Over the last few months, I have taken steps to simplify my life. I tried to figure out where my time was going and where I spent my energy, and find alternative ways of doing things so I could spend more time doing what I want to do. This has been very rewarding. Here are a few of the changes I have made.
1. I rarely use coupons and don't miss the time, energy and frustration that happened each time I checked out at the store. How about all the money I was saving? Well, I still spend the same amount of money. I skip most processed foods, except for mayonnaise and a handful of others I don't want to make myself. I don't buy crackers, chips, soda, candy or other junk food. It isn't in the house, so it doesn't tempt me. If I want something to snack on, I make my own crackers or cookies that taste much better and have no preservatives in them. I like knowing what is in my food. We also eat less than we used to. I still glance at the ads, but look at items like produce, meat, milk, eggs and juice. I make my own bread 99 percent of the time. I have started buying some organic items but have stayed in the same budget. I spend much less time shopping and go once a week to one or two stores at the most. I used to shop at 3-4 stores each week. I pass up deals all the time, but know they are out there if I want to take advantage of them. We eat healthier food and I stay in my budget and that is just fine with me.
2. I have decluttered my home and got rid of the stuff that wasn't needed. Maybe I will need it someday, but if I haven't needed so far then why would my habits suddenly change? If I can get along without it now, why do I need it to clutter up my house and make more work for me? I got rid of most of the clothes that didn't fit me. I know that the clothes in my closet are ones I like and wear. I spend less time cleaning and less time picking up and moving things around. I have gone through almost every drawer and closet in the house and got rid of tablecloths that aren't the right size, duplicates of items, and other things that just took up space. Our files are cleaned up and old statements and unnecessary papers are shredded. It feels good to be on top of things. It feels good to know that I can easily clean each room in the house and that things are in order.
3. I have started to me more environmentally aware. I used to buy lots of Ziploc bags and other disposable things like plastic wrap, etc. I used to get cleaners with toxic fumes for incredible prices. I don't do that anymore. I try to get environmentally friendly cleaners and have started using castille soap around the house for cleaning. I switched to baking soda and vinegar instead of my old cupboard full of all kinds of cleaners. I have more space and spend less money overall. I use containers instead of bags whenever I can. We have cut our trash in half, which means having to buy less trash bags. I don't compost yet, but if I did we would have even less trash. I try to use cloth rags instead of paper towels. It saves money and is better for the environment. I always thought I would spend much more money if I tried to do some things like this, but I find that even though some of the things costs more, I use much less than I used to and save money in the long run. I don't usually shop unless there is something specific that I need. I used to try to fit everything I could into the trash can before the trash man came. Now, I just toss my one bag for the week, and it is so easy. It is much easier to throw recyclables away, but we recycle regularly and I feel good about what I am doing. The amount that we recycle is much less because we are more aware of packaging and try to avoid those items. I look at what is in the recycling bin, and figure out ways to avoid having as much as we do, even though it is 1/3 to 1/2 of what it used to be.
3. I faithfully plan menus and try to be careful about what I buy so I won't buy too much of something before it goes bad. We have continued to garden because the produce tastes much better when you grow it yourself. It also saves money and we can freeze things to use through the winter and can things ourselves that taste better instead of having to buy them.
It is really nice to be off the treadmill of materialism and greed. Just because we can afford something, doesn't mean we need to buy it. By being wiser with our money, we seem to have more to spend on what we really want. We don't watch television and so we aren't bombarded with advertisements trying to sell us something. This may not be what others want, but I find that I am happy with our lives this way. Somehow we got caught in the "more is better", "bigger is better" attitude that people had, but we are happy to leave that behind us. People are what matter and not things. A bigger house means a higher mortgage and higher utilities and more to clean. I think it is worth it to take the time to find out where you time is going and where you money is going and what you are spending you energy on, and make sure that is what you really want. Everyone has different goals and has to find their own balance, but it is worth it to take the time to find out what you really want in life.
Have you tried to simplify things in your life? What are some things that you have done?