Is it me or is life more complicated these days? It seems like we’re doing everything backwards. Instead of living our best lives, we work our tails off, waste our money on a bunch of crap, get involved in everything under the sun, and try to create a life with what’s left over.
Our family used to do this exact thing. We constantly traded in cars, bought the giant cable TV package, and went out to eat almost every night. It was normal everyday life, and we weren’t the only people caught in the cycle.
The thing is, all that stuff meant nothing to us. We’ve never cared about the way things looked. We don’t need fancy cars or clothes to fit in. But, we kept going all the same. Unfortunately, our sloppy spending forced us to work harder so we could keep up with the ridiculous lifestyle we created.
So we worked… and we worked… and we worked some more. We put in crazy hours, dreaming every day about the day we could take our next vacation… and wondering if we’d ever have the money to take it. We were living to work instead of working to live.
We had filled our lives with stuff we didn’t want and didn’t need, but that’s not the worst part. We finally realized that all this junk was holding us back. It was standing in the way of our dreams. To live the life we wanted, we had to get out of our own way, ditch the stuff, and make things simple again.
Maybe you’re in a similar situation. Perhaps you’re wondering why you can’t ever seem to get ahead. Maybe you’d love save more, travel more, and retire earlier too. I’m here to tell you that you can.
Too often, the things we think we need are simply distractions from our true goals. Worse, they can cost us big bucks. Here are some ways simplifying our lives can put the cash we need back in our wallets.
Cars are the great American money flusher. Did you know the average auto loan now stands at an all-time high of over $30,000? Average monthly payments are also at an all-time high of $503 per month, with loans extending to an average of 68 months (5.6 years). Essentially, we’ve lengthened the terms of car loans to trick ourselves into thinking we can actually afford them. Newsflash: We can’t.
Now, think about the fact that 50% of American families have two or more cars. It’s no wonder we’re broke!
What if you simplified? What if you bought used instead of new? What if you paid cash instead of financing that car you think you need? What could you do with an extra $500+ every month? That’s an extra $6,000 a year back in your pocket! Seriously, six grand is a lot of money, and it can be yours when you simplify.
Look, I like having a nice house as much as the next person. Truth be told, I’m slightly addicted to real estate. But, owning a gigantic house can make life more complex and expensive than it needs to be.
Many of us think we should get the big house right away. Growing up in our parents’ starter castle makes anything less seem… well… small and inadequate. Unfortunately, we forget that our parents probably worked for decades to afford the house we grew up in. Additionally, utility bills cost more, property taxes are higher, and repairs in a big house are typically more expensive. Then there is the issue of furnishing and decorating more space. It all adds up.
Even when you can “afford” more, sticking with a smaller house gives you the freedom to spend money in other areas that those who are house poor can’t.
Athletics / Kids Activities
Are you constantly running your young children to sporting events and other activities? Saturday its soccer. Monday it’s basketball. Tuesday it’s karate. Wednesday it’s basketball again. Thursday it’s piano… It has to be dreadfully tiring, and it can be a huge drain on your pocketbook.
Look, we all want the best for our kids. But somewhere along the line, we decided it’s normal for a 6-year-old to have a full calendar every night. We’ve convinced ourselves they’ll never succeed if we “don’t start them now.” To make it happen, we complicate our lives, spend absurd amounts of money, and usually take the fun out of the process.
Remember, children’s activities are typically big money makers for the adults who promote them. Instead of chasing a “full-ride” athletic scholarship, consider putting that money into a college fund instead. You’ll almost certainly have more to show for it, and your life will be far less complex and more enjoyable if you do.
Want to know how to simplify your life and save money doing it? Turn off the boob tube. Seriously, turn it off and cut the cord to cable. Here’s how we did it years ago, and now we couldn’t be happier.
Honestly, cutting the cord to cable was extremely liberating. It saved us tons of money, and we “found” hours a day that we were wasting by staring at a screen. In fact, we used that time to start this blog as a hobby. Now, it’s a full-time career.
These days, even sports lovers can cut the cord. Subscription services are available for most professional sports leagues, and Sling TV has several ESPN channels available live. (Get a free 7-day trial here.) So, if you’re worried you’ll miss your sports, don’t be. You can still watch sports and save.
Twenty years ago, we didn’t even have to worry about this. Now, gadgets drain our pocketbooks left and right.
It’s kind of silly when you think about it. We’ve made our lives so complex that we “need” toys like smartphones, iPads, and Kindles to help us navigate them. Then, we spend even more for data plans, software, and other gadgets to make the best use of the gadgets we just bought. It takes a ton of time (and money) to set this all this up… only to go and change gadgets when the next big thing comes along.
If you’re struggling with your spending, the first place to look is at your gadgets. While I’m realistic enough to know you’re not going to get rid of these things, at least shop for some low-cost options. For instance, I’ve used a discount cell phone company (Ting) for years. I still get to use my Samsung Galaxy, but I do it for like $30/month. It’s one of the easiest things you can change that could save you hundreds a year.
Getting ahead is about making choices. Simplifying your life can help you save on things that are unimportant so you’ll have more for the things you love. With just a few minor changes, you may be able to starting spending less and living more.
What have you done to simplify your life? How are your results? Let us know below!