A big part of de-stressing and living a calmer life is about changing our relationship to money - allowing money to be the tool rather than the driver or motivator of our actions. Living simply, sharing, fixing, buying less stuff and participating in the gift economy are all powerful actions for positive change - and part of living a permaculture-based lifestyle.
By simplifying my life and avoiding unnecessary daily purchases, I am easily saving over $23,000 a year in just a few areas of my life.
|Growing your own fresh produce is such a healthy and satisfying way to simplify your life, and save thousands a year. I typically grow so much that I need to give much of it away - mostly as cuttings at the workshops I give, to help other people's gardens become more abundant.|
What this means is that:
- I don't need to earn that amount (and can spend that time with my family, volunteering in my community, developing new skills, writing, riding, being in nature...) or
- I have more freedom to spend the money on more interesting things, or things that will last.... or
- Perhaps go on a journey and worldschool our kids.
I've found that reducing our daily cost of living can be a simple, yet powerful series of actions that can help us live a more sustainable, low-impact and relaxed way of life.
I feel happier like this - more connected to myself, my community, the place I live, the planet and global society. I feel better too knowing that I have not contributed so much waste and pollution, or impacted so much on other communities. This is important to me.
|Slowing down and exploring our own backyard - finding dragonflies, turtles, waterbirds, waterlily and other interesting plants, insects and animals.|
So how do I simply save over $23,000 a year:
Go Shopping With a List - save $5000
I find it's too easy to fill shopping baskets with spontaneous buys especially when I don't take my list or I shop when I'm hungry. I've noticed my register bill almost doubles. I also avoid shopping at big stores that encourage over-purchasing. Even shopping at small ethical stores, I have found this saves me around $5000 a year.
Eat a Simple Dinner at Home - save $5000
I love to cook and kindly my kids say my meals are really good - they even go so far to say they prefer my food to meals out (phew!). We eat simple, tasty and healthy meals together at home and enjoy the laid-back vibe. Eating out with a 3yo can be 'not-so-relaxing'. Some days (for no particular reason) we set the table really nicely, put on some music and make it a special meal. Taking a family out for dinner weekly can be costly. I think we easily save over $5000 a year by eating at home, and taking food with us.
|Maia loves creating colourful little table decorations from garden flowers, old jars, socks and fabrics scraps. Delightful!|
Pack Lunch and Snacks when we go out - save $3000
Almost every time we start going somewhere the kids say, "what can we eat?" - even if they've just had their breakfast. Our growing boys in particular seem to have hollow legs. I always pack a substantial bag of healthy food from home for them to eat while we are out and about - being where we are, outings beyond Crystal Waters are typically never less than 3-4 hours. We might still buy something, but nowhere near as much. As a Mum I also feel better that the've filled up on 'good stuff'. Taking snack baskets on our outings saves us at least $3000 a year.
Go on picnics and local outings - save $3000
A favourite local outing is a picnic at the river. It is even something we do on special occasions. We pack up our little basket with little goodies and a thermos, sometimes even a bag of potatoes to through in a riverside campfire - yumm! By reducing the number of expensive outings and choosing to entertain ourselves in our local environment I estimate saves us over $3000 a year.
|We all love heading to the river, exploring, having a picnic and cooking potatoes in the fire.|
Make a Coffee Thermos at home - save $4000
We love coffee and I think we still spend way too much on coffee when we're out. By taking our coffee thermos from home I estimate we could save around $4000 a year - wow, oh dear, that's huge. Perhaps I should just drink my herb infused waters instead - which I already carry everywhere!
Grow fresh greens - $3000
By cultivating some super-easy home-grown food - fresh salads leaves, bunches of greens, a range of culinary herbs, bundles of cherry tomatoes and delicious snow peas, not only is your food far fresher and more nutrient dense, I've worked out that we easily save over $3000 a year. If we took into account all the food we grow and the eggs, it would be much more.
|I grow at least 20 different types of greens for teas, salads, stir-fries, soups, curries and other meals. This is super spicy red mustard spinach and one of the open-hearted oak-leaf lettuces behind.|
|The self-seeding tomatoes are so delicious and abundant. I don't have to do anything and there are many many kilograms every year.|
Other ways to save money by living simply
- Assess needs against wants - check in with yourself. I find I can often easily put things back on the shop shelf if I stop to think about it. Stepping out of the consumer lifestyle can be very liberating. It helps to avoid big shopping centres too. It's hard to come out having bought just what you needed, and quite often items are not as good as expected.
- Choose good quality items that last - It's better to spend money on something that will last a long time and is fixable, rather than on cheap disposable versions.
- Choose good quality second hand things - there is so much scope here! Furniture, cars, bikes, computers, musical instruments, clothes...
- Declutter - finding a clarity of mind in clear spaces, spaces not filled with 'stuff' we own.
Choosing to live more simply, moving away from the work-spend cycle and finding a broader definition of richness and wealth, is often known as downshifting or voluntary simplicity. This way of thinking and living embraces the notions such as:
- bigger is not always better,
- focus on quality rather than quantity,
- see that accumulating more stuff does not make us happier, and
- a simpler life creates far less impact on the environment and society.
Did you know that every year, the average Australian family produces enough rubbish to fill a three-bedroom house, producing about 2.25 kg of waste each per day. Cool Australia
I also strongly believe that we do need to "Live simply so that others may simply live" as Gandhi said.
By embracing voluntary simplicity ideals, it is embracing an ethical life, that values other people, other communities, other species, other ecological communities... This is certainly connected to the third ethic of permaculture.
The three ethics at the core of permaculture are:
- earth care
- people care
- fair share
Labels: community, declutter, environment, family, food, gardening, gift economy, happiness, permaculture, reducing waste, reflection, simple living, simplify