If you are wanting to start living a better life with less, there are a few aspects that you need to be aware of, along with the fact that this is not an easy feat. Living better on less money is a feasible goal and can be achieved through making diligent progress in your minimalist mentality and finding happiness in what you already have.
The following 12 tips can help guide you in your journey to living a better life with less money and becoming a happier and less stressed, version of yourself.
Live with one car
The first tip on this list relates to those families who have more than one family vehicle. If you want to live better but are living on less money, selling an extra vehicle is a quick way to make a tight budget cushier. Beyond that, owning a single-family vehicle cuts down on any gas, insurance, and tagging costs that come with owning a car, effectively allowing you to save money in the long run.
With the money you save from this simple change may be enough to buy you a newer and more luxurious family car. Even if you are unable to afford a more luxurious vehicle, you will still have more spending money in your budget. Even better, you can reduce any unneeded stress from having to worry about paying for two vehicles, gas, insurance, and service costs.
Eat simple and at home instead of eating out
For many families, eating out is the norm instead of staying in and cooking a meal. Unsurprisingly, eating out often is really expensive, let alone being unhealthy. While buying fresh produce and groceries often can seem more expensive in the beginning, you will soon come to find that you spend less money on groceries and meal prep when compared to eating out.
Besides being a healthier choice, learning how to cook and having a sit-down meal with your family is a great way to bond with your loved ones and can help create some of the best memories.
Reshape your thinking
Learning to love what you have and worrying about the things you don’t is a huge task and will not be accomplished overnight. To start living better on less money, you need to reshape your entire mentality when it comes to your necessities and desires. The biggest change that you should make in your thinking is to stop comparing yourself and your family’s life to others.
To be more specific, you must stop comparing yourself to others in general, this means friends, strangers, other family members, people you see on social media, anyone that you come across. Comparing yourself to others is not always as blatant as actually comparing financial circumstances and material possessions; in fact, it can be rather subdued.
To explain further, you need to become aware of the subtler comparisons that you make in daily life, including your own desires. For example, you want to go out and buy a new kitchen organizer because you have had your current organizer for years. Think about why you actually want this new kitchen organizer, is it truly because you need a new one? Or is it because you saw a Facebook friend’s new organizer that looks better than your own?
Becoming aware of comparing yourself to others is only the first step in reshaping your thinking to live better; you also need to learn to be happy with less material things in general. Obviously, this mental change is easier said than done, but there are positive aspects of living on less money that you should focus on. For example, instead of being disappointed that you cannot afford a larger coffee table, you should focus on the positives, such as having less to clean and keep organized and how these aspects will help you spend less money.
Finally, you should also remember to be grateful for the things you have in life, instead of being envious for those objects that you don’t have. Reshaping your thinking is a crucial tip that allows you to live better and save money.
Declutter your space and sell things you don’t need
Another great method for learning how to live better with less is by reducing stress and anxiety through decluttering your spaces. Not only can cleaning your home help relieve any unnecessary anxiety caused by a cluttered home, but it can also help uncover items that you can sell to make some extra cash.
Unsurprisingly, decluttering your home or office is a pretty daunting task, and can cause more anxiety if you are not prepared for the work. Thankfully, there are a few things that you should keep in mind before and during your decluttering process. First, you need to schedule a specific day for your decluttering task and ensure to only declutter one or two areas each day. Before starting the actual decluttering work, visualize what you want the specific space to look like after it is decluttered, make sure to reference this image while you are working to keep your end goal fresh in your mind.
If you are having a hard time deciding what objects you should get rid of and which you should keep, ask yourself if you have recently used this specific item. If you have not used it recently, you should get rid of it. However, if you have used it recently, ask yourself if this item is something that you can live without, and toss it if you can live without it.
Once you have decluttered your space, make sure to give each kept item a specific spot or “home” in the space. This way, this object will always have a designated spot in the room and will be much easier to keep track of when you need it.
Unplug from technology
While easier said than done, you may be surprised to find out how simple your life becomes after a quick unplug from your technology. There are plenty of ways you can unplug from technology, each with different levels of difficulty. You can choose to unplug from your phone completely by putting it on do not disturb and leaving it in a separate room, or you can choose to only unplug from social media.
One of the easiest unplugging methods is to restrict, or prohibit, your smartphone use around 1-2 hours before you go to sleep. Any blue-light screen that is shining in your eyes, whether it be a television screen, smartphone, or even eReaders, can greatly disrupt the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, and will diminish the quality of your sleep as well.
As everyone realizes, good quality sleep plays a vital role in not only a person’s physical wellness, but also their emotional and mental wellness, and can greatly affect all areas of life. If you believe your smartphone use is hindering your ability to get quality sleep, you are not alone, and would benefit greatly from a simple unplug before your bedtime.
Realistically, you should turn your sound off about 1 hour before bed and relax without any electronics by reading a book, meditating, or whatever soothing activity you wish to do. Around 10-20 minutes before you get into bed, you should turn your phone on “Do Not Disturb” and leave it in a room separate from your bedroom. If you depend on your phone for alarms, try to use an old-fashioned alarm clock to wake you up in the morning.
Cut back your workload
Another piece of advice that is much easier said than done, reducing your workload. We all know how destructive stress can be in life, it can make you physically ill, put a strain on your social relationships, or even mentally exhaust you. It has been stated that 8 out of 10 Americans feel overly stressed out, and this crisis is leading to more and more health problems.
For many who suffer from chronic stress, they feel like there is no feasible way to cut down on their stress load, especially when the majority of the amount arises from your job. With constant looming deadlines, it is apparent why many have become accustomed to chronically high stress levels.
It is surprising, however, to realize that you are able to reduce your workload and stress, even when it originates from your work life. Here are a few simple steps to help you learn how to reduce your workload:
- Step back – Take a quick 15-minute break during your day to step back and relax. Take a short walk, stretch, or simply breathe and detach yourself from whatever you are doing.
- Analyze – After you have come back from your break and feel more relaxed, calmly go over all that needs to be finished within a fixed time period.
- List – List out all of the pressing matters that you need to be finished, circle or note the most important items on your list and break them down into individual steps.
- Delegate – Delegate three specific things that need to be completed and work on those three tasks during the day. Then delegate the less important items on your to-do list for later periods, try to focus on 3-4 tasks a day.
This method works because it allows you to block off each important task that needs to be finished into more manageable sized chunks. This way, you can feel more accomplished when completing the smaller tasks instead of worrying about the important projects as a whole.
Reanalyze your priorities
This tip goes hand in hand with reshaping your thinking. If you want to learn how to live better on less, you need to step back and reanalyze your priorities. Contemplate whether buying the newest smartphone, videogame console, or other material object, is truly important in your life and worth the time to save money. Ask yourself if appearing more successful in life, such as having a nice car, is truly worth the added stress of working to exhaustion.
Think about what you value more in life, being there for your family when it matters or working day in and out, exhausting yourself with overtime hours just to afford the newest smartphone.
Spend more time with others
Another great way to be happier while living with less is to start spending more time with others, be it friends, family members, or members of your community. Learn to be happier without being connected to social media and other technology and make more friends with those that make you happy.
Instead of working countless overtime hours to be able to afford a luxury vehicle, try cutting back on your workload and spend more time with your family. When you surround yourself with people that make you happy, you will start forgetting about the things that you can’t have.
Rent instead of own
If you are going to a formal event and what to dress the part, including looking like you have spent a considerable amount of money on a new suit or dress, you should consider renting your outfit. Instead of stressing about the cost of buying a new outfit that you will only wear a handful of times, look into a rental service that allows you to rent an outfit for the event. This way you can still look polished and financially well-off, while still being able to save money.
Buy used instead of new items
Another obvious tip to living better on less money is to buy slightly used, or used items in general, instead of new. For many objects, such as electronics, kitchen appliances, and other costly necessities, buying a used version will have relatively no performance issues while still allowing you to spend less money.
Downsize your home
Going hand in hand with having one single family car, another way to live a better life on a tight budget is to downsize your home. While this option may seem unappealing at first, many find that downsizing is one of the best decisions that they have made. There is a plethora of positive aspects of moving to a smaller home, such as having less to clean and keep organized along with being more cost efficient, all of which can help you spend less money.
With the money that you save through downsizing, you may be able to afford having more luxurious appliances and nicer furniture.
Wash your clothes less
One of the easiest ways to save money is by evaluating how often you wash and dry your items. Surprisingly enough, there are very few items of clothing that require a wash after every wear, or even after 2-3 wears. The American Cleaning institute (ACI) has guidelines to help you decide how often you should wash your clothes, bed sheets, suits, and even towels.
The ACI recommends washing the following items:
- Bed sheets – Every two weeks, more often if you sweat a lot while sleeping.
- Pajamas – Every 3 or 4 wears.
- Bath towels – Every 3-5 normal uses. Towels must be hung up between uses to dry before they are used again.
- Underwear and socks – After each wearing.
- Bras – After 2-3 wears.
- T-shirts and tank tops – After each wearing.
- Khakis, dress shirts, and other outer clothes – After 2-3 wears unless visibly stained/
- Jeans – Can be worn 4-5 times before washing. Some sources, such as Levi Strauss & Co. recommend washing jeans as sparingly as possible.
- Leggings and tights – Should be wash after 1-2 wears.
- Pants, skirts, and shorts – 3-4 wears.
- Sportswear – After every wear.
- Suits – Dependent on the fabric, 3-4 wears for wool suits and 4-5 wears for synthetic suits. Suits should always be dry cleaned.
If you follow these guidelines for how often you should wash your clothes, you will start to see your water and electric bill decrease along with how often you need to buy replacement laundry detergent or dryer sheets. While it will take a little bit of time before you see your saved money, it will be worth it when you realize hoe easy it can be to spend less money.
In conclusion, there are ways to make your life better on a tight budget. Through conscious changes to your thinking and making simple changes in your daily routine, you will find that living a better life with less money is a very possible option.