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.
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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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...