How Minimalism Brought Me Freedom and Joy

I have one bag of clothes, one backpack with a computer, iPad, and phone. I have zero other possessions.

Today I have no address. At this exact moment I am sitting in a restaurant and there’s no place for me to go to lie down.

By tonight I will find a place to lie down. Will that be my address? Probably not.

Am I minimalist? I don’t know. I don’t care. I don’t like that word. I live the way I like to live no matter what label it has.

At any moment, you are exactly where you want to be, for better or worse.

A lot of people get minimalism confused.

It’s not necessarily a good way to live. Or a free way to live for many people. It’s just the way I like to live.

I like to be a wanderer. Without knowing where I am going to end up. To explore with no goal. To love without expectation.

For now. Maybe not for later. Maybe not yesterday.

“Does minimalism mean not having a lot of possessions?”

No, not at all. I think minimalism means having as little as you require. That means different things to everyone.

For me, having little means I don’t have to think about things that I own.

My brain is not so big. So now I can think about other things. I can explore other ways of living more easily.

Some people don’t like that. I know many people who love roots. Who love being sentimental towards items. This is fine. Who am I to judge?

The other day I threw out my college diploma that was in storage. I threw out everything I had in storage. The last objects left in my life.

At 48 years old I have nothing and nowhere. Other than the people I love and the experiences I love.

A friend asked me, “You worked hard for that diploma. Are you sure you want to throw it out?”

Yes. I’ve worked harder for other things since then. I don’t keep all of these things around either. They are gone.

Society tells us a diploma is a special life achievement. It isn’t. It’s yesterday. I don’t hold onto all the things society tells me to hold onto

“How do you deal with kids if you are a minimalist?”

Like 50% of Americans or more, I’m divorced. I have two beautiful children with my first wife. I love my children very much.

I miss them almost constantly. I’m not minimalist if minimalism means having zero attachments. I’m attached to my kids.

I see them as much as I can. Sometimes they visit me (wherever I am) and sometimes I visit them. And some times they stay with me for an extended period of time.

I hope to talk to them every day for the rest of my life. If they lived with me I probably wouldn’t be able to live the way I do and I probably wouldn’t want to.

But life has delivered me to this shore. So I pick myself up and explore the jungle on this new island.

“Do you have to get off the internet to be a minimalist?”

Sometimes. For four million years we were “disconnected.” For 20 years we have been “connected.”

I have 238,795 unread emails in my inbox. Emails are a suggestion but not an obligation.

Love and spirituality and gratitude are found in personal connection. Not in an email response.

Sometimes I might return an email ten years later. Those are fun. I pretend like I just got the email a second ago and I return it, “Sure I’ll meet you for coffee tomorrow!” I get fun responses.

I never answer the phone. I have no voicemail. My phone number is 203-512-2161. Try it and see.

I go on Twitter one hour a week to do a Q&A every Thursday from 3:30 – 4:30 EST. I’ve been doing that for six years.. I post articles on Facebook but don’t really use it for anything else.

I have a kindle app on my iPad mini and read all of my books there.

I understand real books are beautiful. So I go to bookstores for hours and read them. But I won’t own them because they won’t fit in my one bag.

I never read random articles on the Internet unless they are by people I know. Mostly I read books I love.

A friend asked me, when he heard all of this, “But aren’t you afraid you’re going to miss some information?”

I asked him, “What information?”

99% of information we read, we forget anyway. The best way to remember is to “DO.”

Otherwise, I look at nothing online.

Experiences happen when you disconnect. And I choose experiences over goods or information.

“Does minimalism mean having few emotional attachments?”

I love my friends. I love my children. I love talking to people at a party or a dinner or an event and learning from them.

Love is minimalism. Desire, possession, and control are not minimalism.

Minimalism of things? No. Minimalism of fear, anxiety, stress, mourning.

I don’t like any intrigue. I don’t like to gossip about people.

When I do that, I feel like I am carrying those people in my backpack. So the more I gossip, the heavier my baggage is.

I don’t like feeling bad if someone doesn’t like me. That’s also baggage. I try to leave that behind.

And we’re all different. You never really know why someone is doing the things they are doing.

Sometimes its for deeply sad reasons. Sometimes they are projecting. Sometimes they had a bad day, or a bad life. Sometimes It’s for reasons we’ll never understand.

“Why did they do this?” or “Why is this happening to me?” won’t fit in my one bag.

Did I check the box on physical health, emotional health, creativity, and compassion today?

Those items don’t need to fit in my bag. They are gone by end of day. I’ll find them again tomorrow.

How do you get rid of an attachment that is in your baggage? I don’t really know.

I certainly carry around extra baggage. So I just get back to the four items I said above starting with physical health.

Then I always find my baggage is a little lighter.

“Does minimalism mean having no accomplishments?”

No. If anything, the more you accomplish, the more you can afford to get rid of the things society uses to hold you down.

Or, the reverse. Either way.

“Is minimalism healthy?”

Yes. Sometimes. For instance, I don’t like to eat more than I need. Although going extreme on that becomes an obligation to carry around.

I don’t like to have experiences that are unhealthy.

For me, experiences are always more important than material goods. A story is more important than a gift.

A material good might not fit in my bag. But a joyful experience is lighter than an atom.

I get to look forward to it beforehand. I get to have it. I get to remember it forever afterwards and learn from it and love it. And it weighs nothing.

What if an experience is not so joyful.

One thing I know: joy is a choice inside and not an emotion given to you.

Sometimes I make the wrong choice. I can’t help it. But sometimes I make the right one. I hope today I will.

“What are minimalist emotions?”

Love, joy, wonder, curiosity, friendship connection. These are things you give away. Not take from others.

Emotions that can’t fit in my bag: possession, control, anxiety, fear.

I don’t include anger. Anger is just fear clothed. When I’m angry I try to find the underlying fear. Get naked with it.

Am I good at this? Not really. I try to get better.

If I judge myself for something I did wrong then I just did two things I don’t like to do: the wrong thing, and the judging.

Minimalism is about not judging yourself or others.

“You have to have goals to succeed! How can you be a minimalist with goals?”

Goals are ways the mind tries to control you. “I need X to be happy.”

When I feel like I need something outside of me to be happy, I have to make room in my bag for it.

I don’t have enough room. I have some shirts and pants and toothpaste and a few other things. Goals don’t fit.

I have interests and things that I love to do. If I get better at those things each day (or try to) I feel good.

When I have less things in my bag, I feel more free. Did I get 1% more “free” today, whatever free means?

When I spend time with friends, I find joy in the connection. Sometimes the only thing we need in life is not a goal achieved but a hand to hold.

These three above items catapult me to achieve every goal I never had.

It’s magic.

“Should I sell my house and get a smaller house?”

No. Or…I don’t know. Don’t do it for a label. If you like your house, keep it. If you like your job, keep it.

Figure out the 10-15 things you want in your bag before you die tomorrow.

“What’s the first step I should take? Should I throw things out?”

I have no clue.

This is the problem with self-help books. They seem to be written by someone on a pedestal giving advice without having any blemishes.

I have too many blemishes to give advice. I am a homeless man with no address, with some failures and some successes and no possessions.

Today I can start over. Or today I can ask too many times: “Why?”

But there’s one thing I can do: I can always help someone else. That makes my day and life lighter.

Anyone can have miracles in their life.

Miracles don’t happen. Miracles are given.

“If you are a minimalist how come sometimes you have really long articles?”

Because I don’t care what you think about me.

  • Interesting. Thanks.

  • Samuel W Holder

    This is by far and away the best post from you I have ever read. You give some very clear principles to live by and I found it incredibly persuasive.

    I have tried your “write down 10 ideas a day” and after a week or so stopped doing it. But I will go back and try again, particularly in writing 10 ideas for people that you know. For myself I will make a slight modification and start writing 10 questions per day.

    Thank you for taking the time to put your thoughts into writing.

    • index1000

      Doing it for a week is not trying it is it? Be honest if you can’t keep that up longer than a week how will you keep it up with questions? I have done it for over 7 months now (even using Claudia’s excellent little book) amazing things are starting to happen. What things you ask? Cool experiences such as meeting with a world renowned Businessmen to discuss the ideas i came up with for one of his new ventures. Currently discussing a TV idea i came up with production company in the UK and much more.
      It works, it’s fun and its better than feeling sorry for yourself and sulking ( yes i did that as well)

  • Stephen Hunt

    I think you’re turning into that bloke Kwai Chang Caine (aka David Carradine) in the Kung Fu TV series . . . wandering the Earth, righting wrongs.

  • Cigar Smoker

    You’d look good with a beard James. And smoking a cigar.

    • Newbie

      most interesting…

  • This read is golden.
    I’m going to phone that number though…I mean it, I will!

    • Did you do it? What was the response? Or who was it?

  • mscottveach

    I am actually a little bit confused by this article. I am not totally intimate with Altucher but I’m trying to see how this is viable and having a little bit of trouble.

    Hasn’t he traded the burden of a home with the burden of having to find somewhere safe to lay down each night?

    What is this saying about his finances? I know he’s made and lost fortunes, but should I imagine a guy with plenty of money doing this? Or should I imagine someone who might not have the money to get a hotel room should he desire it?

    He says this isn’t incompatible with goals but it seems like many goals would require a place to work in privacy, or at least with quiet. Many goals feel like they would require a place to host meetings. A way to initiate conference calls. I believe his goals are compatible with this lifestyle but my knee-jerk sense is that his would be the exception rather than the rule?

    Also, there seems to be a hidden burden in there of simply not having the choice to do a huge number of things. Think of the burden he would have to take on if he decided he wants to learn to cook. Or if he just wants to cook a meal tonight.

    What about dating?

    It seems to me that the only way this works if you’ve restricted your wants down to an incredibly narrow target and do not foresee ever wanting that to change, Am I missing something?

    • Kyle

      Excellent observations! And, I think part of the underlying, or hidden meaning in his article is that we all choose our burdens, if we have that luxury, and in many cases we do, based upon our values, though often we don’t even truly understand those values/reasons ourselves. From what I gathered reading this, he’s chosen the burdens you alluded to: 1) because he had the choice; 2) because they allow him to exercise his values of freedom and of relationship through shared experiences; 3) he can change his mind and perhaps does daily.
      Sometimes the things we value conflict, like you mentioned with dating. What if on his travels he finds a woman he falls in love with? Will his value of the freedom to roam outweigh his value of deep attraction and connection? What if she doesn’t like to travel as much and desires stability?
      I like his description, “Minimalism is having as little as you require.” I think this means simply figure out your values and with as little clutter as possible, pursue them. Given your cooking example, perhaps this means taking a class where all of the equipment/ingredients are provided and no need to buy/carry/care for items that could detract from other significant values.
      Am I making any sense? I feel like I understand it in my head, but perhaps am not communicating my thoughts that well.
      Thanks for your comment! Made me think.

      • mscottveach

        You make sense; and I think you’re right. I think that’s exactly what he’s saying.

        There’s still something strange to me about the tone. Not quite disingenuousness but almost. Like when he talks about this in terms of maximizing freedom or minimizing burden, I can’t help but think that at best it looks like an even trade on those vectors. Frankly, a pretty good case could be made for the idea that he’s added more burdens than he’s jettisoned (depending upon his wealth().

        And he does have sentences in there that concede this works for him and doesn’t necessarily generalize so… you know,I say it’s the tone that throws me but maybe I’m just projecting.

        But in any event, I do think that what you’re saying is basically his intended message.

        • EmilyFlores

          Let’s be honest, James is going through some things that most of us would categorize “as bad”. If you haven’t been reading him for a while, you may be caught off guard by his recent articles. He is surviving and living a simple life through this bad patch (or moment of change) and choosing to think of it in some freeing ways. So, I can see where you’re coming from. I’m not sure that he is at his 100% right now, or his writing is any sort of guide. It’s really just him showing us his process of overcoming the bad that’s happening right now. I can relate a bit. I fled a bad meaningless life in the US and chose to live in Barcelona. Though my standard of living is a bit low I’m surviving. I simply moved here by accident while on vacation. I moved myself out of my apartment with the help of my friends, and told my friends to take what they wanted and just move me out. All my possessions are now gone. Now, what I have can fill 2 suitcases, a keyboard case, and a backpack. I am not used to being so poor, but it’s pushing me to really get my online SEO business started and start building my blog ( Shameless plug, sorry. I am starting to document this hard time as well. It will be a real testament to his philosophy of the daily practice, if I, and James can continue doing it and push through this patch.

          • mscottveach

            Aha, I see. Yeah, I don’t actually read him regularly. Probably last time was a year or two ago. This makes sense.

            Good luck with this experiment…!

    • Bob

      Consider it from JA’s perspective. He’s specifically telling people that he is not interested right now in a goal that requires a conference room and a secretary. He might even be saying that limiting our goals to such standard practices is living life by someone else’s expectations. Are we creating anything of value by following the socially accepted course every day? Is it not possible to find a great companion by walking the streets of a new and unfamiliar town? There’s more than one way to achieve a goal, get a date, and build authentic success.

      I’ve been chronically underemployed most of my life, but I’m extremely successful. My goal since college has been to build a strong loving family and develop a couple of real friends. For the past thirty years I’ve achieved this. And I can’t imagine achieving this if I’d pursued the standard path to “success” by kissing my boss’s ass or angling for promotion and recognition. My career is ridiculous, but that’s ok. I, too, choose not to give it weight. I have what I want.

      • mscottveach

        Yep, that all makes sense. My confusion was related more to not being able to suss the intended message out of it. I think because I’m not a regular reader I didn’t have some of the context for it.

    • Scott Phillips

      He lives in airbnb houses and apartments. He probably lives in a nicer place than most of us, he just doesn’t have to maintain it or pay the bills each month.

      Makes perfect sense.

      • mscottveach

        still confused. is airbnb letting him stay at these places for free? why does he have no bills?

        • Scott Phillips

          Are you retarded? Where does he say he lives like a homeless man without spending money?

          If you stay in an airbnb house, the owner pays the maintenance, pays the electricity, pays the water and gas and heating and internet.

          Of course those things aren’t “free” since the owner must add the cost on, but you don’t have to call the utility company to get the phone line switched on, open the mail, remember to pay the bill, etc.

          • mscottveach

            Lol, easy, easy. You don’t need to be a dick just because you aren’t understood one time – get a grip.

            So when you said he “doesn’t have to pay the bills each month” you meant that “he has to pay his airbnb bill” but not his utilities? Got it. The word bill is not as specific as it seems like you imagine in this context.

            How do you know that he stays in airbnb, btw? I assume in some other post? Here all he says is: “I have no address. At this exact moment, I have no place to lay down tonight.”

            And that’s why I asked what this post was implying about his finances…is this a guy who can afford to grab a hotel every night? or not?

            I was making the larger point that it either seems like a even trade off of burdens with having a more permanent place. Or it might even be worse of a financial burden given that there’s a premium cost to temporary, furnished housing.

  • jamboman

    Just love your last answer “Because I dont care what you think of me.” It reminds
    me of the saying, “What you think of me is none of my business.” Great writing James, you are never boring probably because you wouldnt care if you were! : )

  • GW Misik

    Everyday I look for another item in my 500sq foot apartment to donate to Goodwill—Tomorrow , I am going to give them my college diploma…my CDL was always more valuable anyway. Great Article James!!

    • Paul_Morphy

      Don’t toss the diploma. I just dug mine up out of storage and now it’s kind of cool. The education is still valid.

      • 8675309

        Or, toss the diploma if he/she wants. Again, whose social construct requires us to keep such things?

  • oneteam

    Another great article about living for experiences instead of possessions, James.

    I’m doing the same thing with a wife and 2 kids. We own what we can fit into our suitcase and are traveling the world, teaching our kids as we go.

    It takes a certain zen mindset to live a life like this. But we love it.

    We’ll be in Cancun until Aug. If you find yourself down here before then, hit me up.

  • Michael Long

    Up until THIS article, I had considered James a well connected guy with the ability to deliver quality information on “future” investment opportunities, as that was the “tone” that he had set…. however this article casts a massive shadow of doubt upon this reality…
    Here I was considering a $2500 investment in receiving advice from James – and then BAMM… this article hits my inbox… ???
    I struggle to understand how someone who reports making millions and being connected with the likes of Peter Thiel, would even consider writing such an article with this tone?! Am I the only one thinking this? Surely not…
    I believe all this article achieved was placing doubt into the minds of potential customers of James?!
    I want to believe that James has the connections and knowledge to advise me on such opportunities – however I struggle to see how this could be the case given this “new” information?!

    • The Fat Man

      This post alone tells me you should not be investing in anything, Michael. If you are so immature that you can be swayed by some blogger you’re never met, keep your money in your pocket.

  • Hi James,

    I have only ever posted one comment on this blog. However I do skim through most of your articles. Sometimes I wonder if you are for real. However I inevitably conclude that you are very real.

    Your words today resonated.

    I’m always thrilled to touch base with a fellow human also on the road less traveled. We are probably part of a reconnaissance team deeply embedded in a matrix type existence. Who knows. It does not really matter. Nothing much does in the big scheme of things.

    Five years ago I started a business – no stock, no staff, no cash and no premises. No paper and 100% mobile. Everything I own fits into two suitcases. One I refer to as my office and the other my home. I recently did an extension to my home by buying a new suitcase.

    I’m homeless, baseless and don’t know what country I will be in from week to week. As my business grows so does my cash flow and the places I stay at and visit are becoming more and more exotic. I can now afford business class travel and no longer arrive at my destination cramped and shitty.

    Mostly I feel a freedom that very few people know even exists. But occasionally I do slip into an existential crisis and I question my status quo. This space can be very dark. But I move on quickly when I realise once again that its all but a mere construct. I’m sure you relate.

    Chip…. chip…. chip….


    • Patrick Escalona

      Hi Robert. Might I ask what you exactly do? I’m very curious on how you are able to maintain that lifestyle.

    • Salome Ojunga

      Honest. Everyone the world over get through this crisis. Just never to be too personal, I think happiness can still be summarised into minimalist.

  • Roddy Pfeiffer

    Very easy to live out of a backpack when you have millions in the bank.

  • I’m a fan. And I feel like I skipped over something about how you got kicked out… Too personal? BTW, this is officially my favorite quote right now! “The best way to remember is to do.” -James Altucher

    • Salome Ojunga

      But just to find out, James, wouldn’t Minimalism border on some mental ill health, such as a runaway or rebel? In that case, how would one easily tell between Minimalism and mental case? I need help here.

  • anand sheelawantar

    This is actually the first article that I’ve read from top to bottom and I must say it was useful. Thanks.

  • Minimalism is a very simple yet profound and powerful concept. Here are some more interesting thoughts on it –

  • Bonnie Smith

    I’m confused! Totally confused! You were married, happily! you have a blog, you make appearances (assuming they are paid) you are successful..financially…enough to live on for awhile..I think? When I think of a minimalist, I see the guy on the corner with the sign “will work for food” with a dog resting peacefully. I do agree that being spiritually physically healthy is all we need but where do you charge your ipad, take a shower, how do you pay your iphone bill. It is a great article, I recently downsized too and I love it…from 3 bedroom house to a 1 bedroom apartment. I get the release, but… I just don’t understand why you choose to be homeless when so may people are who don’t want to be.I really believe the drug addict doesn’t want to be. He just can’t see through the pain and get past the loss, he feels hopeless and no one understands him. He’s comfortable but only because the other sider is more scary. This is a lot to think about.

    • jquick99

      I too am confused. Years ago I used to read every word of James, but have been sidetracked of late. Last I knew he was living about a 45 min train ride from NYC, next to a river, in an older, big house that he always wanted to live in. And married to Claudia.

    • foljs

      >When I think of a minimalist, I see the guy on the corner with the sign “will work for food” with a dog resting peacefully.

      That’s not a minimalist. He’s just poor.

      >I do agree that being spiritually physically healthy is all we need but where do you charge your ipad, take a shower, how do you pay your iphone bill

      In a hotel. Or Air BnB. Or your house. The point is not not to have power outlets, but that you don’t need to have 20,000 things people think they need. Power outlets don’t mean you also need bookcases, closets, jacuzzi, colored led lights, a pool, fancy oven, 40″ TV, etc etc…

    • Jules Augier

      I totally understand your opinion, but I believe that you are focusing on a far more practical aspect of this article than the one it was initially intended for. That guy does not advise you to live the way he does – which can appear extremely edgy, I agree – but inspires you to recognize the weight of your own attachments. Could it be a house, a job, a marriage or the quest to buy the latest iPhone, some stuff are just unnecessary to our expansion, holding us back or preventing us from experiencing the real beauty of life. It does not mean, of course, that everyone should just abandon whatever they are doing and go travel the world with a single backpack; it simply means that sticking with the minimal amount of attachments, simply the ones necessary for your well being, allows you to have less things to worry about, less fear of losing what you have and generally a more complete experience of life. The amount of attachments considered minimal, however, depends on the person : some need a bag, some need a stable job or a house – as you said, you chose to live in a smaller house and already experienced release. This to say that I believe the article advocate a “minimalist” state of mind, where the mind is free to wander around instead of focusing on protecting belongings, rather than material minimalism. Hope I could help to sort things out :)

      • Salome Ojunga

        I totally agree. It’s more of freeing the mind that material attachments.

  • Paul_Morphy

    I can’t believe you didn’t put a chess set in your bag. Perhaps a canvas roll up board and a small drawstring bag of chess pieces?

  • trixietimez

    This is a pretty life-changing article. While at first I thought, “yuck, I’d hate not having a place to lie down,” the narrative morphed into something incredibly useful even for people that have a home, and “stuff.” Saving this.. sharing this…
    ETA, After reading the comments, I see there is much more to the man that wrote this. But it true minimalist fashion, I’m going to take this amazing insight on it’s own, without the baggage of knowing anything about you or how you got there. I had no expectations or history reading this, just happened to stumble upon it. Thank you.

  • In addition to being a powerful way to live life, minimalism has become very important in today’s world where excessive consumption is viewed as the norm. For the future well-being of mankind it is imperative that minimalism is maximized. Here are some more thoughts on this thread –

  • Jay B

    James, I follow you on LinkedIn. I read your articles. I have read your books. You are without question the strangest, most interesting and honest individual I follow. You are different, sincere and an incredible writer. Please don’t change. Your articles are thought provoking and interesting to say the least. Thank you for the countless hours of entertainment you have provided me.

  • This is like my favorite piece! Thank you James! Absolutely loved it! And so like reading about myself!!! Amazing!
    Thank you!

  • Shona Keachie

    Thank you for sharing, insightful. The comment about society being connected for only 20 years is interesting. I can hear in your words, you know we have all been connected since time began, if anything we have become more and more disconnected to ourselves and others in the last 20 years. Your way of life is certainly a great way to stay connected to the things that are important.

  • Fantastic post. I was drawn to this article by the one you wrote on being the luckiest man alive. You said you had a post about minimalism and I am currently selling everything I own and will be voluntarily homeless as of May 31, 2016.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It inspires me. I’ll be sharing this with my friends in hopes that it will bring them a little closer to understanding my decision to dump all my possessions.

  • 4thaugust1932

    Brilliant write up

  • Wow, pretty enlightening article I must say. The last months, since January, I haven been getting these thoughts about simplifying. To have less stuff. Been throwing away some old crap I for sure don’t need, especially clothes.

    I have been thinking, why do I have to pay (even cheap) rent for an appartement? I dont have to stay there? I’m basically free with my work lifestyle and can ditch the place and live where I want.

    Some reach to what you say. But too many are stuck in a matrix where they think things are stuck. It’s not. The MotionEffect of our existence is constant, and especially this year. It’s a time for dramatic change for the planet and humans living on it. That’s why people brake out and wanna be free, decide their own life and reformat. Many struggle, or get released from non-working relationships because it’s part of the process now. Contrast is getting bigger: The old separates from the new, and so people who does not follow each other on a spiritual level will split.

    You are just expanding James. So the herd things you’re weird. Cool.

    I left the herd long time ago.

  • Monsieur Jacques

    Absolute must read. Congratulations. Fabulous piece of writing. Mindful, Useful, Tasteful !

  • Marin Mestrovic

    James I read all of your books, and I read your blog regularly. This is the first time I ever write comment this post is just beautiful.

  • Mar162016.Hq

    Hi, James, my friend, yes, don’t care what other people else think about you. because they did not experience your past. and you don’t owe anyone. and no matter what they think about you, they are living their life, you are living your life. Happy every day.:-)

  • Trisha_Barnes

    If James’ words resonate with you, fantastic. If they irritate you and rub against what you believe, then let it be. I love the transparency, the simplicity and the power of this article that will do the work intended … to make us think, reflect, contemplate and decide what is best for me. Thank you James for provoking and inspiring us.

    • Rodrigo De Salvo Braz

      Overall I agree, but I don’t think he is being very transparent. Until the other day he was talking about how he had finally met “the love of his life”, and held podcasts with his wife Claudia. He talked about the marriage as being a major accomplishment and a central part of his life. And now he describes this new life without any mention of her. If you are talking about a way of life and happiness, and until yesterday your marriage was a major part of that, shouldn’t it be part of the new post? Why the glaring omission? It is not enough to say that this is private, since he talked openly about his marriage until recently.

      • Rodrigo De Salvo Braz

        To be fair, I just listened to his last podcast and he does refer to it a bit. He says he won’t comment for privacy issues, which is fair and better than just completely ignoring the topic.

      • Michelle G

        I’m confused…so JA and Claudia have split up?

        • Rodrigo De Salvo Braz

          That’s what it looks like.

        • CJmoneymom

          Didn’t he just write that he values relationships the most? Well, if he’s no longer in a relationship with her, why does he need to talk about her? For YOUR satisfaction?

          He wrote what he felt he needed to for this article.

          We don’t get to determine his content or his so-called transparency. We get to be grateful that he shares, at all.

          • index1000

            Why are you so aggressive? What is wrong with the question Rodrigo asked? I too was wondering what happened to Claudia the love of his life? suddenly she is out and he is a monk traveling with just his clothes. For those of us who have read him for a while and like the guy we want to know because we care about him. Not for our satisfaction.
            Is that ok with you?

          • CJmoneymom

            I am not sure what was aggressive about my question.s If you perceived them (or me) that way, that’s definitely not how I meant it.

            The point I am making is that we get what we get from him. When and if he’s ready to share, he will; however, based on the context of the writing, his present and his current relationships are what he nurtures – not the past.

            I’ve been reading him for some time, too…though not commenting. Having been through a divorce, sometimes, you just want to be quiet on a topic instead of being asked about it all the time. Who knows what he thinks outside of what’s expressly written?

            I just think the grace to not share should be given, and we should read, encourage, and stand with him as he journeys…just like we’d want people to do for us.

          • index1000

            Ok my mistake in misinterpreting your post. My apologies.

          • CJmoneymom

            No worries. Its tough to “hear” what a person means when you’re reading their words. I probably could have not capitalized the word “your.” Unfortunately, I can’t put words in italics for emphasis on Disqus, so I tend to capitalize them. I’ll work on that. :)

          • Salome Ojunga

            Something here, is James really married, unmarried? He sounds like he is neither nor.

        • CJmoneymom

          Also, this comment was to @rodrigodesalvobraz:disqus. I accidentally put it in the wrong place. Sorry about that, @disqus_o8QA2HhuFv:disqus. <3

  • dan

    thats so true being attached to possessions can only make your life for the WORSE!

  • I am hungry for this life ……… the process of choosing myself ! love you and your hair James :)

  • I find it strange that when you want less in your life, people think it’s because your broke, can’t afford it, etc. When you want less for yourself, when you want to buy fewer toys (stuff) for your kids or generally go against the grain, society thinks you’re punishing yourself when in fact it does the opposite.

    I’ve always loved your posts James, do what works for you.

  • Newbie

    Great lines
    #1 Love and spirituality and gratitude are found in personal connection. Not in an email response.
    #2 Love is minimalism. Desire, possession, and control are not minimalism.
    #3 You never really know why someone is doing the things they are doing.
    Sometimes its for deeply sad reasons. Sometimes they are projecting. Sometimes they had a bad day, or a bad life. Sometimes It’s for reasons we’ll never understand.

    However, we need to be connected so we can read your article that you wrote while connected. The same thing goes for the cellphone.
    Overall, a great blog, looking at life from a different angle, but real and kinda practical one.
    Again, I do love you altucher.

  • Mark Isaac

    JA you’ve been rich and you’ve been poor. You’ve had a family and you’ve been lonely and depressed. You have had many possessions and now you’re experimenting with having no possessions. Another extreme you want to reach. Something to write about, another line for your post and/or book, “I’ve had many possessions and I have had nothing, literally.” My prediction is you will find a happy medium. Keep writing.

  • nwjh

    An interesting post, and some good insights in how to carry the important stuff in life in your heart and your head. That’s all that’s really important; everything else is just varying levels of support for your heart and your head. Mind you, Ian Robinson would say this was a very ‘academic’ way of looking at the world, where you live in your head, and your body is just to get it to different meetings!

    Assuming that the hype elsewhere is true, there should be no concerns about living homeless, or rather ‘baseless.’ If you are making millions from the start-up investments that you are charging rather a lot to tell people about, then a hotel room each night should be well within budget. Similarly, income from your books should be reasonable, even if Claudia does collect a good part of it. The podcasts continue, so you presumably have the wherewithal for those, and potential revenue from that endeavor as well. You have your network and the desire to write. I’d say you are very well placed, compared to most people going through a catastrophic breakdown of their living arrangements and marriage. This is not to say that I am unsympathetic to your situation: merely looking at the ‘keeping body and soul together’ side of the situation. [BTW, other commenters, people often choose to leave to avoid painful situations, rather than getting kicked out. It’s an important distinction. Also, recall how James’ first divorce was handled.]

    A couple of thousand years ago, a Middle Eastern spiritual guide and philosopher advised a wealthy young man that in order to gain eternal life, he needed to get rid of all his wealth; not because wealth per se was bad, but because it was the focal point of this young man’s life. The love of money is noted as the root of all evil in some writings. Possessions come to dominate you, control you, take you over. Part of all great struggles for one’s self is to rise above that control. Often, it takes the form of minimalism, asceticism or stoicism, physically removing the possessions. Fighting the struggle without getting rid of the possessions is an added degree of difficulty!

    Good luck with this next part of your journey, James. I think you have your priorities about right. Thanks for keeping us informed and in your thoughts.

  • Pete

    So did you get divorced a second time? You always referred to Claudia, your latest wife and now your last few posts you keep going back to “homeless (by choice) and divorced”. So are you no longer married to Claudia?

  • Bill Traynor

    Dammit. I want to hate this post. I want to call bullshit and tell you that you definitely are giving advice. I want to say that saying “this is what works for me” is a cop out. But I can’t. And I don’t know why. Yet.

    • Season

      I know it is so good it cant be right!

  • KammeiC

    REFRESHING! You are unique and inspiring (as I’m sure we all are, but you’re very good at getting it out there). I wish you all the best in your adventures and if you ever come to London, you have a place to lie down :)

  • Virg Lewis

    I read many of the comments. To me, James is choosing to have a different kind of adventure at this time in his life. Reminds me of the hobo mentality from many years back. They chose to ride the rails or hitch hike, work when needed, be friends with who they met, and enjoy life on their terms. He has money to support his needs. People are basically good and offer help and support to people who are not threatening and seem good themselves. I doubt he’s on a park bench sleeping at night. No one should ever judge another. We generally get to make our own choices. Allow James, without censure or debate, to make his. Like all of us, he has the right to live life on his terms.

  • Lee

    This mirrors my own personal philosophy for life. Every time I start “time traveling” trying to figure out what I should be doing to achieve meaningless goals, I remind myself the only thing I biologically need to be happy is great sex and books. Oh and carbs, lots of carbs.

  • disqus_z3ELGcSGJp

    I got mold illness and had to get rid of everything except my ID cards and my laptop and move to the desert. I now live in New Mexico, and everything I own would fit in my car. I have the minimum of clothes that will get me by, a Kindle, a laptop, and some folding furniture and kitchen stuff … it’s great.
    Really nice not having to worry about where my stuff is; I can list everything I own from memory, and it’s not hard to keep it clean or organized.

  • Dave

    James, it seems like you are selling – first the investment opportunity, now the writing classes. I am surprised, and disappointed by this. these posts are the best, but how many times do you need to say this? You are at your best when you give encouragement and insight, not when you ask for cash…
    Otherwise, keep up the good work!

  • Mitch

    Altucher has millions. When he tells you he has nowhere to go to “lie down” he is just amusing you. He can check into any 1-star to 20-star hotel and lie down any time he feels like it.

  • A man, his bag and what he loves.

    Love it.

    Carl Kruse

  • ednatee

    i enjoy your thoughts and everyone can learn how to bring more happiness to their lives
    by living with less and focusing on having better relationships with family and friends

  • Season

    Love love love this post! Do you JA. I think many of us wish we could be wanderers like you but get caught up on the materialistic “American Dream” goals. Things should not define us. I have to read this all over again, it is just that good.

  • index1000

    Like a skinny spikey haired Reacher

  • Robert Robb Maciąg

    Question – how iPad, with it’s price, counts for “minimalism”?

  • The kid argument is legit. It’s hard to be James’ definition of minimalist and have kids.

    However, I’d argue that James is not a minimalist if he’s been paying alimony or child support. He’s just not with his stuff.

  • Ed O’Donnell

    Why do you have a laptop and an iPad? Get rid of one or the other.

  • James Buechler

    James, you help me de-clutter.

  • James Buechler

    Garage sale this week-end, let’s see if I can let go of my bottle collection. Among other things.

  • Edgar Barreto

    Great ! I am living just like this. but without childs, laptop, Iphon, Ipad, or Ipod.. just a Led tv 40″ and a blueray.. I conect to internet from my work and I download there everything I want to see and took it to the place were I am currently staying (a bakery of a friend of mine) and there I play the movies .. I read and write in my work too.. and sleep there some times..

    BTW I am from Venezuela, maturin city state monagas

  • I don’t like labels, so I mostly ignore them. I do like the freedom in not being tied down by a bunch of stuff. I suppose I’m a minimalist by a hoarder’s standards, but then again I’m a hoarder by a “true minimalist’s” standards. Like you said, I have as little as I require. People can call it what they want, but for the most part, titles are useless. I don’t know where the line is of owning too much stuff, or not enough; I live my life in a way that works for me and it works for my wife and kids. I think this is probably your best post, in my opinion. I love it!

  • George Campbell

    You explain away obligations to your kids in a few short sentences. I would say that you glossed over what really invalidates your entire philosophy.

  • My best read so far since i signed up for your articles this month. I segued right into this from the one emailed yesterday
    Some stuff I read are the ones crowding my head but are just left languishing in there. You can say stuff that I believe in but I cannot say. I just mutter in my solace, anyway. With a degree of content, I just consciously strive for balance in life with a myriad of givens. Reading these 2 articles validates and gives me purgative diarrhea, mentally and emotionally :-D aaaahhh! In no way am I rich or has been, but let me just say that, for the past year, going to jobs that paid me 10 bucks an hour, by choice, was an exercise tantamount to a spa for my soul and my brain. I couldn’t be happier. I am grateful for the six-figure annual pay for years before then. I met the obligations of properly growing a family with 2 children, before unloading them to society. But I wouldn’t want to go back to such job that puts so much noise in my psyche and thus strain to my physique. Yet, I am again looking for any work to fill my time and my pocket a little, but more seriously, to afford me, +1, a health coverage. God forbid, we need medical teatment. I try to, but when can I ever be a minimalist? :-/ Thank you.

  • Kevin Conklin

    I also wonder how real about this you are.

    “I have one bag of clothes, one backpack with a computer, iPad, and phone. I have zero other possessions.

    Today I have no address. At this exact moment I am sitting in a restaurant and there’s no place for me to go to lie down.

    By tonight I will find a place to lie down. Will that be my address? Probably not.”

    I want to believe you. I want to trust you. All this stuff is compelling. But then there is the inevitable pitch for something for sale. I lose faith. But only for a day, and I get another post of compelling thoughts.

  • Very clear and well written article. (And still have 6 boxes that go where I go)

  • the joy in your thinking is irresistible. thank you for sharing.

  • oldprof101

    Given the millions who are living on the streets because they have to, I find this remarkably self-absorbed and in bad taste.

    • You are always welcome in my house, even if I am not always welcome in yours. Thank you.

  • wolf61

    This is the most positive and upbeat reading I had (and perhaps needed) in more time than I can remember. Thank you James, your spirit traveled far and left its mark.

  • Graphite to Graphene

    Thank you for a thoughtful article. I cannot “Imagine” living in a John Lennon song. But I respect poets, revolutionaries and philosophers go to that distant country or place and return with wisdom. Good luck.

  • Manisha Gupta

    This is so f***ing amazing… every word was just magic! I clung to everything you said. Sometimes I feel you know me. Do you?
    I don’t know if I would like to live this way and yet I can relate to you so much and so well… I don’t have enough words to tell you James that you are me (i am not sure if that makes any sense).
    I wish I could talk to you some day…

  • Kirit Pankhania

    Powerful, simple and frankly beautiful. That’s it. As minimal and dynamic as needs to be expressed. Proud of you Brother.

  • Chris Lowry

    Yes. Yes. Yes.

  • Acronymforme

    Come to Tampa. I’ll bring you to a little beach near Tarpon Springs Called “HoneyMoon Island.” It is protected by the FL park service & is old style Florida. Go get Gyros & baklava. No need to put on a show, speak or impress. Just hang out & then go on your way. :-) Of course you wouldn’t, but it would be awesome if all ppl truly wanted was honest simplicity with no motive.

  • Veena

    If a good mike or any podcast equipment is excess baggage for you, please courier it to me (my email

  • Freegoddess

    Hmmm…always a good read, James. Well done! I love your posts. They often bring tears. This one confirmed that I’m going in the right direction. Right now I’m ‘homeless’ ( I am sleeping in my office ) and just waiting for a few things to sort themselves out. So I’ve eliminated most of my possessions and planning to travel soon,

  • Freegoddess

    Where does your family fit into all this?

  • Ben K

    This was a confusing, but interesting article for me. Seems like minimalism is something unique and personal to anyone who attempts to exercise it. What sets James “free”, would not necessarily set “you” free, vice versa. Unfortunately the “one bag” analogy used in the article seemed a bit pretentious to me. You need the convenience of a MASSIVE trust-fund to maintain this romantic ronin/wanderer lifestyle (unless you squat out in a trailer every night) … Sounds epic, but it’s not something you simply “choose”.

    • I can guarantee you I had no trust fund. I just don’t like having things.

      • Ben K

        To each his own :)

      • Alisha Peck

        I think it’s fantastic James ! It’s some really good advice and an amazing way to live. I have too much already but I became bord of the nothing . Like Yin and Yang , the transition was funny because I only had a couch table and a few end tables when I moved here. I used to put all of my clothes in a pile to make a mattress. It’s was comfy for about a week . Good for you. I love everything you write it’s so entertaining and every time I read your stuff again it’s like a new journey. I think I’ll always read your stuff over and over . Some points I disagreed at first but in the inevitable end your always right. Thanks James! I talk about you all the time I think your the bees knees . Thanks for saving my life .

    • Alisha Peck

      You dont need money at all trust me . I traveled across bc with a couple of boxes of K.D . The money I made was being that annoying squeegee kid. Smear your windshield while you wait ! James doesn’t need a trust fund or whatever money you think. I’m sure it’s not even about that . I can’t speak for him but he has the best advice. My question to you is if your reading his stuff then why would you even need to say that? Right there’s no need just read the article again that’s what I did!

      • Ben K

        Thanks for the reply. Very interesting story. I’m not sure I understand what you mean by saying “you don’t need money at all”. Of course you do. The living costs in most countries are “immense”. I totally agree with James’s views on minimalism and attachments though. Cool article. I “needed to say that” because I have a right to voice my opinion, I guess.

        • Alisha Peck

          Its ok everyone is entitled to an opinon. I feel if one makes a comment then the door has been opened for discussion. No negativity here by anymeans . I think life can be done with no money at all. I think us as a society forget that one time money didn’t rule. Money only rules because those who are skilled at earning it are the fastest in the race of life. It seems like a lazy mans hustle but it’s not by any means. Its 24/7 365 days a year . Same as living without it it’s 24/7 focus on how not to. Its just my thought . Your not wrong at all for your view. In fact I encourage someone with a different point of to challenge what I think . Lol im Just weird like that.

  • Franko

    Here, in my opinion, is the duplicity of this all. “Because I don’t care what you think about me.” If this was true, there would be no “public blog” and especially no “comment” area, and especially any “responses” to those comments. A “response” says, “I care what you think — enough to respond to you.” Those that don’t really care what other people think write in their own private journal. We are looking at a person in the middle of his journey in life — dealing with his own choices which led to the consequences he has to face. Many have disappeared from life, as I had, but one day gain strength to re-enter by focusing on what really matters. Prayers for ya, bro — focus on what you need, not what you have.

    • Alisha Peck

      It’s true , to focus on what you need! James has the best guidance anyone could ask for . I never question it anymore . I used to fight him in a away thinking I was being different. I learned there are two sides to that . Being different or fighting authority. James is not authority but if you pick up what he’s really saying he’s speaking love. It’s the only language we need . Once you learn to let go of everything and realize that somewhere out there some one loves you whole hearty mistakes and all . It’s doesn’t matter if your lovers cousins or brothers when you find someone that truly speaks with love you learn to follow their light Best of all you learn to love yourself. I wouldn’t trade a damn possession or a billion dollars for James or tje lessins he gave me like my ability to begin to love myself. He was just keeping himself self in shape so he could love himself . We all need someone to remind us to love yourself cause your an awesome amazing person don’t ever forget it . When some stands up in the crowd it shines a beacon just for the people that belong to eachother. Not everyone sees it just the ones that need that kind of light. Heres your reminder :)

  • Zarina Noor Mahomed

    Love, love, love it.

  • Tori

    This post has inspired me. I am at a crossroads, having never owned a lot of stuff, but having accumulated enough to make it cumbersome. You have helped me see my path. People are so culturally conditioned that the often judge someone else’s choices but that’s only their ego. Deep down many would love to feel more free. Of course, true freedom comes from having what the Buddhists call a beginner’s mind (I am not a Buddhist.) I am learning to let go of all the mental and emotional baggage that I’ve accumulated over the last 67 years, the few belongings that remain will be shared with someone else. I love the idea of experience instead of stuff. Blessings to you in your experiences, James.

  • James Buechler


  • Walter Martinez Marconi


  • James Buechler

    How come you don’t date your podcast or blogs?

  • Paul

    Altucher, How much of what you wrote above is true. Are you homeless?

  • HappyHighwayman

    Most people can’t live this way, and many people would not want a friend who doesn’t answer thephone

  • Sensor Ableton

    I have been a minimalist since I read about your life style; It’s never felt more liberating. But now I met this girl and I am trying to convince her of the minimalism idea and also through some (MED) Minimal Effective Dose in, as Tim Ferriss described but it requires a lot of patience for someone to understand the concept.

    It took me a year or so to get rid of my everything and live out of a suitcase and a backpack.

    Thanks James,

    You are an awesome inspiration

  • Javier Alcivar


  • Alisha Peck

    I did this when I was 15 . I emancipated myself from my parents my dad will tell you I made him cry for the second time in his life. I lived that way for most of my life . Now I know it’s all in your head. I am my own god and that will never change .I recommend getting a cat and finding the inner beauty that is contained within their complex minds . They have the ability to servive without you yet they choose to come back very day. Not just for the fancy feast either. A dog doesn’t really emulate this. Good luck on your journey !

  • Kanika Coleman

    Pretty sure if i could be this trasparent, especially about failure , I can have a groundbreaking life breakthrough. Working on it(.)

  • budgeTraveler

    “I have one bag of clothes, one backpack with a computer, iPad, and phone. I have zero other possessions.” I have the same and been travelling the world.

  • Powerful message James. Thank you for sharing.

  • Cory O’Dinator

    Are these your questions? Or you are too big minimalist, so someone(another minimalist) else interviewed you? ? I don’t know how I found you, but it interesting to have you around! Society is putting weight on its shoulders, by “must having”, impressing and living like others around (me)… My wish is for everyone to become more determined in finding and doing what they really want to do in their lives, starting with my myself!

  • Rickshaw Rush

    ive been living without address for a year. i have a hard time to explain people what and why i do it. i lost nesting instinct. i say i either sleep in the truck, i work as a trucker otr, or i sleep in a bivy sack in the woods….my friends think im crazy lol i luv this post!
    Interestingly i was thinking to give away my stuff from the storage….but im a bit attached to it yet

  • Loved it when you say- Minimalism is about not judging yourself or others.
    I am new on this path to seek Freedom. Will be around.

  • qtpie

    i think I love you

  • hagbard45

    You said, “Today I have no address.” But isn’t that a lie? You have an address because you are a married man with two daughters. Or do you all live in Grand Central Station, like in the Whitney Houston song “Your Love is My Love”? I don’t think so. Why do you tell falsehoods? Shock value.

  • Starshot

    Oh, yes!