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17 Ways to Live a Simple Life and Find More Satisfaction

how to live a simple life

Living simply and frugally plays an important role in being grateful and satisfied. It may not be easy at first, but your life will feel a lot better.

Living frugally does not make you a cheapskate. Nor does it mean you are not valuing the luxuries afforded to you. On the contrary, living simply and frugally signals a new age of being more aware of your surroundings, the earth, your health, and your overall happiness. There is no need to overspend or waste anything when you don’t have to.

I’m not saying that you have to practice an extremist mindset by moving to a hippie commune and living out the rest of your days in a tree. All I’m saying is that you should change some things in your daily life to reflect the fact that you are aware of the perils you and the earth are faced with.

It is not just the environment that you should worry about; it is the disparity faced by the 7 billion people on this planet. Refugees are starving while you spend hundreds of thousands on a one-day wedding party. Where is the sense in that? Materialism, individualism, and the need to show off are cancers eating away at first-world societies.

17 changes to a simple, frugal and a happier life

Although you can’t stop it all even if you tried, you can make a small difference in the way you live your life because the saying, “a little goes a long way” makes complete sense here. Hopefully, when others observe you making a positive change, they will take it upon themselves to do so as well and, in turn, influence others to do the same. Here are 17 straightforward ways to live simply, be more frugal, and find more satisfaction in life.

#1 Don’t waste anything. The average person generates around 1570 pounds of waste per year. Head online and scour life hack sites for home recycling ideas. From transforming that scratched up old wok into a planter, to turning recyclables into green crafts for your kids, the possibilities are endless. This goes for food as well. Don’t throw out bruised fruit—make some homemade jam or fritters, instead. [Read: How to plan a romantic evening without splurging on things]

#2 Make your own products. You will be shocked at the number of chemicals used to make everyday products like deodorant, shampoo, lotion, and household cleaners. Making your own stuff sans chemicals is not only cheaper, it is also healthier. For example, instead of buying a little bottle of chemical-laden deodorant, make your own by mixing 5 tablespoons of coconut oil, 4 tablespoons of baking soda, and 4 tablespoons of cornstarch.

#3 Pick a new mode of transport. Gas prices may have gone down, but in the long run, it’s not doing the environment or your wallet any favors. Why leave such a huge carbon footprint behind, just so you can commute to your boring job? Instead of driving, choose to take public transport, get a scooter or bicycle, or walk. If you really can’t give up the comforts of a car, then carpool.

#4 Brew your own coffee. Paying $4 daily for crappy coffee is not worth it. You may as well wipe your ass with that money. Start brewing your own coffee at home and putting it in a flask. It will take a few extra minutes, but you will enjoy it more, especially if you opt for special brews. They may cost a little more than the instant crap, but overall, a lot less than what that chain store is charging you.

#5 Grow your own herbs. Herbs are outrageously priced and the less-costly dried ones just don’t taste great. If you’re blessed with yard space, take it upon yourself to start an herb garden. Live in an apartment? That’s no excuse, as even apartment living allows you to grow potted herbs.

#6 Switch off central air and heat. Central air and heat is an outrageous concept that does nothing but waste, waste, and waste. Turn off the centralized system and set it for individual rooms. If your system doesn’t allow for individual usage, switch to portable heating or cooling devices. [Read: 16 things you need to give up to have a much happier life]

#7 Eat out less. I adore eating out, but my partner and I only treat ourselves to a meal at a restaurant a couple of times a week. Eating at home not only saves money, it also lets you control what goes into your food. When you prepare your own meals, you don’t have to worry about an artery-clogging butter overload or infusion of cancer-causing artificial flavoring. Search online for healthy 30-minute and one-dish meals.

#8 Don’t plan your meals. Do not plan your meals in advance, because then you’re bound to a grocery list that’s set in stone. When I’m at the supermarket, I check out what’s on sale and mentally prepare a menu. Produce on sale is not a bad thing. It simply means that supply outnumbers demand and the retailer is trying to get rid of it at a lower price before it goes bad.

#9 Avoid malls. Malls are fashioned in such a way that no matter how focused you are when you walk in, you will end up buying shit that you don’t need. Also, you’re not a 14-year-old, so don’t treat the mall like a hangout zone. Only go when you know exactly what you want—or better yet, just shop online to avoid it altogether.

#10 De-clutter your space. One of the best ways to live simply is to get rid of unnecessary things. Organize a garage sale and make a buck or two selling off stuff that you haven’t used in eons. Understand that less is more, and that you should live your life in a minimalistic manner.

#11 Cut up your credit cards. Trust me when I say that credit cards are the devil. Cut them all up and switch to debit cards, instead. When you can only spend what you have, you will be more frugal and thoughtful about what you spend your money on.

#12 Plan your travels in advance. Living frugally does not mean you have to stop traveling. You just have to learn how to do so on a budget. For example, buy your plane tickets in advance during promotional periods. Opt for CouchSurfing and AirBnB accommodation options instead of hotels. Better yet, plan an adventure holiday that requires you to walk, camp, and not depend on spending a load of cash to have a good time. [Read: 15 reasons why you should travel at least once a year]

#13 Cut down on meat. I am a bonafide carnivore, but financial restraints have me consuming more legumes, vegetables, and tofu. I have to say, when prepped and cooked right, they are absolutely divine and very filling. Go vegetarian several times a week to save yourself hundreds every month.

#14 Cancel the gym membership. Get the workout that you need outdoors or from the comfort of your own home. Why bother with the treadmill, when you have parks and sidewalks open to you for free? Don’t use “I need weights” as an excuse, because there are a myriad of exercises that utilize your own body weight, also known as the best free tool that you have to get fit.

#15 Don’t buy presents. There’s nothing wrong with buying something nice for your loved ones, but don’t buy stuff for people who are not going to appreciate what you got them. Make meaningful presents for a fraction of the cost instead. Pick up a skill like candle or soap-making. You will save a butt-load of cash, especially during commercialized holidays when you’re expected to exchange gifts with every random person at work, the PTA, your hiking club, and so on. [Read: 13 easy ways to be a less materialistic person]

#16 Don’t spend money on entertainment. As much as I love the movies, there is no denying that it can get very expensive. A family of 5 has to fork out over $50 to watch the Minions mumbling away. Stream or download the so-so movies and save the cinema outings for blockbusters with super effects. You should also opt for free, yet fun activities, like hiking, picnicking, exploring downtown by foot, and so on.

#17 Get rid of vices. Nothing wrong with having a drink every so often, but consuming an entire bottle of wine a day will be sure to make a dent in your budget. Also, smoking is a big no-no. Not only will they kill you, they make you pay for them to do so. Literally.

[Read: 17 brilliant and yet simple ways to save money as a couple]

Some of these tips may seem like common sense to many of you but sometimes, all you need is a little reminder to actually do them. You will be surprised at how straightforward it is to live simply and be more frugal. In turn, this change will treat you to more satisfaction in life. Not only will you and your loved ones be healthier, fitter and happier, your bank account will be, too.

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Lianne Choo
Lianne Choo
Born in Singapore and raised in Malaysia to multi-racial parents, Lianne is a self-proclaimed travel and food junkie. Having traveled extensively around the wor...
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5 thoughts on “17 Ways to Live a Simple Life and Find More Satisfaction”

  1. Judith says:

    I only wish public transportation was a “simple” option. I’ve lived everywhere from huge cities to little towns, and really it seems that the bigger a place gets, the more complex and confusing a public transportation system becomes. In my biggest location, it took nearly three hours just to cross half of the city: and that was with a connection in the middle. Public transportation can definitely make your life a lot simpler, but things need a huge amount of consideration beforehand. If it’s at all realistic, people should plan where they live so that their essential needs (grocery store, doctors office, etc) are within walking distance and they’ll minimize the use of buses and whatnot altogether. Scooters are another thing I’m looking at more intently lately, but I haven’t jumped on one yet.

  2. Elena says:

    i wish poeple could understand the importance of natural resources than the artificial one’s. im a great supporter of natural things. we should be thankful to nature for giving us unlimitedv resources that are not only healthy but good for the long run. going is artificial one’s is a complete waste of money. cancel the gym membership when you can go for hiking, yoga, fishing, gardening and so on. grow your own herbs and vegetables that would be fresh and healthy. instead paying for coffee , brew your coffee at home and enjoy with family instead go and wasting money alone. you can save money and it can make a big difference. good article thumbs up

  3. Jerry says:

    I live a simple life. I have my own house, it’s just a small town house but I pay for it and I’m happy. I do not have any possessions that I don’t own. I keep my life hassle free as I can. I don’t have a lot of friends, just the friends that I need. I don’t have a lot of money and I don’t make that much but I earn what I need. I have simple wishes in life and that’s just to help others. My whole life started to change when I started to think about others rather than just my own self. I always thought that I had to be better than anyone in the office. I always thought that I would be the one to be successful, the only one. I didn’t realize until 3 years ago that I had to change my view of the world and the view of myself. I am not sharing anything with others and I have more than enough than what I need. I have been improving my life day after day after day ever since 3 years ago when I experienced the saddest point in my life. I didn’t get the promotion I thought I deserved. I saw some kids playing around the street and saw that they didn’t have a home and they got abandoned by their parents and they live at a strangers house that supplied them with food, shelter and clothes. I went to the stranger’s home and found him smiling while giving to the children. That’s where my perspective changed. He didn’t have much but he shared what he had to others. I had more than enough I got depressed over not getting the promotion that I wanted. That was just what I wanted. I didn’t think that I would’ve really needed the extra money or the extra accomplishment. Ever since that day, I’ve been donating to Mark, he was the house owner who gave shelter to the kids. He improved his house now and because of the extra money, we got more extra space for more abandoned kids and we made a foundation of our own. We settled the legalities and whenever there is an abandoned child, we care for him/her.

  4. Tasko says:

    I’m just that guy that’s just always “around.” They see me emerge from the cabin up onto the deck each morning for a cigarette as I start my day and contemplate what needs to be done next. They see me in the convenience store for my usual beverages and snacks or over at the bar for a meal if I’m too tired to cook that night. “I saw you workin on your….” and they fill in the blank with whatever part of the boat they happened to see me working on that day as they walked past, and maybe waved or shouted out a courteous hello, otherwise, they really don’t have any further details about me or the project at hand. They may have noticed that on Tuesday’s and Friday’s I am actually returning about the same time I normally wake up, but they probably don’t know that it’s because I go and climb a mountain those mornings. No, it’s not a major mountain, it has a trail, but it’s a good work out and when I get to the top I like to read a book series that I’m into at the moment, read my bible, and sketch. When I get back to the boat, it’s more work. Twice during the week, I go to a guys house and do his shopping, cleaning, and cooking. He’s physically disabled so this is helpful for him and it puts a few extra bucks in my pocket, although I tend to get easily frustrated with how much he takes advantage.
    Weekends are lazy for me, more reading, some EP time, sometimes some light cleaning if I need to, swimming, and of course, church on Sunday.
    I have a couple people that visit from time to time nothing consistent enough to call friends so I’m pretty much accountable to myself. I have my best friend that I keep in touch with everyday, but its more me keeping in touch than her, but it’s important to me, so I settle for her lack of many words just to be “around.” I don’t have a girlfriend, no children, my company is kept by two dogs and a cat. I’m just that guy who walks around with shorts and construction boots with no shirt on, working on his boat all the time. I look nice and approachable, and in fact, I am. Most people don’t approach people these days though, otherwise, I wouldn’t just be “just that guy.” I am a simple guy but not common.

  5. clutter says:

    I find myself to be ambitious and have just recently moved into a marketing role with high visibility, high responsibility. I’m always pushing myself to be better. In doing this, I’m finding the more clutter I shed, the more I can focus. The workplace I’m at now is completely mobile, no fixed desks. It’s forced me to abandon the last 7 or so years of managing a desk with all it’s bits and pieces. Then I’m trying to make what I carry with me as little and light as possible. I’m even changing things down to my wallet and what keys are on my chain. This carries over to home as well, where I am releasing myself of the weight of accumulated stuff over the years. Ultimately this has allowed me to worry less about managing so many things and to focus more on my home life, my work and career as well as the things that make me happy. This doesn’t mean I sit in an empty room and refuse to work or aim to be successful, it just allows me more freedom to focus on the things that are important to me.

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