We live in a complex world. There are so many moving parts at any given moment, it is impossible to keep up with them all. Expectations are high, and so are living expenses. Our society is built on a framework that values earning capacity above most other things. We live in a material culture where status and worth are defined by our ability to accumulate and present our wealth for all to see. This conspicuous consumption is a large part of what leads to dissatisfaction and depression among so many and drives people to remain in careers that do not fulfill them for decades rather than take a chance and seek happiness elsewhere. Does this trap have to ensnare us or are there ways to get around the pressure to keep up, to fit in financially? Can we find and maintain more freedom? With some careful planning, the answer is a resounding yes.
There are so many ways to pare down your life in order to allow for expanded freedom. Freedom of time, freedom of thought, freedom from a broken system. We all have to work of course, every able bodied person must find a way to support themselves in life. But we do not have to subscribe to the unwritten rule that it’s six figures or bust. Still, the first key to creating freedom is to secure steady work. Whether this is in the form of a part time job or your own business, you must have a foundation, however modest, from which to build.
Housing is typically the highest cost for any of us. We all need a roof over our heads, someplace safe to call home. But we do not all need five bedrooms and three bathrooms. Of course the style and size of housing best for you depends very much on your family structure and particular needs, but consider opting for just as much space as you need rather than grabbing at as much space as you can get. Many families are joining the increasing tiny home trend. While you may not be able to squeeze a family of four into 450 square feet, you can certainly look for modest, more affordable housing. Of course if you are someone who is less tied down by the needs of a family, your options may be far greater. You may be someone for whom true tiny housing could work. Or you can look into communal housing or a roommate situation. Many areas are beginning to see community housing neighborhoods pop up in response to the increasing desire to live with less.
The preservation of resources is not only good for our struggling planet, it is good for your bottom line. There are so many ways you can cut back and make things more affordable not to mention more sustainable. While there may be a larger overhead cost at the outset, for the most part making the switch to sustainable options means savings in the long (even the short) term. If you are in a position to go all out, you might consider solar power. These days there are many options for becoming a solar household, some of which are highly affordable. Even the smallest changes can go the distance—rather than constantly buy plastic bags and wraps for food, invest in a set of sturdy, reusable containers. Pack lunches with reusable materials if you need to be someplace. Turn off lights and electronics when they aren’t in use, and don’t leave water running. The list of common sense things that our parents reminded us to do all our lives goes on and on. Turns out, mom and dad knew what they were talking about.
Whether you are just starting out on your own or a seasoned adult, making sure your meal prep skills are on point can mean huge savings. Learn to meal plan and shop for less. Buy ingredients rather than prepared foods. Make time to cook for yourself. If you have a very busy schedule, try to set aside a few hours on days off to prep larger portions to be set aside for the coming days. Learn to make bread or, if that’s just too daunting, invest in a good bread machine. Plant vegetables during the warm months and learn how to put them up for winter. Many towns allow for backyard chicken coops which can be a great way to move away from our ties to the grocery store and can even provide a way to make a modest income on the side.
Perhaps this all sounds like a lot of work. You may not be the type who wants to spend Sunday afternoon baking and stirring soup. The point here is that there are so many ways you can simplify your life in order to develop more freedom and the ability to live on less. There are so many resources out there these days to help you learn all sorts of cost saving tricks from simply clipping coupons to moving toward a sustainable homestead lifestyle. There is work involved to be sure, but if it gives you the ability to move more freely and spend more time working on the things you love rather than simply keeping up in the rat race, it’s well worth the time and effort.