Shilpan’s Seven Habits to Live More with Less

One of the over-riding themes here on jlcollinsnh is that when it comes to investing simple is not just easier, it is more effective and more profitable.

My pal Shilpan runs a blog I read faithfully: Street Smart Finance.  What is most appealing to me is the wisdom he brings from a lifetime of learning, hard work, success and failure. He is one of the few people who makes me, when he writes something with which I disagree, sit back and consider that maybe, just maybe, I might be wrong.

He also regularly expands my horizons. The best investing really is the simplest investing. In the post below, which he has graciously allowed me to reproduce here, he reminds me this is true of far more than just investing. It is actually drawn from his other blog: Success Soul. Enjoy!


Life is really simple, but men insist on making it complicated.
-Confucius (BC 551-BC 479) Chinese philosopher.

Simple life is a pathway to happiness. It’s as simple as a rainbow of seven colors. In the modern world full of gizmos, simplicity is an extinct virtue.

Simplicity is a subtle, profound way of life leading to the nurturing of your inner happiness. That makes me believe that sources of external happiness veil our capacity to nurture inner happiness.

Simplicity is a way to manage our time to deposit more inner pleasure in our Bank of Life.

Habits and addictions are two sources of external happiness that keep our focus on excess leading to more habits and addictions. As I grow older, I’m mindful of my life; I am dwelling deep into time; I am trading for the pleasure of mine that takes away eternal, inner pleasure of time with my wife, my children, my spiritual being and the community that I live in.

Excess in eating, spending, working, ego, thinking, pleasures and — of course — doing everything to please others is a sure way to wreck your life speeding on the highway of more stuff for happiness; I am not against materialism, I am against excess that leads to the wreckage.

These  7 habits are essential to set limits, and to create inner awareness to live happy, content life with less.

Less eating:

Overeating has many dreary consequences including high fat, high sugar food, sedentary life and emotional clutter leading to depression. With my new-found mantra, I’ve been devoting my focus on the diet. My mantra for the day becomes, “Better and balanced diet to invest time to deposit more inner pleasure in Bank of my Life.” This allows me to be mindful about what I eat. Being a vegetarian, it allows me to focus my attention to eat vegan food rich in fiber and protein. I feel excess in energy — and certainly relaxed — as a result.

Less spending:

If you pay attention to your closet, you can see excess manifested through your spending habit. We’ve all had time in our life when we refused and abhor to open that bill, charged every credit card in our wallet to the limit to buy things that we wanted. I’ve lived in the third world country, and I know that it takes lot less to deposit more inner happiness in my Bank of Life. If I am mindful for a day to buy only what I need and not what I want, I’m feeling calmness and peace that comes from within.

Less working:

I’ve always struggled with this habit. It’s manifested my life to a degree that I’ve become addicted to setting goals and seeking external pleasure by setting higher goals to spend more time working for those goals. I’m mindful for a day to turn off the laptop and head back home no matter what happens. I’ve now realized that life moves on. It has allowed me to develop inner consciousness about the goals and their relevance to my new mantra of life.

Less Ego:

An ego is an excess form of time spent on self-centric thoughts. I’m not against having an ego. Without an ego, we can not instill burning desire to achieve what we conceive. It’s excess that takes time away from my purpose to invest time for the inner happiness. With excess in ego comes the root of an evil; It kills the veins of morality leading to horrible act of self-indulgence. If I’m mindful about keeping my ego in the closet when I leave home, I’m nurturing the mind of magnanimity.

Less Obsessive thinking:

We’ve all been victim of this viral state of mind. We choose our thoughts and focus our attention to those thoughts. It’s that very decision we make to choose and obsess with thoughts of events that went wrong on the day, lack of forgiveness for the mistakes we’ve made on the day that leads us to misery and despair. With new mantra, I’m mindful about the thoughts I choose and thoughts I harbor. By allowing mind to relax with yoga and meditation, I’ve learned to focus on thoughts of content and not on the contempt.

Less Pleasures:

External pleasures always imbibe our inner pleasure. I do not drink or smoke, but I’ve habit of drinking a can of diet coke a day. I’m more mindful on a day to avoid these chemically altered drinks to invest my time to deposit more inner pleasures in my Life Bank. I’m feeling more energy and higher state of awakening due to seeking pleasure from within.

Less People Pleasing:

Keeping up with Joneses is the norm in the modern-day society. It’s both sad and disdainful to live life just to seek approval of others. If I know myself well and accept myself deeply, I don’t need approval of others. People pleasing is a form of external happiness that’s as fake as a mirage. Pleasing my inner self allows me to invest time to deposit eternal happiness in my Bank of Life. It also allows me to eliminate the emotional clutter I’ve deposited in the form of rejection by others who indeed have no interest in investing time to deposit more inner happiness in my life. I’m mindful for a day to do what pleases my inner self and care less for what others opined about my decision to do so.


To read more from Shilpan head over to Street Smart Finance.
To hear Shilpan tell his story, check out his interview with the Mad Fientist:  The Real American Dream
Here’s the video Shilpan sent me on Minimalism.

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Important Resources

  • Talent Stacker is a resource that I learned about through my work with Jonathan and Brad at ChooseFI, and first heard about Salesforce as a career option in an episode where they featured Bradley Rice on the Podcast. In that episode, Bradley shared how he reached FI quickly thanks to his huge paychecks and discipline in keeping his expenses low. Jonathan teamed up with Bradley to build Talent Stacker, and they have helped more than 1,000 students from all walks of life complete the program and land jobs like clockwork, earning double or even triple their old salaries using a Salesforce certification to break into a no-code tech career.
  • Credit Cards are like chain saws. Incredibly useful. Incredibly dangerous. Resolve to pay in full each month and never carry a balance. Do that and they can be great tools. Here are some of the very best for travel hacking, cash back and small business rewards.
  • Empower is a free tool to manage and evaluate your investments. With great visuals you can track your net worth, asset allocation, and portfolio performance, including costs. At a glance you'll see what's working and what you might want to change. Here's my full review.
  • Betterment is my recommendation for hands-off investors who prefer a DIFM (Do It For Me) approach. It is also a great tool for reaching short-term savings goals. Here is my Betterment Review
  • NewRetirement offers cool tools to help guide you in answering the question: Do I have enough money to retire? And getting started is free. Sign up and you will be offered two paths into their retirement planner. I was also on their podcast and you can check that out here:Video version, Podcast version.
  • Tuft & Needle (T&N) helps me sleep at night. They are a very cool company with a great product. Here’s my review of what we are currently sleeping on: Our Walnut Frame and Mint Mattress.


  1. Trish says

    Thank you. Love that you included “work” in the list of excesses. Most of us still feel we’re being “good” when we work harder. That’s a difficult habit to break.

    Perfect for a weekend when I’m thinking that a “Gazpacho Lifestyle” is where I want to be heading. Simple, good food, simpler lifestyle. And not stressing about all the ways I’m not there yet!

    • Shilpan says

      Thank you, Trish. I am workaholic myself. So, it’s a constant struggle to balance work-life. I enjoy what I do. So, I have always struggled to know when to stop. I wish there was a magic way to turn my subconscious on and off to maintain the balance.

  2. Shilpan says

    Thank you for the honor pal! I have profound respect for your wisdom and generosity. For many of you who don’t know me I have been around the blogosphere for a while — I launched my first blog in early 2008 — and I have met two great friends.

    Jim is one of these two friends whom I consider most honest and down-to-earth. I love his passion for a simple and fulfilling life. And his audacity to speak truth when truth hurts many.

    We both agree that we write about personal finance not because we want to become rich; we write about it so that money can never pose a threat to live our dreams and passions. Simply put, less is more…

  3. Prob8 says

    ” If I know myself well and accept myself deeply, I don’t need approval of others.”

    Nicely put. I wonder how many of us have reached this level of awareness and acceptance. I know I haven’t. I’m working on it.

    It was a pleasure to read your guest post here. I also enjoyed your interview with MMM and JLC on your blog.

  4. Andria says

    Great article today and just what I needed to see. I finally have my finances under control and will be stashing away lots of cash into VTSAX. I am scared though that I am going to end up paying a lot of tax on it. Anyone have tips on this???? This money is going to be stashed away as the retirement is already maxed out.

    Now, if only I could get my diet together. That is my next task.

    Thanks for an awesome read today!!!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Andria…

      Glad you enjoyed Shilpan’s guest post!

      As for your question, don’t worry too much about this. For one thing, taxes are unavoidable and, since it means you have lots of money, not an all together bad problem to have.

      Remember, you won’t be taking the money out all at once and so any tax hit will be spread over time.

      As for how to do this, there are several ways. The easiest is to have your dividends and capital gains reinvested and then just pull out whatever percentage you choose. For example:

      Suppose you have 100k in VTSAX and you want to draw 4% ($4000) per year from it. You could have Vanguard sell $4000 worth of shares and send the money to your bank. Or you can divide by 12 and instruct them to send $333.33 to your bank each month. Easy-peasy! Make sense?

      • Kristi says

        We are in a similar situation with looking at opening a taxable VTSAX. Right now we max out a Roth for my husband and myself and we put in up to the match at my husband’s employer…we thought to put in more but don’t really like some of the fund options. Anyway, we are thankful to still have money yet to invest and thought taxable accounts would be the way to go since we don’t want everything in retirement accounts when looking at early retirement. Question….are we taxed every year on the dividends in those accounts if we have them reinvested? Do we have to do anything on a yearly basis tax reporting wise with them or is it not until you sell? Thanks!

        • jlcollinsnh says

          Hi Kristi….

          First, I’ll be assuming you live in the USA?

          If so, VTSAX (and really any mutual fund) is taxed three ways:
          1. On the dividends it produces. About 2% for VTSAX these days.
          2. Any capital gains distributions reported at year end. These are gains from stocks sold within the fund, balenced against any losses, during the year.
          3. Any capital gain or loss when you sell shares you own.

          Each year, Vanguard will send you a statement called a 1099 that reports any and all of the first two. This is also reported to the IRS. You’ll need to include this income when you do your taxes. So yes, you pay tax on these two year by year.

          As for #3, taxes are only due if and when you sell shares. You could, for instance, hold them your entire life and pass them on to your heirs. The cool thing about that is the “cost basis” is then stepped up to the price of the shares when they pass to your heirs. In effect, the tax liability for all the gains goes away.

          This can be confusing so let me know if anything doesn’t make sense.

          • Kristi says

            Yes, we are in the US. Thanks for the great info…very well explained. I feel like I have a much better grasp of the topic now. Have a nice evening!

  5. Jake @ CC Wealth says

    This is a great reminder. Many times the people who are the most happy are the ones with the simplest lives. If you learn to live and be happy with less then it takes less to keep you happy. It’s very easy in today’s society to get caught up in materialistic things to please other people, but we should try to not let ourselves fall into this trap.

  6. Done by Forty says

    You don’t expect this kind of deep, contemplative writing on a personal finance blog, but I’m glad it’s here! Thanks for those insights…if I can do one of them today, then that’s a very good thing!

  7. Giddings Plaza FI says

    Shilpan, thanks for a great post! Listing work as an addiction is insightful, and gives me a new perspective on overwork. I have spent years working too hard. I finally quit my job a few months ago, and am on sabbatical. When I return, I’ll use your insight that overwork is a type of addiction. It’s very easy to use overwork as a means of gaining money, bonuses, influence, and status. Thus, your “ego” addiction is closely related to the work addiction.

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