“Don’t make your life complicated, live simply.”
There’s something about living simply that brings a sense of connectedness and grounding. I realize that living “simply” will have various significance from one person to the next; we are all unique. One thing is certain for all of us however and that is, we live in a consumer society and especially living in the city, there are so many distractions and ways to keep oneself “busy” by spending money. I find that the things that align most with my values like home, family and hobbies not only cost nothing but are things that make me the happiest. These are some ways to live very well without spending a lot of money.
Creating A Budget
A good way to mental peace is knowing exactly how much money you actually have. Start with the basics: bills, rent/mortgage, food. Then choose things or activities that will add value to your life. These will be your best investments. Saving money is always important but living below your means for long periods of time can damage the spirit. Splurge once in a while, life is short.
Shopping Smart – Buying Bulk & Stockpiling The Pantry
I keep a pantry with all the basics. Things I use a lot like cooking oils, vinegars for salad dressings, rice, legumes, pasta, agave syrup, canned beans, chickpeas, coconut milk (for curries). Buying these things in bulk save money in the long run. I shop my pantry on days when I’ve gone through the groceries and am usually able to create a few more meals. In a past blog I shared a list of how I stock my pantry. I’ll link it here: https://thebellwitchmanor.blog/2020/01/18/how-to-stock-a-plant-based-pantry-meal-ideas-veggie-comfort-food-recipes/
Growing Your Food – Culinary and Healing Herbs for Teas, Cooking
If you can grow some of your food, you’re very lucky. We have a large balcony, not large enough to grow a lot of vegetables but I still grow mediterranean herbs for cooking: Rosemary, Basil, Thyme, Oregano as well as mints, lemon balm and lavender for teas. Fresh herbs give cooking so much flavour and when the growing season ends, drying or freezing them is a great way to save money. I’m planning on creating a space for the kitties too. They’ll love a nice patch of cat grass and catmint (catnip).
Cooking From Scratch
I only cook from scratch. If I open a can it is only for black beans or chickpeas for homemade Falafel. I keep canned coconut milk for soups and curry and whenever I can I cook double batches and freeze 1/2. Nothing feels better after a long day than to know that there is a home cooked meal in the freezer; just heat and serve. I make it a point to use produce that’s in season to support our local farmers (it’s also usually cheaper than plastic wrapped imported veg) . Cooking from scratch is rewarding because I know exactly what ingredients are in my food, it’s much less costly than eating out (obviously) and let’s face it, I love being in my kitchen and the satisfaction of serving a meal that’s healthy and delicious.
I keep glass jars and re-use them to store dried goods – lentils, rolled oats, spices like Garam Masala and Quinoa. Up-Cycling is friendly to the planet and affordable. There is a shop in my city called the Soap Dispensary. You can take empty containers from home and fill them with dish soap, hand soap, hand sanitizer, clothing detergent. I’ve re-used the same bottles with pumps for hand soaps for a while. I just wash them and refill. I also get hand knitted wash cloths from my mom. I keep some in the bathroom and use them for my face to remove makeup and I’ve just placed an order with her for kitchen ones. No more dirty sponges. I love that I can throw them in the washing machine and use them over and over. I’ve got a collection of large jars going in my pantry right now; they’ll be used for my annual batch of immune boosting Fire Cider.
Creating A Menu & Shopping Local
Once a week, I sit down and plan a week’s worth of meals. By going to the shop with an exact list of the ingredients I need, I’m not tempted to get extras and food never goes bad in the fridge. During the summer months I like to walk over to the Farmers Market for fresh produce. Last Summer we went berry picking. I still have bags of frozen berries for smoothies and desserts. Because I keep the pantry stocked with basics, most of my shopping is for fresh veggies and specific ingredients that have a shorter shelf life like Almond Milk and Tofu. Not consuming meat has cut our bill down significantly as well.
Hand Making Products
When I have extra time (like in Wintertime when we’re indoors a lot) I like to spend a few afternoons making soap, linen spray and beeswax candles. I make laundry detergent that comes to about $5 a gallon and re-use sprayer bottles for homemade cleaners with essential oils and vinegar. I haven’t bought hair conditioner in a long time because I make my own. I buy a big bag of epsom salts and mix them with my favourite essential oils and store them in glass jars for my nightly baths.
Zero Spend Days
By planning meals ahead and shopping for exactly what I need, there’s no running out to pick up last minute ingredients. I do one shop for the week and pack leftovers for work. We stopped drinking coffee years ago and make our breakfast at home each morning. No more expensive stops at the coffee shop. Zero spend days make up most of my week.
I guess we’ve been forced into creating ways to entertain ourselves at home this past year. I love being home regardless and there are many ways to have fun without spending any money. I have a huge DVD collection (Im probably the only person who does) so a night at home is usually making homemade pizza’s, playing a game or watching a movie. We’re lucky to live in a city surrounded by beautiful nature; hikes in the forest or a walk along the ocean is something we do on sunny weekends. Exchanging books I’ve read with friends and family is a good idea. There’s a free books library in my building that I use and contribute to.
Using What You Have Before Buying More
I’m definitely guilty when it comes to buying things I don’t absolutely need. But like I said earlier, buying something that adds value or just plain makes you happy is a must once in a while. I love fashion and usually update my wardrobe with a few pieces each season. I also pull everything out of my closet once a year and trade with my sister. Anything I haven’t worn in that year has to go. Clothing swaps are great because you get new things for free. There are also sites like Poshmark that I’ve used to sell my clothes and with the money I make, I buy new things. When I say new I don’t necessarily mean brand new. I mean new to me. I love thrifting. Another thing I do is to take clothes I already own to a tailor. I recently had a black dress I hadn’t worn in a long time cut to a midi length and now I love it again!
These days I prefer investing in creating a beautiful home, in hobbies that enrich my life and experiences that create memories. There are many enjoyable ways to not only save money but learn something new. I wish you a wonderful weekend.