Learning To Live Simply

Let me just state it bluntly: I had to get used to frugality. Saving instead of spending was a fairly natural mindset for me, but in a career that paid me well and increased my salary with each consecutive year, convenience buys were worth it and price tags weren’t all that important.



And then the shift…



I made the choice to change my careers abruptly, with no idea of what I was doing next. Now, whether I liked it or not, price tags did matter. And I exchanged convenience buys for do-it-yourself savings.



But I wouldn’t trade the latter for the former. What I have gained in this change of mindset and how I currently live is far greater than what I lost when my income decreased significantly.



Embracing Simplicity



So, you are probably wondering just how I went about this mindset and lifestyle shift. Let me just say there was certainly an adjustment period. And in learning to live more simply I also had to learn to give myself some grace. And I’m still growing in this area.



The very first thing I did was create a budget. My income was reduced significantly and I had to see where the money needed to go and how it was going to stretch. Once I had the numbers in front of me, I started making cuts. Where could I cut back spending? How could I save money or reduce costs in certain areas? This analysis of my income and expenses devised a plan moving forward, a sort-of framework for living simply in our new circumstances.



For us, it looked like this: we cut our grocery bill significantly, increased efficiency by planning ahead, let go of some luxuries, learned to get creative to save some money, and reduced our overall consumption.



For you, it may look very different. But I’ll share some tips from my experience that you can try out for yourself if you so desire.


 


10 Tips for Living Simply


 



  1. Create a Household Budget: I highly recommend that the very first thing you do when trying to live more simply is create a household budget. If you don’t know where your money is going, you can’t make changes on how you are spending. Plain and simple. We had to see where we were presently in order to set goals for our future.

  2. Cut Grocery Costs: Groceries often account for a significant portion of the monthly budget, and it is probably the easiest place to start to make changes to save money. There are several tactics that can be used to save on the grocery bill every month. We set a dollar limit to not exceed every month, we gave up our brand loyalties, and we started shopping store deals and experimenting with coupons. We also grow produce in our garden, plan meals more resourcefully, and reduce food waste by freezing or preserving.

  3. Plan Ahead & Be Prepared: Though it may seem like an oxymoron, you can actually live more simply by taking the time to be prepared and planning ahead. This does require some structure in creating a routine, but by planning ahead we are able to save on trips to town, increase efficiency in running errands, and improvise when necessary.

  4. Less is More: I loathe clutter. I am a believer that if something is worth keeping; it must be worth using or displaying. If it gets shoved away into a drawer or box, it may as well be gotten rid of. Everything should have its place and what doesn’t; doesn’t belong. By streamlining our clutter, we simplified the environment in which we live, which reduces the white noise around us and helps to keep me in a calmer state of mind.

  5. Reevaluate Needs and Wants: We all remember learning the difference between needs and wants as a child. When we were trying to cut back, it was worth taking a look at our current perspective on these two things. I do think it is important to keep a healthy balance and it is worth treating yourself once in a while. We choose what is important to us and what is worth spending money on—this is different for everyone, we all make sacrifices for our priorities in life. Start by assessing what you can do without and little by little begin to cut back in those area.

  6. Get Creative: It is important to note that living simply does not equate a boring life (although, some may consider my life to be pretty boring!). This is where creativity comes in. Maybe you have decided to cut your entertainment budget, this doesn’t mean you have to sit around and do nothing. You just have to get creative in how you seek entertainment. We loved to host an outdoor movie party at our country house with close friends and we often choose a free rental from the Public Library overpaying for the movie theater experience. With some searching and planning ahead, we can still have family outings, trips and events while scoring them at a reduced cost.

  7. Simple Systems: Get organized! Create a routine and simple systems around the house to make your life easier. Have a system for mail and incoming bills. Purge your files and keep your paper clutter to a minimum. Create a cleaning routine that helps maintain your home with little to no stress. By creating systems for things around our house I am simplifying my life in the long run.

  8. Become a DIY Fool: When in doubt, DIY. With the advent of Pinterest, you can pretty much DIY anything. And you don’t even need a whole lot of skill to pull it off! My husband and I were not great DIYers to begin with, but once we started cutting back and watching our expenses we became brutally aware at just how expensive things can be. We would catch ourselves saying, “I could make that for less money and it would hold up better, too!” So we tried it. And it was true. Now, your time can be money too, so you need to know your limits, but wherever you can DIY, you can save money!

  9. Reduce Consumption: There are several ways to reduce overall consumption. Buy less; use less. Fix or repair things before getting rid of or replacing them. Recycle or resell items before bringing something new into your home. Just being cognizant of our waste on a daily basis inspired us to consume less.

  10. Choosing Stillness: Perhaps the single most important thing you can do when learning to live simply is to shift your mindset. Slow down. Be present. Find solitude. Quit comparing. Choose stillness.



I hope that these tips will inspire you to embrace simplicity in your life, too. Maybe you’ll want to start employing one of these tactics for a slight change today. Or, maybe, you are all in, wanting to live more simply across the board. Whatever your journey, happiness can be found in the simple things. And you can trust me, because I’m living proof!  I’ll leave you with these final thoughts on simplicity, lyrics from Simple Gifts by Joseph Brackett:




‘Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

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