When you make the mindful choice to simplify your life you automatically start thinking of ways you can take care of yourself and become more self-sufficient.
Many think living simply means moving to the country to raise animals and tend to a large garden, and it can mean that but for most, it means taking control of your life, no matter where or how you live. It means making the best choices for your family and not relying on others to do what you have been given two hands to do yourself.
It starts with changing the way you think and learning how to rely on yourself.
Living a simpler life by becoming more self-sufficient isn’t hard it just takes a desire to take back control of your life and do for yourself.
- Do we need big houses? Our house in town was 2500 sq ft and cost a small fortune to heat and cool let alone the taxes on it. We have downsized to a 1400 sq ft house. Even though I have had to let go of many “things,” we feel so liberated knowing we have just what we need and all the “stuff” that surrounded us was only keeping us trapped in a lifestyle we wanted to escape.
2. Less is more
- There is something about organizing your life and getting rid of things that surround you that is liberating! Try it…don’t overwhelm yourself all at once but go clean out a closet or empty a drawer, if it has not been used in the last 6 months it is just cluttering your life and it is time to pass it on. Reuse…Recycle…Reduce.
3. Frugal living
- I grew up learning how to live frugally and those skills have carried with me my whole life. One of the greatest compliments my daughter gave me once was that I could look at an empty cupboard and pull a meal together out of nothing. My mother was the queen of that…how she kept a family of 6 fed still amazes me.
4. Cut monthly expenses
- Use only one phone service…choose landline or cell phone you don’t need both.
- Cut your cable back to basic service.
- Rent movies instead of going to the theater.
- Shop at second-hand stores…my daughter is a pro at this and even found a Coach purse for $2.50 that I am currently carrying!
- Only buy things when they go on sale. This takes some planning but if you watch the sale papers and have some patience your savings will be amazing.
- Limit eating out to special occasions if at all. I was shocked to see how much we had spent on eating out the 10 years we owned our own business. If we had saved all that money we could have bought our new house and paid cash for it.
- Use up leftovers…or replace a days’ worth of dog food with a leftover meal. Libby, our lab, loves those days the most!
- Stay out of the stores!
5. Eat seasonally
- Buying out of season fruits and vegetables is very costly. If you plan your menus around what is fresh and in season your cost-saving will be remarkable. I love to enjoy a strawberry shortcake dessert all summer long so in June when the strawberries are locally picked and at their freshest, I buy extra and freeze them to enjoy all year long. It takes some planning, but I always buy extra of whatever is in season and can or freeze for use all year long.
6. Debt reduction
- This has been top on our list. Like every other family in America, caught in the vicious circle of debt, we had some issues to deal with, as well. When we made the choice to live a more simplistic life we knew that our first plan of attack was to deal with debt.
- Create a 5-year goal and write it down. Ours is to Work Less – Live More!
In order for us to work less, we must be debt-free. Being debt-free will allow us to enjoy life more!
- Create a budget – know where your money is going.
- Start a payoff plan…we started by taking the smallest of our bills and added anything extra to it every month and in no time we had it paid off.
- Stop using credit!!!! You will never get anywhere if you are still charging. Cut up all your cards except one to keep for emergencies.
- This does not happen overnight and ours is a 5-year plan to have all our debt, except our mortgage, paid off.
- We try our best to be good stewards of the land we live on. It amazes me at the number of chemicals that get poured into our lakes and streams every day. It was easy for me to make the switch to green cleaning. I was worried at first with the results, but I have been pleasantly surprised at my new cleaning products.
- Before I started the switch I dug out a months’ worth of shopping receipts and found that, between paper products and cleaning supplies, I was spending well over $150 a month. I was shocked!!! Now I spend about $20 if that after my first initial stock up. The only thing I buy on a monthly basis is toilet tissue and green dish soap. I only buy the green dish soap since I have not been able to find a homemade alternative I am happy with.
- Replace paper towels with reusable micro-fiber towels and keep close to the kitchen sink.
- Replace paper napkins with cloth napkins kept in a cute little basket on the counter.
- Kleenex has been replaced with old fashion hankies. I loved shopping for these since I found some pretty ones at an antique store.
- Make your own laundry detergent. I used to spend about $40 a month washing clothes now I spend $10 and the results are great.
- Replaced fabric softener with white vinegar.
- A monthly box of baking soda and a gallon of white vinegar goes a long way in my monthly cleaning duties. The vinegar diluted with water in a spray bottle washes all my mirrors and windows. The baking soda I use to wash all sinks, toilets, and tubs. To clean the countertops I often grab the spray bottle of vinegar for a quick spray down. I keep a spray bottle of watered down bleach for quick spray downs of my sinks and counters if cutting meat and chicken. Bleach is the harshest cleaner I use and I use very little of it.
8. Recycle, Reuse, Reduce
- We all come from a wasteful society where throw out and buy new is normal. In our world, everything that can be re-used and re-invented is done so.
- Our biggest full circle is our compost pile where our scraps and chicken and rabbit manure are turned into rich compost that fertilizes our garden.
- Replace canning lids with reusable ones.
- The things I do buy that come in plastic containers get a second life by storing leftovers or sending goodie’s home with my kids.
- Rainwater is gathered to water potted plants around the yard and garden.
- Shop and donate to Goodwill.
- Give everything a second look before heading to the trash. It leaves an unsightly pile beside our barn but if something needs repairing most likely the fix is waiting in our reuse pile.
- Stop buying Ziplock bags and replace with reusable washable bags.
9. Reduce energy
- It is the little things that make a big difference.
- Replace light bulbs with energy saver ones.
- Unplug anything that is not currently in use.
- Stop using your dishwasher.
- Don’t use a dryer…find the heat from the sun.
- Plan your meals ahead and don’t rely on your microwave.
- Naturally, dry your hair when you can.
- Save all errands for one day.
- Have no TV days.
- Close doors to rooms, not in use to save heat or cooling.
- Have no light days…enjoy the flicker of an oil lamp.
- Replace electric clocks with wind up ones.
- Go to bed when the sun goes down…this is my favorite since I love going to bed early!
10. Learn to appreciate the simple things
- There was a time in our life where it was nothing to go spend $100 on dinner at a fancy restaurant, go on expensive vacations and spend way beyond our means. That has all come to a stop and we are ever so happy. Now we find our entertainment and happiness from sharing time with our family and friends at home.
11. Understand the difference between needs and wants
- This was hard for me to come to terms with. I now put myself through a list of questions before I make any new purchases.
- Have I researched this product and found the best price?
- Can I fix, repair or re-use the product I am replacing?
- Have I waited a few days to see if the need still out weights the want?
12. Be prepared
- As we strive to become more self-sufficient we are also planning for the unexpected.
- We have 3 – 10 gallon jugs stored under the house in case the electric goes out and we do not have access to the well.
- Bottled water for drinking is always in the pantry set back for emergencies.
- Our generator is in working order and always ready to put into service to keep the freezer and refrigerator working.
- Our pantry is stocked with staples that could feed us for weeks.
- The grills propane bottle is always filled and an extra is always stored away.
- Candles and oil lamps are a staple in our house.
- Our first-aid kit is readily available.
13.Here are a few more things you can do to become more self-sufficient.
- Learn to cook at home
- Learn to grow vegetables
- Learn about green cleaners and rid your home of harmful chemicals
- Learn to recycle, reuse and make do
- Learn to change your own oil
- Mow your own grass
- Learn to do basic home maintenance
- Learn to iron your own laundry
- Learn how to sew
- Learn how to give a basic haircut
- Learn how to do basic gardening
Turning from a typical American family who consumed too much energy, had terrible spending habits and thought enjoyment came from how many hours we could fit in a day…we have been reborn!