From the moment we got a job and start earning our first salary, we were told to save so we can have enough money to feed our family, and to buy a house and a car. We were designed to desire the best things in life and we were told to work hard so we can afford them.
As soon as we get our paycheck, we spend on clothes, restaurant food, travel and so many other things. Advertisements from TV, social media, and magazines scream to us on a daily basis that we NEED to get the latest gadget, the most stylish pair of sneakers and the celebrity-endorsed cosmetics. As a result, we work extra hard so that we have money to spend on things we think would make us look and feel good.
But what if I told you that you don’t really need that pair of shoes and the bag that goes with it? What if I told you that your mobile phone still works just fine, and don’t really need an upgrade?
If we could only learn how to simplify life we would be saving more money, time and energy. The money saved can be set aside as emergency fund or invested in ways that can generate income. The time and energy can be spent on meaningful relationships and on self-improvement. Not exactly easy to do since we’re all hardwired from birth to spend, and not to save. It took me a while to learn good habits to simplify my life, and it really helped me a lot. Allow me to share some of the things I learned with you, and hope these can help you too.
- Simplify Diet. Some people have the knack for counting calories and portioning food and, unfortunately, I do not fall into that category. For people who are always hungry like myself, it is difficult and taxing to have a strict diet to follow. I love rice and I eat rice everyday. To simplify my diet I wrote down what food to avoid and created a realistic routine. I don’t drink soda, don’t eat fat (what used to be my favourite part in adobo), and don’t add sugar to my morning coffee. I have a glass of fresh fruit juice twice a week and I drink at least 2 liters of water a day. That’s only 5 things – achievable and easy to remember.
- Simplify Saving. The first step is to build an emergency fund so that whenever the unexpected happens, you’ll always stay afloat financially. Get a life insurance, especially if you have dependents. You probably don’t think about retirement much because you think you are too young and you have all the time in the world. I hate to break it to you but it’s very important to save for it as early as possible. Pay off debts and spend only on things that you need. Avoid using your credit card as much as you can. Read about personal finance, learn about investments, do whatever you can to improve your cashflow and look for other ways to make money aside from your day job. It feels great to see your net worth grow each month.
- Simplify Travel. Planning your travel in advance can save you money and a lot of time. Decide how much you are willing to spend and save a certain amount per month – this way you avoid using your credit card. Compute everything you need to pay like accommodation, meals, public transportation and shopping, and stick to your budget. Take advantage of airfare promos. Sometimes travel sites offer good deals, too. Consider traveling to places where you can stay with a friend.
- Simplify Tasks. If we have too many tasks at home, we tend to not accomplish all of it, either because we are too tired after a long work week or we just don’t have enough time. I focus only on what’s important and I delegate the rest. I make sure to plan my meals and cook, dedicate some time for doing the laundry and organizing my closet and room. I am not a big fan of dusting so I delegate this task to Rod, and I hate ironing clothes so I hire a help to do it for me (go for the cheap ones).
- Simplify Wardrobe. Declutter your closet. Throw away or donate the clothes and shoes that you don’t actually wear. Create a minimal closet with plain colors and stick to a simple style. My tops and trousers go with everything, so I don’t have too many clothes. This saves me time and energy to pick what to wear to office everyday. I only have 1 pair of sneakers and 1 pair of flip-flops. I have 1 work bag and 1 weekend bag. To be honest, I don’t feel the need to buy more.
- Simplify Health. Exercise. Start by finding a park or vacant lot near your place to run at least 3km, then gradually increase the distance. Create a habit and let your body get used to moving your muscles and sweating. Exercise helps not only with losing unwanted body fats but also with relieving stress. Trust me, the quality of your sleep will improve, too. Schedule the check-up that you have always wanted to do – never take your health for granted. Cut back on desserts, alcohol, french fries and crisps.
- Simplify Relationships. Let go of friends whom you feel have not been supportive of your goals. Call your family to check on their health, ask them what they need, or simply just to catch up. Meet up and update your closest friends on what’s happening to you and ask how they are. Schedule a Skype call with your friends abroad. Tell your boss about that raise you have been dying to discuss with him. Tell your partner what annoys you instead of holding it back.
In a world where people are impressed by trendy clothes, technologies and sneakers collection, dare to simplify life. There is beauty in simplicity.