10 simple strategies to simplify your life
Wish your family was a little more like 'Little House on the Prairie' and a little less like 'Family Guy?' Learn 10 strategies to live the simple life.
This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News.
You probably know the feeling.
It's the one of the walls closing in on you because you have too much stuff. It's the panicky thought you're forgetting something important as you run out the door. It's the desire to somehow find that happy place where you envision you'll be the perfect parent with the perfect home.
With modern lifestyles pulling us in all directions and entire television networks devoted to creating home envy, it's no wonder we are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out by our busy lives and cluttered homes.
UCLA researchers even wrote a book on the subject, finding many families had garages too full to accommodate cars, backyards that are never used, and mothers with elevated stress hormones.
If you're ready to step off the hamster wheel, here are simple strategies to simplify your life.
1. Consolidate your accounts
It's hard to say no to the $100 bonus for opening a checking account when the new bank comes to town or to pass up the great sign-up offer available from the latest rewards credit card.
Before you know it, you could have a half dozen accounts at various institutions. Your IRA is in one place; your checking account is in another. Then, you have your mortgage, emergency savings and insurance products to juggle too.
Rather than have your accounts scattered to the wind, try to consolidate them in a couple of places. Pick one bank for your money and credit, and one company for all your insurance needs. In the end, you not only have fewer accounts to manage, you might also get better rates or terms for bringing more of your business to a particular institution.
2. Purge the paperwork
Consolidating accounts is only the first step. Next, you need to purge the paperwork.
That means signing up for paperless statements, which are now offered by nearly every financial institution. Then, with the exception of a few vital documents such as birth certificates and titles, you can scan and shred almost everything else in your filing cabinet.
For more pointers, check out this article with five tips for paperless finances.
3. Pay cash whenever possible
Don't underestimate the power of cash to simplify your finances.
Not only can paying with cash prevent you from overspending, it eliminates much of the stress of daily money management. There's no more remembering to save receipts and record transactions and no more worry about whether your card will be declined because the fuzzy math you did in your head isn't quite right.
4. Automate your life
Remembering to pay the bills on time can take up a lot of head space. Free yourself from the anxiety of getting the mortgage in on time by automating your finances.
First, if you're not being paid via direct deposit, you need to sign up if it's an option. Some employers will let you split your paycheck among two or more accounts. If that's possible, send at least 10 percent of your earnings to your savings account.
Then, use a bill pay service to automate your monthly bills from your checking account. Depending on your bank and billers, you may be able to request bills be electronically delivered and the amount due paid automatically. Otherwise, you can set up recurring monthly payments.
For expense tracking, skip the spreadsheets and use an app or tracking software such as our partner PowerWallet.
5. Stop buying more stuff
One of the core principles of simple living is minimalism.
The less stuff you have, the less time you need to spend maintaining, rearranging and obsessing over what you’ve got. Plus, when you stop spending, you have more money for saving or for splurging on those things that are really important.
6. Declutter what you have
As the UCLA researchers discovered, clutter can make us stressed. Putting a stop to your spending sprees will curtail the flow of new items coming in, but now you've got to do something with all the stuff you already own.
Before you run out and invest in yet another organizational system or storage unit, consider boxing up all the excess and shipping it off to the thrift store or the landfill. Or you could sell what you don't need. After all, simplifying can be good for your wallet as well as your state of mind.
7. Cut loose toxic and high-needs people
When we talk about simplifying, we need to discuss more than money and stuff. We also need to consider the people surrounding us.
Toxic personalities make our lives difficult. They steal our good days and put demands on our time and attention -- time and attention that could probably be put to better use elsewhere. Consider how many times you've gotten off a phone call with a high-needs friend only to discover you've completely lost your mojo to get anything done for the rest of the day.
Do yourself a favor and cut off the emotional vampires who are feeding on your positive energy.
8. Reconsider your commitments
Juggling multiple activities is much more complex than focusing on one. Simplify your schedule by reconsidering everything on your calendar.
- Do I need to do this?
- Do I want to do this?
- Can I delegate this to someone else?
- What happens if this doesn't get done?
In a world in which we wear our busyness like a badge of honor, saying no won't come naturally at first. However, one of the keys to a simple life is an uncluttered calendar.
9. Unplug at least once a week
At least once a week, put away all the electronics. Power down the computer, put away the phone and turn off the TV. Spend some time getting reacquainted with your paper books, an old hobby or your backyard.
Unplugging has several benefits, but when it comes to simplifying your life, it helps by letting you slow down. Electronics tend to be very "in your face." They can be loud, bright and engaging, and when you're constantly surrounded by them, it's easy to lose track of time and start operating on autopilot.
Give yourself some quiet time to contemplate something a little more meaningful than whether Justin Bieber should be deported.
10. Create routines
Finally, a simple life thrives on routine. Without it, you may find you waste a lot of time and energy wondering what to do next.
Don't confuse a routine with a schedule. A routine isn't set in stone with time constraints. Rather, it's a general idea of how your day will go.
A routine means knowing that you get up in the morning, have breakfast, load the dishwasher and go for a walk. It could also be paying the bills on Monday, shopping on Tuesday and doing your weekly dinner prep on Saturday.
Routines take the guesswork out of regular activities and, yes, make life simpler.
Are you ready to simplify?
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