I’ve finally talked her into it: a guest post from Mrs Want Less

ruth
Photo by the marvellous Dawn Kilner Photography

Hooray! After nearly 18 months of blogging, I’ve finally secured a guest post from my other half, Ruth.

If you don’t already know, Ruth’s decision to bring a little book called ‘Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life’ on honeymoon set me off down this rabbit hole in the first place.

While she has been hugely supportive of my decision to turn our house upside-down, for a long time she seemed not particularly fussed, one way or the other, about how many things we owned. 

Then, a few weeks ago, she totally astounded me by getting rid of pretty much all of her huge CD collection in one go. This was a BIG DEAL. Ruth is a musician and she’s always prided herself on her music library. I guess more of this was rubbing off than I had realised.

Anyway, I asked Ruth to put pen to paper and describe what it’s all been like from her point of view. (I’m sure you’ll all give her a big welcome!)


So, Claire has asked me to write a guest post for the blog. I’ve agreed (with some trepidation), but I’ve been promised her excellent editing skills.

I have a tendency to waste time on the internet. So one day, frittering around on the web, I Googled something like ‘giving up the internet’. One of the first posts I came to was Joshua Fields Millburn’s post on how giving up the internet at home was one of the most productive things he’s ever done.

Transfixed, I read on (and on). I couldn’t read enough of The Minimalists’ website; how it had improved their lives, made them more passionate, healthier, more compassionate…

I told Claire about my find and she took it from there and she’s just run with it really, I think it would be fair to say Claire is way more immersed in minimalism than I am, but I’m glad I introduced her to it.

While Claire is further into her minimalist journey, I can confidently say it has all had a positive impact on my life. For a start, choosing clothes to wear in the morning is a complete doddle, thanks to Claire helping me sort/donate my wardrobe.

In fact, the further I travel on my journey into minimalism the easier I’m finding a lot of things.

I’m a musician and music teacher by trade, which can sometimes lead (guitarists especially!) down the path of collecting a lot of equipment and chasing a lot of work. Minimalism has reminded me not to work all the hours that God sends and for the first time in eight years I have a timetable that includes a lunch break (which my acid reflux will thank me for).

Previously, I’d been eating lunch in a hurry and rushing from one place to the next, not really a recipe for digestive comfort.

I’m also interested in the ‘life experiment’ side of minimalism. A while back, I stopped using my smartphone for a month and got by with a £5 ‘dumbphone’.

I managed to reprogramme the ‘twitch’ to absent-mindedly check Facebook/emails/pictures of bass guitars.

BUT, I did miss having a camera and GPS system in my pocket, so in the end I went back to my iPhone with a new approach: I have no notifications and my email goes nowhere near it.

I recently went to a Federation of Entertainment Unions workshop on productivity. The leader asked how many unread emails we had in our inbox. I sheepishly put my hand up and admitted to having around 7,000.

You know, just 7,000 unread, fairly useless words clogging up my life. So, his answer was to archive them. Brilliant. Now, when I check my emails I can see exactly what’s important instead of wading through spam.

(I also recommend ‘Unroll Me’, which sits in your inbox as an extra folder and ‘grabs’ the spam as it arrives. It also helps you unsubscribe from sneaky mailing lists you’re not even sure how you signed up to. The best thing about it: it’s FREE)

Minimalism has helped us think about how we spend our money too. In the past year or so I’ve gone from regularly spending on credit cards to hardly using them at all, closing the accounts on all but one or two of them. I’ve started to save again (even if I’m a little slow at it).

Claire described the effect minimalism has had on our spending brilliantly the other day; a new high-end shopping centre just opened in town. We were in the city centre, so we had a walk around it, but we were just not interested in it. Claire said it was like having a superpower that made you immune to the usual shopping frenzy that so many fall into.

Overall, I feel minimalism has helped us eat healthier, appreciate a slower home, not buy the latest new ‘thing’, meet new people, make more sustainable/ethical/better quality choices and it’s made us appreciate who and what we have in our lives.


If you like what you read, subscribe to Want Less via the arrow at the top of the page, follow Claire on social media using the buttons under the title or leave a comment below. Also, feel free to check out Claire’s other site, Simplicity Voices.

Will keeping a gratitude journal make you happier?

journal-small

Did you keep a really embarrassing teenage diary? God knows, I did.

My old diaries are some of the items I cleared out as I downsized my stuff from childhood, and boy, they were a painful read.

You know that Marie Kondo decluttering technique, where she advises you to take hold of a possession and see if it ‘sparks joy’? Well, I now have another reaction to look out for: whether it sparks a ‘lower abdominal clench of utter, utter cringe’.

Luckily, my diary-keeping days are long behind me now.

But I’ve recently been experimenting with a different type of daily log as I look into the science of boosting happiness.

One happiness tip I just kept reading about was an activity called gratitude journaling. It gets mentioned so often, in fact, that you’ve probably already heard of it before, if not tried it.

The idea is simple: at its heart, it’s a way of systematically getting yourself into the habit of counting your blessings. This is usually done through jotting down a few things you’re grateful for before you go to bed.

But does it work? Is it worth the effort? And can you re-read the journal without wanting to throw up?

Let’s find out. First: the science bit.

There seems to be a lot of compelling evidence that practising gratitude really does boost your happiness levels.

Robert A Emmons is the world’s leading researcher on gratitude.

A study he co-authored in 2003 found that participants who kept gratitude journals once a week exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical problems, felt better about their lives, were more likely to have made progress towards goals and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded either hassles or neutral life events.

Other studies have found a variety of other benefits, from focus in young adults to better sleep quality.

On the other hand, there is also scientific (and anecdotal) evidence that the technique just does nothing for a whole heap of people. For them, the whole thing is a massive waste of time.

One theory goes that if you set yourself a target for experiencing gratitude, then fail to reach that goal, it could end up doing more harm than good and make you feel worse.

This would seem to be backed up by a study which found that people who kept a gratitude journal three times a week were less happy than those who wrote in it just once a week. In general, researchers seem to disagree about whether it is more effective to write in a gratitude journal once a day or once a week.

And the Berkeley Science Review lists five ways keeping a gratitude journal can backfire. This includes causing you to gloss over negative aspects of your life that you should be facing up to, such as a destructive relationship.

I’ve been giving the technique a try for the past month. Every evening, before bed, I’ve taken out a notebook and written down three things I’m grateful for from the day.

These have been wide and varied:

  • The life-changing: “My new niece was born today”;
  • The everyday: “My wife ran me a nice bath”, “I got lunch free on points”;
  • The wholesome: “Seeing a rainbow”, “Planting bulbs in the garden”;
  • The less wholesome: “Chips!”
  • The ditzy: “Left my car unlocked accidentally but nothing bad happened”;
  • And the left-field: “Sixty years of popular music!” “Ticker tape!”

I have to say I feel better for it. I’m finding it a nice way to round off the day and it’s also changing the way I think about things.

I tend to be a negative thinker, but I’m now more likely to look back on the day and think it was a good one.

So will keeping a gratitude journal work for you?

My (untested!) theory is that this all depends on what kind of outlook you have.

Practising gratitude could well make you more content if you are the kind of person who needs a reminder about the good things in your life. If you tend to take life for granted, and you focus too often on criticism, negativity or hardship, this may be for you.

But if you’re already the kind of person who looks on the bright side, someone who sees beauty in the small things and joy in the everyday, this may not be worth your while.

If you think keeping a gratitude journal could work for you, try one of the following two techniques:

  1. Each day, before bed, write down three things you’re grateful for, from that day;
  2. Or, each week, on a set day, write down ten things you have been grateful for in the past seven days.

Keep it up for a month and decide then whether it’s having any positive effects on your wellbeing.


If you like what you read, subscribe to Want Less via the arrow at the top of the page, follow Claire on social media using the buttons under the title or leave a comment below.

Reflecting over a hot cuppa

DSCF3884 - CopyI’m not well today, so picture me typing this all wrapped up, with a hot lemony drink close at hand and a serious case of the ‘fuzzy head’.

I’ve just finished work for a week, and it’s one of those times when one’s body decides this would be a great opportunity to get sick.

As a result, this prose may not be my most dazzling, but being ill does force you to pause for a moment, pushing all but the most urgent tasks back for a few days.

So this evening I’m reflecting on the couple of weeks since my last post, when I told you all about the new website I set up, Simplicity Voices.

It started off with some really helpful and encouraging comments from you all, including advice on what to tweak and which articles I might want to feature at some point.

Then things went a little crazy. The site was mentioned as one of Joshua Becker’s recommendations in his regular Inspiring Simplicity: Weekend Reads segments over at Becoming Minimalist.

As far as I know, Joshua hadn’t heard of me a fortnight ago but obviously someone’s kind words reached him, and here we are.

Now, I have huge admiration for Joshua and his blog. In my eyes, the guy is basically a minimalism rock star.

And it turns out lots of other people hang on his every word too because within the space of a few hours, thousands and thousands of people had gone over to Simplicity Voices to check it out.

When I cottoned on what was happening, I was just about to go out for a meal with my wife and my in-laws.

I panicked and immediately thought there wouldn’t be enough articles featured on my site yet, so threw a few more up in a rush and hurried out of the door.

Well, that was about as good an idea as it sounds. Luckily some kind soul emailed me to say my links weren’t working and I was able to fix it a few hours later. Viral fail.

But the huge response I got was a very humbling reminder that I am not alone: that there is a massive appetite out there for getting back to a slower way of life.

Here are thousands of people rejecting the assumption that you should work as hard as you can for 50 years to fund ever-increasing markers of success.

So thank you all, because without those initial words of encouragement, I wouldn’t be here, looking at a website that has got almost as many hits in a week as Want Less has had in over a year.

A website that chimes with people looking for another way.


If you like what you read, subscribe to Want Less via the arrow at the top of the page, follow Claire on social media using the buttons under the title or leave a comment below.

Introducing Simplicity Voices

It’s time to confess a secret.

I’ve been working on a little project for the past few months. It’s a new website, which I hope you’re going to like.

Simplicity Voices will (hopefully!) be a well-designed place where people can drop by to be pointed towards the best articles on the web about minimalism, happiness and slowing down.

It will be a one-stop-shop for that little bit of inspiration or motivation you might need.

simplicityscreen

In effect, I’m creating this for myself. I’ve been devouring loads of different sites and blogs over the past couple of years, discovering great articles written by people doing some really exciting things.

But I was thinking it would be great if there was a little portal showcasing the very best. After all, if we’re busy rediscovering those simple pleasures in life, we don’t want to spend hours and hours in front of a screen, right?

To be honest, I had been in two minds about setting this new site up at all, for that very reason.

It may not look it (!) but my blog Want Less actually takes a fair bit of work – maintaining its social media accounts, writing blog posts, taking bad stock photos – so I had been a bit reluctant to spend even longer each week in front of my computer in my spare time.

I also don’t make any money from my blogging (nor do I expect to), so this is literally how I’m choosing to spend my leisure time. I am aware of the irony, when I’m often writing about logging off from the screens and getting out more.

With this in mind, I’m keeping this new website really simple. No comments, no social media accounts, no GIFs of Carlton from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air doing that awesome dance. Just pretty pictures (i.e. not taken by me!) linking you straight through to a well-curated set of articles.

This resource should grow over time so eventually you’ll be able to search for your particular niches: minimalism for cats, simplifying your toes, whatever.

And as for Want Less, that will be carrying on as normal.

I’d love to know what you think of Simplicity Voices. Check it out and let me know. And if you do like it, please do spread the word. At the time of writing, it’s had about five hits – four from me and one from my other half…I’m sure we can at least double that before Christmas.


If you like what you read, subscribe to Want Less via the arrow at the top of the page, follow Claire on social media using the buttons under the title or leave a comment below.

The Millennial Money Rebellion begins here

black-and-white-people-bar-men-large

Right, prepare for some fighting talk.

In the UK, people born in the early 1980s – my age group – are being utterly fucked, financially, according to a new study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Ok, so I’m paraphrasing, but we are the first wave of this ‘screwed generation’ everyone’s been talking about since the recession.

And it’s not just the recession’s fault. Essentially, stagnating wages, Britain’s out-of-control housing boom (meaning young people are stuck renting) and the elimination of generous defined-benefit pension schemes are to blame.

The average wealth of someone like me, in their mid-30s, is about £27,000, but those born a decade earlier had twice as much money at our age, according to the study.

It’s clear successive governments have failed to help us, because they’re too busy appeasing older people who tend to be more likely to vote.

No-one will help us, so we have to help ourselves. It’s time for the MILLENNIAL MONEY REBELLION.

Here’s my (slightly controversial) battle plan:

 

We need to stop worrying about what other people think

Social media drives a really unhealthy life-comparison habit. If you ‘can’t afford’ to pay into a pension, you CAN’T AFFORD that stay in an over-water chalet in the Maldives, no matter how Instagrammable it is.

Superpower gained: FRUGALITY

Everyone born after 1980 should move out of the south-east of England

It’s way too expensive and we can’t afford that shit. Move up north, where houses can be picked up for less than £100,000. Yes, wages are slightly lower outside London but living costs are WAY lower.

Superpower gained: FLEXIBILITY

Newcastle-Gateshead. Doesn't look so bad, does it?
Newcastle-Gateshead. Doesn’t look so bad, does it?

Ditch the credit cards and car loans

We need to stop living off credit, full stop. It is not helping us in the slightest. Buy the car you can afford with the money you have. Yes, it will probably be a piece of crap. Suck it up. Think of the rebellion.

Superpower gained: INDEPENDENCE

Bank some serious cash

Cut your living expenses to the bone and stash your money like mad. If you’re not a homeowner already, throw it in a Help To Buy ISA. If you are, a Lifetime ISA (which launches next year) will also be a good bet.

Superpower gained: WILLPOWER

Buy a small, cheap house as quickly as you can

There’s no debate in the UK about whether buying or renting is best for your bank balance. Renting costs are out of control, as the study clearly shows. Yes, I know, buying your first home is harder than ever. So forget about buying an adorable new-build house with a picket fence and pick up something you can afford with a small deposit. Then, try to pay off the mortgage as quickly as you can.

Superpower gained: HARNESSING THE PROPERTY BOOM

Take out a workplace pension, even if it’s not a very good one

If you work in the public sector, you might still have a decent pension. But for those in the private sector, don’t despair. Paying into any pension is MILES better than not doing so at all. Take full advantage of any employer match. Bonus points for boning up about the stock market so you can make an informed decision about how to invest your pension.

Superpower gained: FORESIGHT

Harness our strengths

We are some pretty grizzled people. The smackdown from the global recession hit our generation square-on, and only gave baby-boomers a glancing blow. But we have more of one key resource than they do: time. We will only benefit from this if we put our money away NOW and leave it to multiply without touching it. The days of spending all your paycheque are over. Save and invest, for the sake of the Millennial Money Rebellion.

Superpower gained: COMPOUNDING

Learn from the enemy

I’m being flippant: individual baby-boomers aren’t the enemy. They might be your parents. Learn from them. Get to know what they know about money. Heck, even live in their spare room if you have to. Tell them about the problems you face – they might have solutions you could try. Tell them to support policies that help younger generations. And for God’s sake, vote yourself.

Superpower gained: STRONG ALLIES

We SHALL overcome. Who’s with me?

Images: pexels.com


If you like what you read, subscribe to Want Less via the arrow at the top of the page, follow Claire on social media using the buttons under the title or leave a comment below.

Debt-busting challenge: the halfway mark

At the beginning of this year, when the mornings were still crisp and most of our celebrities were still alive, I made a solemn vow to you, dear reader.

The vow was that I would step up my game and pay off my debts faster so I would be rid of them within 18 months.

We’re halfway through that challenge so I thought now would be a good time to give you an update.

The good news is I’m (pretty much, if I squint at the graph) on target!

It’s been a tough few months, with some points where I simply despaired. Take yesterday, for instance, when my car was in the garage for not one but two faults while simultaneously at home, the kitchen sink decided to stop draining. (We successfully unblocked it ourselves – woop! – but in the process created a new leak – sigh)

Meanwhile, the dog is on expensive medication for the foreseeable future and the seemingly everlasting pay freeze at my work is going on another year.

But what the universe takes with one hand, it gives with the other.

A few months ago I got a surprise cheque through the post for a few hundred quid, from a bank I borrowed some money from a few years back. Turns out, it had made some admin error and as an apology, it was refunding most of the interest I had paid on the loan. After a few days fantasising about a massive blow-out trip somewhere, I eventually did the right thing and put it towards my debt mountain. You, dear reader, would rightly have given me hell if I hadn’t.

So here’s how the last few months (in red) have gone:

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This week, I passed a major milestone, getting my debts to below £3,000 for the first time in what must be over a decade. It means my debts are now four-fifths destroyed.

I now have just one debt:  a credit card on a 0% interest deal.

And it feels great. I do feel like a weight is being lifted off my shoulders, and if something dire happens like I lose my job, the minimum repayments are less than £75 a month so there would be no impending disaster.

I start to scare myself if I think back to the time when my debts were at their height and my minimum payments were hundreds of pounds a month. This meant I was often robbing Peter to pay Paul, and in the background the interest on the debts quietly started to spiral.

But while psychologically I feel far happier and more in control, in reality things are not getting easier. I’m still having to make major sacrifices each and every month, without fail, because of my poor decisions many years ago.

It’s often said that minimalism is a helpful tool for those crippled by debt because they can a) sell their stuff to generate some cash and b) nip those damaging shopping trips in the bud.

In my experience, I’ll have to be honest: that hasn’t really been the case. I was never one for shopping for Gucci handbags and of the stuff I have got rid of, very little had any resale value.

The fact is, I had little to show for my debts. My spending was driven by more nebulous things – post-graduate courses, too many nights out, no appreciation of the importance of shopping around.

But there has been an overlap in one sense. Getting rid of my clutter (most of it utter crap) and getting rid of my debts has left my life lighter, physically and metaphorically. When once I couldn’t sleep for the panic attacks, now I quite frequently catch myself enjoying a strange sense of…contentment.

But I’m not done yet. I’m not done with my debts and I’m not done with my stuff.

I’ve been taking both purges slow-and-steady and I’m fine with that. My first priority was to be kind to myself. I didn’t want to embark on an outburst of enthusiastic self-flagellation as punishment for my former sins. That would have been no good for me, at a time when my emotional state was so fragile.

So yes, I’ve taken my time. But the end is in sight and I can’t wait.

I’d love to hear about anyone else paying down debts – how do you stay motivated?


If you like what you read, subscribe to Want Less via the arrow at the top of the page, follow Claire on social media using the buttons under the title or leave a comment below.

Giving a stiff upper lip a kick up the rear: the real meaning of stoicism

romansmallWhat goes through your mind when you hear the word ‘stoical’?

For me, it conjured up images of a stiff-upper-lip approach to life: putting up with things you shouldn’t, in a slightly joyless yet smug fashion. Definitely someone you wouldn’t want to go to the pub with.

But it turns out the meaning has been corrupted over the centuries and back when folk wore togas, it was the name of a pretty interesting philosophy.

The bare bones seem to be:

  • Learning to be content with (and even crave) the things you already have
  • Recognising when you’re worrying about things you can’t influence
  • Embracing discomfort as a way to broaden your comfort zone

In other words, being an utter life-ruling badass.

On this blog over the past year or so, I’ve been exploring ways to beat stress, spend less and enjoy life a little more. Turns out, people have been working on this for thousands of years. (This blog has a long way to go)

Now, I imagine there will be a lot more to Roman stoicism than my horrendously simplified, Google-inspired bullet points, so I’ve enrolled on a free, week-long crash course during Stoic Week (17th-23rd October, 2016). It promises to teach people ways to fit old stoical ideas into modern life. Sounds pretty good to me.

For now, I’ll leave you with three quotes from one of the big-boss stoics, Seneca, who sounds like one chilled-out motherchuffer:

“Until we have begun to go without them, we fail to realise how unnecessary many things are. We’ve been using them not because we needed them but because we had them.”

“It is not the man who has too little that is poor, but the one who hankers after more.”

“Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well ordered mind than a man’s ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company.”


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Ethical shopping (and other meanderings)

 

bananassmlCasting your vote in the supermarket

There’s a saying that every time you make a purchase, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want to live in.

It’s a nice thought, but kind of a terrifying one. That is a whole lot of responsibility to face up to, right there.

I’ve gone through phases of buying ethical products, but for the last few years that had fallen by the wayside as I concentrated on reducing my mountain of debt.

Sometimes, when you’re facing a financial catastrophe, you have to make some tough choices. That meant my well-meaning weekly box of organic veg had to go, replaced by cheap-as-you-can-get produce from Asda (US folks, read Walmart).

Now I’m nearly done clambering out of my debt spiral, I’ve been trying to get back into being a more thoughtful consumer.

Today at the supermarket we made an effort and bought things like FairTrade bananas, free-range and organic chicken, eco-friendly laundry detergent and carbon-neutral peanut butter.

And yes, the bill was a little more expensive.

But as I was going round the shop,  I was disappointed to see that some of the ethical alternatives they used to stock are no longer on the shelves. I guess people had stopped buying them. People like me.

What if the world turned minimalist?

Check out this great new collective post over at Mostly Mindful about whether everything would go to hell in a handcart if we all turned minimalist.

Some big names pitched in on this question, like Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle and Anthony Ongaro of Break the Twitch, so I was honoured to be asked for my two-pence-worth.

An ominous letter

I got a note pushed through my door the other day, telling me to pick up a letter at the Post Office which I had to sign for. When I went to collect it, the envelope had the ominous word ‘police’ on the front of it.

Crap, I thought, my first speeding ticket. (The slightly judgey expression from the man behind the counter told me he had come to the same conclusion)

But when I opened it up, it was a note saying a police station had the bag, wallet and phone I lost 200 miles away back in April.

I don’t know how or even if I will pick it up (it is still 200 miles away, and I’ve replaced all the stuff) but it’s nice to know there are decent folk out there who decided to hand it in – even if they did inexplicably sit on it for five months beforehand.


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In praise of wasting time

DSCF4010If you’re like me, and spend lots of time checking out blogs, podcasts and books about how to make positive changes to your life, you may find one word cropping up time and time again: productivity.

We’re told if we buckle down, we can fit our working week into less time. If we allot our leisure time properly, we can do all those hobbies we’ve never got around to. If we want more money, we can build up side-hustles while holding down a nine-to-five.

Beat distraction. Beat procrastination. Beat laziness. Do more, better, faster.

Now that’s all great. And if you master all the productivity tricks out there, then more power to you.

But does anyone else just get tired at even the thought of all this?

A few weeks ago, I had a really bad day at work. Really bad. So bad, I just wanted to forget all about it…but couldn’t. I ended up stuck in a cycle of pointless fretting.

Do you know what broke me out of it? Trashy TV. Hours of it. It’s not a habit I indulge very often, but that day, it worked for me. And I feel not a jot of guilt about that.

A couple of years back, I was drawn to ideas like minimalism and simplicity because I felt overwhelmed. I wanted to do and have less. To create space in my life for…well, sometimes, nothing at all.

Sure, lots of people use meditation or mindfulness to get a break from the stresses of modern life. I go to a guided meditation class every couple of weeks and always feel far better for it.

But in a weird way, it’s still work. It’s structured, it has rules. You can’t start throwing cushions at the person next to you. (Although you’d probably get told off really gently)

There is something to be said for completely unstructured time. No goals. No expectations. It’s refreshingly freeing.

So I don’t feel guilty if I lie in bed instead of taking a wholesome hike on a weekend morning. I don’t worry if hours of my day slip by and I’m not exactly sure how I filled them. I don’t agonise if I sit down with a beer when there’s still a pile of ironing to get through.

My advice is to be lazy every now and again. Allow yourself the luxury of accomplishing absolutely nothing. There should be no guilt in the pleasure of wasting time.


If you like what you read, subscribe to Want Less via the arrow at the top of the page, follow Claire on social media using the buttons under the title or leave a comment below. 

Podcasts that will make you a boss at life

condensation1I’ve made a fair few changes to my life in the past few years.

But if there’s one change I’ve made to my daily routine that has boosted my happiness more than any other, it’s listening to podcasts while I’m driving to work.

Commuting is the worst kind of dead time, especially if you’re driving, as it’s really not the done thing to, say, read the paper at the same time.

But I made this pretty straightforward change to my routine a few months ago and I’m still absolutely loving it.

Podcasts are just better than the radio, because you have that much more control over what you listen to. I find that they a) take my mind off the fact I’m heading into the office (boo! hiss!), b) introduce me to loads of new and interesting discussions and c) act as a great motivator, getting me fired up to take action on the issue of the day, whether it be the refugee crisis or sorting your socks.

Here are some of my favourites but I’d love to get any other recommendations because I am going through these at a fair old rate!

TED Radio Hour
In a nutshell: It’s a universal fact that everyone loves TED talks. Even the snobby people who sneer at them secretly love them, but just don’t want to admit it. This takes a few talks on a similar topic as a stepping-off point for a big discussion.
If you listen to one episode, make it: Maslow’s Human Needs

Afford Anything
Formerly known as The Money Show, this makes personal finance loads of fun, from interviews with people who make a living selling second-hand finds on eBay to discussions on how to reach that Holy Grail of financial independence (aka super-early retirement). It’s fronted by Paula Pant of the Afford Anything blog and earlier episodes were co-hosted by J Money of Budgets Are Sexy. Personally, I preferred these earlier episodes because the two had a great double-act going on.
If you listen to one episode, make it: The Habits We Use to Grow Wealth

Death, Sex and Money
This is my other half’s favourite podcast. It’s a really gossipy, open chat between host Anna Sale and the guest of the day, from A-list actors to normal people with an extraordinary tale to tell. And the things you learn are just eye-opening. (‘He asked you to do what at gay conversion therapy??!’, ‘Jeff Daniels earned how much less than Jim Carrey for Dumb and Dumber??!’)
If you listen to one episode, make it: Falling In Love…With Heroin

The Mind Palace
Ah, it’s great to hear a proper regional British accent on a lifestyle podcast. Melissa Cain, from up Sunderland way, joins Jessica Lynn Williams, who seems to flit between idyllic coastal US locations, in a weekly transatlantic chat about minimalism, living sustainably and lots more. Sometimes esoteric, sometimes silly, always a good listen.
If you listen to one episode, make it: Waste

Serial
The podcast that made podcasting famous, the first series of Serial is quite simply excellence in journalism. I have yet to listen to the second round, which seems to divide opinions a little more.
If you listen to one episode make it: S1 E1 The Alibi. After that you will be hooked anyway.

Good Life Project
Ok, so this one may be a bit earnest for some, but I like it. Imagine the kind of personal development workshops you might find at an eco music festival between the falafel stall and the fair-trade scarves and you’re kinda halfway there.
If you listen to one episode, make it: Karan Bajaj On Yearlong Sabbaticals and Real Jobs

This American Life
Another giant in the podcasting world here. Each week there’s a topic and various segments which riff off it.
If you listen to one episode, make it: Are We There Yet? (Haunting accounts from refugee camps in Greece)

The Minimalists
This podcast may seem a little repetitive if you’re as familiar with The Minimalists’ blog, books, film, talks and interviews as I am, but there are still nuggets of wisdom in these discussions worth hanging on for.
If you listen to one episode, make it: Documentaries

10% Happier
Sceptical TV news reporter Dan Harris had a panic attack live on air and realised he needed to make some changes. He was surprised to find meditation helped him and wrote a book about it called 10% Happier. A nicely bullshit-free look at the world of ‘striving for enlightenment…whatever that means’.
If you listen to one episode, make it: RuPaul


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