Living on Less to Find Abundance: 4 Tips to Simplify Your Life.
My family and I were tired of feeling overwhelmed all the time, and we needed to make some financial changes. So we decided to simplify our lives. Here are four quick tips to doing it right.
We figured that the best solution to this was to learn how to live on less.
So we downsized our cars, slashed our bills, and are slowwwwwllllllly getting rid of extra belongings. At different moments, it’s been exhilarating, uncomfortable and fun. We’re rushing around less and spending more time together. We’re using less resources, spending less money, and enjoying each other more.
While the term “simplifying” may conjure images of people with questionable hygiene living off-grid in tiny houses, it can be much more subtle. For me, simplifying means trimming out extras. Whether it’s a radical lifestyle overhaul, the decision to declutter your belongings or your time, or to solely stop adding any commitments or belongings before getting rid of another, simplification can mean whatever you want it to mean.
The process is about deciding what matters the most to you, and whittling away as much of what doesn’t show up on that list as possible—so you can focus on whatever is most essential to you.
4 Ways to Simplify Your Life (and Get More Out of It!)
Here are four tips I’ve learned in my family’s process of simplifying life.
- Make a list.
What matters most to you? Your family? Your career? Your health? Getting out of debt?
Make a list of your top three to five goals. Now you have your focus. Everything else is negotiable—especially if it’s negatively impacting your goals. For me, I realized the most important things are my family, my work and my health. If I’m contemplating adding something to my life that doesn’t benefit any of those categories, I’m going to think twice about it.
2. Put everything else on the table.
If you’re ready for a big change, put everything on the table. The house that you love with a mortgage that’s got you in a chokehold? On the table. The car? On the table (not literally of course, unless you have a very large table). Exchanging Christmas gifts? On the table.
This doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of these things—but the exercise of contemplating making a drastic change can be profound. It can open you up to possibilities you haven’t considered. This can be scary—when I first considered downsizing my SUV, I was hit with a case of the what-ifs. What if I can’t haul six of my kids’ closest friends around someday? What if we go on a road trip and we’re not comfortable? When I really examined the what-ifs, they didn’t stack up.
I went ahead and traded in my car for a smaller hybrid, and the benefits of less environmental impact and less money spent on gas far outweigh the what-ifs.
3. Find your tribe.
Simplifying can sometimes be a lonely process. Maybe you’ve decided to save more money, which means eliminating your weekly dinner out with friends. Or you’re downsizing your house while your peers are upsizing, and you feel a little self-conscious. While it might seem like everyone around you is racing around spending money like crazy and rushing from one commitment to the next, there are plenty of people interested in a simpler, saner lifestyle. You just have to find them.
If you can’t find your tribe in “real life,” head to the Internet. When I connect with or read about other people trying to simplify their lives, I get inspired. Besides feeling less alone and being reminded of my reasons for simplifying (more time, less financial stress, a life pace that aligns with my personality), connecting with others walking a similar path is a great way of finding new hacks for simple living.
4. Make it fun.
When my family decided to cut back on our spending, one of the most obvious places was our restaurant addiction. To ease the initial withdrawal, we began cooking more, learning how to make new things. I learned to make homemade corn tortillas, which are surprisingly simple and approximately 239% better than the store bought ones.
Meanwhile my husband honed his skills at making amazing oven-baked French fries.
Another idea is to make simplifying a challenge. If you want to cut down on belongings, challenge yourself to see how many items you can purge from your home. Dare yourself to come up with a week’s worth of meals only using what’s already in your fridge and pantry. Declare certain days to be car-free days. Focus on making the process fun and you won’t feel deprived by the changes you’re making.
Shifting our family’s lifestyle and mindset has been a powerful exercise. In the process of cutting out what we don’t need, we’re finding out how much we already have.
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Author: Lynn Shattuck
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Jim DiGritz/Unsplash