Simplify Your Life
Amongst the personal finance tips I use on a daily basis, one that worked for me is to simplify your life. There were two things I learned about money when I was eight years old.
- Saving money was hard esp. when all you had was a small amount of allowance and your parents were a thousand miles away.
- I learned to simplify my life.
Self Money Trained
I had a roof on my head, food on the table and a bed to sleep on every night. My tuition fee was paid for and I lived with a relative whose house was very near my school. So I just walked past the three houses and there I was tucked safely inside.
Since I didn’t have weekends with mommy or daddy to go malling or outings, I learned to entertain myself. While most of my classmates had toys, dolls and gadgets in their homes, I wiled my time away staying glued to the tube watching Sesame Street, Voltes V, Thundercats and made up my own stories in my head. When no one was around, I’d do my own Sesame street one-woman show.
When I got bored with that, I read anything I could find in the house. Reader’s Digest, Archie’s comics, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys filled up a lot of those spaces. And there were moments I would wake up early esp. on Sundays and I would look outside the window and gazed at the clouds and tried to name all the animals and people and trees I could form in my mind. And well, when I wanted badly to talk to someone and pour out all the things inside me, I talked to God.
There were moments though when I wished I had extra money. That was when my allowance for the month had ran out and I wanted to eat this small chips and nuts that were sold in the grocery store near the house. Aside from that desire, I couldn’t remember wanting material things so much. Being away from home at a very young age I learned to value family and relationships more and being creative in finding ways to spend your time without spending much.
As I write this hub, I am now way past thirty and as I pause and reflect I can see that I am still very much the same as that eight year old. Here are four basic principles I’ve lived by all these years.
Live within Your Means
I have more money now than the allowance I used to have as a child. But I have learned to always live within my means. Let’s say you have $250 on hand, it would just be common sense to spend $250 and below right? Well, if you are one of those people, good for you.Please understand this is not about meeting your basic needs like food, clothing and shelter. I’m referring more to the kind of lifestyle you have chosen for yourself. I’ve sometimes observed how the choice of a fancy lifestyle complete with all the high tech gadgets of the times causes a person to frantically work so hard to keep up with all the expenses.
Identify Needs from Wants
A need is something you can’t do without. Food or water is a basic need. A want on the other hand is something you would like to have. It may be something enjoyable but it is not necessary in order for you to survive. Want vs. Need: Basic Economics explained very simply.
Are you a compulsive buyer? Our former secretary who was on a very tight budget would be noticed having new clothes and shoes almost every month. It seemed crazy to be spending on these things when her family needed the money for food on the table.
As a child, my basic needs were already met. So unless I needed a new pair of rubber shoes because my old one was too small for me, I wouldn’t be spending on a new pair just because the other kids were into wearing signature ones. As an adult, I find that habit still deeply ingrained in me.
Prioritize Needs from Wants
Try to list down all your expenses so you know where you spend your money. Then try to check where you could cut cost. I’ve observed how a friend of mine (after receiving her salary) would apportion her money: Needs, first followed by her wants. She would set aside a certain percent for savings, followed by payment for the bills, food and transportation budget. The remaining amount would be for things that she wanted like a collector’s item book. And if she wanted something like a camera, she would set aside a portion of her income and save up for it.
Simplify and Uncover Happiness
Most people would like to spend in order to be happy. Having a bigger house, getting the latest plasma TV, owning the most expensive car, eating in the most expensive restaurant, could bring happiness to the family. But what if this situation would also mean having to work harder to pay for the credit and mortgage bills used to acquire these things?
Define what brings you happiness. If we are able to find joy in the simplest and ordinary things in life, we may come to realize that we don’t need to spend so much in order to be happy.
Save money by simplifying your life. And then you can go and enjoy life more.
By: Michelle Simtoco
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Books on how to simplify your life.
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