When we first moved to our first acreage property we downsized significantly. It wasn’t necessarily an active choice, but more a sacrifice we wanted to make because we loved the property and it was the one that got our foot in the door to the property market in QLD. So naturally we had to downsize a lot and that was taking a good hard look at things we had been carting around with us as far back as our original move from Victoria and things we’d accumulated when we lived there.
I can’t say I recall that it was a dynamic process I paid much attention to. I applied a simple rule my mum often does which is, have I used this in 6 months and then, if it was torn or damaged or not working in some way, why am I holding onto this?
We never were materialistic. We always had nice things, but even then when we did make a big purchase in any way, we had done months of research and comparison into it to make sure we could get the best value for money. So one of our most central and biggest goals was to have no mortgage, and be able to produce as much of our food from our homestead. Hunting, canning, preserving, jamming, pickling…all of these skills would be needed.
I don’t want to say I’m a minimalist though because while I see the benefit and agree with many points in the philosophy, that isn’t me. But I do like to take what I like from many schools of thought and I do agree that removing and purging excess will make room for things you truly do want and do need, as opposed to excessive clutter and junk.
So of course the great purge occurred and we suddenly had just what we needed when we needed it. Of course, husband was working away at the time on a FIFO roster in the mines, and with that came more money than anyone could think possible. It allowed us to get some good value, high ticket items that we were very keen on, like our BBQ, but we basically saved every cent and after having a significant amount in our account we realised it was being wasted just sitting there, so we bought the property we are currently in, and that then set the scene for every other property purchase we’ve made since.
Simplifying our lives wasn’t just about purging extra stuff though, on the surface it can look like that. For my husband and I, it was about working toward the FIRE goal, to be Financially Independent so we can Retire Early. I mentioned this previously in another post, but without knowing it was a ‘thing’, it became our ‘thing’. Our dream was to eventually be able to work for ourselves, have no mortgage, and if we did want to work off the farm, for it to be a day or two here and there just more to get out or socialise (more him than me!)
The below is a small list of the ways I have simplified our lives over the last 10+ years, and once we move onto our bigger farm this will be expanded as some things I am currently working towards, so won’t be in this list originally. I hope that in reading this, you can look at ways you can improve your own life or help declutter.
1. Reduced needs and wants
I have everything and more of what I need and want. I have nothing on laybuy or through a BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) service. I pay for everything in full and only have a mortgage debt currently. I also had a good look at what it was that was excess in my life and worked out ways around it. After reading Marie Kondo, she suggested converting paperback books to a Kindle, to reduce clutter. So I did that and I absolutely love it. That simple change in life means when we decide to move, I won’t have 7 boxes of books to carry so that I can pack and unpack mindlessly and stack these books I won’t ever read again. I think a lot of issue comes when people have an emotional attachment to something they’ve bought or feel bad because of the money sent to acquire that thing. If you aren’t using it, get rid of it.
2. Simplified laundry
I don’t buy white clothing. I get it too dirty and hate the extra steps needed to keep it super clean. We both have lots of colourful clothing, but not white. Washing is much easier being able to throw everything into the same wash. And other than my corporate work clothing (which soon enough will also be culled and purged) we make sure our farm and outside clothes are from the op shop or are things that are old and able to get damaged, so they don’t need delicate handling. Recently my husband got two pairs of brand new, tag still on, overalls, for $20 at the op shop. Brand new they’re in excess of $80. There is nothing wrong with repurposing clothing and in fact, with fast and cheap fashion being as it is, you’d probably find better quality cheap stuff from an op shop over one of these fast fashion places. I also refuse to iron, so make sure our clothing is shaken out really well and hung up straight away to avoid having to do this. I have limited time and I sure as heck am not spending it ironing.
3. Simplified my own wardrobe
Mum’s rule applied again. If I haven’t worn it in the last 6 months, then why, and what are the next steps. With WFH mostly due to covid, I haven’t worn the majority of my work outfits. I’ve been needed back in the office 1-2 times per week and have mostly swindled wearing black jeans and a plain top with a cardigan. All these fancy dresses and shoes haven’t been worn or used. So I’ve already done a partial sort, in that the things I will keep are likely to be the more formal dresses. One black dress for funerals, one colourful dress for a day event. And one pant suit for everything else. The rest, will all be going when I formally remove myself from corporate Australia. And the state of my cupboard at the moment indicates that will easily free up a lot of crap.
The only other thing I am keeping is the bulkier items like jackets and vests. Where we’re planning on moving to is much cooler, still in QLD, but won’t ever reach these types of heat like where we are now.
4. Multi-Tasking doesn’t work (it’s all a lie!)
The older and wiser we get, the more we realise we don’t need to juggle everything. We don’t need to have parts of our brain across 5 different tasks and in fact, sometimes this can be more frustrating and more tiring. These days I prefer to focus on a few things, as in, have a few things going. But the only way I am multitasking one or two of them at the same time, is if I am forced to have to wait on one thing, and that’s usually concrete setting or waiting on materials to arrive. If that’s the case, and only then, will I kick off another project because I know I am almost at the end of the project I started anyway.
5. Stopped buying magazines, books and newspapers
How many times do you buy a whole magazine for one recipe? And how many times do you start a book and don’t like it, start it and devour it, or never touch it and it instead accumulates a bucket ton of dust sitting in a stack because there is no more room on your shelf anymore?
No. These days we have smart phones, and people have active blogs with fantastic recipes. If you’re really desperate for that particular recipe in the magazine, take a picture of it. If you really need that book, download a sample from Amazon first and see if you like it. These days there are other options. Investing in a kindle might be a bit much for you, but most people have smart phones and/or ipads/tablets and you can download ebook reading apps on those devices. There’s heaps of free ebook resources for the classics, or subscription services like Amazon that has an option for you to download and borrow books. There is also an option to borrow ebooks from your library using an app.
Unless these items have sentimental value, you don’t need it. I culled stacks and stacks of magazines and books that I had dragged and dragged from house to house, across state lines. It was ridiculous.
6. Limit online time
The more work I got outside, the less I spent inside. To say this has been wonderful is an understatement. I don’t waste my time incessantly looking trying to stimulate my brain receptors. I spend the days outside and in the sunshine. Less time wasted on social media also contributes to feeling better overall.
7. Began spending money more intentionally
I’ve never been into shopping. I enjoy bargain hunting, but not aimlessly wandering around the shopping centre looking at crap. When you decide to be more intentional with your spending, you waste less. This is easily achieved by putting in certain stops along the way. Maybe you start imposing a time ban on yourself so when you see something you think you want, you give yourself 24-48 hours to ‘cool off’ and determine if it truly is something needed. Or maybe you make a list of things and then after 6 months if you still need it you get it then. My husband and I usually leave all our big ticket item shopping to middle of the year or Black Friday/Boxing Day. It also helps you get the best deal, but really determines if that thing is really needed. The advantage of online shopping lists and leaving things in the cart on both ebay and Amazon means that you can add something you like but not necessarily buy it. I’ve found when doing this, I often get discount offers from the sellers, particularly if the item has been in my cart for 2-4 weeks.
8. Stopped trying new beauty and skincare products
I love perfume. But I also use perfume every day. It’s part of my morning routine. Wash teeth, tie up hair into pony tail, put moisturizer and SPF on my face, deodorize, perfume, and off I go.
But the makeup – the foundations, the elixirs, the eyeshadow and the other crap is just that, crap. I needed it for my corporate IRL job but as I mentioned above, when I moved to 1-2 days a week I just stopped using it. Why? Why do I need to wear this crap on my face? It’s so expensive and such a waste. There’s also the merchy bags, and the’ buy this size foundation and get this other thing free’ and its usually something you’ll never use.
9. Get moving
We live in the bush so we don’t have the luxury, need, want or requirement to be biking or walking around just for the fun of it. But we do work physically most of the week in some capacity. I try to keep on top of doing something physically each day. I must admit prior to covid I was doing a lot more gym related stuff, but then again, covid changed a lot of priorities for me. Maybe one day I may have another home gym with some weights and squat racks, but the amount of work I do physically now, there is no way I could fit in doing a gym workout in addition to a full day of physical work. Point is, get outside, and do some physical work. I’ve found it doesn’t have the ability to quieten my brain, but I’m an analyst and so my brain is constantly churning and spinning at a million revolutions an hour. Working physically forces my brain to get to the level of my body but only just for a few days before its racing again.
10. Live with more intention daily
Journaling helped me with this. I love the idea of pre-set journals and am very active in spending the first 10-20 mins of my day just journaling ideas down. I currently use the Dailygreatness Original Journal and Planner Yearly and it changed my life. It helped me set my intention for the day, the week and the month. It helped me see what I had achieved and whether I needed to restructure some goals. Sometimes, things may pop up that are not planned, mostly new opportunities, or things like covid that changes a much broader part of not only your life but society. And the best thing to do is have a journal where you can map out your goals and dreams and be fluid with them.
Journalling has helped me plan and use my time better and with greater intention, because I can focus it better on where my efforts need to be.
Deciding to live minimalism or start simplifying your life is often a journey. Yes you may start it off with some culling or purging of things, or changing the way you do something. You might kick off your journey by going low waste, or buying organic, or even doing a Marie Kondo on your bookshelf. However you start this journey though, realise that its your personal journey and it doesn’t have to fit the current prescription for that ideology. As I said earlier in the post, I don’t prescribe to minimalism entirely. But that doesn’t mean I can’t apply the principles to where I think I need them.
What are some of the ways you’ve simplified your own life? I’d love to hear your tips and ideas!
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