Tim From Life For the Better: Creativity at Work Interviews

Today’s interview features many innovative approaches to living, organizing, and even song-writing!  You may know Tim for his well-kept blog (along with the awesome insights featured in his Living a Better Life interview series).

In order to narrow in on my own vision of life and challenge my own belief systems, I have always sought to find people who live differently than me (while also having something in common with me).  This combination sets me up for a lot of dissonance and analyzation.

Well, Tim lives very differently than me! The fact he is well accomplished in the military is a start, and even more than that, he has a tiny house!  I’ve been excited about Popcorn Finance’s upcoming Tiny Living Series, and today I’m stoked to interview a blooming expert in this area.

Take it away Tim!

Do you consider yourself creative?

Yes! I consider myself to be creative in various ways. One of the ways I’m creative is I play the guitar. I taught myself how to play four years ago through YouTube lessons. I then evolved to writing my own lyrics and letting that creative side develop. I never thought of myself as a musician or songwriter but I really really love it now.

I’ve always let my mind wander and ponder on the “what if’s” and possibilities. I have a saying that goes “don’t think outside the box, think like there is no box.” This saying is meaningful to me because if you have the limiting belief that there is always a box, your thoughts will be limited as well.

What role has creativity played in your working life? Private life? Finances?

In my working life, you need to think creatively. The military is sometimes very structured, but after being deployed to 20 some countries and seeing countless situations where the original gameplan failed, you need to think on your feet.

In my private life, I talked about learning to play the guitar. I also think there is something to be said about learning how to blog. When I started Life For The Better I didn’t know anything about blogging.  It’s a continual process. I think it forces me to be creative by coming up with topics that haven’t been talked about before (or if they have, putting a spin on them).

My finances have creativity by achieving a net worth of 225K at age 25. I have various income streams, one of which is my job with the Air Force. I have been promoted multiple times and last year switched from the enlisted side to an officer. I also own one rental property as an income stream. Having the blog, even if we don’t make much, also counts! I look to side hustles as well in order to generate income.

Are there any areas of living you approach in an especially innovative way?

That’s a great question. I always try to look at multiple different angles before taking action. I would have to say that living in a tiny house is innovative to me. It forces me to be a minimalist. I only buy things that bring me true happiness. Even if living in a 269 sq. ft. house isn’t the most innovative thing compared to others, it’s allowing me to live the life I want.

Do you have a system for keeping track of ideas? For example, do you use a series of notebooks or certain apps?

For sure! I use two apps. One is Evernote. I use that mainly for lyric ideas with songwriting. I was using it for other odds and ends notes but now have started using Google Keep. This allows my wife and I to share a note in real-time to see what the other is typing. We put our shopping list on it and can collaborate throughout the day or week and take it with us to the store.  

We also use it for blog ideas. When an idea pops into my head, I’ll throw it in the “blog idea” note and type any thoughts that come to mind surrounding the idea.  I also use it when I’m reading a book or listening to podcasts. This allows me to take notes on what material I’m consuming. Instead of consuming and moving on I can go back and look at the notes as to why I was consuming the information in the first place. I want the actionable tips to put into my life.

What systems do you have in place for mastering and tackling your finances?

Automation. I have set my finances to automate from my paycheck into my Thrift Savings Plan and Roth IRA. This year, I actually did the lump sum approach to my Roth. I’ll also use Mint and Personal Capital to track where my money is going and watch my net worth increase. This little hack keeps me on track with my personal goals.

I also look online for the best deals I can find for what I need. I use Ebates to get cash back and combine it with Raise for discounted gift cards. On top of that, I combine it with Honey to get coupon codes automatically imported at checkout. This simple system I have in place helps save on nearly every purchase.

What role (if any) has art and music played in your life? Can you tell us some favorite bands?

Music to me is a sense of relief. I can put in music and just relax. I also use it to pump myself up for the gym. No matter what mood I’m in there is music to help.

I also started to play my own music. I don’t claim to be the best at all but it’s a sense of relaxation for me. I can just enjoy letting my creativity bug flow and be happy in the moment.

I really don’t have any favorite bands, to be honest. I just enjoy good music. I listen to anything from country music, to singer-songwriter, to indie, even rap, and pop. I don’t like to corner myself into one genre but if it sounds good I’ll listen.

Michelle Again Here:

I really hope we can hear some of Tim’s music someday!  It sounds like he has such a variety of interests as a listener and creative person, so I’m sure he is making something novel on that guitar of his.  I’m glad I could learn more about the role music plays in his life through this interview.

I’m really getting a sense that a lot of people who pursue FI are also into music in some way (and either creating their own already or harboring the dream to do so).  I have heard hints of this from J at Millenial Boss, Mad Fientist, Mr. Money Mustache, Grant Sabatier, and numerous others.

What do you think?  Are you into music like Tim and starting to make your own songs?  Have you written songs in the past or do you have any other comments for Tim?