Lesson 1: Re-examine what you truly need
When Lynn Le started the women’s boxing gear and apparel company Society Nine, she knew she needed to make every dollar count. After all, Le had financed the company with her savings, a credit card and a $15,000 grant from the city of Portland, OR, where the business is based. Le says that she had given herself a window of time — two years — to see a “sign of life” for the business. The “sign” came in the form of a grant she received from the city, which she took as a cue to quit her full-time job and focus on her startup.
Forgoing that income meant she had to find ways to save money. Le chose to live with friends, instead of having her own place, to cut down on overhead and sold most of her personal things to help fund Society Nine. The experience, she says, served as a total reset for both business and personal spending.
Having virtually no possessions, she says, and living frugally taught her that there is a large difference between what we want and what we truly need. “It has made my spending so much more deliberate,” Le says. “It really forces you not just to be appreciative of what you do have, but to ask yourself, do you need this to be successful? To survive? To thrive?” she says.
Wherever you are in your life, whether starting a business in your 20s or looking towards retirement in your 60s, there is a good chance that you could live with less. After all, study after study shows that possessions (yes, you've heard it before) don't lead to enduring happiness. One study from 2014 even suggested that people derive more happiness while waiting to spend on experiences than they do awaiting the purchase of things.
For Le, even small financial decisions — such as buying a single cup coffee pour over for the office instead of a fancy espresso machine — freed up money to be invested where it most counts for her business. Look at your own expenses: Are your must-haves actually nice-to-haves? Use a bullet journal or a spending app to track your purchases for a couple months and help you determine which expenditures can be nixed.