This summer marks the two year anniversary since I decided to change my life and quit my full-time job. My job paid well, but it was a stressful position, and I found myself longing for something simpler. I had very little time to do things I wanted and not nearly enough time to spend with my family.
After a year of researching and reading every list and blog post I could about people who had made similar decisions to quit their jobs to live more simply, I did it. Getting our first flock of chickens helped me make the decision because, when I first met those baby chicks, I knew I was supposed to be doing something different with myself.
After quitting my job, we could really feel the difference financially, and I was worried. Our income had been cut in half, and it was kind of scary. But, over time, we grew more frugal and self sufficient.
So, now, after two years of living my life more on my own terms and learning to live much more frugally, I have my own list of advice to offer those who may be facing a similar decision or just may want to live more simply. I hope this helps others. I hope you find one or two or six things that will make a difference for you.
1. See where you can trim your budget in small ways.
It’s amazing how much money you can save by being careful about the little things. We cut our cable. That saved us about $100 per month, and we don’t miss it a bit. Think about your own budget and where you can make cuts in small ways. I think those are the easiest to make because they don’t hurt too much, and they do add up!
2. Buy fewer things that last longer.
I’m a big believer in buying it once. I’ve learned from experience that I generally need to wait until I can afford something of better quality instead of buying a cheaper version and then having to but it again. This practice has saved us so much money, and it helps the environment.
3. Buy used.
I take advantage of Ebay, but there are many ways you can get quality items for great deals. The Bangor area also has a Facebook swap and sell group that features many great items. One way I’m able to afford more quality items is to buy them used.
4. Get some chickens.
If you can, get some chickens. If you like eggs, they’ll pay for themselves in egg production. Plus, you can sell extra eggs to friends and neighbors who are generally so thankful to have access to humanely-raised, fresh eggs.
5. Love your chickens.
You’d be surprised at how much perspective chickens can give you. They were life changers for me. I think our chickens helped me learn on an up-close and personal level just how awesome Nature is.
6. Repair broken things.
If you can, fix the broken things; don’t buy new ones. We’re fortunate in that my husband is a fixer of so many things. It saves us a lot of money
I’m still working on this, but it helps. If you want to live simply, get rid of the clutter as much as you can.
8. Find jobs or freelance work that allow you flexibility and fewer hours.
If your job is making your miserable, think about what else you can do to earn a living. You may have to start slowly. It took me about five years to get to where I could count on my side income as my main income, but it was worth it!
9. Practice kindness.
Just be kind all day, every day, as much as you can. Be kind to the grocery store clerk, the server, and just see how much it comes back to you.
10. Grow your own food.
This will save you money and make you healthier. Grow as much of your own food as you can. It tastes so good, too. Food that tastes that good has to be good for the soul.
11. Learn how to make something.
Making stuff just seems to be good for us. I learned how to crochet and started making scarves. I hope to learn how to knit. There’s so much satisfaction in making something on your own. Plus, as you learn how to make more things on your own, you can save money and even sell your craft.
12. Forgive people.
If you want to live your life thoughtfully and simply, just forgive people. It’s hard sometimes but better for you. You don’t have to be around those people, but forgive them.
13. Go play.
I’ve been working on this with my son, and I realized that I forgot how to play. But last week, I played by acting out a video game my seven year old made up. It was a blast. Remembering how to play can be life changing.
14. Make your bed every day.
I’m trying to do this to make things feel a little less chaotic for me sometimes. Plus, with dogs and cats running around here, it’s just safer. There’s nothing worse than finding a hairball in your sheets right before you want to go to bed.
15. Read a book.
I used to read for fun all the time, but I got to a point where I was working so much that I didn’t have time to read. For nearly five years, I didn’t have time to read anything for myself longer than an article. Two years ago, I went back to reading books, and my heart is happier.
16. Read a book to your kids.
One of the best things I do as a mom and for myself is read to my boys, and most of the time, we dig into longer books. I read to my oldest every night until he was about 12. I’m still reading to my youngest. It’s the best bonding experience we have, I think.
17. Eat the leftovers.
Save the leftovers. Eat the leftovers. It really will save you money. At least once per week, we get what I call a “free” meal because it’s just leftovers.
18. Bake something yummy and eat it.
The good stuff of life is in the small stuff. For me, that can be a delicious cookie or a piece of pie. I have to exercise and watch what I eat, but I’m never going to deprive myself completely of baked goods that make me smile. You can also share. Sharing is good too.
19. Volunteer in small ways if you can.
I’m such an introvert and so busy with our little farm and my work that volunteering can be difficult. But I learned from a wise friend that there are many ways to volunteer. Instead of volunteering at our local food pantry, I ended up donating our eggs regularly. The woman who takes the donations says it helps families so much to have the fresh eggs, and we keep more chickens to lay the extra eggs, which is good for my happiness levels as well. My husband was thinking maybe we need to cut back on the number of chickens we keep, but when he heard about how much our eggs help others, he said we could keep them all!
20. Make a list of things that make you happy. Do those things more.
When I was trying to decide if I could or should quit full-time job, I made a list of everything that made me happy in my life. I realized only one or two things were related to work, and they were things I could do as a freelancer. The rest were things like “have tea and conversation with my husband early in the morning.” We now that do almost every single day!