Simple Living for Beginners

There’s a reason why middle income people stay middle income people instead of moving up to join the rich. The answer is: Stuff. That’s the reason why millions of people are stuck at jobs they hate, are afraid to use their vacation time and spend almost exactly what they earn. It’s because of stuff.

I came to this realization about stuff just in looking at my own life. My house is filled of stuff. Stuff I don’t need, use or value. It’s just there. I bought it at one point in time and it gave me a brief moment of joy. Okay a few days of joy for the lettuce saver.

My home is filled with stuff, well crap really and I had spent my hard earned money on it! Craziness….

For those you who are ready to take the plunge into simple living, here’s my plan:

1. You must purge

It’s not a pretty process but it must be done! All the clutter has got to go.

2. Develop a new value based shopping habit

You can’t shop the same way or else you will just have more stuff! So next time you’re going to buy something, ask yourself which of your life values it supports? (Click here for how to set your life values).

Then you must close your eyes, take a breath, relax your body and imagine yourself using this product. Really visualize it in your mind. Then come back to the present moment and notice, How do you feel? Are you smiling, feeling happy and relaxed? Or is there no change in how your body feels? Rate this feeling from 0 being no change to 10.

3. Reallocate your budget

If you don’t have a plan for your money, you will spend it Willy Nilly. Set three financial goals that you want to start working on right now.

Mine are:

Go to New Zealand: $5,000

Road trip the west coast: $10,000

Quit my job: $50,000

Set up your three savings accounts and title each one with your goals. Then set up automatic transfers out of your checking account a day or two after payday. Now your money has already been spoken for. And your work is done.

4. Find more ways to live simply

-Pay off your car and keep it until it dies

-Only go out to eat for a special day (our really special days tend to be random Wednesday’s and about every three months we’ll go out to our favorite restaurant and splurge) but I don’t go out to eat out of convenience, just when I’ll really appreciate the special treat

-Hang your clothes on the line so they last longer (dryers destroy clothes)

-Skip Starbucks and make your coffee at home

-You don’t need a “treat” everyday

5. Watch out for the busy bug

In western societies we like to be busy. Busy, busy, busy. We feel like we’re doing all the right things if we’re busy. And we avoid stillness because we wouldn’t ever want anyone to think we were lazy. So you get off work, and you gotta be busy, so you go for a run or go out for a beer. You meet up with your friends at the local pub. Before you know it, you’ve downed two beers, a few of Joe’s nachos and you’ve got a burger on the way. This is how we stay busy. And it includes spending money. Drop the busy, save the money.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in transitioning to simple living?

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