101 Ways to Start Living a Simpler Life

101 ways

Deciding to live a simpler life can be a huge step for a lot of people, and it can mean some serious changes both in the way you live and in your mindset. Personally, I also believe there are various “levels” to a simpler lifestyle. One level of the simple life could simply be limiting how much you spend on things and cutting down your debt, living within or under your means. Another could be raising more of your own food, or limiting the amount of trash coming from your household. Maybe in the end you have the desire to go all in and start living a simpler life at a homesteading level.

For us, our desire is to do exactly that. Start raising and making as much as we possibly can and depending on ourselves for more things, rather than depending on a store. We also have a desire to cut down on our spending, increase our savings, and in the end we’d really like to be working non-conventional jobs and supporting ourselves. We aren’t able to accomplish that just yet, and maybe you aren’t either, but there are things you can do now to start yourself on your way to a more simpler way of life.

This is probably going to be one of the LONGEST posts I think I’ll ever write. I’m hoping some of what I’ve provided will give you ideas you can use yourself, in your home. The idea here is to cut down on waste, increase self reliance, save you some money, and simplify!


Food

  1. Cook at home and from scratch. I know, I know freezer meals and heat up stuff is super simple to do, but if you can’t pronounce what’s in it are you sure you want to be eating it? Eating out has also become a multibillion dollar business because of its convenience, it’s just simpler to run thru a drive thru and grab a burger sometimes, but those costs add up and they add up fast. It’s not only healthy, but 10x cheaper to eat at home. I’m not saying you should never, ever go to a restaurant again, all I’m saying is maybe save that for special occasions.
  2. Learn to love the cheaper cuts of meat, and store brands. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are cheaper than boneless skinless chicken breast. Buying a pork roast and slicing it up is cheaper than buying chops (plus you can make a smaller roast and some chops out of the same piece). In many cases, store brand products are typically made at the same place as the brand name they just put a different label on it. No kidding! Look into it!
  3. Butter. Do you have any idea how SUPER easy butter is to make? As long as you can find a quality whipping cream, and you have a mixer to save your arms, you’re in business.
  4. Bread. To me nothing smells as amazing as fresh baked bread. Recipes are everywhere, and run from being oober complicated beautiful braids, to my favorite throw it in and see how it turns out!
  5. Compost! Yes, even you in your small apartment can totally compost! A couple 5 gallon buckets, some worms, and your compostable stuff and you’re well on your way.
  6. Raising some of your own food. So you’re making compost, you might as well use it! Have a balcony or a big picture window? Tomatoes, peppers, peas, cabbage, there’s TONS of things that can be grown in containers. Or if you have some more land why not put in a real garden!
  7. Buy in bulk! Certain things, I know I’m going to use a lot of I buy in large quantities. I know we eat a lot of rice in our house, so I buy rice by the 25 lb bag instead of a bunch of 2 lb bags. This cuts down on the amount of plastic waste and the cost of what you’re buying as well.
  8. Eat simply. Every single dish doesn’t have to have a million ingredients, including the tears of virgin milkmaids. Simple food, with real ingredients, and some good seasoning. End of story.
  9. Keep an “inventory” know what you have and how much of it you have. Then “shop” at home with these items to plan your meals so you’re shopping less. Plus, if you know you have 19 cans of beans at the house, you’re not going to buy any while you’re at the store just to add to that number.
  10. Waste not, want not. So, you’re not at a point you can provide all of your food, so you still have to shop. Buy what you know you’re going to use. No reason for a cucumber this week? Don’t pick it up and let it go bad. Bulk purchases are great, if you’re going to use them, if not only get what you know you need. I stock up on some things, but I know they’ll be used. Meat, frozen veggies, flour, rice, black beans, peanut butter, yeast, some spices, and pasta, will always be on hand in this house. But fresh stuff, I sort out at the beginning of the week so little goes bad.
  11. Meal plan! If you’re trying to keep from buying what you’re not going to use, try setting up a meal plan. Then, when you head to the store you’ve got your plan, which will hopefully include things you already have on hand, and you’re only buying what you need to make it for the week.
  12. Shop sales and shop in season. These are biggies for us. I try and try to plan my life around what’s on sale and what we already have on hand. I tend to make my meal plans based on what’s on sale as well.
  13. Discount stores. Okay, so a lot of people look at me like I’m crazy when I say this. Here in town we have a “surplus grocery store” which is mostly dented cans and stuff that’s been frozen solid. Before I hit the big grocery store I check here first. 10 lbs of chicken breast at $0.79 a lb, gladly. Cans of pumpkin for the dog food for $0.50 a can, sign me up! I’m also guilty of shopping the discount meat bin at our grocery store. I’m extremely selective and everything gets frozen solid or used that day, but my God! I’ve gotten steaks for 1/4 of the cost with nothing wrong with them. Pay attention, use your brain, but you can totally save money here too!
  14. Left overs are one of my favorite things. Lunches, dinners later in the week, left overs are good for everything. And, in our case if something gets a little past it’s prime in the fridge, the piggies and the chickens are always looking for tasty treats!
  15. Learn how to preserve your own food! Dry canning, water bath canning, pressure canning, blanch and freeze, or vacuum sealing are all awesome possibilities. Even if you aren’t growing your own food, but you can support your local farmers, farmers markets and preserve that if bought in bulk quantities. My parents love to buy sweet corn by the bushel, blanch it and freeze it for future use.
  16. If you happen to be in a house with a yard, even just a small yard, check you county/city regulations and see if you can own a few hens (a lot won’t allow roosters at all). A good rule of thumb is two hens per person in your house, although in some cases even that may be too many. Chickens are relatively cheap to keep, can help diminish food scraps in your home, help turn garden beds, and will provide you with all the eggs and entertainment you could ever ask for!
  17. Try a solar cooker. I know, this sounds odd, but think about it. You can seriously make something out of cardboard and aluminum foil and use it to cook your dinner. Or you can make a more permanent one out of wood and an old window and use it to dehydrate food and herbs. I found the plans and directions for using solar jar cookers, basically a mason jar painted black, I really want to try out.
  18. Buy real food at the grocery store. Produce, meat, milk/dairy, are all located around the outside of the isles. The majority of the food in your cart should come from here, not the isles.
  19. So many foods you love from the stores and restaurants can easily be made at home for a fraction of the cost, with better REAL ingredients. Look around, the internet is an amazing resource to have. I’ve found everything from Cheddar Bay biscuits to iced animal cookie recipes that are amazingly close to what you buy premade.
  20. Invest in a large freezer. Trust me. Able to make a huge pot of soup? Freeze potions. Make a huge meatloaf? Freeze half. Boiling chicken leg quarters? Freeze the stock. I freeze literally everything. Then I always have premade meals on hand for those days I’m feeling lazy. I also create meals I keep in the freezer to be cooked completely from frozen either in the oven or in the crockpot. The time and energy this saves me is worth its weight in gold some nights.
  21. Go meatless one night a week. I know, this is another one of those things you’ve read over and over. But I mean it. It’s something we attempt to do as often as we can. We will never be a vegan or vegetarian household, and I know that about us, but we do cut out meat once, twice, sometimes even three times a week. Beans are my best friend, so are sweet potatoes, and both are cheap!
  22. I’m going to admit my weakness to you right here and now. Soda, iced coffee drinks, and energy drinks. I’m horrible with this shit. I mean HORRIBLE. I have an energy drink every single morning before I can function. I’m working on this. I’m trying really hard to work on this. But even when they’re on sale and $1 each, when it’s both of us as it has been that’s $14 a week, and when they aren’t on sale it’s $21, soda’s like $2 each, and those yummy coffee things can be up to $6 each. For health, money savings, and to cut down on buying in general I’m working on cutting these out or making them or something similar at home for pennies each instead and YOU CAN TOO! 

Skills

  1. Routines. This is one I struggle with but I know in my heart I need to establish. Set a routine for yourself and your family. Laundry day is Sunday, you bake on Saturday, dishes happen at a certain time, dinner happens every day around a certain time. A more organized life makes for happier people and an easy transition to the simple because you’re not feeling as over whelmed.
  2. “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Learn how to fix what you’ve got! Be it patching jeans, fixing the washing machine, or working on your own vehicle. Parts are always cheaper to buy than paying someone else to do the work for you.
  3. Be creative! You can create a lot out things out of what you already have!
  4. Create a resource notebook/binder/folder/whatever. The internet is an amazing resource and there are a million ideas floating out there ready to help you thru whatever may be coming at you. If it looks like something you can use at some point, jot it down and keep ahold of it!
  5. Sewing. Sewing is a skill I firmly believe everyone should know how to do. Boys, girls, men, and women alike. You should know how to sew something by hand, and how to use a sewing machine, even if it’s just for mending and not creating new. Although, taking old clothes and giving them new life is always fun too!
  6. Making your own vinegar. This is one I haven’t been able to experiment with yet, but I’m planning to. You can find recipes and directions for this in a million places. With the amount of vinegar we go thru around here, it just makes sense to make your own.
  7. Get to know the folks at your local extension office, they can be a HUGE resource. Have a pest problem in the garden and don’t know what it is? Ask! Need advice on plants that are hardy in your area? Ask! The wealth of information they can provide is unreal! They can also hook you up with other knowledgeable folks in your community. Master gardeners associations are usually run through the extension office, they’ll have seminars and classes at the office as well.
  8. Your local library is a HUGE resource most people forget is there. I’m just as guilty of this as anyone. Books, music, movies, internet, the resources from them are amazing. Even just being able to pop in and print stuff off is a life saver. Many local libraries will offer classes and some have job seminars as well. Get to know the librarian and use this resource religiously, that’s what it’s there for!
  9. Learn how to barter and trade. This is something I absolutely love to do! We’ll trade hauling a load of stuff to the dump for someone in return for materials we need to build things. Or I’ll trade eggs to a lady that lives down the street for homemade dog treats. You can barter your skills for someone else’s, or things you’ve made/grown for someone else’s. The possibilities are endless, but you never know if you don’t ask!
  10. Build a rain barrel! Even if you’re only taking care of a handful of plants on your balcony, you can still set up a small scale rain catch to be able to water your plants. If you’re worried about bugs in the water (like mosquito larvae) toss in a couple gold fish! They’ll eat them and keep the water bug free, plus add a little extra oomph to the water.
  11. Better yet, try watering with grey water( used water from sinks, the washing machine, and the shower). Especially in areas like ours where we don’t get a lot of rain. We’ve routed the water from our washing machine out into the yard to water several of our larger trees.
  12. Learn how to sharpen knives. A sharp knife in the kitchen is a must, plus you’ll be able to sharpen many other things around the home you’re going to need. Everything from scissors to work tools work better when they aren’t blunt.
  13. Know how to use basic tools and have them at home. Hammer, nails, drill, screwdrivers, tape measures, speed square, hand saw, ratchet and sockets, end wrenches, they’ll all come in handy in the end. And while I’m here, for the love of everything holy, know how to read a freaking tape measure, knowing it as “two tick marks past the 2” is not a measurement.
  14. Basic car maintenance, this will also transfer to a lot of equipment like mowers, tractors, etc. Know how to check the oil and other fluids, know how to change these fluids. And for God’s sake girls know where the jack on your car is and how to change a damn tire. It’s not that hard and it’ll save you when you least expect it.
  15. Learn how to start a fire. And I don’t mean one with lighter fluid in the BBQ grill. And actual fire, either in a wood stove or outside. Building a fire ring, being responsible when you burn, and learning how to cook over an open flame are always great skills to learn as well. Also, knowing how to light one without matches or a lighter would be a great idea too.
  16. Learn how to brew your own beer and make your own wine. This is something I’m hoping to tackle soon, and then I’ll be sharing recipes with you. If you’ve got property, plant some berry vines that can be turned into both jams and wines.
  17. Hunting and fishing was a huge part of my life growing up. Once I moved to Nevada a lot of that has sat on the back burner, but it’s an excellent set of skills to have. How to make a clean shot to ensure an animal suffered little, how to clean and process the animal yourself. Also, understanding the difference in hunting for food and hunting for sport. Sport hunting has always been a sore spot with me and it’s something I will not condone ever, if a wild animal is going to be killed, it’s going to be killed to feed my family not because “Oh my God I finally did it.” That’s not the way I was raised, so please no hate on hunting.
  18. Learn how to drive a standard transmission vehicle. I feel like this is a lost skill that everyone should have. You need to know how to shift!
  19. While you’re at it, learn how to ride a motorcycle. You never know when two wheel might be the best you’ve got and it helps to know what you’re doing before having to rely on it.
  20. Learn how to save seeds!
  21. If you’re going to be raising animals of any kind, you have to be able to tell when you need to call a vet, when you can handle things yourself, and when the most humane thing you can do is to put the animal down.
  22. Know how to administer medications to animals and the appropriate way to mix these meds. Wormer can be mixed with their water, some shots have to be given intravenously, some have to be given subcutaneously; know the difference and know how to do so on your own. AS well as how to treat cuts and disinfect as well.

Money

  1. Figure out what you do and don’t need and what you can get rid of. I’m not talking about things here, I’m talking about bills. Do you pay every month for a gym membership, but you don’t use it as often as you’d like? Maybe you can find a treadmill for cheap or just start walking around the block instead? Cutting down on your level of car insurance could be an option as well. Adding towing on our plan was an additional $18 a month, but we already had towing through a service plan so why have it twice? Check thru your bills and see if there are things you can down grade or even get rid of completely!
  2. Get yourself out of debt and start building a savings. We’re still working here, but it’s something that should be important to everyone. Living within your means, not using credit for splurge purchases. Instead, find a savings system that works for you and create a savings that will give you enough to cushion to fall back on in case something were to happen.
  3. GET RID OF CABLE! Personally, I’d never had cable or satellite TV at home until I was 22, so it’s not something I would have ever missed. For us, we still don’t have cable tv at home, and we don’t have Netflix either. Instead we found an application for my tablet called Showbox. It’s completely free to download and you can get movies sometimes before they come out in theatre and tv shows the day after they air. We spent $40 and got a Chromecast from Wally’s to be able to show everything on the TV and it works perfect for us!
  4. Downsize. This one is a biggie for us. We could easily afford the rent on a larger house, but why? It’s just the two of us, we rarely ever have anyone staying with us, so currently our house is only 600 square feet. Yup, you read that right, 600 square feet. We’re also in the process of downsizing our vehicles. We have my Ranger, the Suburban, the flatbed work truck, a jeep, a boat, and a Harley. That’s 6 vehicles… why we need that many is beyond me, so we’re selling!
  5. Buy used for your bigger purchases! My Suburban, the jeep, the boat, the work truck, they all came from craigslist. We bought them outright, cash in hand and owe nothing on our cars which makes me feel awesome.
  6. Buy Used cont.- yeah, yeah, I could have put all of this together,      but do you have any idea the things you can get used? My favorite was our water heater. New it was around $500, we bought a used tank put in new thermostats and elements, and had $55 in ours! Before you buy anything, from clothes, to electronics, to tools and equipment, looks at USED! Yard Sales, thrift stores, and online pages can be your best friend!
  7. Start Using Cash Again and create a budget! Create a budget and stick to it! We have our bills electronic and pulled directly out of the account, savings goes into the account, and what we can spare gets pulled out in cash and used for groceries, gas, fun, and anything else we need to do! Cash keeps us from over spending and keeps us out of our cushion.
  8. While you’re at it, make a change jar. You’re going to start paying in cash again, which means you’ll get change back. I always keep a small amount of change on me, that way I can try to make exact change in some places. However, I have a can at home that sits on a shelf in our kitchen. When I clean out pockets before laundry, it all goes in the jar. This means we always have change around, and at a later date it can be cashed in for bills!
  9. Plan your trips to save on gas! For us now, we live super close to everything which has been hell on me. Any little thing I just want to do, and we’ve been running to town or to the store, instead of waiting. Right now I’ve been in the horrible habit of running to the store 4-5 times a week. Once we move, the closest store is going to be a half an hour away, so we’re going to have to start planning again. Make your trips worth it, try to get as much done at once as you possibly can.
  10. Find your “side hustle”. Side hustle is such a fun phrase and it’s true! Some people are even able to turn their side hustle into a full time job! Have a truck and trailer? Know how to fix things? Know how to sew or paint? Can you groom pets? Are you great with kids? All of these things can totally help you earn a little side income to help get your dreams off the ground running.
  11. Cell phones have become everyone’s life lines, without them some people would have no idea what to do with themselves. However, cell phones are expensive and the bill that comes with them is even higher. There are tons of ways to lower your phone bill, shop around, determine what you need and don’t need, and go from there. For us, we’re getting ready to switch over to Net10 phones, with the bring your own phone plan, we can get unlimited talk and text for $60 a month for both phones, that’s less than half what we’re paying right now!
  12. Quality items are the ideal investment. There are certain things you need to spend the extra money on, it’s going to happen. These are items that if you didn’t spend the extra on, they would just wear out before you get any real use out of them. For me, it’s boots and jeans. I bought jeans from Wally’s forever, $12 a pair can’t beat that right? Except I’d have the thighs torn out of them in a month and have to go buy another pair. Better to spend the extra cash on better quality than have to continue to buy them over and over.
  13. Talk to your friends and see if they’d be willing to set up a clothing swap. Especially for those that have children. Only clothes than can come in are those still in decent shape, but swap things around. Kids outgrow things so fast, you’ll probably find things that have never been worn you can trade with a friend for clothes that will fit your child at that time. This goes for adult clothes and children’s toys as well.
  14. Utilize the Dollar Store. I know, I know I’ve said over and over to buy things that are better made, and you don’t necessarily get that at the Dollar Store, but here me out. I’ve found several things at the Dollar Store worth their weight in gold. You just have to sift through what’s there to find the real deals. Storage containers that I use to hold some of my homemade cleaning stuff, spray bottles, microfiber clothes, hand towels, baby wash cloths, bags of dry beans, boxes of pasta, even some of their cleaning stuff is worth their weight in gold to me. I always tend to check here first if there’s something I have to have, if it seems to be sturdy enough to last, then hell yeah I buy it. OH! One of my new favorite things are these GIANT zip lock bags with handles I use to store my grandma’s quilts in, totally worth the dollar.
  15. Learn how to coupon. I want to say this with a little caution. I have no personal desire to be one of those super couponers with half a store in one of the spare rooms of their homes. I’m amazed by these women and fascinated that they’re able to pull this off. However, it’s not something for me and I know that. But, every penny counts when shopping and if I can save a few on the things I’m already going to be buying then sign me up!
  16. Use your phone to make you money. No kidding, there are apps for that! Swagbucks, Receipt Hog, Field Agent, and about a million more. Find a few that works for you and use them to help you bring in a little extra cash.
  17. Evaluate wants and needs before making a purchase. Granted, there are certain things that are going to have to be bought (water heater goes out you’re gonna have to replace it). However, there are some things that you’re going to need to reevaluate before you decide to buy. We live in a world now where it seems like everyone believes they need everything and they need it right now, no matter if it puts them into debt or not. Retrain yourself and your way of thinking to buy your needs, and splurge on your wants only occasionally.

Household

  1. Start hanging more of your laundry to dry, than putting it in the dryer. Check out Pinterest for tons of ways to create drying racks at home when you just don’t have the space for a clothes line. Or, do what we do, a hanger and the shower rod!
  2. Dryer balls! There are going to be times that maybe you just can’t hang things out on the clothes line (or if you’re like me I’ll hang everything but bath towels, I hate crunchy towels). Dryer balls were my answer. They can be made of wool or be the nifty rubber ones form the store, I’ve heard of people using balls of aluminum foil. As for us, it’s two tennis balls to help cut down the dry time.
  3. Become a paper free home! Or in our case a near paper free home! Cloth napkins, un-paper towels, cloth cleaning rags, etc.
  4. Watching your power consumption! Turning off lights, unplugging cords, turning the thermostat up a few degrees in the summer and down a few degrees in the winter.
  5. Get rid of clutter! This has been huge for us! We’re a house of two, why do we need a place setting for 16? We downsized everything in the kitchen, clothes, linens, all of it. Less dishes to do, less laundry to wash, less soap being used, small load sizes on the washing machine.
  6. Hand wash what you can! I am not going to lie, I despise washing dishes and I’d give anything in the world for the convenience of having a dishwasher in our house. However, the more I’ve thought about it, why? Why do I need a machine to do what I can easily on my own if I just grin and bear it?
  7. Natural Cleaners are your best friend! I’m really sensitive to a lot of smells, so it made sense for me to make my own. Everything from laundry detergent to dishwasher packs can be made at home, for a quarter of the cost, less packaging, and less crap in them you can’t pronounce. OH! And they work just as well if not better!
  8. Change out your light bulbs! I know, I know everyone says this, but it’s true! Our light in the kitchen uses a “10 Year” bulb, so less light bulbs being used and we don’t have to replace it very often at all.
  9. Look for alternative heating/cooling solutions for your home. Some people claim you can heat a small room with a tea light candle and a terracotta pot . He in the desert we cool with swamp coolers a lot (evaporative coolers), and these can also easily be made with a 5 gallon bucket, a small fan, and a frozen milk jug.
  10. Blocking off rooms that aren’t in use is something I never understood when I was younger. Why have a house with rooms in it you don’t use? Anyway, go into those rooms cover the windows (we use the cling film covers and insulate them), shut off the heating/cooling vents, and place something under the door so heat/cold can’t escape. Only rooms I wouldn’t recommend doing this with in the winter are those with water pipes in them, as the cold can cause them to freeze and bust. Keeping the blinds wide open during the day in rooms you’re using can also help heat these rooms up a few degrees without raising the thermostat.
  11. Washing clothes in cold water. In many cases your laundry detergent will work just as well in cold water as it will in hot. Cold water can keep clothes from shrinking, keeps colors from fading, and saves on power.
  12. There are various ways to reduce water use. Rinse your dishes in a sink full of clean water instead of leaving the tap run; place a brick or full water bottle in the toilet tank; low flow shower heads and shower instead of bath; fix any leaks and drips in the faucets and toilets; and make sure you keep the faucets off whenever possible.
  13. Wrap your water heater in an insulated jacket or even just the pink fiberglass insulation. Better yet, look into turning your water heater solar if you own your home.
  14. Hardwood/laminate/vinyl flooring in your house? Create your own dry cloths for your sweeper from fleece or even fuzzy socks. I make my own wet version too using cut up old towels. Then when you’re done, just toss it in the wash instead of the trash.
  15. I know I mentioned homemade cleaners already, but one of my favorites is homemade dryer sheets. Dryer sheets themselves can hurt your dryer, make it easier to catch fire, and all they’re going to do is go into the garbage once they’re used. Instead, water, white vinegar, hair conditioner. Keep it in a bucket on your dryer with baby size washed clothes soaked in the solution, toss in the dryer, and then toss back in the bucket after the load is done.

Personal

  1. Personal Hygiene: usually something I don’t like to touch on, but ladies switching from disposable feminine products to reusable ones. Cups aren’t as scary as they seem!
  2. Those with babies or small children- cloth diapers, homemade wipes, and homemade baby food are a life saver! No kids for me, but I have friends dammit and they know what they’re talking about!
  3. Learn to make the things you use a lot of lotion, candles, soaps, bubble bath, all of it can be created at home with things you may even have on hand. Then, you get the joy of making it yourself and the luxury of knowing what’s in the things you love to use.
  4. Learn to be content with what you have. Remember the whole “keeping up with the Jones’ “ thing? Know what makes you happy and what your idea of the good life is, and strive for that! Someone else has a new car? So what, they’re making payments and you aren’t. Someone else has a bigger house? So what, imagine their heating and cooling bills. Being content with what you have leads to a happier outlook on life.
  5. Learn to be content staying home. There are so many things you and your loved ones can do in the comfort of your own home that require little to no money at all, and what’s simpler than that? Remember board games? When renting a movie was a big event? How about having your friends over for a potluck style BBQ? Everything you do doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, or even anything at all.
  6. Learn to say no. There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying no in any situation. Going out to dinner, buying something, if your spouse or child wants to purchase something, presents for birthdays and holidays. There’s no reason you can’t just say no.
  7. Find your special way to enjoy your life more. Everyone has specific things they love, that makes them happy and allows for some stress relief in their lives. Find that thing for you and focus on it. Make sure you spend some time each week taking that time for yourself.
  8. Figure out easy ways to treat minor injuries and illnesses. Upset stomach? Try ginger. Burn on your hand? Aloe Vera. Slight cough you can’t shake? Homemade cough drops. I’m not saying not to go to your doctor when you need to, I’m saying instead of picking up a bag of cough drops at the store, have a batch made and ready at home. Instead of reaching for the meds, try something a little more natural.
  9. Go green and have plants thru out your home! Google plants that help clean the air and place them in every room of your house! Spider plants are my favorite, especially in the bathroom.
  10. Discover essential oils and learn how to use them both for yourself and around your home.
  11. Make lists. As this is going to sound lists make things more solid. Lists make you think about everything all at once. Grocery lists, bills and their due dates, things you need to get done, projects you need to finish. They’re all amazing lists to have at your fingertips and nothing feels better than getting to mark something off you’ve been working on for a while.
  12. Create a binder. Organization is a huge deal when trying to live a simpler life. The more organized you are, the simpler things become and more stream lined as well. Include anything in your binder you consider important, or look for premade kits you can purchase and download. Mine for example: a section for important information (addresses, phone numbers, websites I go to pay specific bills, etc); a section full of calendars (monthly then weekly with everything I need to remember written in(; bills (due dates, bill trackers for payments, and a savings log); a section dedicated to my blog so I can record any ideas I have); a section dedicated to “the homestead”( feed cost tracker, money made from what we produce, seeds on hand, seed plant dates, planting charts, etc); and finally a section dedicated to homemaking.
  13. Learn how to cut your own hair. Learn how to trim your own hair up, dye it yourself if you’re so inclined. Also, invest in a set of hair trimmers/clippers for the guys in your life. I’ve gotten really lucky and have a S.O. that keeps his head shaved. But even for your kiddos you can learn how to give basic haircuts at home instead of having to run out to the barber.

Repurpose

  1. Two words. Electronic. Statements. I love getting mail just as much as the next person, however there is an entire box in my living room full of statements we don’t need and junk mail that I use to start our woodstove. Signing up for electronic statements cuts down on paper and in some cases can save you money. Our internet provider for example, charges $3 for paper statements.
  2. Reusing packaging! I am a pack rat, I always have been, but I’ve become a selective pack rat. Before, I’d hoard anything I thought for a minute I could use later. Now, if I can think of a purpose for it, I’ll keep it, but we’re trying to cut down on what we bring in anyway. Peanut butter jars, glass containers, plastic bottles, Styrofoam trays, yogurt cups, I’ve found uses for all of them!
  3. There are tons of patterns online for shopping bags that can be created using everything from old t-shirts, to pillow cases, and even recycled plastic bags. Whatever your skills set may be, there’s no reason not to make your own bags to use at the store. Cut down on the amount of plastic in your home and the amount of garbage coming out of it.
  4. Have some old quilts laying around that need a new life? Or maybe you can find some awesome thick blankets at the thrift shop? Try giving insulated window blinds a try. In the winter, they help hold heat into the house, especially in rooms that get little use. You can also take these old blankets and turn them into draft stoppers for under doors to keep the cold out.
  5. Upcycling furniture and using pieces designed for the long haul. I know, usually solid wood pieces cost more money to purchase, but they last 10x longer than the cheap particle board crap. Try looking for solid pieces on craigslist, in thrift stores, and at yard sales. Even if it may not match your décor, you can always paint and reupholster with a little creativity.
  6. BARROW! People you do not have to buy everything! If you’re only going to use it once or twice a year, and you have a friend/family member that owns one, ask if you can barrow it! Great example here is a tiller attachment for a tractor. My cousin has one, he’ll till everyone in our family’s gardens over the course of a few weekends. No need to spend $1000s on one. Some stores in smaller areas will do tool rentals similar to this for a deposit. As long as the tool is taken care of on return you’ll get most of this money or even all of it back.
  7. RUGS! Turning old towels, jeans, even t-shirts into rugs is an amazing skill to have. Rugs can help insulate the floors of your house in the winter, they can be sold for a little extra money, and sometimes it’s nice to have something pretty! Also, if you have pets anything like ours, homemade rugs turn into wonderful cat beds when you least expect it.
  8. This one is going to make me sound a little crazy. Buy things you need because of the packaging they’re in. Let me explain is one though with an example. We have two cats, so we buy cat litter, a couple times a year I don’t buy my litter in bulk (by the pound) from our feed store. Instead I go to Wally’s and buy it in a bucket. Why when the bulk is cheaper? I want the buckets! I keep my laundry soap in one of these buckets, I use them with the chickens and pigs, buckets are always abound around here! I was already planning on buying orange juice, but instead of buying the cheaper, store brand I bought the more expensive that comes in the pitcher looking bottle so I can keep sugar in it. Be selective and only do this when you have a need for the packaging!
  9. T-shirts can be turned into so many things. Just because it has a hole in it or a stain on it and you may not wear it anymore doesn’t mean it’s time to throw it away. Instead turn it into something new. Dog toys, shopping bags, pet beds, yarn to crochet with, there are so many awesome plans out there for things you can do with old clothes.
  10. One of my favorite upcycles uses the butt of an old pair of jeans and creates it into an apron, which I love. Before throwing something away consider all the possibilities it could still have in your house, garden, for your pets, for cleaning, or if it could be used for something else completely.
  11. There’s a quote out there that says something along the lines of don’t keep anything in your house is you don’t know it to be useful or believe it to be beautiful. Just because you’re simplifying your life and home doesn’t mean that you still can’t have pretty things! Create vases or stain the ones you already have to give them a new life, create hanging pictures out of your old jewelry, or reuse the frame and canvas from one picture to create another. The objective is keeping these things from ending up in a landfill somewhere, so feel free to let your creative side loose.
  12. Planters and plant starters can be made out of anything that can hold a little dirt. I use to have a Keurig coffee pot and loved that damn thing, until I realized how many of those little pods I constantly had going in the garbage. Then, thank you Pinterest, I started turning them into starter pots for veggies and herbs. Then, peanut butter jars, sour cream containers, anything and everything I can think of I’ve started and kept plants in.

 

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