How simplifying your life can help you financially…
The events in the world in 2020 have taught us that nothing in life is certain, and that life can change in an instant.
If we’re open to what we can learn from this, we’ll have a new appreciation of the balance and the fragility of life – and of the structures we live within. Many people now have a new or heightened appreciation for what’s most important in life.
World events have also left many people struggling financially. Many people have lost their jobs and their income, and many businesses are also facing very difficult times. The ongoing effects of that are likely to last for some time.
Across the world people live in very different circumstances and with vastly different degrees of material wealth, and my suggestions in this article may not suit everyone. However, I hope you’ll be able to adapt them in some way for yourself.
Just putting into practice a few bite-size pieces of the following suggestions can have a big impact over time.
There’s never been a better time to throw convention out of the window and find a simpler way to live – and the amount of money it can save us can be significant.
3 ways to simplify your life and save money…
1. Live small – experience BIG
Having a house, mortgage, liabilities, debt and a demanding job to pay for it all can be a pretty stressful way to live.
Unshackling ourselves from at least some of that can be a bountiful experience. In my experience it helps us reconnect with the more important things in life.
I took this to an extreme in 2014 when I gave away pretty much everything, rented out my house and lived with just a hand-luggage-sized backpack for the next four years. It was liberating – and I saved a lot of money.
Wait – I know that’s probably not what you have in mind for yourself – but keep reading because the principle here is scalable and adaptable.
I was running an online business when I gave away all my stuff, and so it meant I could be anywhere in the world at any time. What’s more, because I did (and still do) a lot of house sitting, the whole experience actually cost me less than if I’d stayed at home.
Previously I’d had a house full of stuff – I could never actually get my car in the garage and every time someone came to stay I had to clear the stuff that was cluttering up the spare bedroom first. I could have saved myself so much money if I hadn’t bought all that stuff in the first place.
You may not want to take things to that extreme, but many people now are looking at (or being forced to look at) much smaller living spaces.
- Downsize to somewhere smaller and stop paying so much for insurance, property tax, maintenance, utility bills, furnishings, etc.
- The ‘tiny house movement’ has been popular in North America for many years and is now spreading worldwide. This video highlights one couple’s experience – you can see just what’s possible in terms of tiny living spaces, many of which are mobile.
- If you own the house or apartment you live in, why not rent it out and use that rental income to live somewhere smaller – or to travel.
Simplifying our living space can also help us build resilience – being able to see that we don’t actually need the size of dwelling we thought we did – nor the security we told ourselves it represents.
2. Do a physical declutter – and stop shopping
I remember being at a life coaching workshop some years ago, where we were all asked to make a list of all the (physical) things we wanted in life. Some people wrote down things like a helicopter, a Lamborghini, a big house with a pool, etc.
I remember it feeling like a really empty exercise to do – as for me personally there was no joy in thinking about acquiring all that stuff for the sake of it.
The state of the planet shows us what a mess our excessive consumerism has made. A world of excess also brings us nothing compared to the longer-lasting and more nourishing things in life. Excess does not equal success – and what are we really trying to prove by having a lot of stuff?
- Share things with your neighbours and your local community, e.g. lawnmower, tools, even your car. You’ll all save the cost of buying duplicate things.
- Eliminate cost altogether by realising what you don’t need to buy at all.
- Reuse and repurpose things – and use things for multiple purposes. You’ll avoid the cost of replacing things. Why not save money by growing herbs and salad on your windowsill too.
- Sell your stuff – and recoup some of the money you spent buying it in the first place.
- Give your stuff away – and know that you’ve made life a little better financially for someone else.
- Use public transport more – depending on where you are, it can save you a lot in parking charges. (I’ve also met some fascinating people by using public transport more.)
- Decide whether you really need a car – and whether you could save the significant annual costs of running one. It can save you so much money!
- What are you spending money on simply because everyone else does?
By reducing the volume of stuff you have you also start to realise you may not need the living space you have.
3. Focus only on what’s most important – physically and metaphorically
When I spent six weeks camping under a tarpaulin in a rainforest in Indonesia it meant living with only the very basics. Although it was hard at times, it was also restorative. There was no internet, no electricity, no running water and, of course, nothing to spend money on. I went to sleep and woke up with the light and with the sounds of the forest. It was magical – and also the best I’ve ever slept.
Of course, most of us aren’t going to routinely do something like that, but my point here is that when you start to get rid of the stuff you’re unconsciously ‘stuck in’ day to day (whether physical or metaphorical), you find yourself with a clearer picture of what really matters – not to mention an often euphoric feeling of freedom.
Very often we can’t see what’s important until we actually start to simplify our lives. We may just have a feeling that what we currently have hasn’t brought us fulfilment.
- If your online space is full of disorganised files and your storage space is full of stuff you never look at, get organised and get rid of what you don’t need. The delete button can be your closest ally. You’ll not only save the cost of digital storage and the cost of your time trying to wade through it all, but you’ll free up head space to focus on what’s really important to you. That extra clarity can make room for new ideas – and that could set you on a path to a new job or a new kind of work.
- What will you no longer tolerate? This could be commitments, people or things that drain you. Things will only change for you if you make the decision to allow them to. Clearing your life of things that bring you down can open doors to new opportunities – ones that can save you money or bring money into your life. So ask yourself: what – or who – is draining you financially?
- Use your circumstances to make you money. Tap into what you’re currently experiencing that could help someone else. I have a friend in the UK for whom lockdown was disastrous. She lost all her income and yet had a family to feed as a solo mum, and things were extremely tough, to put it mildly. She turned a terrible situation into the book, Alfie and Alexa, and that is now giving her an income stream.
Simplifying our lives and focusing only on what’s important can not only save us money but also bring richness to our lives far in excess of any financial gain. Life’s too short for anything else. What could you do today to start to make that happen?