This post was inspired and contains my reflections and notes from the book, ” Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup.”
1. The Good Life Is Not What We Think It Is: Do not equate possessions with happiness. More stuff will not make you happy. A life consumed by always wanting more will not bring contentment and peace. Overconsumption and unchecked indulgence in anything will destroy us. We must learn to control our love for money or it will control us. Do not define the value of your life by what you have or what you wish you had. Value yourself instead by who you are. Remember that serving the Divine is a key component of the Good Life.
2. Contentment Is A Choice: Know what matters most-asking yourself what you would be remembered for, if you died tomorrow, is a good starting point. The other important thing is not to compare yourself with anyone; you are unique and you should walk your own path to the best of your ability. Be grateful for what you have, even the small and ordinary things we all take for granted. Focus on how you can serve others, rather than how others can serve you. Actively avoid the things that tempt you the most and do not buy them or fulfill them- doing so will fuel your desires than calm them down.
3. We All Have A Sweet Spot: Our sweet spot is where our greatest passions and our talents and abilities intersect. But is not enough to just find them- you need to act, step by step, from where you are right now. Make the most of your present situation. Learn. Grow. Develop who and what you are. You have identify your gifts, have confidence in them, be willing to let go of your current path if it is not your sweet spot and have the courage to do what you really love.
4. Written Goals Can Change Your Life: Identify the big rocks in your life. Write them down. Break them down into small manageable parts and have a deadline for achieving them. Make yourself accountable.
5. We All Get The Same 24 Hours: We have the same amount of time as everybody else. We cannot get everything done. We have to choose what is important to us and convert those to habits. We have to eliminate the unessential so that we have time for what matters most.
6. Less Stuff Equals More Joy: Clearing excess clutter in your home will give you space so that quality important things are what is there and you have time to really enjoy and do things.
7. We Need To Spend Less Than We Think We Do: Admit that overspending is a problem. Do not shop without purpose. Even if you have a lot of money, you need to spend it carefully; as you are a steward of the money that comes to you. Have a month of zero spending, apart from what is really essential. This means no new clothes, gadgets, home improvements, craft projects, and especially no eating at restaurants. It means staying home instead of going out. It means buying as few perishable grocery items as possible, and instead eating the long-forgotten items in your pantry and freezer. You will then realize that stuff does not create happiness. Instead buying more breeds nothing but discontentment.
8. Saving Is A State of Mind: Financial freedom(where you are financially free and do not need to work for money) and financial peace( where you are satisfied and contented with your financial status, even if you are not financially free) are both important. The first comes from hard work and discipline while the second comes from above, grace of the Divine. You need to create and stick to a realistic budget: income, expenses( fixed and variable). Expenses can also be divided into what we really need and what is optional. You have to aim to save in both categories. Housing, transportation and insurance costs can be reduced in some cases. You can also cut on utilities, gas and food costs. In case of variable and extraneous expenses, delayed gratification is probably the single best wat to save on them. When you do these you will have more money which you can use to establish your emergency fund and fund for retirement.
9. How To Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half: Extreme grocery savings do not come from coupons. If you want to save big on your groceries, you have to shop the store’s sales. This means:
- Compare which stores have the best sales.
- Always buy food when it is at its lowest possible price(usually 30-50% off the everyday normal price)
- To do this, you need to keep an ongoing rock-bottom price list and notice the patterns that appear.
- Once you find a rock-bottom price, you have to buy enough to last you till the rock- bottom prices come again.
- You may to buy in bulk, buy what is in season, buy local or buy frozen to cut on costs.
- After you do these things, use coupons.
- Plan your meals around your stock-piled items.
10. A Clean House Is A Happy House: Keep your house clean with simple and cheap things like white vinegar, baking soda, lemons, salt, olive oil, ivory bar soap, liquid dishwashing soap, borax, etc. Or buy the cheapest items available for cleaning.
11. The Best Things In Life Are Free: Nurture your friendships- make a list of people you want to spend time with, pray for them, block out time for them and forgive them. Practice hospitality- anticipate their needs, plan ahead, make conversation, smile and avoid awkward moments. Cultivate creativity- read more, reflect, ask questions, pay attention, play, brainstorm, rest and enjoy the creativity of others.
12. We Get More When We Give: Be less greedy and give more- of your time, money, everything else. Give your time and talents to your church or community. Serve the people closest to you.