50 ways to simplify life

Four years ago we sold a large home, removing one of our biggest financial burdens, we downsized our family of four and paid off our cars as fast as we could.

We realized we were spending too much time working, just to pay the bills. The more we earned, the more stuff we ended up buying. Every storage space in and outside of our home was packed. 

So we began to simplify our lives. For a time, Kijiji became our best friend and we sold or donated 60% of our possessions. We stopped buying 'stuff' we didn't need. 

Bit by bit we've created a smaller footprint in this world. We implemented an in-out system; for every new item we bring into our home, we get rid of one thing.

So far we haven't missed the extra space, ornaments, rugs or toys. What we've discovered is having less material things has made us more gratetful. 

The biggest transformation we've seen so far as come from our children. It's incredible to see how little they take for granted now. In simplifying our family life, their expectations and sense of entitlement is changing. 

I love that my kids are learning how less can be so much more. And I love that they in turn, continue to teach me how to appreciate the little things and how truly extraordinary, ordinary moments can be.  

In a world where success is still measured by how much we earn, what title we have, what we own and other material things, we're discovering a different definition for success; one that embraces simplicity, less financial burden, more time with each other and experiences.

You don't have to get rid of everything you own in order to achieve these things. You can take it one step at a time. It's amazing how little things over time, become habits which lead to positive change in life. 

I hope you enjoy these 50 ways I've learned to simplify life:

1. Make a budget and stick to it, do this before anything else.

2. Automate your bills.

3. Save for emergency expenses and rainy days.

4. Pay off debts, get rid of credit cards if they don't serve you well.

5. Don't eat out, cook at home, or order in every now and then.

6. Turn off the air-conditioning in your car, open the windows, except on the highway.

7. Drive 10km slower, get better mileage and less wear and tear. 

8. Do most home maintenance yourself, except roof work :)

9. Convert your home's water supply to soft water and use half the amount of tooth paste, shampoo, detergents and soaps.

10. Run the washer on cold.

11. Don't heat dry dishes in the dishwasher.

12. Use your washer, dryer, dishwasher at off peak times.

13. Run your washer every other day instead of every day, hang clothes to dry.

14. Review all standing direct debits today and renegotiate better deals on everything.

15. Start walking or biking more and driving less.

16. Redistribute clothes for kids, they grow like weeds anyway.

17. Go to the library to get books and movies, my kids love doing that.

18. Find free entertainment, there's a surprising number of free fun events.

19. Reduce your data plan and be strategic about using free wi-fi, it's available everywhere.

20. Cut down on alcohol, yah it's a tough one, but you'll feel better in the long run.

21. Buy in bulk from Costco once a month (they have more and more organic food which is a plus).

22. Keep your bread and other food items in the freezer, they'll last longer.

23. Get rid of your landline. You still have one?

24. Drink more water, spend less on sugary drinks.

25. Organize more play dates at home, kids love to spend time at friends houses.

26. Twice a year, sell your clutter on e-bay, or organize a neighbourhood garage sale for charity. 

27. Carry a calculator when you grocery shop, you'll never go over budget again.

28. Plan all meals 2-3 weeks in advance and stick to it, it's a great way to reduce stress too.

29. Why use a gym; when you can workout, meditate, do yoga, or run from home.

30. Implement a "one in, one out" system. For every new item you bring into your home, eliminate, donate or sell one thing.

31. Travel abroad is amazing, but remember, there's so many awesome things to do in your own backyard.

32. How many magazines are sitting in a corner of your house? Time to get rid of some of those subscriptions.

33. Take a good look at the clothes you own, get rid of anything you haven't worn in at least 3 months or when you find something you love, buy it in every colour and you'll have less need to buy clothes that you never wear.

34. Make your own coffee or tea, stop buying expensive lattes. And if you're looking for a superfood to supercharge you, drink Matcha. You can get great quality at a decent price by getting refills from David's Tea (I'm not getting paid to say that, just a huge fan).

35. Meditate more, increase your focus and get more done in less time.

36. Limit iPad time for family to certain times in the week.

37. Turn off lights when you don't need them.

38. Make celebrations less about gift giving and more about getting together.

39. Go on picnics with friends and family.

40. Get smart about using leftovers each day, or get a dog ;) 

41. Use up spare change, you know you've got tons lying around the house.

42. Grow your own organic veggies, fruits and herbs in the summer months.

43. Batch together work meetings, do them in one go efficiently and save on time and gas.

44. Get rid of Cable, use Netflix and forgive yourself when you binge watch.

44. Plan fun outings and use gift cards before they expire.

45. Cut back on '1 item' shopping trips.

46. Eat less processed and convenience foods and more fresh.

47. Bring a gentle curiosity to why you may keep a lot of stuff, without judging yourself.

48. Be more present in your life, enjoy more of what's right in front of you. 

49. Go for mindful walks, do some conscious breathing, let your mind rest a while.

50. Consider why we may be more than just the things we own and the possibility that having less stuff may create more freedom.

It took me about 30 minutes to list 50 things we do to simplify our lives.  I know you can come up with as many more.

What are your strategies for simplifying your life?

What's your definition of success?

What matters most to you?

Share your ideas in the comments box below.

*Photo by Artem Kovalev on Unsplash