no, you don’t really need it in the first place or you can’t afford it.
What are your biggest goals in life?
I am living my goals right now! I know everyone’s dream is different and my lifestyle certainly isn’t for everybody. I want to continue learning about this tiny planet we all are riding around on.
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Push boundaries, live at the edge of your comfort zone, live life as an adventure.
What advice would you give to a 24 year old, just out of college?
Live well below your means. Remember that in the end all you have are your memories; make them good ones. Time is your most valuable commodity, don’t waste it. See money as a tool, not as a goal.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
I was once riding in the cockpit of an airplane on a long international flight when the pilot turned to me and asked, “Have you noticed what I have been doing?” “No, I didn’t see anything” I replied, wondering what he was getting at. “Exactly!” he replied, “This thing flies so much better when I don’t f#$k with it all the time.”
Some people spend more time tweaking their plans than living their lives. We talked for a while and he expanded on what he meant. Don’t make things so difficult that they require too much monitoring and tweaking. I think that advice works well for finance and life in general.
What is the worst personal finance mistake you see people making?
Investing in things that are too complicated to understand. Getting impatient.
What product or service epitomizes consumerism?
Prada handbags, Leica cameras, Louis Vuitton shoes; anything that screams rampant consumerism. All of these products have high quality, reasonably priced alternatives but are purchased primarily by people who want others to think, “I have money to burn” or “I am more ‘successful’ than you.” Advertisers build a mystique around these products and prey upon the insecurities of and their customers need to be noticed. I have a lot more respect for the multi-millionaire that wears a Timex watch than I do for the person (or multi-millionaire) that sacrifices their savings (or charity) to buy a Rolex.
What is your favorite pizza place (I am a pizza nut)?
O’dell’s Pizza in Winona, Texas. Extra-large, thick crust, all toppings with extra jalapenos and anchovies. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
In 2011 Jonathan decided to take early retirement and pursue a life of adventure instead of comfort and possessions. His philosophy is, “Why sip life from a straw when you can drink it from a fire hose?” When he is not traveling, he lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand. You can sign up for his newsletter here, visit his website at LifePart2.com or visit him on Facebook.
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