The goal of a simple living lifestyle is not to live less of a life. Far from that. It’s to live your best life.
As a philosophy that encourages “less, but better”, simple living makes room in your life for what is truly important for you.
It’s about finding what you value in life, and spending more of your energy on it.
When we talk about “simplifying” your life, what we are really saying is cutting out all of the unnecessary stuff that gets in the way of you living your best life; following your dreams, and being in control of your time, money, and being.
The Budget For What’s Important
Too many people bitch and complain about the world being unfair, and how they are unable to follow their true passions. Yet, when you look at the choices they are making in life, where they are putting their energy, it clearly does NOT match up with their supposed dreams.
When you have a car payment, a large mortgage, shop for entertainment, and eat out all the time, you are signaling that you value consumption, not your dreams. All of these extra costs eat away at your budget and your life, leaving little room for your dreams.
The pie chart below illustrates what a mortgage for a $425,000 home, a new vehicle payment, and spending a little over a grand on eating out and shopping looks like on a $5,750/month budget.
But what if you had a smaller mortgage (or rent), no car payment, shopped for only stuff you needed? What would that do to your ability to follow your dreams?
The chart below illustrates what $250,000 home mortgage, less shopping, a paid off car, all on that same $5,750/month budget limit looks like.
When you don’t spend money on consumption of material goods or luxury, you have more room for your dreams. Maybe it’s founding a business. Starting a family (daycare isn’t cheap). Investing to become financially independent.
This is not a groundbreaking idea, but it’s something that is overlooked as lifestyle inflation takes over. Slowly but surely, our lives are overtaken by the stuff we consume, and we are left without the ability to follow our passions and values.
When you spend less, you can spend better. You don’t have to be a “normal” person. You can spend money on things that are important to you, instead of what everybody else thinks is important.
Your Time Is Valuable
How you simplify your time is just as important, if not more so, than your spending/consumption habits. When you waste your time dealing with people you don’t like and doing things you just feel “meh” about, you are not leaving room for doing things that are important to you.
You can train to run a half marathon. You can build a great garden in your backyard. You can cook and eat better. You can do a lot of things! But you can’t do everything.
Because our time is finite, applying a “less, but better” philosophy to your schedule is critical to actually accomplishing what you want in life.
You have to take an honest look at how you spend your time, then ask yourself, “Is this what I want to be doing with my life?”
Making sure your time spent lines up with your values is how you’ll create a more fulfilling life. This includes productive activities that move you towards goals, but also leisure activities that make you happy.
Learning to say ‘no’ to things that are not important, in order to be able to say ‘yes’ to things that are.
For me personally, I value my time being spent with my daughter, writing, and staying healthy. So I don’t watch TV or movies, or stay out late at the bars. I use my time outside of work on things I value, like my daughter or exercising, or just getting a good night’s sleep. I also value my leisure time, and will stop by one of the local breweries or sit by the nearby lake with friends.
I cut out the stuff that doesn’t bring me joy or move me closer to my goals, to leave room for the things that do.
Always applying a “less, but better” approach.