- Personal Finance
Frugal Living - How To Live a Simple Life
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.
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.
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+