I don’t have much in the way of money or worldly possessions, I’m not beautiful, intelligent or clever…
…but I’m happy, and I intend to stay that way!
I was born happy,
I love people,
I have a trusting nature,
and I’d like everyone else to be happy too.
Somewhere deep inside — we all know that money can not buy our happiness.
Yet, we find ourselves (or maybe it’s just me) behaving as though it can.
We imagine, dream, and pursue a happier life for ourselves and our family…often to the neglect of everything that is truly important.
“If only we had a bit more money,” we reason quietly.
Society has conditioned us to desire wealth — to consume. We’ve been trained to want the newest and the bestest. We want more money because then we’ll have the good life…or so they say.
I’ve learned that no matter how big our income, no matter how much we have in the bank account, no matter how nice our house, our neighborhood, our cars or toys, absolutely none of it will make us happier.
“More” will always be knocking at the door.
Research shows that once an individuals basic needs are met (enough) happiness and creativity occur as a natural byproduct — any more or any less leads to discontent.
In order to embrace frugal living we must find contentment in the way things are.
So what then will bring us happiness?
Seeking those things that help us meet our basic human needs of:
Beyond that…money and possessions are useless and burdensome.
Tips To Help Us Meet Our Basic Needs
Tip #1 Healthy Mind
Too much stress can kill you, as it eats away your joy. If we were to seek the root cause of our stress, much of it can be associated with our efforts to succeed. Studies show that the more we have, the more stressed we become.
Therefore, we can assume, more money and stuff does not bring us contentment…it’s actually killing us! Tips for reducing stress:
- Spend cuddle time with your loved ones. Nothing fancy…just spend time with them.
- Turn the TV off.
- Learn to enjoy the outdoors.
- Exercise daily.
- Disconnect from technology.
I’m a big proponent of positive thinking. Especially during troubling and financially difficult times, we have to remain positive (realistic, but positive).
Happiness is a state of mind.
Happy people feel empowered, in control of their lives, and have an optimistic outlook on life…regardless of the size of their bank account.
Engage Your Creativity
What is that saying about idle hands? Same applies to the mind.
When our minds are idle and disengaged we begin to seek fulfillment in external things (stuff).
Frugality flows out of a creative mind. You, yes you, possess creativity and special gifts that only you have power over.
Tip #2 Healthy Body
Get enough of it! When we are tried and run down, we tend to make impulsive decisions.
This can translate into:
- increased spending
- decreased quality time with family members, friends, or co-workers
- and often leaves us suseptable to illness.
In order to have the energy and vitality that is needed for a happy, fulfilling, frugal life…we must consume foods that support our bodies to that end.
This may include — yet is not limited to:
Go ahead…raise your hands. Who committed to fitness in the new year?
Exercising is such an important piece to the happiness/frugal living puzzle. Not only will you improve your health (which saves you money — i.e. medical bills) but you will reduce your level of stress and in many cases exercise balances your hormones, not to mention the “high” you get from aerobic activity.
I’m not suggesting that you go join a gym…in fact I’d rather you not and save your money instead.
Read more here for frugal exercise ideas. And be sure to follow my HOMEMADE FITNESS Pinterest Board. Additionally, here are a few things that I have found vital to any successful fitness program:
- exercise with others
- do something you enjoy
- baby steps (no need to go couch to marathon)
Tip #3 Healthy Soul
We have an innate human need to be intimate with other human beings.
- supportive friends
- a well-rooted, committed relationship
- and a loving family
…will fill us with peace and happiness. Prioritizing the development of your relationships will nurture your soul and bring a sense of contentment.
Frugality is enjoying and being thankful for what we already have. When we take time daily to express our gratitude for the people and things in our lives, peace and contentment can be ours.
Gratitude has the power to reduce our desire for more.
It doesn’t matter what your spiritual beliefs are, the truth is every human being possesses a soul.
And how does this relate to frugal living you ask?
Daily meditation is paramount for our spiritual health. Taking time to focus on something greater than ourselves, has the ability to lift us high above this material world — so as to refocus our perspective on what’s truly important.
When we neglect to set aside time to daily meditate on the goodness found in this life, we place ourselves in an extremely vulnerable position.
No amount of money or material possessions could ever fill the depths of our soul.
Here are a few tips on how to weave meditation into your day and why it’s important.
To learn more about finding happiness in frugal living, check out Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence.
How have you found happiness in your frugality?
I guess I’ve come up with a “somewhere in between” mentality: I don’t love money, I actually hate it! But…. I realize that the dreams I have for my 5 acres, to become totally self-sufficient on them, has made me wish for the money to set it up. You can’t get livestock, or plant fruit and nut trees, grow gardens or have solar power without that horrible green stuff we all call money.
That is the only reason I try to make more, to be able to eventually live WITHOUT anything I can’t grow or make myself, including clothing and shoes.
Unfortunately, life gets in the way of me doing just that. I am happy with what I have, and believe me, that isn’t much, but then, I really don’t need fancy clothes or jewelry, new cars, etc. Never really felt the need to try to keep up with others who do have those things.
I want a simple lifestyle, it just takes money to get there!!! 😉
Respectfully disagree Carol. You can have a simple lifestyle anywhere, in fact, much easier without money as simple does not require money. You can grow food anywhere (my mom grows vegetables on her 9th floor apt balcony). You do not need 5 acres. Fruit and nut trees are everywhere to be had for free (learn to take cuttings and graft) or harvest food from the ‘commons’. Eg http://ottawa.hiddenharvest.ca/ – a program to harvest existing fruit and nut trees on public land or private owners willing to share. Abundance is all around you. Creativity trumps money anytime. Feeling like you can’t get started until you have something else is just an excuse not to get started. The best way to get the lifestyle you want is just to start living the lifestyle you want!
I’m waiting for that cow, chicken, and pig to be grown on that balcony!! Duh!!
Oh, and how’s that apple tree doing?? Duh!!
I guess you didn’t follow the link to understand what I was talking about.
My point was you can get started to live the lifestyle well before the money shows up. You don’t have to grow trees on the balcony. You don’t have to steal from private landowners. There are resources already around for the taking if you simply ask. many of these are simply going to waste.
I know people who own farms who do not farm the entire acreage and they would be amenable to having their land used for small scale farming for minimal cost or even no-cost if you share some of the bounty, for example.
There are seed exchanges where one can get started for nothing. Food growers will welcome others taking cutting from their plants and will share root cuttings. People who grow their own food are generous people and they all got started somewhere too. They are willing to share knowledge too.
Foraging is also an option – a very good option, in my opinion, because we ignore lots of edible plants which are perennials, which require no care and no input costs to produce.
I’m basically agreeing with the post, I’m just adding that money is not always a barrier.
Growing one’s own food is a mindset, not something you buy at the hardware store. You can’t buy sustainability. There is also no such thing as total self-sustainability. We need each other and each other’s talents, abilities and help like we need the air we breathe.
While I do understand what you are saying, I respectfully disagree with you. Sure, you can GROW things pretty much anywhere. However, you first need to acquire the seeds or plants. And around here, unless you want to be shot on someones property, or arrested for taking anything off of government property, you’d better go and BUY it at the local nursery. Also, it does cost to raise livestock, as unless you have lots of acreage, you can’t grow all of it to properly feed your animals if you expect good meat or products from them.
I do, and actually have, a pretty pared down lifestyle, and again, I say I don’t need money to find joy and happiness in life. BUT …. IF I want the completely self-sufficient lifestyle that I have planned for myself and my children after me, I DO need money to get it up and running. Just look at any back to basics lifestyle magazine or book and they ALL require some cash purchases to get it started.
Oh, and despite my urge to become like my grandparents and great-grandparents who made and grew all they needed to exist, I was raised in a family that had it all from the local grocer or drugstore, so I have NO idea what to look for regarding ‘foraging’. Yes I COULD learn, but at my age, I am not too certain of the time it would take, and I certainly don’t want to die or get horribly sick because I made a mistake…
I believe my comment is valid: enjoy what you have and don’t desire all the “fluff” that advertisers try to sell you, live simply, do your best and work toward your dream. In my case, it is becoming self-sufficient and also in my case, it requires some money.
I agreee with you Carol. Around here, some people won’t even say hello to you unless you were born and raised here with them. I don’t know of anyone who will let you grow corn, hay or veggies on their property unless you would be willing to pay a king’s ransom to them. I have taken survival classes so I do a lot of foraging and love to see the faces of people when I serve dandelions or violets in a salad. Once I tried it at a garden club meeting (you’d think they would be more open minded) and each one refused to eat it, saying they wouldn’t eat weeds. I won’t trust myself to forage for mushrooms though–too difficult to identify.
I have to agree with Carol here. If you guy’s want to live in yurt and forage on wild vegetables it is very affordable indeed. However I want to live a relatively modern lifestyle. I want running water, toilets that flush and electric lights.
I want to be self sufficient for my food as well. I realize that trying to grow your own coffee and bananas can be a little tricky but I do want to grow peaches, pears and grapes. I want to have spinach and tomatoes year round.
My goal is to build a family farm where any one who needs a place to stay and is willing to participate can have a roof over their head and food on the table.
And that costs money to get started.
I moved to Panama!! We live in a 3rd world country now. We sold almost all of our possessions and moved. We have tons of coconut and fruit trees in our yard now. We get to walk the beach every day. We are simple people, it is awesome. No TV!
Here is a link to the beach we live near. About 15 minutes up the road in a rental home.
That is the quickest picture I could find. We don’t live in a condo like the one in the link…. gotta run to church now (I take the bus 45 minutes to get to church!! It costs $2 to ride the bus 🙂
This is exactly how I have been thinking and trying to transition over to these past few years. I love your blog and products and you are an inspiration to me. Especially, on this cold icy day in Northern New York.
Sue Crawford says
Seeing the sky, changing patterns of clouds, stars and the colors of sunset and sunrise are huge free gifts I enjoy every day. Also the chance to breathe fresh air. We had a student from smog-filled Bejing to stay and the clear light and the air were the things she loved most about the Bay Area.
Skip Thomsen says
Sue, I can so relate to that. “Some of the best things in life are free,” my parents used to tell me. Now when I tell that to my grandkids I understand why they look at me like I’m nuts! But I’m reminded every morning when I take my morning coffee out on the deck and look off into the gorgeous redwoods forest. Most mornings there’s this mystical fog that lets the sun filter through, then as the day warms, the air is clear again. Nights are clear and cool and again, I go outside before bed time to breathe deeply of the forest air and to be mindful of my blessings.
Some of the best things in life are actually free!
I have had to work all my life but in 2014, I will retire from office work and to change to homesteading! I will work for myself instead of someone else. I will still get up at 4am to feed animals, work in the garden during season, can produce, and make things to sell for a small income. I will have more time for charity and community. God will not ask me how much money I made, but he will ask me how many people I helped. Merry Christmas everyone.
Skip Thomsen says
Here’s an article on homestead.org that covers both sides of the conversation above. I’m afraid it favors the notion that there is really no way to avoid the need for money on today’s homestead, no matter how humble. http://homestead.org/SkipThomsen/Money/FourLetterWord.htm
Do what you can do right now. One thing at a time. Buy cheap pots first. Then later dirt. Then later seeds. One step at a time. And think POSITIVE!! Positive thoughts attract positive things. Negatively breeds the same back to you. It took me forever to make my own laundry soap because I had to buy 1 thing at a time and I get paid every 2 weeks. Eventually, I did it. Then, I started with an all-purpose spray. Now a couple of years later I make everything (almost) myself. I love it. Just start my doing something no matter how small.
Amita Patel says
Thanks for this great post. It’s especially true around the holidays. I see it in my life and with my clients. Money is one of those external things that we believe will make us happy. Often our inner dialogue says “When I have X, then I’ll be happy.” When in fact, it is a conscious choice. Nothing external will ever change and internal issue. Thanks for these great tips!
Awesome article. Thanks!
Thank you Cindy!
Kind of funny how positivity was listed and Steve R was trying to encourage that. I disagree with Carol and all the naysayers. A GREAT DEAL of things that I have for my urban homestead were given to me for free or from some sort of barter. Not everything, but a great deal. I have more in life than some and less than perhaps others and I am happy. 🙂 just had to giggle at the immediate haters on a happiness post. To all of you, I wish you well.
No kidding Jennifer! I’m taking it as this post is HIGHLY needed and we all should seek to focus our “happiness efforts” toward self 🙂
Linda had a little Lamb says
Thanks for these tips. I never thought that eating healthy could be considered frugal, but I can see why if we stick to seasonal food items.