When it comes to the way you live your life, simple doesn’t have to mean basic. And complicated definitely isn’t always better. In this article, we'll go over 7 steps toward living a simpler life that makes you happy!
A simpler life, defined
Living simpler means focusing on what’s most important to you. To do this, start by asking yourself the tough questions about your needs vs wants, and determine why you’ve added and held onto everything in your life. Keep in mind this isn't just about physical items, but also commitments, relationships, feelings, mindsets.
As you focus, you can use this opportunity to align your values with your choices and your purchases. The idea is not to chase after status or stuff. Instead, focus on being intentional. Figure out what feels right to you by ignoring the “shoulds” of society or what brings other people fulfillment. Essentially, you do you.
7 Steps to living a simpler life
With that being said, let's go over some practical steps for living simpler!
1. Curb your shopping habits
Almost all of us could simplify our shopping. You can invest in items that bring you joy or move your life forward in some way. Maybe that’s courses, good food, or trips. Whatever you decide to buy, always go for quality over quantity and timeless over trendy.
One way to kick those bad habits to the curb is to remove temptation. Unsubscribe from store emails, especially from brands you no longer want to support. You can always sign up again to get a coupon code when you’re actively searching for an item you need. That way you’re shopping with intention, not impulse buying because a flashy sale hit your inbox.
Remember that you don’t have to own an item in order to use it. For instance, you can borrow when you’re able. Public libraries have tons of resources beyond just books. There may also be a tool library near you, a borrow/swap app for your area, or people in your personal network you could share with.
There’s no need to buy and store something you’ll only use once (or even annually) when you could borrow and return it. This is a win for the environment too. Owning less equals a simpler life.
Yep, sometimes less really is more. The goal is less stuff, fewer commitments, less stress. You don’t have to go all-out minimalist, as long as you’re actively removing anything that doesn’t serve you. Some people follow the “one in, one out” rule, but beware: this might generate more wasted money and be less sustainable in the long run. Keep and add what you love; get rid of anything you don’t.
One of the best ways to declutter is to sell your stuff. Just be sure you don’t turn around and replace it with something you don’t absolutely need or want. This extra cash is money you weren’t counting on, so you can use it for a special treat, or for something more practical, like paying down debt or building up your rainy day fund.
If you can’t sell your items (or don’t want to bother with the hassle), donating or swapping are other great options. Avoid sending your old stuff to the landfill if at all possible.
3. Track your money
It’s easy to spend money here and there without realizing how quickly expenses can add up. Budget, plan and prioritize your spending by keeping the big picture in mind. Basically, keep track of what’s coming in, what’s going out, and what might come your way out of the blue so that you’re in control of your finances. Choosing certain areas to be more frugal is also a great way to be more mindful of your spending. This in turn will keep you on the path to living a simpler life.
4. Cut expenses
Be brutally honest about any subscriptions, memberships, and plans (like phone, cable, software, etc.). Cut these expenses out entirely or downgrade if you’re not using the full package. This approach is especially useful for people living on a low income with debt payoff or savings goals. There’s no reason to pay for things you don’t use, so keep it simple when it comes to recurring costs.
5. Manage your debt
Stop racking up debt. Your life will become so much simpler when you don’t have to worry about repayment plans and interest. If you can't afford to pay cash for an item especially a non-essential one, then just don't buy it. Living below your means can help you start dealing with debt.
6. Track your time
Time is one of our most limited assets, but sometimes we treat it like it’s renewable. Do a gut check about where you’re spending your time and how it adds to (or detracts from) your happiness and goals. Avoid the black hole of mindless social media scrolling and delete apps that don’t make you feel good, but take up your precious time.
While you’re at it, avoid multi-tasking. Do one thing well, then move on to the next task. Try batching similar tasks so that you don’t have to shift gears every few minutes. Your brain will thank you!
7. Prioritize your health
You only get one body in your lifetime, so make sure you’re taking care of it. Move your body with exercise that doesn’t feel like a chore. Clear your mind through meditation, listening to music, or reading. Get aligned spiritually. Eat whole foods and aim for good sleep. Prioritize time and money for all the things that make you feel like your best self.
Start living simpler
Life is not about keeping up with the Joneses (or anyone else!). And living simpler isn’t about rejecting your current lifestyle to become a digital nomad. It’s all about balance. Aim to live a more intentional, simpler life that brings you more peace of mind and gratitude.