Many of us look around and wonder how we ended up with so much stuff. Sometimes I wonder why I spend the money on things that don’t get used much. There is a lot to be said for a little more simplicity, as many people have discovered during the recession.
It is possible to spend less money, and still live a full life. And, of course, just because you can afford something doesn’t mean you have to buy it. If you are ready to downsize your lifestyle, you can do so, with a little thoughtful planning.
EXAMINE YOUR EXPENSES AND YOUR PRIORITIES
Before you can downsize your lifestyle, you need to understand what you are spending money on, and decide whether there’s a better way to use your money. These are deeply personal issues that require honest evaluation, so take some time to evaluation your situation.
Look at all of your expenses. Do you like what you see? Is there any real reason for the spending other than the fact that you have the means at that moment? It also helps to consider whether you need what you are buying, or even want it. The first step in lifestyle deflation is to cut out unnecessary expenses, and stop buying things and experiences you aren’t really interested in having.
Next, consider your priorities. Decide what is important to you. If having access to all the sports games you enjoy watching is important to you, then it makes sense to buy the necessary TV package. But if you really don’t care to watch TV, having cable is superfluous, especially if you can get your favorite shows online. Decide what you want to spend money on, and cut out the things that aren’t really important to you.
DECLUTTERING YOUR LIFE
Another essential step in downsizing your lifestyle is to get rid of the clutter in your life. It might be time to clean out the garage, the attic, and all the little nooks where various items have been hidden for years. If you haven’t used something and it has been sitting in a box for years, maybe it’s time to get rid of the item. You can have a yard sale (and get a little extra cash), donate to charity (and get a tax deduction), or pass your items along to relatives and friends who might need them (and feel good about helping someone else).
Technology can make your life easier in this regard as well. It is often possible to find smaller, streamlined versions of what you have that take up less space. I’m working up the desire to declutter my life by getting an electronic reading device so that I don’t have so many books.
This is proving more difficult than I would have thought, due to my attachment to books. But if I want to downsize my lifestyle, it’s something to consider. Of course, the downside to this type of decluttering is that it can mean an outlay of money. So if you are trying to avoid spending as you downsize, technology might not be the way to go.
MAKING A PLAN
Finally, you need to make a plan for your money and for your life if you want to downsize your lifestyle. If your goal is to reduce the amount of food you get eating out, or via take-out, or in an expensive packaged form, you will have to engage in meal planning and make time to cook at home. If you want your family to enjoy simpler, frugal activities, you will need to plan ahead to make time and look for discounts. The same is true of budget travel when you go on vacation.
If lifestyle deflation is your aim, you will need to take the proper steps, setting smaller goals that can be achieved in stages. I might not be able to get rid of all of my books at once, but I can buy an e-reader and stop buying new books. My sister-in-law bought slow cooker recipes that she can use to help her with meal planning, allowing her to produce home-cooked meals without a great investment of time and attention, saving money and simplifying meal time.
Choose which aspect of your lifestyle you want to downsize the most, and start there. Then move on to other areas, and repeat the process. Before long, you will have the simpler, less expensive lifestyle you want.
This article was written by Miranda Marquit from MoneyNing and was legally licensed through NewsCred, Inc. Santander Bank does not provide financial, tax or legal advice and the information contained in this article does not constitute tax, legal or financial advice. Santander Bank does not make any claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in this article. Readers should consult their own attorneys or other tax advisors regarding any financial strategies mentioned in this article. These materials are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or endorsement of Santander Bank.