He believes people waste too much money on stuff they don't need.

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Carl from Money Mow lives in Denmark. It’s a small country — about 5.5 million people living on land that’s about twice the size of Massachusetts (which is the 7th smallest state).

And the people there pay a hefty income tax. But many, including Carl, don’t mind: They get some cool perks in return. He says, “Our education is 100 percent free from elementary school through to completion of university studies. Know what else? From the age of 18, as long as we are in school and not living with our family, we get paid $1,000 / month.”

Carl lives with his fiancée and works as a management consultant in an international consultancy. He makes good money, but he doesn’t waste it on what he calls “things.”

“Things are expensive and most of them you do not need, period,” says Carl. “Globalization has made it possible to buy an ever-expanding range of things from all over the world. Most of these things do not satisfy a (perceived!) need.”

What things do people waste money on? Carl provided a small list:

  • Furniture
  • Clothes
  • Electronics
  • Cars
  • Homes

He says too many people define themselves by what they own. “People need to start making their values and beliefs define them as a person rather than things.” Here in America, we call it “keeping up with the Joneses.”

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“If you have friends that require you to own something to be accepted, you need to find new friends,” says Carl. “You are the person you are – not the things you own – and people should respect you for that.”

And people who spend money frivolously to impress their friends or colleagues usually use their credit cards.  But Carl told me that there’s not as many credit cards in Denmark.

“We do have credit cards, but not to the same extent that you do in the U.S.,” says Carl. “There’s very few credit cards with rewards, so people are used to not having them. I think for some people (as least for me), it feels weird to spend ahead of time with a credit card.”

Achieving financial freedom

So, if spending money on things doesn’t make Carl happy what does? “Spending time with people I love, and doing things that really matter makes me happy,” says Carl. “That’s the one overarching reason why I am obsessed with the topic of achieving financial freedom and retiring young.”

And one thing that will help him achieve his goal is money management. “I am a strong believer in tracking my savings rate,” says Carl. “It is the one metric that I track and consistently try to improve.” He actually separates his spending into 15 categories, and has an account for each one.

“All of the expense categories that I know will be recurring have their own bank account, and every month I transfer the yearly amount divided by twelve to that account,” says Carl. “This way, I know that I will never have any unexpected costs.” He even has an account for Christmas gifts.

Getting back to Carl’s dislike for things, he does believe that some things are necessary, such as a jacket in winter. But when you buy “necessary” stuff, he says you should follow these tips:

  • Buy high quality, durable goods and think about depreciation
  • Buy things with low maintenance and repair them yourself
  • Buy evergreens
  • Consider the cost of things and only buy things you will use frequently.

Here’s to financial independence and less things.

Meet the Author

Brian Bienkowski

Brian Bienkowski

Staff Writer

Bienkowski is a staff writer and is the face of Debt.com's 'By the Numbers' videos.

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Financial Profiling, money management

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Article last modified on March 26, 2018. Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Materialistic “Things” Don’t Make Carl Happy - AMP.