Frugal Living - How To Live a Simple Life

a boy and his dog - (
a boy and his dog - (

Do you sometimes wish you could go back to your childhood, when you had no cares or responsibilities…living a comparatively simple life? Obviously, going back in time is just not going to happen. You’re all grown up, and you have all these responsibilities, and you need to act like a mature adult in a modern world.

Still, did you ever stop to think that maybe you’ve made your life more complicated than it needs to be? Perhaps you’re a hapless victim of rampant consumerism. Do all those gadgets and things really make a positive difference in your life? Do you really need them…? I mean, really?

What is it about consumerism that’s got our sensibilities in a head-lock?

Need versus Want

It’s apparent that the more ‘disposable’ income you have, the more manufactured items you seem to acquire. Ubiquitous advertising sees to it that you feel jealous or guilty about not having the latest, brightest, fastest consumer items.

What is also sad about this, is that even those with far less ‘disposable’ income, feel the need for what would otherwise seem like luxuries. It amazes me to see innumerable satellite dishes perched outside the apartment windows of low-income, social housing projects.

There seems to be a skewing of priorities here. Surely, eating healthy meals, adequate clothing etc. should take precedence over unneccesary expenses like satellite tv services and flat screen tv’s, and other entertainments. Mind you, I hate to deny these people their enjoyments, given their meagre existence.

However, we all need to re-examine our reasons (apart from keeping the economy going) for endlessly acquiring things we could just as easily do without. It really comes down to a matter of perspective, and finding ways to simplify your life.

Doing More with Less

We’re all searching for some measure of happiness in our lives. Unfortunately, acquiring material things isn’t going to do it. The pleasure we derive from these items is short-lived. They either get put away for some time later, or just end up taking up space, and likely thrown out after the ‘want’ has dissipated sufficiently.

It’s unfortunate that we’ve become such wasteful custodians of this planet’s resources. Take a look at all the clutter in your basement or garage. Ask yourself how this came to be, and why it’s taking up valuable space.

old computers - photo via
old computers - photo via

You need to have a serious purging. Have a garage sale. If some items are still in very good condition, sell them on eBay if there’s a demand for that sort of thing. Or just give stuff away to charities.

Instead of this endless cycle of ‘improvement’, perhaps you should sit down and re-assess what is most important, and whether you really ‘need’ something new. There’s no need to “keep up with the Jones’s”, as they used to say. You need to lose that insecurity, and just live your own simple life.

You might be surprised what happens when you step back from the consumerism you’re used to, and ask yourself these important questions. It may be helpful to imagine that you have a very limited income, and you really need to tighten your belt, and make some hard choices.

There’s also no excuse for getting yourself into debt. There’s plenty of stuff you can do without, if you just give it some serious thought.

Frugal living doesn’t mean being cheap

While getting rid of stuff is a good start, putting limits and sensible priorities on what you buy in the future is the next step. You don’t have to buy cheap, crappy stuff that’s going to break sooner..that’s false economy. No, you just need to do your homework before the next time you actually need to replace an item that’s not working anymore, or can no longer be fixed.

You should go about making a list of the things you need and use virtually everyday. I emphasized ‘need’ on purpose. When you step back and look at each thing objectively (you might have to try really hard), you’ll find a lot of those needs are actually wants, which eliminates quite a few things, right away.

Another area you can cut back is food. Depending on your work schedule, and how many children you have, you may think you don’t have time to make your own meals from fresh ingredients. It’s worth the effort though, for several reasons: it’s generally cheaper (sometimes a lot), and it’s far tastier and more nourishing and healthy for you and your family. If you can cook reasonably well, get your kids involved. You’ll be doing them a big favour, providing them with the means to be self-sufficient, once they leave the nest.

You could also prepare tomorrow’s dinner the night before, so it’s ready to pop in the oven when you get home, when you probably won’t have the energy. Keeping snacks and treats to a minimum is also necessary to stay within your budget. Not to mention keeping off excess weight, and staying healthy.

live simple - photo by Katy Brady via
live simple - photo by Katy Brady via

A change of perspective

You may have to dig deep down to discover the distinction between want and need. Some of your needs will be different than other people’s needs, while many are basic to everyone, so you should concentrate on the real needs first. After that, you can prioritize the wants, and decide what you can afford right now, rather than spending your way into debt all over again.

Yes, it will require a different mindset than the spendthrift hoarding that created the clutter, and probably the debt. After not too long though, you’ll find your stress levels falling way down, now that you don’t have to keep up with the latest and the greatest. You can relax, and just live a simple life.

Oh..and you’ll be happier too.

This article ©2012 by timorous+

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Your comments are always welcome 37 comments

Hub Llama profile image

Hub Llama 5 years ago from Denver, CO

Nice hub, Some very good stuff to think about. I like that you mentioned being frugal doesn't mean being cheap. You don't have to reuse tin foil.

Farmer Brown profile image

Farmer Brown 5 years ago

Purge, purge, purge! I keep stepping on too many plastic toys...but I'm keeping the Legos ; )

timorous profile image

timorous 5 years ago from Me to You Author

Quite so, Hub Llama. Frugal isn't being cheap, just making the best use of what you have.

F.Y.I.: if you wash the aluminum foil with detergent and warm water, right after you've used it, you can easily get it clean enough to use a couple more times before it leaks too much. Just sayin'. Thanks for stopping by. Cheers.

timorous profile image

timorous 5 years ago from Me to You Author

Thanks for commenting Farmer Brown. Oh...those darned plastic toys. Yes, it all becomes too much after a while. I'm not suggesting getting rid of everything, mind you...just restoring a balance.

sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago

That Tim, is what I would call sensible living. My husband has just switched over from his car and noisy motor bikes to cycling his way to office.. I would soon be seeing a healthier man and the bonus could be us saving a lot of cash that is spent on fuel... but the best part is he is enjoying his slow and pleasant ride to the office everyday. I guess all of us have to find ways of being less wasteful and learn to use our resources efficiently. Thanks for sharing this great hub... voting it up useful and interesting!

timorous profile image

timorous 5 years ago from Me to You Author

Wow sofs, thanks for the votes...and for stopping by to read my simple life article, of course. Yes, simplifying your life is not only good for your peace of mind, it helps alleviate financial burdens, and helps keep the planet's resources from being squandered.

Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

I'm all for keeping things simple, you're quite right frugal living doesn't mean being cheap and that's a good reminder. Lots to think about here and some great ideas, thank you for sharing and voted up.

timorous profile image

timorous 5 years ago from Me to You Author

Hey...good for you Movie Master. Thanks for taking in a few ideas about living simply. It relieves the stress on you and your financial resources. Thanks for the up vote as well. Cheers.

sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago

Hi TIM just noticed that it is your second hubbirthday! Happy hubbing and sending more inspiration your way! Have a wonderful day!

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 5 years ago from Northern California, USA

Excellent hub, and one that hit home for me. When my husband and I each earned six figure incomes from our jobs, we always felt like we were drowning and never had enough of anything. Plus, we traveled and had every comfort known to man. Yes, we had it all but we were not happy by any standard. Then, the economy turned sour and we both suddenly became unemployed at the same time. We were self employed and not able to collect unemployment compensation, so our income went immediately to $zero! Not being able to find jobs, we were forced into early retirement. We had to get rid of all our "stuff". We moved into a retirement community. We're living a simple life, growing our own food, living within our means. And, guess what? We're happier than we have ever been. Your hub made me realize that the simple life is the better life.

everythingdazzles profile image

everythingdazzles 5 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

Simple and green living seems to be becoming more and more popular. Hopefully everyone will take a lesson.

timorous profile image

timorous 5 years ago from Me to You Author

Oh gosh sofs, you didn't have to do everyone knows about my 2nd HubBirthday. Thanks buddy :) Cheers.

timorous profile image

timorous 5 years ago from Me to You Author

Thank you for your very pertinent comments Marlene. I'm sorry you had to figure out the simple life the hard way. However, your own peace of mind and happiness are the gift you receive. Who could ask for more.

timorous profile image

timorous 5 years ago from Me to You Author

I do hope more people take a lesson from this, everythingdazzles. It just makes no sense to continue to hoard things we don't need. Thanks for reading this.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

I'm very much in favor of this concept. We (In America) have been trained in a Pavlovian fashion by the media to be far too acquisitive. We don't need all this stuff--it clutters up our lives and gets us too deep in debt.

timorous profile image

timorous 5 years ago from Me to You Author

Hello Paradise7, good to see you. You're so right, it just boggles the mind, all the pointless trash that is produced and consumed constantly. Hopefully, this article will be a wake-up call for many people. Thanks for your comments.

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

Sound advice! Voted up and awesome! :)

tipstoretireearly profile image

tipstoretireearly 4 years ago from New York

Excellent advice! I agree with your idea that we can actually save money by buying higher quality products that end up lasting much longer than the cheap stuff. Its not just the upfront costs that count!

timorous profile image

timorous 4 years ago from Me to You Author

Absolutely, tipstoretireearly. Good stuff doesn't have to cost a lot. You just have to put more 'value' into the things you buy.

Thanks for the valuable comments.

Rehana Stormme profile image

Rehana Stormme 4 years ago

Great hub. Frugal living is not just for people who are short on money. Living frugal shows that you care about the environment, sustainability, the spiritual benefits of refraining from materialism etc. I think there's still quite a bit of stigma associated with living frugal. Some people think frugal living is just for 'poor' people, or that if they try to live frugal, people might think they are poor. Worse still, people might accuse you of being stingy when you're trying to be frugal. Once again great hub, frugal living is gaining popularity especially with those who want to live simple.

timorous profile image

timorous 4 years ago from Me to You Author

Rehana. Thanks so much for your insightful comments. I think you're quite right about the stigma. However, shunning that perception is part of the don't feel the need to live up to someone else's ideals anymore. You can take solace in knowing that you're much less stressed than those who would look down on you...and you'd be happier as well.

iefox5 profile image

iefox5 4 years ago

It is not easy to live a simple life in this bad economic, what we can do is relax ourselves.

timorous profile image

timorous 4 years ago from Me to You Author

Thanks for your comments, iefox5. Not easy..but far from impossible. It's a choice you make, sometimes out of necessity, but mainly for your own sanity, and a way of relaxing our expectations, and relieving stress in the process.

monicamelendez profile image

monicamelendez 4 years ago from Salt Lake City

I've made my life so much more complicated than it needs to be. I don't know why I have accumulated so much stuff. I need to seriously rethink my life plan. Thanks for a great hub, it really has me thinking.

timorous profile image

timorous 4 years ago from Me to You Author

Yes, it's quite easy to fall into the consumerism trap, Monica. I'm glad you've come to a realization. Now comes the slightly difficult part of purging the excess stuff, and living a more simplified lifestyle. You just need to stop and ask yourself the right questions, before you buy something else. You can do it. Best of luck to you.

g-girl11 profile image

g-girl11 4 years ago

Timorous, seems we share a lot of the same ideas! Your wants vs needs compares to my questions "is it necessary, is it useful?". And in the end, it's all about pursuing happiness! I will link your hub to mine "Less Stuff, More Happiness: Advice from a Rummage Sale Chair". I think they are a good pair!

timorous profile image

timorous 4 years ago from Me to You Author

Hi g-girl. Thanks for the link. I shall return the favour. I expect it will be a contextual link.

squid4life 4 years ago

I spent a good deal of my years traveling and enjoying life. The life of a sailor was full of activities, travel and light, light baggage. There was no need to accumulate stuff. In five years I will be retired (by choice) financially free and still have everything I want and my daughter's college tuition already paid. I still have a lot of friends "struggling" with mortgages for houses they rarely spend time in, kids they hardly see and services they barely ever use. Being frugal is not being cheap, glad you pointed that out. Being frugal has allowed me to be in position I am in today, 32 single mother entrepreneur no debt and over six figures annually of net income. Feels good to be this priviledge, God has awarded me kindly for all my efforts. Everyone out there thinking there is no end in sight to the struggle, take heart, don't quit, it took me 5 years working around the clock, it might take you longer or less but stick it out.

timorous profile image

timorous 4 years ago from Me to You Author

Hello squid4life. It's always great to hear from others who have decided that living a simple life is not only less expensive, as you have relieves the stress, big-time. Thanks for coming by, and sharing your story. Cheers.

ienjoythis profile image

ienjoythis 4 years ago from Nevada

Awesome hub! I'm new to this so I'm trying to read as much as I can.

I love how you pointed out that being frugal does not mean cheap. To me, frugality is filtering out the unnecessary to have more appreciation for the meaningful.

timorous profile image

timorous 4 years ago from Me to You Author

I'm so glad you enjoyed this, ienjoythis. Your comment was spot-on. Welcome to Hubpages and the supportive Hubpages community.

Michelle Ascani profile image

Michelle Ascani 2 years ago from Deep in the Heart of Texas

Very true. My family and I have been making huge changes over the past two years. When you start looking at it as not "spending money" on things rather "investing money" on things, the way you invest starts to change. Do I want to invest my hard earned money on the new iPhone when my older one works well enough? Most people these days can't understand the concept of good enough. I'd rather invest my time into my children instead of the tv. I'd rather invest my money into what will secure my family's survival instead of entertainment. There's nothing wrong with having some enjoyments, but investing in what will best take care of you for the long run should definitely be priority. Good article!

timorous profile image

timorous 2 years ago from Me to You Author

Hi Michelle. It sounds like you're definitely on the right track. Thanks for your astute comments. Cheers.

Joy56 profile image

Joy56 2 years ago

Enjoyed this..... Will take it on board

timorous profile image

timorous 2 years ago from Me to You Author

Thanks, Joy. I'm glad you enjoyed reading about and considering how to live a simple, or at least, simpler life.

MarloByDesign profile image

MarloByDesign 18 months ago from United States

Rated "Up". Great ideas that I will put to use and aim to declutter my stuff!

timorous profile image

timorous 18 months ago from Me to You Author

Thanks MarloByDesign, I'm glad I could provide some impetus to make a positive change in your life.

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