How Ten Minutes Quiet a Day Could Make You Richer

Find ten minutes in your day to sit quietly

You may remember that last month I had some money left over and I bought four books, with the promise that I may review some of them. One of the books was Rich Habits Poor Habits by Tom Corley and Michael Yardney. I first came across Tom Corley on the Afford Anything podcast. He undertook a study looking at the differences between rich people and poor people. This involved observing and documenting the daily activities of 233 wealthy people and 128 poor people. The book, which summarises his findings, outlines 30 habits of successful people.

Tom Corley’s tenth habit of rich people says that successful people are masters of their words and emotions. They do not fall prey to anger, jealousy, excitability, sadness or other petty emotions. They understand that negative emotions cause them to make bad decisions that result in bad consequences. They replace these bad emotions with positive emotions. When faced with a difficult situation they think, evaluate the situation and then react. On the other hand, unsuccessful people let their emotions rule their behaviour. They easily become depressed and feel as if they have no control over their lives. They react before thinking. 

The tenth habit reminded me of Brooke Castillo’s teaching. If you have been reading my blog from the beginning you will know that one of the things that I enjoy doing is listening to podcasts. As well as those about financial independence I have also started listening to personal development podcasts, including Brooke Castillo’s ‘The Life Coach School’. One of the very first episodes talked about the impact of our thoughts on our feelings. Her theory, which is not her creation apparently, but which she has taken from elsewhere, is the following:

  • Circumstances are neutral
  • Your thoughts about the circumstances create your:
  • Feelings, which determine your:
  • Actions, which influence your:
  • Results

A somewhat silly example, which shows how reacting before thinking can cost you money, is that one of my colleagues told me that when a bolt on his wheel snapped as he was trying to change the tyre he threw the spanner in anger and smashed one of the car windows. Obviously this meant that he had to pay to get it mended. His inability to control his frustration caused him to act rashly which led to even more expense than a snapped bolt.

I was then reminded of some of the teachings of the late Stephen Covey who wrote ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. This was one of the first self-help books that I read. It is a book that requires in-depth consideration and repeated reading. There is so much to learn from his teachings.

His first ‘habit’ is to ‘Be Proactive’. He says that between stimulus and response is our greatest power – the freedom to choose. According to Covey, it’s not what happens to us that matters most, but it is how we respond to what we experience in life. He believes that highly proactive people do not blame circumstances, conditions or conditioning for their behaviour. Their behaviour is a product of their own conscious choice based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feelings.

Each of these authors leads me to the same conclusion, which is that in order to be more successful and happy in life we need to gain control of our emotions rather than just have a ‘stimulus-response’ reaction.

One of the ways in which you could achieve this is, I believe, through the practice of meditation. In my experience it is not the act of meditation itself, but the impact that it has upon the rest of your life. I believe that it creates a calmness and increases your ability not to follow your gut reaction in circumstances which face you each day. This can help on a financial level as you don’t automatically resort to buying yourself something when you have a bad day.

By reframing what has happened and controlling your emotions you can take charge of your life instead of being pulled this way and that by whatever happens to you. When I started meditating I used ‘Headspace’, but it eventually just became paying a subscription to listen to silence for ten minutes. I then read ‘Bliss More’ by Light Watkins, who I had heard interviewed by Dr Chatterjee and now I just set my phone timer and sit quietly for ten minutes. I don’t chant or do anything special. I try to take some deep breaths and concentrate on different parts of my body, attempting to relax. Often my mind wanders and thoughts about the day ahead interrupt my concentration, but according to Light Watkins that is completely normal.

It may feel a bit weird at first, just sitting with your eyes closed for ten minutes trying to focus on nothing, but what have you got to lose? It’s free and you might just feel the benefit. Maybe start with five minutes, or even two and then gradually increase the time.

So how about giving it a try? I would love to know how you get on and if you feel any benefit from it.

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Twelve Frugal Actions – a day in the life of a frugal person

Put a dressing gown on when I got out of bed

I had woken up in a house where the heating had only just come on. We don’t run it through the night. I am always colder than Mr Simple so I have a blanket on my side of the bed. If it is really cold I wear socks in bed – very sexy I know!

Made a cup of tea using tea leaves in a tea pot

A pack of loose-leaf tea from Tesco’s at £1.29 for 100g lasts for ages.

Read a library book

If you aren’t a member of your local library, you need to join today. Basically, it is free entertainment. There is also internet access, activities for children and they also run courses – all free of charge. You are paying for it through your taxes anyway, so use it.

Reading in bed is a daily treat – even better when it’s a library book

Washed using all Tesco’s own brand toiletries

Facial wash £1.50, shower gel 28p, toothpaste 50p. For some reason I cannot find some of these products on the Tesco website, but came across them on the shelf in the store.

Wore clothes I wore yesterday (and maybe the day before as well)

This follows the recommendation of Laura Vanderkam, the time management queen, who says that to save time cut down on washing and wear things more often. At nights I usually put my blouse or t-shirt on a hanger and my jeans on the chair next to the bed. I wear things more than once and jeans I might wear for several days.

Save time and money on laundry by wearing clothes more than once

Put a handkerchief in my pocket

Instead of tissues I have cotton handkerchiefs that you can wash and keep using for years.

Served breakfast on ‘heirloom’ crockery

Some of it is from our parents and grandparents, some from a charity shop when I was a student 30 years ago. Breakfast is not so frugal as it includes avocados – if anyone has any tips about buying avocados cheaply I’d be grateful to know. If I could grow them I would.

Prepared food and drink to take with me for the day

Made a flask of coffee, filled my water bottle and put last night’s dinner in a Tupperware box to reheat in the office for lunch.

Drove my nine-year-old car to the office

It has nearly 100,000 miles on the clock, but fingers-crossed I can keep it going for a little while yet.

Bought petrol whilst I was in the vicinity of the cheapest petrol station

As I was passing Tesco’s petrol station on the way home, although the tank wasn’t completely empty I still filled up as otherwise I could end up having to buy petrol somewhere more expensive.

Ate a home-cooked meal

Mr Simple made a meal from scratch for us. We eat mainly vegetarian food which is cheap and good for you.

Watched Freeview TV

We have never had cable, so have not had to ‘cut the cord’. If there’s nothing on we just turn it off and do something else.

So what does your typical day look like? How do you incorporate frugality into your daily habits? I would love to hear.

An Absence of Obligations


It has been difficult this week getting back in to work. I am lucky enough to have a job that I really enjoy, even though it can be stressful at times. I am good at turning my work phone off and completely shutting off from work when I am on leave. I did check my emails on Sunday afternoon just to see what I would be returning to on Monday morning and I felt an absence of any enthusiasm for getting back work.

On Monday morning Mr Simple was sitting at the breakfast table looking as though he completely lacked any interest for the day ahead. When I asked him if he was struggling to get going after our staycation he said that it had been nice last week not having any obligations.

I think that the difference between our staycation and our usual holidays is that when you are away you know that it is not reality, you are staying somewhere different, often having meals out every day and it is quite clearly not the norm. Last week, on the other hand, featured a lot of our usual life – the same environment, eating out at our favourite restaurant and visiting places on our doorstep.

On some FIRE blogs I have come across the suggestion of taking mini-retirements, a few months off from work in order to practise being retired. From my perspective I had always seen this as something that wasn’t possible. I can’t just take a few months off work as my employer doesn’t allow it, so practising what having achieved FIRE would look like has not been on my radar. Looking back at our staycation I can see that it was a ‘mini’ mini-retirement. A glimpse of what life could be like if we didn’t have to go to work, or as Mr Simple put it, if we didn’t have any obligations. I think that this is why I have struggled getting back into work, as it involves doing things that I don’t want to do, which to some extent everyone’s working life contains.

On Monday I almost wished that I had never discovered the FIRE movement. Before, I was just ticking along nicely, planning to retire maybe at 60, not realising that anything else was possible. I almost felt resentment about having to work, which is a shame, because, as I say, on the whole I enjoy what I do.

Our main aim is to pay off our mortgage, which I know not everyone agrees with, but that is what we want to achieve. Any other objectives have to date been quite vague, but having had a taste of the good life has made me more determined to consider exactly what we are striving towards. As Stephen Covey says, ‘begin with the end in mind’. We need to know our destination before we make a plan as to how we are going to get there. So that’s my challenge to myself over the next few months, to get a clear picture of what our ideal life would be like and then draw up a roadmap of how we are going to get there.

So have you tried a staycation or a mini-retirement? If so, how did it feel when you didn’t have those usual obligations? I would love to hear. If you haven’t tried it, how about having a staycation over the next few months to get a taster of what life could look like at the end of your FIRE journey.

Staycation – a review


This week has shown us that it is possible to have a holiday ‘at home’, but you have to be disciplined. There is a temptation to catch up on outstanding chores and so you have to make an effort to act as though you aren’t at home.

Walking

If enjoying the outdoors is your thing then it is very easy to have a cheap and even free staycation. We enjoy walking, in fact, Mr Simple and I met through a young walkers’ group. I wonder if you realise how lucky we are in Britain to have such great access to our countryside. We are Francophiles and love going across the channel on holiday each year, but quite a few years ago we gave up trying to hike there and now take our bikes with us, as they are a much better way of exploring the countryside. Although there are some waymarked paths, any circular route often involves a lot of road walking and not always on quiet lanes. Until last year I believed that this was just true of France, but in May 2018 we spent ten days in Ireland with a view to enjoying the amazing Irish landscape, in particular the west coast. Sadly we discovered that there is even less access to the countryside in Ireland than there is in France. We spent most of our time walking along roads, with only short sections through fields. It was so frustrating – amazing scenery, but we could only enjoy the view of the mountain from the road, rather than from the top of another mountain. I have therefore learnt not to take our footpaths for granted.

We do not live in a popular walking area and yet there are footpaths everywhere and we have enjoyed some of them this week. I would definitely encourage you to buy yourself an ordnance survey map of where you live and go out and discover what is on your doorstep. Maybe wait until the weather is a bit better, but then pack a picnic and go off exploring. You may be surprised at what you find. You don’t even need a car, but can walk from the house or catch a train or bus and walk back home.

Cycling

As I said above, we often cycle in France, but we have also used our bikes a couple of times since we moved here. For me it is more of a sunny day activity, but again if you already have a bike it is a free activity that the whole family can enjoy.

Wildlife

If you’ve been reading my posts this week you will have seen that we are birdwatchers. Now we are not fanatics – those people who travel miles to see the latest unusual feathered sighting, but we do enjoy sitting in a bird hide with our sandwiches and a flask of coffee and waiting to see what turns up. Although we went to Slimbridge this week, which charges an entrance fee, there are many RSPB sites which do not charge and most probably one near you.

Museums

We spent one morning in a local museum, many of which are free nowadays. I could have done some more research on this and found other attractions to visit, but whenever we have a holiday our main activity tends to be walking. It would also probably be easier to find places to visit after Easter as many sites tend to be closed over the winter season.

Eating Out

Since I have discovered FIRE our change of lifestyle has made going out for meal a less frequent occurrence and so it has been a real treat to be able to do so this week. As we weren’t paying for accommodation I felt less guilty about spending money on a nice meal, as it was so much less than renting a cottage would have cost us, and then we would also have paid for some meals out on top of that. I have also realised that most of the time I do prefer home cooked food. My preference is to eat fewer carbs than most people and much of what is offered on lunch menus is carb heavy – sandwiches, wraps, baked potatoes and chips. During our next staycation, and I am sure that there will be a next one, I think that I might just treat us to some nice things from Waitrose – where we used to shop before we started our FI journey. We can then add those to our picnics or evening meals.

I hope that you have enjoyed my little updates and that it has given you some ideas of how to ‘holiday at home’.

Staycation Day Six – carpets and curry

The weather has been against us for much of the week and it was no different today, in fact it has been pretty miserable all day. With this in mind we had already decided that we would go out for lunch to our favourite restaurant, which is an Indian. Rather than your typical Indian, where most people would go at the end of a night out, this is more like a nice restaurant which happens to serve food from southern India.

I didn’t have any particular plans for this morning, but Mr Simple suggested going to look at carpets for the spare bedroom that he has been decorating. Never one to turn down moving forward on the house renovation I quickly agreed and so we went, in the opposite direction to the restaurant to look at carpet and after popping back home for a quick coffee, battled the elements yet again in order to get to the restaurant.

Lunch was lovely as always and we took our time. We are great fans of a leisurely lunch, like the French do, rather than a heavy meal in the evening. The best part was that they were doing a special offer – 25% off the menu at lunch time. We therefore saved over £16!

We have been very lazy this afternoon, catching up on a Skandi drama with the woodburner going.

And that’s it, staycation over. We could extend it into the weekend, but it’s going to be a wet one, particularly tomorrow, so we will probably just resort to our usual routine of chores and DIY.