The Voluntary Life

4 September 2015

219 How To Do A Monthly Financial Review


It took me a long time to work out how to stay on top of my finances. After a lot of trial and error, I developed the habit of doing a monthly financial review. This is what enables me to confidently manage my finances without having to think about money all the time. In this episode, I explain how you can implement your own monthly financial review. Topics covered include:

  • Habits to set up when implementing a monthly review, including dedicating adequate time (about 4 hours per month) and making a detailed checklist or task list to use.
  • Key questions to consider when designing your monthly financial review system, such as whether to use an online finance app or one that runs on your own computer.
  • Stages of the monthly financial review to implement: downloading finance data, cleaning data, inputting data, reconciling, and analysis (budget, investments, and net worth calculation)

Show Notes


Listen to Episode 219


26 August 2015

218 Choosing A Job-Free Lifestyle


In many previous episodes of this podcast, I've explored different ways to live a job-free lifestyle. I've interviewed extreme savers, unjobbers, lifestyle entrepreneurs, and startup entrepreneurs. Many listeners have raised an important question about these lifestyles: how do you choose between these different strategies for quitting the rat race? How do you decide which job-free lifestyle you want to pursue for yourself? This week's episode discusses this question and provides suggestions for how to choose a job-free lifestyle.

Show Notes

Listen to Episode 218


19 August 2015

217 Panama: Our Adventure Begins

This episode is a discussion with a special guest— my wife Hannah Braime, who is the host of Becoming Who You Are. We've just moved to Panama and we love it here already. In this episode we talk about all the preparations involved in our move, the start of our travel lifestyle, and our first impressions of life in Panama.

Show Notes




3 August 2015

216 Financial Independence Strengthens Your Moral Backbone


A listener shared these reflections with me:

"I like to think I'm a moral person but many times in my career (and in the careers of friends), I've been forced to choose between unethical behavior and possibly losing my job.  I handled this on a case by case manner, where I had to weight the importance of the unethical behavior, the likelihood of me being punished, the odds of me successfully elevating the issue to a superior, how much the unethical behavior would actually hurt the injured party, etc.  In other words, my response was ambiguous and led to a lot of sleepless nights."

The listener went on to explain that achieving financial independence strengthened his or her moral backbone and make it easier to say no to bad people at work. This is a brilliant insight and highlights one of the great benefits of financial independence. In this week's podcast episode I share some suggestions about how you can use entrepreneurship, extreme saving and unjobbing to make it easier for you to do the right thing.

Listen to Episode 216 (10 mins)


28 July 2015

215 Extreme Decluttering


“Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.”
 Charles Warner

Over the last three years, I've reduced my possessions to only those things that will fit inside one suitcase and one hand luggage bag. My wife and I decided to pursue extreme decluttering, in order to make a lifestyle of long-term travel more practical.

Decluttering was easy at first, but got harder the more extreme I took it. My possessions were not just serving practical needs, but emotional ones too. I had to work out how to address those needs before I could get rid of my stuff. Decluttering also forced me to acknowledge mistakes I had made in the past— mistakes I preferred to avoid thinking about.

Overall, extreme decluttering has been a fantastic learning process. I feel much freer because of it. I think that you can benefit in a similar way by decluttering, even if you don't want to reduce your stuff in such an extreme way as I did.

Show Notes:



Listen to Episode 215 (19 mins)


21 July 2015

214 From Drama To Empowerment: Discussion With Hannah Braime


In this week's podcast episode, special guest Hannah Braime talks about how to free yourself from a life of drama and move to a life of empowerment. Hannah is a coach, author, and host of Becoming Who You Are.

We discuss some powerful concepts from the field of psychology that Hannah uses in her coaching. She explains how easy it is to get stuck playing a series of roles in your life— acting out a script written by someone else. These roles are all too familiar: "the victim", "the persecutor" and "the rescuer". Hannah explains how to empower yourself to leave such roles behind and live life according to your own plans. I really enjoyed the discussion and I think you will find it both interesting and helpful.

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 214 (25m)



13 July 2015

213 How To Think For Yourself Part 3: Logic And The Courage To Follow It


Part 3 in the series on how to think for yourself is all about logic. Here is how you reach true conclusions about any question in life: start with undeniable premises and use valid logic.  Logic— used in reasoned argument— is the universal, impartial method that humans have for finding the truth together peacefully. Yet very few people use logic consistently. I discuss some reasons why it is so hard to be logically consistent. The most important reason is that it takes courage to follow an argument to its logical conclusion, especially if the conclusion is not accepted by the majority of people around you. If you want to think for yourself, you need more than just valid logic— you also have to have the courage to follow it.

Show Notes:


6 July 2015

212 How To Think For Yourself Part 2: Science And Rationality


Last week I suggested two key challenges to resolve if you want to think for yourself:

  1. How do you tell truth from falsehood? 
  2. How do you know what you can be certain of? 

This episode is about how the scientific method can help address the first of these challenges: determining truth. I provide a summary of the philosophy of science and the rules for deciding whether a theory qualifies as scientific.

However, there is a huge problem with the philosophy of science when it comes to addressing the challenge of certainty. The scientific method—as defined by leading philosophers of science—is self-contradictory. It's not even an accurate representation of what practicing scientists do (which is why scientists tend to ignore philosophers and just get on with it). In the episode, I explain how rationality is the necessary foundation of science—more fundamental even than empiricism—and how it provides the certainty that makes the scientific method possible.

Show Notes:


Listen to Episode 212


30 June 2015

211 How To Think For Yourself Part 1: Introduction To Truth And Certainty


You can't be free unless you can think for yourself. If someone else is doing your thinking for you, then it's not your life that you are living.

When you know how to think of yourself, you cannot be controlled or manipulated. Your life is truly in your hands and is up to you what you do with it.

This episode is part one of a new series on how to think for yourself. This episode introduces the two biggest problems you have to overcome if you want to think for yourself:

  1. How can you tell truth from falsehood? 
  2. How do you know what you can be certain of? 

Listen to Episode 211 (10 mins)


21 June 2015

210 Tax Strategies And Financial Freedom Part 2 (Interview With Joshua Sheats)


This week's episode is part two of an interview with Joshua Sheats, host of the Radical Personal Finance podcast. Joshua shares his insights on tax strategies for those pursuing financial freedom. In part one of the interview (last week's episode), we covered tax strategies for employees. In this episode, we discuss tax strategies for entrepreneurs. Joshua describes his own experience developing a lifestyle business and the tax advantages that this provides.

Show Notes:
  • Radical Personal Finance Podcast
  • As always, it's up to you what you do with your money. I'm not a financial advisor and you will need to do your own research.
Listen To Episode 210 (30 mins)


14 June 2015

209 Tax Strategies And Financial Freedom Part 1 (Interview With Joshua Sheats)

Tax is the biggest expense category for most people. It is crucial for everyone interested in financial freedom to understand tax and develop a tax strategy. Yet many of the leading books on financial independence hardly mention tax. In this interview, Joshua Sheats provides a wealth of insights on this topic.

Joshua trained as a financial planner and now runs the Radical Personal Finance podcast. In part one of the interview (this episode), Joshua discusses tax strategies for employees. In part two (next week), we discuss tax strategies for entrepreneurs.

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 209 (41 mins)


9 June 2015

208 Creating Purpose, Structure, And Community Outside A Job


If you want to quit your job to pursue a more freedom-oriented lifestyle (such as entrepreneurship), there are many challenges to overcome. Some challenges are practical, such as replacing the job income that you no longer have. This episode is about the psychological challenges. Even an unfulfilling job has a psychological "pull" that is easy to take for granted because it provides:

  • A sense of purpose 
  • Structure for your life 
  • A ready-made community 

Part of the fear that many people feel about quitting their jobs relates to losing the sense of purpose, structure, and community that comes from a job. To live job-free, you have to create your own sense of purpose, your own structure for life, and your own community. You can hear more about this topic in the podcast episode.

Show Notes:


Listen to Episode 208 (12 mins)


2 June 2015

207 Who Will Buy Your Business?


If you are an entrepreneur, you might want to sell your business one day (or at least have that option). There are many issues to tackle in order to make selling a real possibility. For one thing, you need to identify a potential buyer.

This podcast episode provides an overview of the two main groups of potential buyers: strategic and financial. I suggest some issues to consider when looking for each kind of buyer and I explain why I would always prefer a strategic buyer.

Show Notes:
Finish Big: How Great Entrepreneurs Exit Their Companies on Top by Bo Burlingham

Listen to Episode 207 (15 mins)

24 May 2015

206 Luck In Business


Are successful entrepreneurs just "lucky"? This episode is about the role of luck in business. Here are some of the ideas discussed:
  • The main job of the entrepreneur is to minimise chance and uncertainty. "Luck" is not the basis of success, it is the enemy. 
  • People confuse the success or failure of a business idea with the success or failure of an entrepreneur's career—they are not the same thing. Successful entrepreneurs have many failures behind them. 
  • A business is not static. It is not a matter of chance whether it succeeds or fails. You can adapt and change everything about your business as you go, and thereby improve your chance of success with every step. 
  • There will always be influences that are entirely outside your control. But even those things outside your control can be managed and adapted to. 














Photo Credit: andyburnfield

17 May 2015

205 The Most Powerful Planning Tool I Know


This episode is about the most powerful tool that I know for planning anything. A process map is a tool for visualising a workflow. It's also called a workflow map or a network diagram—there are many different names for this tool.

It's a way of clarifying exactly what has to happen to in order for you to get all the way from where you are now, to your final goal. The map shows the dependencies between all inputs, processes, and outputs. This identifies the logic of all the work ahead of you.

You don't need to be involved in project management to benefit from creating workflow maps. Visualising your workflows can help you achieve your goals in any aspect of life. However, a workflow diagram is also the basis of many useful project management tools, like a PERT Chart or Gantt chart. If you want to get more into project management, you can use this tool to identify the critical path and critical chain.

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 205 (19 mins)


10 May 2015

204 Making Sense Of Frugality And Minimalism


This episode is about making sense of two important concepts: frugality and minimalism. Frugality means to be economical or sparing with regard to money, but this definition prompts the question: what are the criteria for deciding if a choice is economical?  Similarly, the definition of minimalism (to own the minimum amount of possessions) also prompts a question: what are the criteria for deciding what the minimum is?

Both these ideas only make sense if they are defined in relation to your goals and purpose in life. Using examples from entrepreneurship, I suggest ways to define frugality and minimalism in relation to your goals.

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 204 (24 mins)



3 May 2015

203 Early Retirement And Housesitting: Interview With Sarah Burch

In this interview, Sarah tells her early retirement story and talks about life after quitting the rat race. We discuss why she has chosen housesitting both as a lifestyle choice and as a great financial benefit. She discusses the pros and cons of housesitting and provides some advice for people thinking about making the jump to early retirement.

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 203



26 April 2015

202 Self-Deception


In this episode, I share two theories from social psychology about why we sometimes lie to ourselves and fool ourselves, as well as suggestions for overcoming these tendencies. I describe some of my own approaches to overcoming self-deception by getting objective data about my life.  In order to gain self-knowledge, you have to reduce the gap between what you think about yourself and reality. Although this is often an uncomfortable process, the truth is always liberating.

Show Notes

Listen to Episode 202 (20 minutes) 

7 April 2015

201 Tools And Systems for Independent Learning


In this week's episode I'm sharing my own tools and systems for independent learning. These are the hacks that I use to be proactive about independent learning, rather than being an uncritical consumer of ideas. Topics covered include:

  • Making objectives for your learning and capturing them in Evernote
  • Coping with the information firehose
  • Filtering your search for learning materials using reading lists and subject tagging in Pocket app.
  • Capturing learning resources in databases using apps like Calibre and Evernote
  • Effective note taking with mind maps, highlights and written notes
  • Critical thinking
  • Habits to support learning
  • Automating parts of your learning system

Show Notes:



Listen to Episode 201 (23 mins)


30 March 2015

200 Quantified Self


This episode is about the growing use of technology to automatically collect and analyse data about your life. I share some examples of my own automated tracking of health and productivity data. I'm using various apps to analyse the data in the background and compile all the results into an automated, objective journal. It's getting easier all the time to quantify your life with minimal effort.  Doing so can give you objective data and meaningful analysis about whatever matters to you. This can help you to live a more conscious and fulfilled life.

Show Notes:

Listen to Episode 200 (17m)


23 March 2015

199 Car Free


Is owning a car really worth it? This episode is about the financial and lifestyle benefits of deliberately choosing not to own a car (I'm in my early 40s and I've never owned one). Topics covered include:

  • Why owning a car is often a waste of money
  • The health and lifestyle benefits of living car free, especially walking and cycling
  • Alternatives to car ownership including car clubs, peer-to-peer transport (e.g. Uber and Lyft), public transport
  • The problem of car dependency and why it exists
  • Challenges of not owning a car
  • Suggestions for how to live car free

Show Notes:


15 March 2015

198 Removing Trivial Decisions From Life

We are all subject to a psychological process called decision fatigue: every choice you make depletes your willpower and lowers your ability to self-regulate. This is true for trivial decisions as well as life changing ones. By designing trivial decisions out of your life, you can retain decision making capability for the things that really matter to you. In this episode I share some of my own experiences with avoiding decision fatigue and explain why I think minimalism is a great way to help you focus on the things that really matter.

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 198 (12 mins)


8 March 2015

197 Resisting Conformity: A Discussion With Brett Veinotte


Brett Veinotte is an educator and host of School Sucks Podcast. This week I had an interesting discussion with Brett about the power of conformity and how to resist it. Topics covered include:
  • How conformity to "normal" spending habits prevents people achieving financial independence 
  • Solomon Asch's conformity experiments and what we can learn from them 
  • How conformity can alter your perception 
  • The importance of allies in resisting conformity 
  • The role of privacy in reducing conformity 
  • The danger of conforming to a subculture (and still being a conformist) 
  • How exposure to different views can increase your independence of thought 
Show Notes:

Listen To Episode 197




1 March 2015

196 Self Knowledge and Entrepreneurship: Interview With Hannah Braime


In this episode, I interview life coach and author Hannah Braime (my lovely wife) about the relationship between self knowledge and entrepreneurship. Hannah is the host of the personal development website Becoming Who You Are. As a coach she helps people to develop their self knowledge and live a more authentic, fulfilling life. She is the organiser of an upcoming online symposium,  The Entrepreneur's Inner World. Topics we cover include:
  • The role of self knowledge in entrepreneurship
  • Key themes that came up when Hannah interviewed 24 entrepreneurs
  • The benefits of entrepreneurship for personal growth

Show Notes
Listen to Episode 196 (50 mins)