Our family has spent the past several years de-cluttering our life and our home. I use to spend time and money shopping for things that I didn't need -- and honestly couldn't afford. I use to purchase "stuff" to make myself better. But, honestly it didn't. I felt remorse and just filled my house and my basement with more stuff. Now, the only time I find myself shopping is shopping with a purpose. Food, an essential household item or even a gift. I don't even purchase gifts all that often anymore -- as I'd rather gift experiences -- more than "I thought of you" gifts that will probably just sit in a closet or drawer somewhere. How many candles or body lotion does someone need anyway?
After watching Minimalism and reading a few fascinating books by Gretchen Rubin: Happier at Home, Better than Before and Happiness Project, I was pumped to live with less and create more abundance in our life through other outlets. I wanted to make more connections and relationships, explore more and live every moment like it was our last day of exploring.
We are not sitting in empty rooms with blank walls. Instead we are heading outdoors, exploring and filling our minds with all sorts of fond memories, vibrant colors in natural settings and exhilarating ideas for future adventures. We still have plenty of stuff. Don't get me wrong. But we definitely have less of it. And less to dust when I finally get around to house cleaning -- another added bonus!
We are spending less money and living on a pretty strict budget, while having more fun than ever before. It's really pretty, well ... simple.
Here are some of my tips for living on less with your family. Most of them at no cost to you. I promise, no one will be bored.
- Take advantage of free outings and events. Scour Facebook or your local library's bulletin board for upcoming free events.
- Stay in-the-loop on free museum admission days. Many post regular days throughout the month as free days for local residents.
- Use your local library to read new books, watch movies, play games. You can also visit your library for free events, fitness classes, play groups, playtime and family board game time.
- Invest in a state park pass or trail pass. Rates are typically under $30 for an entire year and you will spend the rest of the year exploring for free!
- Play in a new park. Try a new park at least once a week. Many families go to the same 2-3 parks and playgrounds regularly. Try getting outside of your neighborhood or even outside of your hometown. You never know what unique equipment, hiking and fun there might be waiting for you.
- Schedule one day or evening a week as an "adventure day". Use this day to pick somewhere new to explore. Create a bucket list or adventure jar or keep a running list of places you want to see and things you want to do together.
- Volunteer your time. Volunteering is a great way to do a social activity with your family, while also helping a cause or filling a need.
- Schedule a playdate. Planning time with friends is a great way for both parents and children to reconnect and it's absolutely free.
- Cut the cord. We have lived without cable for close to a decade and it's been amazing. We have subscribed to some of the other streaming services in the winter months. But otherwise we use the library, You Tube or do other activities that don't involve the television.
- Put all of your change in a special jar for a special purpose. At the end of the year use it to fund your "splurge adventure" or donate it to your favorite cause. We save up all of our change and take the kids to a steak dinner on New Year's Eve.
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