One of the best things to come out of the recent recession is a trend for people to go back to basics. Rather than a keeping up with the Joneses mentality, people are now embracing or trying to embrace living with less. It’s partially due to circumstances and partially due to the fact that there’s an intrinsic value to cutting back.
Here’s how to I am learning to live with less.
#1 Practice gratitude. Gratitude is a powerful emotion that fills our souls with an appreciation for the little things in life. Every breath, cracker, smile and ray of sunshine fills us with more vitality and life than a new car, a diamond ring or designer handbag. To begin to learn to live with less, spend some time each and every day writing down or at least contemplating what you’re grateful for. Chances your daily list will be full of the smaller, life-giving joys and simple pleasures rather than large material items.
#2 Give back. When we see people around us that have so much less than we do, it puts things into perspective. However, it’s very easy to not see these people. Seek them out by giving back to your community. Find people who need food, shelter, and clothing – the basics. Give them what you have to give even if it isn’t much – every little bit helps. Just going through your closet and donating items that you haven’t worn in a long time can put clothes on a child’s back or dress a person so they can interview for a job.
#3 Use the 30-day rule. When you’re contemplating a purchase, give it thirty days to think it over. Many times, you’ll realize you can live without it quite happily. Our tendency and habit to shop impulsively often fills our homes with items we really don’t need. Forcing yourself to stop shopping impulsively and to shop consciously is a huge change for many and a great life lesson.
#4 Create a budget. You’d be surprised how many families and individuals have no idea how much money they spend each month. This means your money is controlling you and it results in stress at the end of the month when the bills are due and your bank account is empty. Creating a budget is the first step to learning to live with less, because you ultimately know exactly how much you have to spend. It puts you in control of your money.
#5 Create financial goals. One excellent way to learn to live with less is to create financial goals. This changes your priorities from spending to saving. It doesn’t matter what you’re saving for, be it college, retirement, a vacation, a new car, an emergency fund – creating financial goals is essential to changing your mindset from a spending one to a saving one.
Of course, creating goals is only the first step; you also have to create a plan to achieve them. This requires a budget, and you need some system to track your success.
Learning to live with less is about changing your mindset. When you change your goals, control your money and appreciate the small things, living with less becomes an enjoyable, empowering and energizing process.