The Sun Rises

This is another awesome article in the periodic “Ask the Community” series. If you'd like to be featured in an upcoming article, reply to a Value of Simple newsletter note, share your story, or contact me.


I love this community!

And I love the notes of encouragement, sincerity, vulnerability, passion, and wisdom you send to me!

The original “Your Community” article was a hit and I'm excited to give you part two in this ongoing series.

I have three stories today from people in our community that prove we're not alone. Their questions, struggles, and triumphs motivate me and I hope they will motivate you.

Are you ready for action like these three all-stars to simplify, organize, and be money wise?

Let's hit it!


“Hello Joel,

I'm not sure how I stumbled upon your site but I've been eating it up this morning. My path to simplicity may be a bit extreme, but in terms of peace and financial freedom, it's been well worth the work.

I built a 97 square foot house almost two years ago out of reclaimed materials [and] it cost me $3,000. I thought that living in the small space would be more challenging than it actually was. I loved getting rid of the excess clutter.

In July, I bought a piece of land for $5,000 and built a tiny addition. The land was that cheap because there aren't any utilities to speak of. I began the process of striping down even more and converted my house off-grid. I paid cash for everything and now I will never have to make a rent/mortgage or utility payment ever again!

Keep up the good work,


Joel's note: If you enjoy Kristie's tiny house story, make sure to listen to episode twenty of Smart and Simple Matters where I chat with Tammy Strobel, an icon of the tiny house movement.


“Hi Joel,

Love what you're up to here. For me, simplicity around how I approach work has been big for me. I'm a freelance web designer and online project manager. This was a big change for me as I used to manage a helicopter supported sled dog tour business on a glacier in Alaska for most of my twenties. I met my wife up there, and worked hard to save, live a minimalist lifestyle, invest in real estate, and grow as a leader and manager.

After our first daughter was born, I decided to transition to location independent freelance work so that I could be very close with my family, work from home, and minimize the costs of a traditional job like commuting, clothes, etc. This type of work also grants incredible flexibility if we need to move or just do something like go visit family without having to ‘request time off.'

I'm also on a mission to help other parents develop as entrepreneurs and conscious parents. I draw on my own experience and other leaders at

This is a journey I'm on too. Time with my family, flexibility and being a positive force for my family and the world are my big why.

By managing my real estate investments and doing my freelance work, I've been able to develop a strong bond with my family that I wouldn't trade for anything. Over time, I continue to build systems to manage my ventures and my time. I wouldn't say I have a ‘perfect system,' but I'm happy with the progress.

Thanks for doing what you do.


Joel's note: If Chris' story sounds familiar, it's because he wrote about it in amazing depth in a recent guest post. And the fantastic wife Chris mentions? It's none other than Samantha, who also wrote a well-received guest post here.


“[I'm] very encouraged by your site. I have always marveled at simplicity's genius in designing solutions to problems and its role in resourcefulness. I just somehow wasn't able to implement it in my own life.

I am now emerging from a 7 year long set of circumstances that have brought me down to zero. Recession, bankruptcy, divorce, [only having my son with me half the time], 2 homes and declining health issues.

And then recently, it happened. With everything stripped away, I have decided to have my own personal reinvention.

I am on a mission now to create an amazing life for myself and my son that will create a foundation for him as he grows. I am starting with a mortar mix of 7 parts love, 2 parts transcendence of fear, 3 parts adventure mixed in a container of unwavering consternation.

[Also], I recently stumbled upon a discontinued school here in Maine. I wrote a business plan for its use to the owner about converting it to an alternative energy and sustainability school. Aquaculture, organic gardening, solar energy, food for schools, etc.

Two weeks ago, he handed me the keys and said go for it! Wish me luck… I'm going to help a lot of people with this.

Thank you for your work. It provided me with inspiration, another ingredient I need to add to my ‘mortar mix.'

~ Jay”

Joel's note: Would you like to get an update from Jay on his journey? Let us know in the comments!

Your Turn

Every time I get a note, a blog comment, a review of Smart and Simple Matters on iTunes, and an update on Twitter or Google+, I get motivated that much more to give you everything I got.

This website is nothing without you. The message of liberating our time, money, and talent goes nowhere without your presence.

We want you to inspire us. We need you to motivate us.

Will you share your story too? Will you join the Refuge of Simplicity and tell me what's on your mind? Will you contact me just to say hi and get a little crazy?

I'm not on this personal renaissance alone. You're not alone on your journey to simplify, organize, and be money wise either.

Let's team up and form a legion of all-stars who rock at this thing we call life.

So tell us…how is your year going and how might we help you achieve your goals?

Photo Credit: Robert Scott Photography