Would you be willing to accept a reduction in pay if you could work fewer hours to spend more time with your family? It is a lovely thought, but how realistic is it? Working less usually means earning less — hardly an option for most people.
But that doesn’t mean we cannot take small steps to simplify our complicated lives. A little bit here and there, and before you know it your efforts will add up to something significant.
Too much stuff leads to more stuff. And even more and more! All that stuff weighs us down and robs our joy and precious time because everything becomes so complicated. Getting rid of clutter is a cheap, fast and effective way to become physically and financially sound. It’s also the path to emotional and intellectual happiness. Dejunk your home one drawer, cupboard, closet and room at a time. Expect to experience a new feeling of “lightness.”
GIVE EVERYTHING A HOME
We know the rule: Everything has a place. Adhering to that ideal can be quite another matter. But truth be told, once everything has a home, it’s easy to maintain a clean and functional space. Cleanup is quick and easy because it’s simple. Whatever it takes to reach the everything-has-a-place goal will be so worth the effort.
Just because it happens to be a convenient time for someone to call you doesn’t mean it’s convenient for you to answer. Let your calls go to voicemail. Every instant message does not deserve an instant response. Telling your phone who’s in charge will greatly simplify your life.
RUN THE DISHWASHER ONCE A DAY
In most homes, the dishwasher has a tendency to fill up quickly. Here’s a workable routine that will bring simplicity and calm to your home: Every morning, after breakfast, run the dishwasher and then empty it right before lunch. Now you can put the dirty dishes from lunch and dinner directly into the dishwasher and go to bed with nothing in the sink.
Write down what you need to remember and forget everything else. Don’t allow your mind to dwell on things over which you have no control. You will never regret making this a new habit.
SHARE, LEND, BORROW, RENT
Part of the reason we have such a love affair with shopping and consumerism is that we think we need to personally own everything we use. Before you agree to complicate your life further with yet another possession, consider the alternatives.
STOP PAYING FOR CABLE
Due to hidden fees on top of basic service, the average household cable package is now $217.42 per month, which is more than the monthly average U.S. household pays for all major utilities combined ($205.50). Cutting the cable is a good step toward simplifying your life, and quite frankly, something you may never regret. With so many free or at least cheaper options, you might not even miss cable TV at all.
TAKE A BREAK
You may not realize how screen time is affecting your purchasing and lifestyle choices. If you are addicted to Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and television in general, taking a break will simplify your life. If you’re not willing to go cold turkey, at least disable notifications. Then limit the number of times each day that you check your various feeds. FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real thing that has no merit — a fake fear.
DRIVE A SIMPLE CAR
High-end, luxury automobiles are nice to drive but can complicate one’s life. Typically, they are gas-guzzlers and expensive to insure, register, maintain and repair. It’s a simple, totally doable step, but one that may take a while to achieve.
SELECT A PATTERNED CARPET
Light-colored, plush carpeting is beautiful but can be life-altering. It shows every speck, spot, fleck and crumb. If you want your carpets to look good without having to spend all your free time spotting, vacuuming, deflecking and uncrumbing, go with something speckled, patterned or multicolored.
GET UP EARLIER
The best hour of the day is the one right before you normally get up. It may take you a few weeks to truly enjoy that hour right before dawn, but when you create the habit you will be amazed by the simplicity that 60 quiet, stress-free minutes will add to your day.
Decide to be happy with what you have. The social imperative that we must consume to be happy breeds dissatisfaction and nonfulfillment. The constant ratcheting up of standards demands that we constantly upgrade in order to keep up. It takes a conscious effort to desire less.
Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, ”Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”