Living a simple life is not an easy task. It requires continued commitment to keeping your life simple and free from excess. Everything from physical possessions, financial obligations, and taxing relationships will need to be on the chopping block. Although difficult to execute, these six steps will bring many rewards and make you feel happier and lighter. There is something very freeing when you learn to let go of anything that causes you mental anxiety.
Step 1. Evaluate your actual needs.
It is amazing how often we use the word need when in truth it is a want. The next time you see something you desire and find yourself saying “I need this”, take a moment and ask yourself: “Is it truly a need or a want?” There are very few things in this life that you need.
The name of our blog Roof and Skillet at its inception came from a simple phrase to remind us that there are very few things in life that we truly need. Have you heard the expression “all you need is a roof over your head, a skillet, and a blanket”? If you yearn for a simple, uncomplicated life continue asking yourself to evaluate your needs.
When you find things in your life that is not a need, next, consider: will it make my life easier? Can I afford it? Will it increase my happiness long term? Does it replace something I already possess? If you can answer yes to these, it may be worth keeping in your life.
Step 2. Eliminate unnecessary expenses.
Do you have seemingly insignificant re-occurring charges to your bank account that is nickel and diming your livelihood? Do you subscribe to competitive services such as cable, amazon prime video, Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Sirus, Pandora, and various paid channels? They each seem small but when you add them all you may find a significant chunk of your paycheck is being taken on things you rarely use or could live without. Reoccuring auto payments are convenient, however, they also can blind us from how much financial hemorrhaging we may be experiencing. Take a look at how many duplicate services you are using. Can you reduce any of these to give yourself a much-needed raise?
Step 3. Set a realistic budget
Especially if you are new to budgeting, make sure to set a realistic budget you can follow. If you know it is a habit to eat out often, do not set a budget that requires only eating from home. Make sure to set your budget in a way that may be slightly uncomfortable and will take effort, but is a reachable goal. Budgeting takes time and practice. As you gain financial rewards, you will naturally want to find ways to tighten your money belt more and more. When you stop living paycheck to paycheck and living beneath your means, it is incredible how you can build wealth. Money in the bank provides a sense of security and relieves anxiety.
Step 4. Dispose of things you do not use.
Before you go pitching most of your possessions into a landfill, let’s consider the definition of “dispose”. To dispose of something means to get rid of by either throwing away, selling or giving to someone else. Selling possessions that still have value is a great way to begin an emergency or vacation fund. Ask yourself if there are any charitable ways that you may give something you do not need to someone in need? Disposing of unnecessary possessions by either earning money or by giving to someone in need will bring you a sense of fulfillment. There will be possessions that may not hold significant value or be of benefit to others. Before hauling them off to the dump consider recycling and other ways of disposal that do not tax the earth.
Step 5. Pay off Debt
By setting a realistic budget, and reducing unnecessary expenses, you will have extra money to pay off debt. The biblical principle of a debtor being enslaved to a lender is just as true today as when those wise words were penned. Many are enslaved to unfulfilling jobs due to debt. Imagine going to work each day, not because you had to, but because you wanted to keep increasing the security you have. Imagine, going into an interview for a job that you did not need. How confident would you be then? How much better could you negotiate your wage or time? If you were not financially dependant on your job, how different might your priorities be when it came to over-time? The only way to get out of enslavement faster is to reduce time served. Speed your way to freedom through simplifying your life.
5. Pursue your dreams
If you work hard to live simple and utilize your income to free yourself from dependency on a paycheck, you will have the ability to choose how much time you devote to work or pursuing other interests. Having the strength to let go of all the things complicating or weighing you down will make you feel powerful. You will no longer feel helpless.
Keep track of your progress in order to not get discouraged. It is not easy to live without the things everyone else has. Sometimes you may feel deprived or wonder if the sacrifice is worth it. Charting your financial growth is a good way to keep your self-pity in check. You are not missing out, you are building a powerful life that many will wish they had.
If discipline with money is new for you, find a course to help train you. I personally am a fan of Dave Ramsey. I love his no-nonsense style of speaking. There are many good teachers of budgets and goal setting. Follow the one that inspires you most. Keep with it.