I was on a 4-year long sabbatical from 2013-2017. Although it was a fun sabbatical, I learned some valuable lessons for a simple and joyful life. I was on a money-diet in this period—no regular income. I survived on my savings a little income I made from some freelance projects.
The sabbatical was to explore my inner-self, and learn a lot about forgiveness, compassion, kindness, and gratitude; basically, the recipe for a truly happy life.
I agree that everyone has their own perspective of a simple life but I somehow feel that cutting spending gives you wings. I was able to do a lot of good work for myself and society in these four years, mainly because I had less baggage. My baggage was less and hence, I could run more.
Am I single? No. I am married since 2010.
I and my wife have a fantastic understanding. Many of my friends inquire about the secret of our simple life. And I think the answer is that we keep life simple. I don’t have a formula as such but I have some ideas that can help.
So, I made a list of some spending-reducing suggestions that I felt either didn’t have any impact at all on quality of life—things you can do once and benefit from for a while—or, if they’re repeatable, are inherently fun.
- Get rid of stuff you don’t use: Take a trip through your home and look around for things that you simply don’t use or rarely use and sell them off, just get rid of the clutter.
- Do some basic energy efficiency around your living place: Install a programmable thermostat to replace your current one to have the heating and cooling shut off when you’re not at home, saving the cost of running it.
- Unless you’re a heavy cell phone user, switch to a pay-as-you-go phone: A pay-as-you-go cell phone can be substantially cheaper than a cell phone plan. Look into some pay-as-you-go plans and see if any fit your usage needs and add up to significant savings over what you already use.
- Buy in bulk the staples you use all the time: The best way to do this is to buy items in bulk if you’re going to use all of them in a reasonable time or before it becomes unusable like toilet paper, dishwashing detergent and laundry soap.
- Unplug electronic devices you’re not using: Many plugged-in electronic devices use up energy but if you have such devices that you rarely use like a coffee pot and entertainment devices, unplugging them can save a significant amount of money on your energy bill.
- Switch to a bank that respects you: See what banks are available in your local area that offers full service online, doesn’t charge you ridiculous fees and has customer service that makes online banking easy and accessible.
- Sign up for the customer rewards programs at the places you already shop: Most customer rewards programs just result in free stuff like in many groceries stores they’ll automatically find coupons for you reducing the cost of your bill with no effort at all for you.
- Figure out your most cost-effective grocery store and shop there: Figure out which grocery store available to you with best prices on the staples you normally buy all the time like milk, vegetables, and fruit where you will be open to shop regularly.
- Look around for discounts: Everyone is offering some discount for shopping or eating. Keep checking online for offers.
- Check your cupboards and fridge before you hit the grocery store: Spend time glancing in the fridge to see what you have and then make a quick list of the things that are missing, this will save your money without influencing your buying choices.
- Cook home food for guests: This really works and guests really feel awesome. It will also save a lot of money especially with those taxes around.
- Use water bottle when out: carry reusable water bottles whenever you’re out and avoid those expensive and unhealthy bottles water; unless unavoidable.
- If you’re married, talk to your partner about what life you want to lead: Sure, this seems like a good relationship tactic. After all, it’s always useful to make sure you’re on the same page. However, doing this regularly has another significant impact. It helps both partners to set goals together that they’re both committed to. During such a conversation, people tend to find the things they have in common, the desires that they share. When those desires become clear, quite often the conversation and thoughts move towards how to actually make them happen.
- Keep a notebook on hand: You’ll see all sorts of opportunities and hear many different ideas, keep a notebook with you and when these ideas present themselves write them down.
I don’t say that these will work 100% with everyone but it had worked for me in the time of my sabbatical and the best part is, we’re still continuing it. With this formula, we have reduced our spending by 50%. We’re now able to save more and spend on stuff that really matters for us and for stuff that brings us true and everlasting happiness.
You can also check my blog post on 76 ways to save money.
And finally, just chart out your priorities and believe in the of the universe. Don’t fall into the trap of good, best, need or want because these words mean different things for different people. Use your brain and consciousness to decide your life.