The thing about a simple life is that it isn't easy. There is work and set-up involved in making a sustainable simple life happen. We all need to find a personal road map to make our simple living dreams not only a reality but one that can be maintained without drudgery. Use these tips to draw up your own path to success.
Get & Stay Out of Debt
It's incredibly hard to live a simple life on your own terms if you owe money to someone else. Money is a necessity in our lives but it needn't rule our every move and decision if we are wise. Debt is crushing on so many different levels and a huge roadblock to a simple life.
Get Out of Debt
Make paying off debt a priority. This can be easier said than done especially if money is just plain tight and short. Do everything you can to find a way. Cut expenses, sell unused items, pick up a side gig for a little while. Simply do the extra, probably anything but simple, things now so that the debt goes away and a sustainable simple life can be built.
Stay Out of Debt
Once debt is paid off (or if there isn't any at all) avoid going back into debt. This is easier to do than most marketing leads us to believe. Do whatever you can to avoid debt. There may come a time when a loan is an emergency need but try to build a savings and pay cash or wait whenever possible.
Start Building a Savings
Save whatever you can pull together. Look for ways to build yourself a reserve that will help see you through unemployment and/or unexpected expenses. Start small and find a local bank with a good reputation and a high interest rate and let your money grow.
This is the best way to stay out of debt and truly build a simple life. It's so much easier to know the funds are available when needed (even if needs are few) then stressing over how to make ends meet in the unexpected events of life.
Build your Supply Reserves
Start stocking your food pantry when you find good sales, are offered surplus from someone's garden, and/or find some wild foods worth keeping. Learn to can, freeze, and dehydrate and do so whenever possible to keep your pantry and your stomach full. A well-stocked pantry may be more valuable than money in the bank, so do keep yourself and your family well prepared for any emergencies with nutritious food in the pantry. It goes beyond food items, however; think candles, blankets, wood for heating, first aid items, batteries, and other items you feel necessary (toilet paper?).
This is not permission to hoard or clutter a home but rather simply encouragement to be prepared and frugal. These reserves get us through natural disasters (blizzards, hurricanes, etc.) and through those unexpected expenses. Eat from the pantry instead of buying fresh or new food at the grocery store for a few weeks to save up money or pay off a bill.
Get to Know Your Neighbors / Community
The idea of self-sufficiency is so very pervasive in homesteading and prepper communities. I think this an extremely hard ideal to realize. Very few folks can be completely self-sufficient and our ancestors were most certainly not – no matter how many folks try to assert otherwise. Our ancestors lived in and participated in community – whether in tribes or on the frontier – they relied on one another.
This doesn't mean you have to be best friends, it just means you have to know them and be kind. These are the folks we can turn to for bartering goods and services, who can teach us skills, and much more. It's nice to know that your neighbors might share from the cherry tree while you're willing to share from your strawberry patch for example. It's also nice to know that the neighbor might be able to teach you carpentry and you can teach him auto repair.
Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude
I know its corny, but it is true. If you have a positive attitude life is just plain easier. Life is much more pleasant if we are grateful for what we have versus pining over what we don't. In most cases it is our state of mind that determines how bad things really are, take a moment to realize how many people have lived through horrible levels of poverty only to say “we were poor but never felt that way.”
In all my years of simple living, gratitude seems to be the common thread.
Decide on Enough
Everyone has their own ideas of what is enough. For some of us, a tiny house off-grid is enough. For others we want to live in a bustling city. Still others want a small home on the edge of town, etc. Enough is a deeply personal decision and no one else can tell us what is enough. Make a plan for your own personal ‘enough' level.
Let this enough level guide your simple living priorities. Enough might mean not upgrading technology until something quits rather than because a newer version came out. Enough could mean having 1 car and sharing it or none at all if public transportation is available. These are examples but decide on what is enough and use that as a measuring stick for most every decision.
Plan, Prepare, & Dream
What is the simple life to you? What does that look like? There's no right or wrong, it's completely yours. Dream and plan and work on it every day. Bloom where you're planted and be grateful but keep dreaming and moving towards the simple life you most desire.
It won't happen overnight but it will happen. Take time to set-up and care for your dreams. A sustainable simple life is not only possible but doable without overwhelm or stress.