8 Thoughts About Simplicity and Money

Hammock at Happy Simple Living blog

Photo by Chris Reed

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand. Instead of a million, count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

What does financial simplicity mean to you? For me, it’s the feeling that we are in control of our money, rather than having our financial situation control us. It’s the peace that comes from living within our means. It’s a good night’s sleep, with a minimum of money worries.

Here are some of the ways we try to simplify the finances in our household:

  1. Specific, achievable goals for retirement, college, vacations and other large purchases.
  2. A minimum of bills, delivered and paid electronically to reduce paper.
  3. Bills paid on time. Because my income fluctuates as a writer, at the beginning of each month I make a list of bills, in order of the due date, and a monthly budget. This system has virtually eliminated late payments and fees.
  4. Money set aside regularly for annual bills like taxes and insurance. I have a special savings account to save for large annual expenses, and figure out how much to contribute each month so the big bills are usually covered.
  5. A neat, orderly system. Okay, I’m still working on better organization. But I do keep up with filing papers on a fairly consistent basis, and I’m moving on converting more paperwork to digital files and online billing.
  6. Meaningful sharing of our abundance with those less fortunate. Giving is a priority, and it gets budgeted along with our other expenses.
  7. Savings set aside each month and added to regularly. Savings is another line item on the budget.
  8. Discipline. At the end of each month I calculate our net worth, which is the only way I’ve found to truly stay honest about the state of our finances.

Have you found additional ways to simplify how you manage money? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

9 comments to 8 Thoughts About Simplicity and Money

  • Donna

    We use a cash system to discipline ourselves around spending money each month on all the household items. We use envelopes. We divide categories such as grocery, dining out, entertainment, personal care,, clothing, etc. We decided on a reasonable amount of cash for each envelope based on averaging past spending and also cutting down. We have been using this system for many years. It works. When we are making a decision about whether to go out to eat, for instance, we look in the envelope and if there is only $20.00, and 2 weeks until the end of the month, we make very different decisions then if we just go out and put it on the credit card.
    At the same time we started the cash system, we took all our credit cards out of our wallet and purse. We leave them at home. We said if we can’t pay cash or debit, we will not buy it. We save up for larger purchases.
    Our only debt is our house. We refinanced 2 yrs ago so now we have 13 yrs to go on a 15yr. Loan at 3.2 . We have 2 cars but they are paid for, no car payments, no credit card debt.
    I am 53 and my husband is 49. By the time he is 62, we will be completely done with all debt. We have been happily married 26 yrs.

  • This is really an interesting blog here, I particularly liked this post on simplicity and money, as this is also the issue in my blog (www.gooddaytolive.net if you want to have a look).

    I hope the idea of downshifting will get more prominent in the future, but actually there are some signs that it well might do!

    Btw., the photos of your cakes look delicious! I’m not so much into bakery, but will proceed the link to my wife at once.

  • Kim Heller

    I find working together as a team allows mundane tasks to turn into quality time together. We have some labor intensive yard work to do- we could hire it done and while someone else is doing the labor we could be out spending more money entertaining ourselves or… we could make it a fun adventure by all working together on the project and then treating ourselves to a great meal on the grill- quality time together and saving money and getting exercise- what could be better???

  • Very well said. What I’d add in this list is to control oneself to resist temptation from impulse buying as I’m very guilty about this, especially if the cause is related to my emotions. LOL.

  • I think having things paid and saved automatically is the simplest way to live within your means. What you don’t see you won’t spend.

  • Caroline72

    Money can cause us stress.but can bring us happiness.

  • Great simple tips…..money can be the cause of much stress in our lives…any way to reduce these worries and give us back control is worth the effort.

  • Great post! All too often finances are omitted from the simple living equation, but it is so important. Glad you included charitable donations!

  • Great reminders Eliza! I think too many people discount the pure pleasure and peace that comes from living within your means. Lots of us focus on the discipline rather than the many advantages. That’s why I write a lot about how great it is too–and how it is like giving yourself a raise…. one of my latest blog posts was on that topic. Check it out if interested in more… http://smartliving365.com/?p=868#more-868

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