Spotlight On: Break the Twitch

Anthony - Break the Twitch

Sporty and I thought it would be really interesting to shine a spotlight on other minimalists to see what their lives look like.

We came up with a set of 10 questions (the last of which we believe to be the most important) and we’re asking everyone we feature to answer them.

Same questions, different answers. It can only make for interesting reading.

In case you missed it, be sure to check out our last post featuring Claire from Want Less, blog about beating debt and simplifying a chaotic life. Claire is from the UK, which means everything she writes is really funny.

Those damn Brits, they were all in the front of the queue when humour was being dished out. I guess we need to cut them some slack though, given the crap weather they have to put up with.

Spotlight On: Break the Twitch

In this edition of Spotlight On we introduce you to Anthony Ongaro from Break the Twitch. Anthony and I became internet friends after I discovered that he’d shared my TEDx Cape Town talk. Okay that made me sound super fickle, obviously I’d have become friends with him anyway!

We move in the same minimalist circles and have the same outlook on life, we’d definitely have crossed paths at some point.

As evidenced by his recent-ish decision to quit cubicle life and follow his heart, Anthony is clearly someone who walks his talk. In addition to his blog, he also shares his thoughts on intentional living on his YouTube channel.

If you’re looking to build successful daily habits for living life well (and let’s face it, who isn’t?) his 10-day email course continues to rack up rave reviews, so be sure to check it out. Also, meet his wife, Amy.

Quick funny story before I turn on the spotlight. So Anthony lives in Minneapolis, USA and Sporty and I live in Cape Town, South Africa. It’s safe to say there’s a good couple of thousand miles between us.

The other day Sporty and I arrive home and there’s a guy walking into the building at the same time as us.

“This is amazing,” he said, “I just watched your TEDx talk last night!”

Obviously I was chuffed, but it’s what he said next that really blew my hair back.

“I found it on Break the Twitch.”

Wow, right?! I mean what are the chances?

What Was Your Tipping Point?

What prompted you to say, “Screw it, let’s just sell everything!”?

To be honest, there wasn’t really ever one tipping point that pushed us over the edge. It has been a steady movement with peaks and valleys of progress. One of the main drivers was my wife Amy quitting her corporate finance job in mid-2014. She took a sabbatical, and that caused some lifestyle shifts.

Attending SimpleREV later that year provided us the framework and understanding of minimalism, and we started decluttering. Soon after, I started Break the Twitch to document our intentional living journey, then I quit my job in February of 2016, which of course has driven an increased focus on owning less stuff, or rather, owning the right stuff.

Anthony at SimpleRev 2015

Anthony (right) with Joel Zaslofsky and Joshua Becker at SimpleREV 2015 

How Do You Earn a Living Now?

Is it different than to your pre-minimalist days?

Over the last two years, my wife and I have transitioned from two full-time salaries, one in finance and a marketing director of a nonprofit, to full-time entrepreneur and freelance income.

I can say definitively that minimalism has enabled us to do that so far, and continues to do so. Between contracts, we focus on our websites and building useful things for people there. We’ve worked hard to whittle down our monthly expenses so that we have a relatively low maintenance cost for our lifestyle.

How Much Stuff Do You Own?

How much of it do you travel with?

I’d say that for minimalists, we own a relatively large amount of stuff. We don’t have bare shelves and closets. We have a 1,200 sq foot home, we share one car that we bought used and is almost paid off.

I have a lot of video equipment as I am focused on growing that skill right now and want to use it as a way to earn money in the future. We really don’t buy new clothes, and have gotten rid of 70% of our wardrobes.

I tend to view our lifestyle as focused on intentional living, making sure we’re careful about what enters our lives and what is removed. At this point, we’ve eliminated enough stuff that clutter is a non-issue.

We love traveling, so most of our resources go to that. We typically fly 12 or more times per year, and only ever bring backpacks with us. This becomes a bit challenging when I’m bringing camera gear, but I still make it work. In over a year and a half of doing this, I’ve never run out of clothing or been inconvenienced by this style of travel.

It allows us freedom to walk around our destination before checking into an AirBnB or hotel, and our baggage is guaranteed to never get lost by the airline. Earlier this year, we got stuck on a layover in Denver due to inclement weather.

All the other passenger’s baggage went on a later flight that night, and would sit in Minneapolis (our home city) overnight while they were stuck there in Denver.  Luckily, we had everything with us and had the flexibility to take a flight the next morning and not wait around the airport for another (potentially) delayed flight.  

Anthony meditating

Anthony meditating somewhere gorgeous. Lucky bastard, it looks hot too!

Is There Anything You Regret Getting Rid Of?

Just one thing, our blender. We never used it, but now I keep wanting to make smoothies and we don’t have a blender anymore. Not the worst thing, though.

Ang: Ha ha ha, we had a similar incident with a juicer. 🙂

What Are You happiest About No Longer Owning?

Clothing was one of the best lifestyle changes for me. Getting rid of all my old and unfavorable shirts and pants was life-changing. I used to do this thing where I’d wear all my favorite items, then once they were all dirty I’d start wearing the things I didn’t even like.

After a few weeks, I’d have six loads of laundry to do, and I’d end up giving my time caring for clothing I didn’t even like. Now, I only wear clothing I like and it takes me barely any time to maintain and wash. I even hang dry all my t-shirts now!

How Do You Handle Gift-Giving?

For each other, friends, family, etc.

We’ve been lucky that our family has been very supportive and understanding of our desire to own less. Holidays are mostly focused on spending time together now as opposed to stressing about what to get each other. We’re spending time together in my Dad’s hometown this month instead of exchanging birthday gifts, etc.

Anthony & Amy - Break the Twitch

I ‘borrowed’ this pic of Anthony and his wife, Amy, from his Facebook page. I thought it would go well with the question above. 😉

What’s Your Debt Story?

Do you have? Did you ever have? How did you deal with it?

I had credit card debt after Amy and I took a 10-week trip to Europe together in 2008. That debt lasted a long time, until around 2010 when I worked full-time and bartended part-time. I worked about 65+ hours per week for a year and a half between the two jobs, paid off all of my debt and saved enough to buy Amy an engagement ring.

It didn’t have much to do with our minimalism journey, but I do completely understand the stress of debt and really don’t want to be in that situation again. After we bought our house we had a few thousand dollars of debt from renovations and general costs, but we quickly paid it off as we were both working full-time.

I’ve come to view debt as mortgaging today for an unknown tomorrow. It’s a gamble that sometimes works out, and sometimes doesn’t.

Sporty and I Eat a Plant-Based (Vegan) Diet

Is this something you could see yourself doing? Tell us about the kind of food you enjoy.

I don’t have any particular diet, to be honest. When I’m focusing on health, I tend to stick to the slow-carb diet with one day per week where I eat whatever I want, but that’s every now and then. This is one area where I’ve wanted to improve my lifestyle, but it’s been hard for me as I’m a complete sugar addict.

I’m not sure that I could eat a plant-based diet entirely, it does seem ideal in terms of impact and reducing factory-farming, which I despise. When we buy food, we almost always purchase from our local co-op from sustainability-focused, local farms.

What Does the Term ‘Carbon Footprint’ Mean to You?

Very directly, it means the environmental impact that I’m having on the earth based on my consumption and waste output. I’ve always had mixed feelings about this as many bloggers who talk about green living and ‘zero waste’ will try to live that lifestyle, but then take three international flights in a year, which is actually exponentially more harmful to the environment than eating a few candy bars.

We try to be mindful, we recycle and compost everything we can, but we definitely aren’t zero waste.

Do You Like Peanut Butter?

Peanut butter on a banana is one of my favorite snacks. Crunchy, of course.

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2 thoughts on “Spotlight On: Break the Twitch

  1. Hi Angela,

    I was the guy that walked into your apartment building the other day…

    I was at the TEDx conference where you spoke, and it was extremely inspirational.
    It is funny, because that evening before walking into your building, I started laughing at how my ‘minimalism’ reading had come full-circle.

    Thank you for breaking the box, for changing minds, and highlighting what we truly value…memories…

    Thank you for your inspiration!

    • Hi Denzil. Thanks so much for stopping by! I’m so chuffed to hear that you found my talk inspirational, that’s exactly what I was hoping for when I gave it. I hope your minimalist journey is going well! 🙂

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