Trying to manage your life, especially your financial life, can be difficult in today’s age. Between planning for retirement, paying bills, raising a family, etc. life can be exhausting.
But, one of the best ways to reach your financial goals and relieve some of your stress is by learning how to simplify your life.
Most of us live with a lot of clutter, mental and physical, and these are things like houses filled with too much stuff, spending problems, debt, being unsatisfied with your job, and more. When you are so focused on controlling the chaos and managing the clutter, it’s really difficult to spend time doing what you love.
Living simply is a little different for everyone, but in general, a simplified life means that you are getting rid of any extra mental and physical clutter that is preventing you from focusing on the things that really matter to you.
By starting to simplify your life, you can be in more control of your life, waste less of your valuable time, and be happier in the new year.
I’m not saying that you need to do everything on the list below. Instead, I want you to think about what YOU actually enjoy in life, and work towards getting rid of the things you dislike and those that are not as important to you.
Related content: Setting Goals- Let’s make this year the best!
How to simplify your life:
1. Spend less time on social media.
I’m making this one #1 because I know we are all spending too much time on social media.
Think about all of social media sites you use throughout the day, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Then, think about when and where you’re doing it, like waiting in line somewhere, procrastinating at work, eating lunch, spending time with friends, etc. All of those little amounts of time really add up, and I’ve read many statistics that say that the average person spends over five hours a day on social media!
FIVE HOURS A DAY!
I’m completely guilty of this too. I love using social media to connect with friends, family, and my readers, but there are times when I find myself scrolling through my feed and just zoning out. This is completely unproductive!
Besides wasting your time, spending too much time on social media can lead to comparing yourself to others or trying to keep up with someone in a different situation, and those things can cause feelings that negatively impact you.
One of the ways to simplify your life is to shut down those sites or create time blocks so that you cannot access your accounts during certain periods of the day, and so on
2. Declutter (and maybe even downsize) your life.
Decluttering your life to live more simply can lead to many benefits, such as the ability to:
- Save money. If you have a huge house filled with tons of stuff, you are probably paying higher costs for homeownership overall, and all of that stuff costs a lot to maintain and repair.
- Have less clutter. The bigger your home, the more likely you’ll have empty rooms that you feel the need to put stuff in. Now that we live on a sailboat, we are much more mindful of what we buy. We think about every purchase in terms of weight, size, where we can store it, and more. If it doesn’t fit, we don’t buy it!
- Spend less time on maintenance and repairs. Not only do maintenance and repairs cost money, they cost time!
- Spend less time cleaning. If your house is full of stuff, it’s probably really hard to keep it clean, and a larger home is going to take a lot more time to clean than a smaller one. It’s really that simple.
Related content: Downsizing Your Home? Here’s How I Went From A 2,000 Square Foot House To An RV
3. Watch less TV.
I know I talk about this a lot here, but that’s because TV is such a big time waster!
We cut out TV entirely when we were living in the RV, but now that we’re on the sailboat, we’ve been watching it a little bit more. Still, I’m probably only watching an hour or two a week.
The thing is, though, I used to watch way too much TV, and I know that cutting back on TV is a great way to simplify your life as it helps you regain some of your time. In fact, the average person watches about 35 hours of TV a week, so just think about what you could do with just half of those hours back every week.
Reclaiming some of those hours will allow you to spend more time with your friends and family, work on side hustles, get outside and enjoy the world around you, and more.
Spending a few hours less each week in front of the TV is one of the easier ways to simplify your life.
Related: 59 Things To Do Instead of Watching TV – Stop Watching TV!
4. Finally stop paying for cable.
The average monthly cable bill is currently over $100.
If you are trying to watch less TV as one of the ways to simplify your life, then cutting the cable is a good step in the right direction. We’ve lived cable free for several years, and we’ve never regretted that.
You can read more about cutting cable here and how to save money by doing this. I recommend getting a digital antenna so that you can receive local channels for free!
If you aren’t ready to quit paying for TV all together, there are lots of options that allow you to only pay, usually much less than cable, for the shows you want.
Related: 16 Alternatives To Cable TV That WILL Save You Money
5. Find free forms of entertainment.
I once heard from someone who told me they were spending around $500 a month on entertainment. And, they were also complaining about their debt.
If you are trying to get rid of high-interest rate debt, I can’t think of any reason why you should be paying $500 a month to have fun.
All of that money can add up to a lot of stress! Cutting down your entertainment budget doesn’t just save you money, it is one of the many ways to simplify your life because it helps you see all of the amazing and budget friendly things already around you, like getting outside more.
There are many ways to have fun for cheap. Check out How To Have Frugal Fun for some of my ideas.
6. Pay off your debt to simplify your life.
Paying off debt isn’t just important to me as a personal finance blogger, it’s important to me because I actually know how living debt free can allow you to really start living the life you want. Whether you have student loan debt, credit card debt, car debt, or whatever else, paying it off will make managing your finances easier as you will have less debt to stress about.
When thinking about all the mental clutter we have, debt can be a huge contributor to that clutter. Debt can cause a crazy amount of stress, and eliminating your debt as a way to simplify your life has endless benefits. Paying off your debt will lead to reduced spending, and that means you can set more aside for your long-term financial goals, like through investing or saving for retirement.
Related article: Want To Live Your Best Life? It Starts With Saving.
7. Organize your finances and start tracking your money.
Most Americans have many different accounts that they are trying to manage on a daily or weekly basis, from checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, student loans, their mortgage, car loans, etc.
One of the most helpful things you can do to simplify your life, especially your financial one, is by downloading an app like Personal Capital.
Personal Capital allows you to aggregate your financial accounts so that you can easily see your financial situation. You can connect accounts, such as your mortgage, bank accounts, credit card accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, and more. Plus, it is FREE.
Related content: Learn How To Set Resolutions — Make This Year The Best Yet!
8. Don’t waste time on being negative.
We all have things that happen to us that turn our day from good to bad. Maybe your car wouldn’t start in the morning, a friend cancelled on you at the last minute, or you got a negative review at work.
Having a negative reaction to these types of things is only natural, but it’s what you do in these situations that can really impact your life.
If you find that you are spending the rest of your day thinking about how bad these things are, you are wasting your time. Yes, it is really that simple.
Like I said, that immediate reaction is a natural part of coping. However, instead of dwelling on the negatives that may be occurring in your life, such as feeling regret and/or gossiping, you can be more productive by using this time for things that actually matter. Moving past difficult things is, just that, difficult, but finding ways to refocus your energy will help you get through your day and life in general.
Just think about how much time you may have wasted recently by dwelling on the negative and thinking about the “what-ifs” in a situation?
Being more positive and finding ways to move past bad situations is a hard but important way to simplify your life.
9. Organize your life.
Being unorganized can cause you to waste a significant amount of time and can lead to late fees, stress, lost items, and more.
Here are some surprising statistics I found from Simply Orderly about being unorganized:
- The average person spends 12 days per year looking for things they can’t find.
- Every day, the average office worker spends 1.5 hours looking for things.
- In a recent survey, 55% of consumers stated they would save anywhere from 16 to 60 minutes a day if they were more organized.
- 23% of people pay bills late and have to pay late fees because they are unable to find their bills.
These statistics are all nuts! I can’t believe how much time the average person wastes every day.
To become more organized, you may want to find a day or life planner that works for you, set reminders on your phone, use Post-Its to remind yourself of upcoming tasks, and so on.
I highly recommend looking into different types of organizers as well. These can save space and save time!
10. Start saying no more often.
One of the ways we add clutter to our life is by agreeing to more than we can actually handle. While I am a big fan of stepping outside of your box and saying yes to everything, there are situations when you should probably say no. If you say yes to everything, but are ready to pull your hair out, then saying no is good way to simplify your life.
Think about everything you have said yes to in the past year, and ask yourself these questions:
- Did that bring me joy?
- Did the benefit of the task outweigh the stress it caused?
- Was I able to make a meaningful difference for myself or someone else?
If you find that the answer to these questions is mostly no, then perhaps that’s the answer you should be giving in the future.
Saying no may allow you to have more time to focus on what you truly want, and that’s what learning to simplify your life is really about.
11. Think before you multitask.
One of the biggest misconceptions about time management is that you save time by multi-tasking, but that’s not always the case. In fact, it actually causes many people to waste time!
Some people can multitask successfully, but because it takes so much time to refocus on a new task, many people cannot. This means that every time you switch between tasks, you may actually be spending more time than if you approached each task separately.
Think about your strengths and weaknesses to understand whether or not multitasking actually helps you save time. It’s possible that you can multitask some things, but others will need your full one-on-one attention.
For the most part, focusing on one task at a time will let you manage your time more effectively and let you focus on more important things as you learn to simplify your life.
12. Pay expenses annually or semiannually.
There are some bills that you have to pay each and every month, but if you were to find ways to eliminate some of these bills, by paying them annually or semiannually, it can be one of many ways to simplify your life and your finances.
You can pay bills like car and homeowners insurance every six months or once a year, and you will probably qualify for a discount if you do this as well.
If you switch from monthly payments for those two bills, that’s two less to worry about each month!
You will probably have to adjust your monthly and yearly budget to do so, but looking at and adjusting your budget is always a good thing to do anyway.
Related: How To Simplify Your Financial Life – 12 Best Tips
13. Think about what is truly important in your life.
When you’re thinking of you how to simplify your life, this is a good place to start. That’s because the new year is a good time to reflect on the past year and think about the things that have brought you joy, the ones that have been fulfilling, and the things you want for your future.
Make a list of your priorities, goals, and dreams, and think about what is holding you back from each of those things. Even though that list might feel long, you will be able to clearly see what types of clutter are holding you back.
When you put the things that are most important to you out in the open, you can start working to simplify your life to achieve your dreams.
14. Have less clothing options.
This might surprise you, but some of the most successful and wealthy people out there have a very limited set of clothing options. That’s because they realize that’s not a place to devote their time and energy.
By having a smaller wardrobe, you’ll have more time to focus on other things in life and this can help you to drastically simplify your life.
If you want to simplify your life by cutting back on your wardrobe, start by looking at the items you wear the most and get rid of the one you haven’t worn in months. It can feel really good to clean out your closet! You can then start to build your wardrobe around the items you know you love and will wear more often.
Related content: Why You Should Spend Like A Millionaire- The Frugal and Smart Money Habits of Millionaires
15. Automate your payments.
This is one that you can do in just a couple of hours, and automating your payments gets rid of that financial clutter I’ve already mentioned a couple of times.
You can have your paychecks direct deposited (many people still deposit their checks manually), you can select to auto pay your bills, you can even auto pay your monthly credit card payments. Sometimes, going paperless can give you discounts on some of the payments you make on a regular monthly basis.
Automating your payments can even make managing your budget easier!
Even though I check through all transactions and expenses, I still automate many of my actual payments so that I never have to worry that something was forgotten about. Most of my expenses are similar from month to month, so I can usually just check the payment to see if everything is correct.
16. Gain confidence.
This can be one of the most difficult areas to work on, but I really do believe that gaining confidence can help you to live simply and enjoy life more.
Gaining confidence isn’t an overnight thing, and it starts by finding small ways to believe in yourself.
Once the ball gets rolling, your confidence will allow you to improve your life rather than dwelling on things that scare you.
Confidence can lead to:
- Attaining the things you deserve in life.
- Getting the job you want.
- Making more money.
- Reaching your dreams.
- Public speaking.
- Meeting new people.
- Networking like a boss.
- Managing a business or employees.
- Traveling the world, and more.
I used to be terrified of speaking in public– I still am a little bit. But I knew it was something I needed to do to grow my business even more. It took time to grow my confidence, but now that confidence is rubbing off on other areas of my life.
Learn more at Be More Confident And Get What You Want In Life.
17. Start investing
When you start setting aside money now, you are simplifying your future. It means you won’t have to work for the rest of your life, it means you might be able to retire early, and more!
Investing is important because it means you are making your money work for you. If you weren’t investing, your money would just be sitting there and not earning a thing. Plus, the earlier you start investing, the more you’ll end up earning because investing is long-term financial planning.
The problem is that many people don’t know how to invest or don’t think they have enough money to get started. To start to simplify your life for the future, learn more at How To Start Investing For Beginners With Little Money.
18. Set reminders on your phone’s calendar (or any calendar).
Reminders are one of the easiest ways you can simplify your life. I know this first hand because if there is something coming up that I know I will not remember, I will create a reminder. This makes managing my life easier because I don’t have to worry about forgetting things, missing payments, etc.
I create reminders for things such as:
- Business tasks and to-do lists.
- When it’s time to pay estimated quarterly tax payments.
- Renewing license plate tags for our cars.
- Paying semiannual bills, such as car insurance.
I’m always surprised by the number of people who don’t set reminders for things, because you can use them for anything! Plus, they do more than simplify your life, they can help you save money.
You can use your phone to remind you about all sorts of things, like when it’s time to pay bills, take medications, bring back library books, call a friend, etc.
19. Slow down
One of the goals with learning how to simplify your life is so that you have more time to slow down and enjoy what’s already around you, but it’s also something that you should be doing right now.
People rush through all sorts of things, from busy days at work to rushing through their entire life. Maybe you’ve spent college only thinking about graduation, after graduation only thinking about a job, working and only thinking about starting a family, until everything has passed by and you are wondering what you did with your life.
It is exciting to think about the future, but if you stop and look around at your right now, you might be surprised by how good it is.
Like many people I know, I’m guilty of running through life too quickly and not stopping to really enjoy it. However, by slowing down, we can learn to do things correctly, enjoy things more, and have the ability to start living simply.
20. Sit in peace to simplify your day.
This is similar to the last point, but it’s slowing down even more to the point that you are just sitting down in complete silence. When was the last time you actually did that? No phones, no one else, just you.
For the average person, this is probably a rare occurrence.
That’s because we all live in a world that is constantly moving and making noise.
Sitting silently can help you reflect on your life and what’s going on in the world around you. It can also help you relax, destress, and clear your mind.
I’m not saying that you need to start a full on meditation practice, unless that’s what you want, but you can try something easy like turning off the radio while you’re in the car, wait in the grocery store checkout line without checking your phone, or going for a walk by yourself.
By clearing out the distractions, you will probably find that your mind lets you focus on what’s important.
How are you planning to simplify your life?
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Yes, it is so important to cut back on social media!
Direct deposit would be great, but the company I work with does not allow it, “Nor will we ever, as long as we are alive.” I would like it because THEN, I could automate payments. Neither will happen, so I live the life of going to two banks every week. THEIR bank to cash, then mine for the deposit. It takes 3 days for the check to clear at my bank, so it gets cash deposit so it is ready immediately. Reason I don’t do auto pay is just in case I don’t make it to bank, I wont get overdrawn. ONE thing could make my whole week much easier!
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
That really stinks!
R K Sinha says
Very apt and I feel good about it as I acted to follow most of these guidelines.
Sharing on my page for more people to get benefitted with this great article.
2019 will be a great year for making all kinds of positive changes and increasing side hustle millionaire income potential.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Have a great 2019!
Mrs. Picky Pincher says
I love this idea! Paying off debt and eliminating expenses surely makes the financial front simpler. I’m proud to say we paid off all of our consumer debt in 2018, so we’re going into 2019 debt free. 🙂
As far as simplicity, I use a few tools to monitor time on my devices. I use Unroll.me to help manage my email subscriptions. Timeular is also good for time tracking.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Great job paying off all of your debt!
Can I add Exercise and Sleep more and Eat Better so you can be less worried of being overweight and unhealthy?
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
I’m going to bookmark this post. Although I’m already doing many of the things here, the points about “Think before you multitask”, “Slow Down” and “Automate Payment” are something I can work towards to achieve a more simplified life in 2019. Thank you so much, Michelle! Really love reading your posts.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Mahesh Kumar @TranscriptionCI says
While reading this article, I found it relatable at many points, like the one on social media. It seems a major reason for causing stress and anxiety these days. And I too found that the suggestion of spending less time on social media as given in the article has been effective for me.
Yeah, it’s hard to believe some people watch 35+ hours of TV a week – it’s like 5 hours a day on average, which seems really difficult to do with work and getting a reasonable amount of sleep! I used to watch about 2-3 hours a day and I’ve cut down to about half an hour a day and some days not at all. Since I’ve reduced my time devoted to it I’ve found I’m much more productive and creative and explore new hobbies and interests.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
T on FIRE says
Michelle! Thank you for creating my Resolution list for 2019. Some of these were already on my to do list (Decluttering, BIG TIME). There are many other great ideas here that I’ll add and prioritize to simplify. I’ll defo be writing about my New Year’s resolutions in my blog and will link to this article for the benefit of my small audience! I really want to lead a simpler, mental and physical clutter-free life. Thank you for the perfectly timed inspiration.
Not watching TV is a HUGE advantage. I didn’t own a TV for years (bought one a few months ago exclusively for watching occasional movies–I still don’t have cable or even know how to hook it up in my house). I use those few extra hours every day to read, work on side businesses, write, exercise, etc. It’s amazing how much mindless time is spent by the average person just staring at the television and you give yourself a huge advantage by turning the darn thing off.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Great job Jon!
Wow!!! This blog helped so much, great advice! I have been needing to simplify for so long, thanks for pointing me in the right direction 😊💕