We live in a world that is full of “buy this now,” and “spend your money here” and of course “you absolutely must have this item.” It is also full of processed everything, high stress days and families struggling just to make ends meet. Luckily, how we live is the one area of our lives where we have total control so if you’re trying to find ways to save money, there’s no better way to do that than to live simply. Aside from saving money, there are several great reasons to live a simple life. It might require a few lifestyle changes on your part, but if you give it a shot, I’m sure you’ll find that these ways to live simply really aren’t as hard to put into practice as you might be thinking.
The whole idea of living simply is well; simple. At it’s core, simple living means to buy and own as little as possible and to be as self-sufficient as you can be. For some, this will mean giving up suburban life and making the decision to homestead. For others it will mean something different. For us, it means possibly traveling while we figure out where we want to buy then moving onto land and homesteading. Some will want to go deep into self-sufficiency and simple living while others will be happy making only a few changes. There are no right or wrongs in living simply. Do what is right for your family and don’t worry about what others might say.
23 Ways to Live Simply to Save Money
No matter how you choose to live simply, you will save money. Living simply means that you’re only spending money on things that you absolutely must so since you’re spending less money, you’re able to save more Not only that, but you will also find that you have less stress, and most likely be healthier overall. For my family, our health significantly improved once we made the decision to live simply. In truth, frugal (Six Dollar Family) living as a whole is living simply but a lot of folks seem to separate the two. At their core, simple living and frugal living go hand in hand and you can’t have one without the other. Minimalist living is essentially the same thing.
No matter what you call it though, you need to understand that living this way means that you live intentionally. You can’t go spend money on a whim. You can’t run out and cater to your wevery want. It does take work, but once you’ve started to live simply? The rewards greatly outweigh the work involved.
Make more homemade to spend less –
One of the first things that we did when we decided to really double down and live simpler was to stop buying and make as much as we could. We already knew that when we made things ourselves that my chronic health conditions improved. What we didn’t expect was the huge change in our personal budget. We now have a list of 200 things we make instead of buy that we work from. Some months we use more than others but overall we’ve saved $5,000 since we started making things on our own!
Reuse what you can –
In the spirit of buying less, reusing what you can to save money will not only keep you from having a cluttered home but also from spending money. There are a ton of things you can reuse to save money, but you will have to actively try to find new ways to use something at first. We are so conditioned as a society to toss and buy new that you’ll need to build a new habit before it comes naturally. In our home we love to find new uses for just about anything! We have new ways to use old towels, ways to use old sheets, ways to use coffee mugs, ways to use empty bottles, ways to use empty milk jugs and more! Each time we reuse something, we save money!
Grow what you can –
Growing your own food is not only cheaper but it is healthier too. Be sure to watch yourself so that you don’t end up spending more than you want to. Growing a garden on a budget isn’t hard but it is extremely easy to go overboard. You’ll need to decide what type of garden is right for you and then find an organic fertilizer recipe to help get things started. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be ready to start planning your garden and growing what you eat!
Get rid of what you can –
How much “stuff” are you storing just to store? If you’re like the average American family, the answer is a lot. Case in point; my family once lived in a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment that was under 900 square feet. Yes, it is plenty of room for three people but we had so much stuff that we not only had a full apartment but we had to rent a storage unit just to keep all of our stuff! It was ridiculous to spend $600 or more per year just to keep stuff we barely used! Once we took a look at the things to sell or donate and started getting rid of things, we were able to ditch that storage unit and save the money! Not only did we save from the storage unit, but we held a garage sale and made over $1,000 in profit!
Want vs. Need –
As I’ve already said, we live in a society that teaches us instant gratification. We want what we want and we want it now! Because of this mentality, we often give into impulse buys that can harm our personal budget and spend on anything that strikes our fancy. Knowing what the difference between a want versus a need is not only keeps things simple, but it also keeps more of your money in your pocket.
Get Active –
Most don’t realize how much your health impacts your budget, but if you’re unhealthy, you’ll pay two sometimes three times as a much for healthcare, medicines and more. That kind of defeats the purpose of living simply, doesn’t it? By default, when you live a simple life, you end up healthier. You’re using fewer chemicals, eating healthier and are leading a more active life. By being more active, you keep yourself healthier and since you’re not paying for being unhealthy, you’re saving money! If you’re having trouble keeping on track, there are quite a few apps that will pay you to walk or exercise in other ways!
Go Natural –
Speaking of your health, when you go natural, you’ll likely save money too. By eating organic foods, eating a healthy diet full of leafy greens, trying nutrition supplements, home remedies, essential oils and other natural health methods first, you may be able to avoid a doctor visit by keeping yourself healthier. As always, if you need to visit a doctor, but there’s no harm in trying to keep yourself from getting sick in the first place.
Ditch cable or satellite –
One of the reasons our lives can seem so complicated is because of the amount of time we spend in front of the tv. Not only that, but the cost we pay for that tv service and the sheer amount of bad news that the news puts out can add to that complication and stress. There are plenty of ways to watch tv online that don’t involve paying high costs or that bad news shoved down your throat so it doesn’t make much sense to continue paying for it. In fact, you can actually watch tv online for free with just a little bit of work.
Go prepaid –
Paying a cell phone bill of hundreds of dollars each month is one surefire way to add stress to your life. Instead, go prepaid and you will not only eliminate that high bill, but you’ll also eliminate the stress that comes with paying it. Living simply isn’t only about growing your own food and eliminating chemicals. It’s also about being at peace with how you live and trying to live as stress free as possible. For me, my favorite way to eliminate the stress that a $200 Verizon bill laid on me was to switch to Republic Wireless. While I had to buy a new phone, it was worth it for me since my phone bill dropped to only $15/mo after I made the switch.
Pay off Debt –
Debt is a huge stressor and goes against everything that living a simple life stands for. This means that you should work to pay off your debt as quickly as possible. There are tons of ways to pay off debt quickly that you could use, but really it boils down to simply saving as much money as possible then throwing it at your debts from smallest to largest. Keep in mind though that I am not one who will tell you to never a bit of debt. You need a small, responsible amount of debt since in today’s world, you need a credit score. Yes, I did just tell you that you should not be totally debt free. What I said though was not to go hog wild with debt and instead, be responsible about it, keep it paid down and only use credit when you absolutely need to so that you can build your credit score for a job or place to live should you need it.
Make more money –
They say that money can’t buy happiness and it can’t, but what it can buy is less stress and a more comfortable lifestyle. Just ask anyone who has spent weeks or months worrying about where the bills were coming from. If you’re dealing with the same issue, it’s time to do what you can to earn more money. Late fees can add up to hundreds of dollars per year and if you’re so tight budgeted that you’re stacking NSF fees on top of it, you could be looking at thousands each year. You could learn how to start a blog like this one, you could take a second job, you could start a your own side gig or you could earn free gift cards online. You can even earn cash online quite easily. Not matter what you do, if you simply don’t have enough money in your budget to provide for a stress free life, you need to do something.
Invest that money –
Once you’ve started earning extra money, use what you need to live on but if you have any extra left over at the end of each month, consider investing it. You could use a service such as Personal Capital to invest or you could go with a simple micro investing app such as Stash. The biggest thing is that no matter which you go with, you want your money to be growing.
Track your expenses –
Yes, I know this is a post about living simply, but again, your financial situation is directly tied to how you live your life. This means that you need to be tracking your expenses so that you can be 100% certain where your money is and isn’t going. It doesn’t matter if you use a free budgeting software such as EveryDollar or if you use pen and an account ledger. Just as long as you’re tracking them and you know where every dime that you spend is going.
Learn to say “No” –
This is one that I have problems with myself, but it is one that you will definitely want to learn if you’re trying to live simply. Saying yes to too many things and/or people at once does a couple of things that will keep you from living simply. First, it adds undue stress. We’ve already talked about how stress can keep you from living the life that you want to. Secondly, it takes you away from the things that are important to you. This could be our garden, your children or something as simple as cooking a healthy recipe for your family. Finally, it can cause you to spend money when you don’t need or want to. When you learn to say no to the things that don’t really matter to you, you free yourself up to say yes to the things that do.
Be more present –
When trying to live simply, you will need to learn to put down the phone or step away from the computer so that you can just be present. Living simply will help you to enjoy the life you’ve built but if you’re not present, you won’t be able to. Instead, you will walk around with your head in the clouds more often and when that happens, you spend more money. Learn how to walk away from things when you need to and just enjoy the places and people that you surround yourself with.
Get rid of junk mail –
Junk mail has a habit of piling up which defeats the purpose of living simply and all of those sales flyers, credit card offers and other pieces of junk that you are receiving can chip away at your bank account. Instead of letting it become a clutter issue and a potential financial issue, toss it as soon as you get it. Aside from that, there are several things that you can do to stop unwanted junk mail from even being delivered to your home. Ecocycle has a few great ideas to stop unwanted junk mail that can help you stop it before it starts.
Go digital –
Another way to stop unwanted paper clutter is to go digital where you can. This means going paperless for all of your bills, signing up for direct deposit to avoid paper checks and removing any paperwork from your life that you can. A lot of companies such as Verizon will give you a discount off your monthly bill just for going paperless. This is a great way to save money. If you’re worried about missing the billing statements, create an email that is specifically used only for your monthly bills. But with that said…
Clean out digital clutter –
Believe it or not, digital clutter can cause you to spend more and to be more stressed. If your email is cluttered, cleaning it out can save you hours of stress and money as well. When your email is cluttered, you might miss important due dates which could cost you late fees or worse. The folders on your own computer are the same way. Have you ever tried to ind a file on a computer that is disorganized?
Learn to recognize excess –
In our society today, we are taught that more is better but when you’re trying to live simply, you know that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Too much if something is never a good thing; whether it is chocolate, coffee, clothing and yes, clutter. By learning to recognize when you have an excess of something in your life, you can easily remove it. A good place to start is with this list of 100 things you can sell or donate right now. Chances are good that you have at least a few of these items in excess in your home.
Set goals –
I hate the idea of making a resolution each year but millions of people do. What I like the idea of is setting goals for yourself instead. When you set a goal, you give yourself the freedom to adjust that goal if needed and you give yourself something to work toward. A resolution does the same thing, but in a firmer hand so when/if you don’t make it, you tend to be pretty hard on yourself. Part of living simply is setting goals for yourself, your family and your home. As you set goals, make sure that they are attainable. If you meet a goal halfway through the year, Great! Reset it and go for it a second time!
Be intentional –
As I said above, living simply means living intentionally. This means doing everything you do with a specific intention in mind. Whether it is saving dollars, cooking dinner, working in the garden, cleaning your home or even something as mundane as what you make for dinner, you should try to be as intentional as possible. Doing so will allow you to only make decisions that you can stand behind 100% and will take any stress, off you, keep clutter from our home and ensure that you only surround yourself with things that help you promote your simple lifestyle.
Control your thoughts –
Finally, and this is the biggest tip I could give you about living simply, living frugally or really just at all – your thoughts can keep you from living simply and they can affect the rest of your life negatively as well. I’ve said before that your thoughts are keeping you poor and the same prinicpole applies here. When you think that your life is complicated, when you think that you’re stressed, when you think that you can’t do something, all of those things suddenly become true. Instead, keep your mind just as balanced as you try to keep your body and things will become smooth and yes, simple for you and your family.