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Living a simple life conjures up images of idyllic, peaceful country scenes. And while that can indeed be true, it isn’t the reality for many of us. Nor does it have to be the goal.

The simple life is a deeply individual thing and looks different for everyone. It’s not about comparing one simple life to another, nor is there a right or wrong – there is simply an individual choice from which each person builds.

A red poppy flower in bloom in a field of yellow-green grass with text overlay.

But just because it’s individual and unique doesn’t mean there aren’t some overarching themes. In fact, there are some tips for living a simple life that we can share to help guide everyone on their own journeys.

Define Enough

It’s impossible to know what is enough or learn to be content with what we have, if we haven’t defined it for ourselves.

It’s easy to keep piling on, easy to keep putting up jars of salsa, for example, when maybe 14 pints is enough – if we haven’t defined exactly how much is truly needed

Define how much time you want to spend volunteering, how much food in the pantry is sufficient, how much of garden is realistic, etc. Put it all down in writing and use those as a guide for time management.

Learn to Say No

It’s incredibly easy to let the outside world, well-meaning family members, good friends, social media, and more impinge on our lives. Those invasions happen so slowly and often without notice and before we know it life is overwhelming, overbooked, and anything but simple.

We have to learn to say no. Saying no is not about being busy – it’s about not being busy and wanting to stay that way. It’s about protecting time and life and achieving personal goals.

No is a complete sentence. We do not need to apologize or offer excuses, simply say no or no, thank you and move on.

Stay Organized

Some us are more naturally organized than others. Simple living isn’t necessarily about figuring out a new planning system. However, staying organized is a big help. A good plan can help prevent us from feeling overwhelmed and it helps us keep track of our goals.

A journal on a table next to a potted plant as seen from above.

Organization can mean a planner, a wall calendar, a simple to-do list, a spreadsheet, etc. whatever works for your brain is what works and should be used. Don’t try to make it complicated or try to make yourself fit into some kind of system that simply doesn’t make sense for you or your family.

Pay Off & Avoid Debt

A simple life cannot be had if we owe money all over town. This is part of defining what is enough and deciding to live within our means. Now, this isn’t necessarily easy if one is already deep in debt, but debt-free living is possible with some planning and hard work.

Once debt is paid off, make sure to avoid falling into that hole again. Decide to pay with cash and always pay off credit cards when used for convenience. Truly analyze purchases and make sure you can’t make do or do without until funds come available.

Find Community

A simple life is not necessarily a mainstream lifestyle. We don’t see it discussed in the media much and resources can often be hard to find.

It’s for these reasons that finding and building a community of like-minded simple living people is important. These are people who may make different choices than us but who understand a simple life and are willing to discuss ideas, share tips, and generally offer support.

Find these people either in your local community through various organizations and don’t forget to look online.

Mistakes Happen

Simple living is like anything else in life, no one is perfect all the time. Mistakes happen. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure nor does it mean that you should stop working towards your simple living goals.

Blue and purple flowers in bloom on a stem.

Figure out what caused the mistake. Were you overbooked? Did you let social media sway you into something you didn’t really need? Whatever the mistake – identify, fix, move on.

Can’t figure it out exactly? This is where your community of folks comes in handy. Share and ask for feedback.

Improvement happens slowly and over time. Don’t be discouraged, it’ll be better next time.

Be True to Yourself

Make choices that feel good to your heart and soul. Remember simple living is incredibly individual. For some of us, a simple life means living off-grid with a huge garden, for others it’s a tiny apartment in the city with lots of free time to enjoy leisure activities.

There is no one right way, you do you and walk to the beat of your drummer.

Stay Inspired

Like anything of interest and importance – stay inspired, educated, and involved in simple living topics. Find books, podcasts, blogs, and more to encourage and further your journey.

Here are a couple of our favorites:

Your Money or Your Life – this book will take you through a series of steps to help transform your relationship with money, help you define enough, avoid debt, and be inspired to set and achieve your own goals.

Down to Earth Blog – A blog all about simple living through the eyes one woman who shares encouraging resources and more from a home focused life.

The Abundance of Less – The author of this book interviews a number of people embracing a simple life in rural japan. It’s an inspiring group of people and while their lives might look different than many of ours there are so many lessons and inspiring nuggets tucked throughout the pages.

a stem of white flowers sitting on top of a book next to a cup of coffee with text overlay.
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Kathie is a writer, gardener, and teacher living with her soulmate, Jeff, in northwestern Montana. As a fiercely D.I.Y. individual, she is dedicated to living a life made of her own hands as much as possible.

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