Principles of a Simple Life

Our journey to try and live a simple life has been relatively private so far. Although I write about it online, comment on other's blogs about it, and occasionally tweet about it, we have not discussed it personally with anyone outside of our house. When our daughter first came home from college in August, I explained some of it to her, and she, on her own, had already started to to adopt some aspects of it; but we haven't had any family discussions about it either.

A longtime friend agrees she wants to declutter and downsize her home (seems to happen as you age and children grow). A co-worker wants to do the same and live in a tiny house, as soon as she can get her husband on board. I think my boss has a capsule wardrobe, but may not call it that, and I feel I would offend her by asking.

We feel it is more important to just try and live our views, than to explain, proclaim, convince or whatever. We have always been rather private people about these topics to begin with. My ultimate goal is to find peace in my life, while accomplishing what is important to me. While I might feel comfortable discussing bits and pieces with my friends and family, I doubt I would have a full scale discussion. If asked to explain what a simple life is for us, here it what I would say:

Appreciating the days the sun is still out when I come 
home from work. 

1. Awareness and Gratitude

Awareness is key. Even though I outline below how we live a simple life, it will be different for everyone. The key is to be aware of your desire to live a simple life and evaluate each situation to see if it fits your priorities. Being aware of your buying habits, when you need to say no, situations where you need to slow down and enjoy, will help you find joy, peace, and contentment in your life. For the past two months, I have been trying to practice gratitude every day. Being thankful and showing appreciation for the small things that go well during my day or make me smile, shows me how wonderful my life really is despite the minor messy parts that happen. And they do happen, but that is what life is.

2. Declutter - having less is more 

After years of buying small things that fit in our budget, and not really thinking about the long term effects of those small purchases; we finally came to the realization that we have too much stuff. After a first round decluttering of our main floor, we are slowly working our way around and around the house and garage to sell and donate what we are comfortable getting rid of. Since we never had piles of clutter to begin with, some people may not notice, but we definitely feel how calming the extra space is. We are cautious as our children are on the verge of moving out, and I don't want to give away nice items they will need. While I'm not at a capsule wardrobe yet, I am pleased with what I have gotten rid of and kept.

3. Value experiences over things 

Due to our ever changing income situations, we took very few "big" vacations. We did a lot of tent camping over the years, and now own hunting land that we can use year round, but vacations to other states just were not a regular part of our lives. Last spring, after our initial declutter and decision to only buy necessary items, we started looking for more experiences. My husband and I began a monthly date night on the day of our anniversary, and each month we rotate taking turns planning something ranging from Frisbee golf to new restaurants. We also had a very eventful summer that included being flipped upside down in the river during a whitewater rafting trip! This Christmas, we are planning a short, but probably expensive, trip to Chicago to celebrate with just our family. We can't continue at this pace, but we are definitely looking for more experiences.

4. Create simplified routines and processes

While I have always menu planned to some extent, I really amped it up this year and have a plan for a whole month to make my shopping easier, while ensuring healthy food for our family. On Sunday, I make lunches for the week for the same reason. I finally figured out I clean more often using cleaning kits for each bathroom and the kitchen. That way when I see something, I can quick clean it up. Changing my work start time has allowed me time to exercise right after I get home, something I previously couldn't regularly fit in. It took many tries to create routines that turned into habits, and not all weeks work out the same, but for the most part, I am happy with them.

5. Learn to say no to extra activities 

Weekends are largely free to handle chores and creative projects. Our calendar has work schedules, but rarely anything after work. We have never been a hugely social couple, preferring our own routines and whims to planned events. However, we have a few couples we do things with throughout the year. As I mentioned, this summer was getting pretty full of activities, and we actually turned down an invitation because we realized we could only handle one extra thing a week. This month, I chose a quiet evening at home for my birthday instead of a concert I would have liked to see because December is just too busy. We'll look for another concert in January when less is happening. We really value our free time and sometimes saying no is the best decision.

6. Accept the Good Enough

When I culled my clothes and jewelry, I really focused on the concept of "good enough". What I have to wear is good enough. Our kitchen dishes are good enough. Our furniture is good enough. Really, everything we have is good enough and fits our needs. We don't need to buy new because it looks better, or has new features. Once in a while we slip, but for the past year, except for replacing broken items or buying tools to fix them (namely cars), I can only think of a few new purchases to our home. This goes along with gift giving as well. My list includes consumable gifts for my birthday and Christmas. My husband's list has replacements and tools.

7. Pay off and avoid debt, keep your spending in check

This was a belief of our since before we got married. We kept our debt low by having a low cost wedding, paying off our car loans and mortgage early, and never carrying a credit card balance. The biggest mistake we made here, however, was buying too many little things that fit into our budget, but were not necessary. Our consumables take up too much of our budget and somehow we need to reign them in. We have a healthy savings account, but it could always be more in my opinion.

Despite meeting all these principles, lately I don't feel like we have a simple life. Overall yes, day to day - not so sure. In my next post, I will discuss the reasons why I feel this way.

What is the your one top tip for living a simple life on a daily basis?


  1. Loved this post. I completely relate to #5. I have learned to say no more than before, but sometimes I still find myself overbooked without the down time that I need. (These holidays are a good example of that!). These are really good points and a good reminder because simplifying is such an ongoing process. Take care. :-)

    1. Thank you Carina! That elusive downtime. Even when I don't overbook, life creeps in. I'm trying to evaluate my evenings to see if I can make them feel more spacious.


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