On Simple Living

Peter's picture

There are lots of labels out there for the different ways a person can simplify their lives: voluntary simplicity, simple living, frugal living, etc. Now someone who is a scholar of these ideas will tell you that there are distinct differences between all the labels. Frugality is different than Simplicity and all that. They may be correct but I try not to split hairs over deciding which label to place on an idea. The fact is, leading a simpler, more frugal, happier life will open doors that were hidden before. You'll have more security, less stress and you can feel good about yourself all at the same time.

Don't Deprive Yourself

One of the biggest criticisms of simple living that I hear is that people don't want to feel deprived. They want to be able to spend their money on the things they want. And I agree. Really, I do. One of the most important things to remember about simple living is that you should not feel deprived. You see, the secret is to sit back and think about what it is that you really enjoy doing. What are your passions? Do you love art? Yes? Well go sign up for an art course, buy yourself some art supplies, work at your art in your free time and go to the local art gallery to see exhibits. Now I can hear you saying: "But those things all cost money!" ... Yes, they do and sometimes they can be quite expensive. But, if you love it, do it. Done. The secret is to only do this for the things that you are passionate about though.

Eliminate the Chaff

You see, by figuring out what it is that you enjoy, you can also figure out what is less important to you. So things like the latest iPod model or the Super Deluxe digital cable movie package can be removed from the equation. And of course, if you love listening to music and you're current iPod isn't cutting it, then by all means get the new one. The same thing goes if you are passionate about movies. Just remember, once you decide what it is that you want to do, you should start cutting back in other areas. By doing this you'll have more money to do the things you enjoy and you won't have to feel bad about spending your money to do them.

Time is on Your Side: But There's Only So Much of It

I hardly ever watch TV anymore. I just don't have the time. Once you start investing in your passions you'll find that you just don't have the time for all the other -- often expensive -- distractions. For me, I don't see the point in getting the latest high definition flat panel TV and the biggest digital cable bundle on the block. I only ever watch a few hours of TV every month so I won't get any value from spending that money. That's the thing: we only get value from our stuff by using it. If we don't use it, it has no value for us. So spend your money on the things you enjoy and on the things you will use. Pass on the other things and you'll be amazed at the results.

Take a Look Around

So think about what it is that you love. Then take a look around your house or your apartment and see what examples you can find of things that you spent a lot of money on but nearly never use. We've all got them. I know I do. It takes some practice but after a while you will start to recognize when you are being temped to buy something that you don't need and won't use. You'll walk away feeling good that you just saved some money for the things that actually matter to you. And when you find something that you will love and you will use you can feel confident about yourself and you finances, and spend your money with a clear conscience. Less stress, more enjoyment, all wound up with a healthy dose of financial security. Enjoy it.

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