The Simple Life

One of the ideas that I wanted to talk about on this site that I’ve not explored much (only one article really) is living a simple, frugal life.  What do I mean by that.  Well quite simply, to be a better steward of my money, to be smart about where my resources go, and to live a comfortable life.  Another aspect I want to share with you on this blog is tips on how to do just that.  I’d like to share tips on how to stretch your money by shopping smarter (my wife is getting quite good at this) and how to enjoy life and live comfortably on less.

Stretch your money

Whether you’re on a fixed income or not, stretching your money to its fullest just makes sense.  If you’re wealthy, then being smart about your spending habits will make more money available for other uses.  If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, then you’re spending habits may be the difference between eating this week or not.  Either way, here are some quick tips on stretching your money.

  1. Use coupons especially when matched up with sale prices.  There are tons of sites out there to help you with this.  One of my wife’s favorites is www.hip2save.com.  You can spend as little or as much time on this as you want. 

    For example, just the other day there was a coupon from Swiss Miss for $2 off any Hot Cocoa product (expired now, but here is the post we found).  We were able to print off two of those coupons, which when combined with a sale price at our local grocery, we picked up 60 packets of hot chocolate for under $1.00.  Something that normally would have cost at least $5 or more.  Doesn’t seem like much, but add those up over time and it can mean a lot to your grocery bill.  There are plenty of other sites and I’d like to link to these as I come across them or to good deals as I find them.  No this won’t turn into a coupon site, but you’ll see some good deals from time to time.

  2. Take advantage of store customer appreciation type of cards and programs.  Most stores now have some sort of customer advantage card or cash back coupons that print on the back of your receipt.  For many years we ignored these completely.  But again, when combined with coupons and sales, you can often go buy a lot of product and spend very little out of pocket.  Again, we are just beginning, but can see the benefit of it already.  Friends of ours who’ve figured this out, have come home with hundreds of dollars of product for virtually nothing (think about getting $150 worth of items for under $10!)  This doesn’t mean buying product you wouldn’t use, but by just being smart and stocking up on items when you can get it cheaply. 

    A few months back, I had multiple coupons for the brand of deodorant I use.  These were for $3.00 off of two sticks.  We combined that with a buy one get one free sale (normally $3.50 or so) and managed to get two sticks for 50 cents which normally would have cost me $7.00.  Needless to say, I got as many of those coupons as I could and stocked up with enough deodorant to last me months.

These are the types of things I’d like to share with my readers.  I’ll find good deals and share them with you or just share with you a good purchase that may inspire you to try it yourself.

Enjoy life and live comfortably on less.

One thing we’ve done to simplify our lives is to learn on how to live on less.  For us this means we’re starting to grow our own food and put it up for the winter.  We’ve learned how to can or freeze our vegetables.  We’ve begun to buy food in bulk as we’ve learned how to store it properly to last for longer periods.  We’ve begun to make our own breads and other baked goods instead of buying mixes or premade baked goods at the store.  We haven’t completely moved over to that type of lifestyle, but we’re making progress.  One good resource we’ve found is, Back Woods Homes magazine.  This is one of the best resources online or in print on self-reliant living.  Check it out and it is the only magazine that I still subscribe to.

One thing I’ve enjoyed about our lifestyle changes, is that we seem to be happier with less.  We still have a ways to go and still need to make some serious changes, but our goal of becoming debt-free while it is a long way off, is within our grasp.  By shopping smarter, we have more money to not only pay towards our debt, but to give and bless others.  By blessing others, even by buying a cup of coffee for a stranger, can go a long way to helping you enjoy life.  Start with the small things and then like the proverbial snowball rolling downhill, those small things can grow into the large things.  Either way, I’ve found that by making an effort to bless others, I feel better each day and much to my surprise, I’ve been blessed in return.

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.  -Malachi 3:10

God promises that by giving a small part of what He has entrusted with you to further his kingdom, He will bless us in return tremendously.  I’ll have more on this later in my series on Power Thoughts, but when you give freely to others to bless them (even that cup of coffee for someone else), God will use that small action, that small gift to, bless yourself and others in ways you cannot even fathom.

What does this all have to do with living simple and shopping smarter?  Well when you shop smarter and live simply, you’ll have more left over at the end of each paycheck to bless others.  This, at least for me, allows me to enjoy life in a way I never imagined.

Future direction

The purpose of this post is really to share with you some ideas for new posts you’ll see here.  This fits in with my theme of helping Christians live exceptional lives in a world that often fights against us.  By being frugal and living simply we can allow ourselves to live exceptionally.

I would love to hear from you if you’ve taken steps in your own lives to live simply.  Please comment, I’d love to hear from you.

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