When we set New Years’ Resolutions, we tend to focus on how to enrich our lives further. Setting new goals, living a healthier lifestyle or travelling and adventuring more. Sometimes, there’s just as much benefit and opportunity to be found in setting goals which actually mean living and doing with less.
A core and often overlooked benefit of living more minimally is the financial freedom it brings to your day to day life. Even better, you don’t need to adopt a ridged minimalist lifestyle to benefit from the ways you can cut down and save more.
Below are the top ten ways you can reduce your consumption, based on key but simple changes I have made that had significant impact over the last five years.
Online Food Shopping
By moving to an online delivery, which we scheduled once a week, it made us prepare and plan our meals ahead of the shop meaning that we only bought what we needed for the following seven days. It also hugely reduced the ‘impulse’ shopping for treats that we tended to do when actually in the supermarket, especially if we were there when hungry!
If you online shop, you can set a clear budget, see how much your order is totalling to as you go along and also benefit from a lot of coupons and discounts supermarkets for e-orders.
Detox Your Subscriptions
If you have Spotify, Amazon Prime, Audible and Netflix then you are already paying out a significant amount for streaming services every month. Add in a phone contract, TV package and beauty box deliveries and you are nearing the average number of subscription services for a UK person in 2019.
This is great if they are regularly used and add a big impact to your life, but if they don’t, the costs quickly add up.
Once a year, we sit down and unsubscribe from everything. We allow ourselves to re-subscribe when we want to use the service. It is a good exercise to ensure everything you have signed up for is properly appreciated. You never know, you might not even realise you miss one once it’s gone.
Delete Delivery Apps
Getting fast food delivered to your home is easy, and often a quick way to feed yourself after a stressful day at work. However, one or two deliveries a week quickly can add up over a year. Easy solution? Remove the apps, unsubscribe from the mailing list offers and follow step one in the list (a weekly online shop and meal-prep) to reduce the temptation.
Demote Your Car
If you are able to quite easily, consider changing your car to a model that is similar in miles, performance and years, but with a different cost ratio. It is a really quick and easy way to build up savings if you are able to be in this position and are happy to ‘downgrade’ your car.
Borrow And Share
As a couple, one of the biggest spends in our non-essential outgoings is on books. We both love to read, and between us we get through at least 3-5 books and an audible subscription on a monthly basis.
One easy way to both live with less, and save more here is to lend, borrow and share books with fellow avid readers. We swap with friends often, keeping our shelves clean and our to-read list healthily stocked with new books. We also regularly visit the library, and buy second hand where we can.
Obviously there’s many times where we need to buy new, especially living abroad and away from our friends at home, but it’s something we are trying to avoid more and more.
Think about things you buy often for hobbies, and try and work out if there’s a way to both save and reduce clutter by sharing or swapping instead. Board games, books, recipes, baby clothes, there’s a lot of opportunities.
Find Peace With Older ‘stuff’
If it isn’t broken, then follow the old saying and really think twice before replacing it. It’s no surprise we regularly feel the need to upgrade the everyday items in our lives. Companies invest millions of pounds a year working out how to best to market us their latest models, seasons and versions of their products, so it’s almost natural that we are taken in by this clever messaging.
However, having the latest version of a product on average improves someone’s happiness for a period of just two weeks. After this, any effects from owning this new item rapidly diminishes. Why? Because there’s likely something even newer being released in the near future, or we come across someone else who has something better.
Key items we tend to upgrade regularly without much need include our phones, laptops, headphones, cars, designer accessories and home furnishings.
Try and find peace with your existing ‘stuff’ for a defined period of time. You may come to realise that you live quite happily without the latest products, and everything you do currently own is perfect for it’s job.
This is something I have really had to practice myself recently, after seeing how great the camera is on my husbands’ new phone. However there’s nothing wrong at all with mine, so I keep telling myself to wait and see how I feel in two months before making a rash purchase.
Unsubscribe From Emails
This is a big one, and requires you to set aside some time to make it happen, but it’s really valuable. Unsubscribe from all emails and companies whose primary role is to sell you more stuff.
If you want to get a great offer, you can always sign up again in the future, but for now it stops those free next day delivery, or 50% off coupons arriving on a Monday morning, which removes the temptation of buying more things you really didn’t need.
50% off £30 is still spending £15 you didn’t need to spend rather than an incredible half-off saving. Do yourself a favour and delete all the subscriptions and start afresh.
Plan In Advance
So much can be saved and organised with a little preparation. It can apply from everything to travel plans for a year, to decorating a room and meal-planning and preparation.
Carve out some time to schedule your annual leave and vacations for a year, and set up alerts for the best price deals. Plan your meals for one to two weeks, and then only buy what you need from the store. If you need to decorate a room, plan everything ahead of it from colours to furniture and even storage. This way, you won’t end up buying excess decorative elements or two sets of cushions as your mind changes as the plan progresses.
The more prepared you are in life, the more time you have day to day to spend on the things that properly enrich your life instead of these regular required must-dos.
No Buy Month
If you are really struggling with living with less, and feeling a little overwhelmed by the amount of clutter, storage and stuff you have lying around, consider taking part in a no-buy month.
It will have a great impact in both reducing excess possessions, in addition to boosting your savings at the same time.
Set yourself some ground rules before starting. Examples include food, hygiene materials, medicines and transport as excluded, but anything else ‘non-essential’ is banned for 30 days.
It’s a great way to reset and really break the habit of consuming for the sake of consuming. Something we are all guilty of time to time.
One in, two out rule
Perhaps if you are finding the above idea a little extreme, you can instead replace it with the one in and two out rule. It’s as simple as, any time you buy anything you don’t ‘need’, you have to remove two other non-essentials in the same category to make room for it.
For example, if you pick up a pair of new shoes in the sale, two other older pairs that you rarely use need to go. If you get home and can’t really part with anything, ask yourself, did you really need the new item as well? Do the same for your kids toys, clothes and much more.
It might help you break any habits you currently have and stop the slow over-expansion of stuff in your home.