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Habit Building, Minimalism, & Living a Simpler Life w/ Gabe Bult

I am PUMPED to have had the opportunity to interview Gabe Bult! Gabe is a Youtuber who offers subscribers awesome tips on minimalism and essentialism, finances, productivity, habit building, and SO much more. I’ve personally found his channel to be really valuable in both my personal/household and financial life (and my mom is a big fan, too) so I could not be more excited to share this with you!


Gabe started his YouTube channel about 4 years ago, not with the intention of having it grow to this capacity. As a Real Estate Agent with multiple side jobs, he became interested in Fire movement in Finances and simply wanted to share that with people. His channel continues growing as he grows & dives into finances, minimalism, and productivity. Let's jump in!

S: Can you explain minimalism?

G: It's different for everyone - people get into it for different reasons. For me, it's the ideas of "less but better". I try to simplify my life as much as I possibly can so I can have more time money energy focus for the things that are actually important for me and not being controlled by chaos. I used to live in chaos with my schedule and so many things going on.

S: I can relate to that, being a full-time 5th grade teacher, Wellness & Nutrition coach, running a Wellness Center, people ask me how I handle everything and it's because I have those systems & habits in place to allow this to be effective without feeling like my life is chaos.

G: Yes I'm a huge fan of systems, habits & building out the infrastructure from the beginning and then letting things go on autopilot - working smarter not harder.

S: I coach women on nutrition and healthy habit building and the most common thing I hear is that they feel like they don't have enough time to dedicate to making changes.

G: Everybody has time, it's what you do with that time. Are you letting life live you, or are you living life? Are you cutting out some things that would be good, to focus on the things that might be important?

A goal I've been working on over the past two years is saying "no" to as many things is possible. Have that be the default. And then trying to find REALLY good reasons to say "yes" to something, and otherwise you gotta say no. Otherwise, you'll never be home to spend time with your family, to go to the gym. No one else is going to do that for you - you have to cut out things, that might be really good things, in order to make time for yourself.

S: And that's part of simplifying your life: creating space & time to just being human. You're not a hamster on a wheel, you're allowed to enjoy a slow breakfast, or go to the gym, or spend time with your family.

G: Exactly, I think so many people right now are focused on social media which is everywhere trying to bombard you or get your attention, and you can always go further with your career, and at some point you have to ask yourself: Am I giving up what I already have, for something that I don't need? And that's a trade that I never want to make.

If you can get your expenses really low then you never have to earn as much and therefore you don't need to sacrifice all this other stuff in your life.

S: There was a recent video on your page about cutting back on what you spend.

G: I think 60% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and 40% of Americans that make over 100K are living paycheck to paycheck. More money is not the answer.

Housing is your biggest expense. I do house-hacking, there's other ways of doing it, but can you lower that expense?

Your car is your next biggest one, can you own a 10-year-old or 5-year-old car?

There's ways of intentionally looking at your budget and seeing what you can cut out. It's a lazier way than going and picking up a second or third job.

S: I think a common theme would be, we're not saying "I need more time" or "I need more money" It's about using what you already have more efficiently.

G: It is good to have more money, if you can make more that is a good thing, but instead of working harder for it, how can you be more efficient with the time that you are using to make more money?

The answer isn't always work harder.

S: And we can do that with habit-building and our health as well. People think they need to set aside all this time each week to start building healthier habits.

G: I like to have rules in my life so one that I did recently was I wanted to start reading more and what I did was called habit-stacking. So every morning after my shower and coffee and brushing my teeth, I commit to reading one page of a book.

It's something super small, after something I already do every single morning. It's a way to hack adding one little habit onto something I already do, and it's small enough where I know I can do this every morning. Then on some days if I have more time I end up reading a few more pages but at least on the "bad" days I know I can read at least 1 page.

Then I have something called the two-day rule. I don't have to go to the gym every day, but I won't miss two days in a row of some kind of physical exercise. So it really takes the pressure off but it also doesn't let you lose it from your system. So I've been going to the gym 3x a week for the past 10 years, I never go more than an hour, and I always stay at least 15 minutes. It's pretty simple to talk yourself into going for 15 minutes. So at least you showed up and you voted for yourself like, "I am this person who reads" or "I am this person who goes to the gym" by proving it to yourself in very simple small ways, until your body starts to crave that thing.

S: That two-day rule is super powerful because sometimes when we feel like we've broken a streak and now that that streak is broken, what do we do? Does that mean we're a failure? And the second part I love about that is taking on that identity. "I am a person who works out" - doesn't mean I run marathons or am a body builder, but it means I'm a person who does something & shows up consistently in the area I want to grow.

When it comes to integrating habits into your life, what are some of the habits you do that you think others would benefit from?

G: This is not for everybody but I've done intermittent fasting for 8 years and I absolutely love it. I lost like 40 lbs when I orginally did it. I didn't know what I was doing and I realized that I can pretty much stuff my face with whatever I want if I start with something healthy. Something low calorie, healthy, like a big bowl of oatmeal. And then I pretty much can't eat enough to overeat, for me, because if I eat breakfast, then I'm starving by lunch. If I don't, I actually won't be as hungry at lunch time.

Reading has completely changed my life and it's something I do every day. I just finished 12 rules for life, I'm reading The Millionaire Next Door, and listening to some podcasts and stuff.

Essentialism by Greg McCann I've read 3 times, I just recommended it to a friend who read it in like, a week. It is an amazing book, especially for work-related stuff. Lots of really good stuff in there.

4 hour work week is one of my favorite books and it has a lot of the same ideas of minimalism but applying it to other areas of your life as far as, what you can cut out so you can focus on the important things.

S: Some people thing that improving their health or the quality of their routines is going to be some sort of super hard work that they add into their lives, but I think you would agree that it's not about doing more things or giving yourself more responsibility but about doing less and therefore making more room for Joy.

You talk a lot about some serious topics but, what do you do for fun?

G: I've got a 9 month old baby right now so, that's pretty fun.... I like doing podcasts and YouTube and hangout with friends and family. I play video games sometimes lately, because I've been taking a slow year this year. I was working 3-4 jobs for a while so I'm taking it a bit slower.

S: I'm so glad to hear that, because I think people have this illusion that successful or efficient people are always in a hustle or serious mode.

G: Yeah, I talk about productivity and all that, but this week I probably worked under 10 hours. I've really got my work extremely efficient. I don't like the hustle culture. There is a time and a place for that, but it shouldn't be the goal.

S: If people want to get started with simplifying their life, what tips would you give them?

G: It's going to be different for everyone. Something super simple for me was just decluttering a room and realizing what a clean, simple space is. When you enter a room and it's clean and organized, it's very calm. It's a feeling that becomes addicting and you think about it like okay, I have a super simple organized home but then I'm living this really chaotic disorganized life. So can you then look at your calendar and cross a few things off that you really don't need.

I like to use clothes as an example. On average, people only use about 20% of the clothes that they own on a regular basis. So what happens if you got rid of the other 80%, and the other 20% that's left is your absolute favorite thing to wear, every single day?

And then you apply that to other things in your life? What if you just temporarily cut something out? You can always bring it back in if you need to. You start to realize that maybe you didn't need to engage with all these extracurricular activities and you can take one night that you were doing something else and use that to go to the gym.

S: The idea of decluttering your calendar is something I've been working on, recovering from the hustle culture, and it's hard because there are a lot of good opportunities that you have to turn down.

G: Exactly, I think we're conditioned to say yes when someone asks you for something and think it's considered rude to say no. A lot of opportunities come up, a lot of good career opportunities and you have to get in the habit of saying no or let me think about that and then decide. You can't say yes to everything. You'll either let other people control your life or actually take some control, ruffle a few feathers, stand up for yourself and your mental health.

S: You get up early, right?

G: With the baby I haven't been able to sleep through the night but the morning is my most productive time so I wake up really early in the morning, get all my work done, and then I don't work for the rest of the day.

My morning is my most productive time so if I wait to do it later it'll take me much longer to get everything done. I'm not as mentally there, I'm not as energetic, I'm not as clear. So, I wake up early, get all my important stuff done, and that frees up the rest of my day.

S: It's also before the world's agenda has a chance to hit you. You don't know what your email says, what happened on the news, you're just existing as a human in your own space.

G: Most people say that they're not a morning person, but I would say you don't have a problem waking up early. You have a problem going to bed early. You may have to work on your bedtime routine, cut out some Netflix, something like that. For me, I consistently get up at the same time no matter when I go to sleep. If I break it once, it's so hard to get back into it. So I'll just be tired all day and I'll fall asleep early because I'm tired.

S: What's something random that you're super interested in right now?

G: I love YouTube. I study the analytics, I love making content. Every week I hyper focus on 1 new thing. So I obsess about all those things but it kind of changes every week!

S: What was the tipping point for you where you realized you wanted to give up working all the jobs and living a chaotic life?

G: There was two moments. I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I was 18, I realized that I don't have to go to college, I can buy some Real Estate, I got some rental properties.

Then, a couple years ago, I had to leave the New Year's Eve party I was at to go to work because I got called in for something. And I had the thought that, "I will NOT be doing this next year".

The next year, I wasn't doing it.

S: You've mentioned house-hacking a little bit, can you tell us about that?

G: It's the idea of buying a multi-family property. For me it was a triplex with a 3.5% down loan. You rent the other two out and that should cover all your housing expenses. Then you're able to pretty much live for free, so now you're saving 30% of your budget. Do that a few more times and that should cover all of your living expenses.

Now, you can do whatever you want with your life.

Psssst.. Did you know you can listen to this episode online?


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