Forget New Year’s Resolutions that make everything harder and more complex. Why is it always about doing more? Can we all do less for a change? It’s time for a serious paring down; a hard core detox. It’s time for simplifying.
There’s nothing super about being a superwoman. So, with the beloved holidays behind us and tax deadlines still somewhat comfortably in the future, it’s a good time of year to lose a bad habit, ditch a possession or expense, and just let go of whatever could be holding you back or costing you cash. Besides, in this recession, who doesn’t want to lighten the load a bit? Welcome to lifestyle improvement for lazy girls (or, if you’re like me, just way-too-busy girls).
Here are some practical tips to get you started in your quest for a free afternoon or an extra dollar:
Cook more. Eat out less. This one is first on the list because I may be the worst offender, and I’ve run out of excuses. EcoSalon has made it so easy to cook, by showering posts with recipes and culinary cues galore.
Eat vegetarian. Skip meat and dairy as often as your palette allows. If you’re a regular reader, you know that veggie doesn’t mean tofu or the poor house, not by a long shot.
Learn to sew. I don’t mean buy a Singer. If you can thread a needle, you can sew a button or repair a hem. Try it rather than driving to the tailor across town and forking over hard-earned money.
Give up the gym membership. Gyms are so 20th century anyway! Why not start a walking or running group with friends? Go for a hike, a walk on the beach or a stroll through the woods. Unless you frequent the facility at least 4 times a week, give it up. There are easier ways to break a sweat, and they can be a lot more fun.
Buy an espresso machine. Lose the Grande Latte. This one sounds brutal, but really”¦there was a time, in a galaxy far, far away, when all corners weren’t covered with coffee shops. Make your latte at home.
Purchase a water purifier. Say no to bottled water. End of story. This is one of the worst and most expensive daily habits, as well as the easiest to rectify. And while you’re at it – why not quit the soda habit?
Speaking of habits…
Quit smoking, stop tanning, start flossing, or… Bad habits cost mucho dinero, and the health and environmental risks – you already know. Alcohol consumption is another good thing to cut back on or quit.
Are you still with me? This isn’t a walk in the park, I know, but just try a few at a time.
Organize a pot luck dinner. Instead of a late night out spending money on over-priced drinks and valet parking, invite your friends over, asking each to bring a favorite dish or drink. Encourage them to walk (if possible), avoiding all sorts of trouble and saving gas.
Pack a lunch. Eating out 5 days a week adds up to almost $200 a month ($10 per day). Yes, it takes extra time to fill a recycled lunch bag with goodies for the day. But if you do it while cleaning up after dinner the night before, you’ll be sure to use leftovers rather than let them go bad in the back of the fridge.
Plan a weekly menu. Spending about one hour per week to do this will save time and money. It creates an instant grocery list, so you’ll avoid throwing extra items in the cart. It may even help remedy the daily “Crap! I forgot something!” wasted trips to the market.
Buy bulk and split the goods. Again, gather a group of friends and combine your lists. Take turns traveling to Costco and doing the shopping. Get together and split everything up.
Start using cash. Put away the plastic (keep for emergencies only) and instead purchase everything with cash. A debit card is considered cash, by the way.
Cancel subscriptions. Read your newspapers and magazines online. Read them at the doctor’s office. And if you must have a favorite delivered to your home, reuse it as wrapping paper or recycle it.
Unplug. Are you a slave to communication technology? Try turning it off for an hour (or two) and notice the quiet. Enjoy.
Go paperless. Automate all your bills and never miss a due date. And never buy another stamp!
Turn down the heat. Have you noticed your sky-high utility bill lately? Put on a sweater or add another layer rather than crank up the temperature. Apply the same concept (reversed) in the summer with the air conditioning.
Never shower alone. Yes, that’s what I said. Wash two people with one shower. Save water (and have fun) by lathering up with your significant other.
Join Netflix. With no shipping costs or overdue charges, this is the best way to save money on movies, next to not going at all.
Cancel extra cable channels. Do you really watch the hundreds of channels you pay for each month? Cutting back here will save money and (hopefully) time because you just may watch less television. Consider getting rid of T.V. all together. It’s not as terrible as you think (especially because now you can catch so many shows online).
Ride a bike or walk. Whenever possible, say no to parking meters, parking tickets and parking garages.
Get a library card. This sounds so old fashioned when you consider all the online options to swap and buy used, but there’s nothing simpler and more affordable than the library. Your local branch is probably somewhere along your route to work or school.
Regularly purge and donate. Clean out basements or garages or closets and give everything you don’t need or use to a local thrift store or charity. Less is more.
Reuse or repurpose. Before buying anything new, look around your home for ways to make it with stuff you already have. Make sure it isn’t lost in the bottom of that messy junk drawer.
Shop vintage. This is not only cost-effective but fun. EcoSalon loves second-hand boutiques and swapping clothes with friends. You can find amazing mid-century furniture, rare pottery and cookingware, and designer handbags – just for starters. Try it and watch your creative juices sizzle and your pocketbook fatten.
Practice saying no. Once in a while, see how it feels to turn down an invitation or a favor request. Your yeses don’t mean as much if you never say no. Keep the time free that you would be using.
Give up on keeping up with the Jones’. It isn’t worth it in the long run. He who dies with the most luxury items doesn’t really win anything”¦at all. He just pays more bills and accumulates debt and worries a lot and suffers from health problems.
What do you do to simplify and save?
Images: Mr. Happy, bensonkua, wakalani, theBlackBrian, preciouskhyatt, gitsul., stopnlook, William Hook, mugley, wnorrix, daviddesign, darwinbell, studiosmith, Problem Solver