A few years ago I read a post with this title and it’s kind of stuck with me.
The list turned out to be more of a “ways to save money” post but I remember reading it and thinking of all the different things I would have added for the “have a great life” portion – and this post is the result.
I feel like society tells us that we need a lot of money to be happy but that simply isn’t true.
My husband and I started out our adulting/married life at the age of 20 almost completely broke and we could barely pay our bills and yet life was great! And while we did get in a boost in income over the years we have also had some big expenses (like an international adoption) and now we are living the middle class life, content with not continually striving for more money, because truly, money does not buy happiness.
Today’s post was mostly written as a reminder for me during those times that I may be feeling less content, I hope you find some useful tips here as well.
HOW TO HAVE A GREAT LIFE WITHOUT SPENDING A LOT OF MONEY
KNOW YOUR PURPOSE
Knowing what you are here for adds a lot of value to life. Once you know your purpose write it down and then you can check all of your life decisions against that purpose and see if they line up or not. If you decide your purpose is to make all the money you can then it will be pretty easy to say yes when a big financial or business opportunity comes up but if your purpose is to love your family well you may have a different answer to the same opportunity.
I have taken my purpose statement from my church’s tagline: Love Jesus. Love People. Help People Love Jesus. Now that I have that I can keep that in mind when making future decisions.
MAKE MEMORIES & TRADITIONS
While big trips and moments can leave great memories it’s usually the small things that occur more frequently that we (and kids) remember. One of the little daily traditions we have each day is for me to hug my kids each morning. If we are busy for some reason and it gets forgotten one of them will usually pipe up later in the morning and say Hey, I didn’t get my morning hug!
You can make memories with daily, weekly, monthly or annual traditions. Sometimes these occur naturally and sometimes you need to be intentional about thinking about them beforehand.
Remember, it is never too late to start making memories and traditions, sometimes it takes doing things only once before kids will think this is a tradition you will need to do each time.
LEAVE A LEGACY
This goes back a bit to the first item I shared – knowing your purpose. We will all leave some kind of legacy for our children, this is the time to think about what kind of legacy you want to leave. If you know your purpose chances are you”ll already have an idea of what kind of legacy you want to leave.
VIEW EVERY DAY AS AN ADVENTURE
I always pick a word for the year and this year I chose adventure. Not that because I have plans to do wild and crazy things this year but because I want to view every day that I have as an adventure. When you change your perspective like this it can completely change your day and better days make up a better life.
LOOK FOR OFF-THE-BEATEN-PATH ENTERTAINMENT
There are tons of free and cheap activities to do if you can just find them! Ask around to local friends about their favorite free and cheap activities, search for local hikes, library activities, historical sites, etc. If you search on Google for “free things to do in *your town*” you’ll probably walk away with some new things to try.
PLANT A GARDEN
Planting a garden is inexpensive and (usually) very rewarding. Even if you don’t have the space for a big garden plot you can plant things in pots. Including your kids in your gardening adventures will help give them a good sense of accomplishment and give them a leg up for when they are ready to plant a garden on their own. Not to mention the fact that you’ll be growing some great organic fruits and vegetables to enjoy.
EMBRACE THE SEASON
Admittedly, I am slowly coming around to this idea. I’ve lived in the same area my whole life and we have some brutal winters which have always been tough for me. Now I’m finally realizing that the weather isn’t going to change just because I complain about it so when winter hits I get out my heated blanket, heating pad, fuzzy slippers, stacks of books and this year I plan on buying a small fireplace. If winter is going to come I am going to do all the cozy winter things and enjoy it.
There really are great things about each season if you just look for them, so whatever season you are in, find the nice things and enjoy them.
HAVE AN ANNUAL NO-SPEND MONTH
I have had a no-spend month for the last three years and always come away with a fresh perspective.
Just to clarify: we still by groceries and pay our bills and mortgage but we’re talking about not buying any extras.
I’ve found that February is a great no-spend month for me because it is usually cold and I won’t want to venture out to go shopping anyway.
LIVE ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE TRACKS
Five years ago when we were looking to build a new house we found that we could buy the same house on either side of the tracks in our town (literally) but the same house and same floor plan had a price difference of $20,000-$30,000, depending what side of the tracks we chose to build on. We chose the cheaper side and I’m so glad we did, not only did we save that money, our town has since put in a huge park right near our house, way better than anything they have on the expensive side of town.
So, if you are looking to buy a new house, venture out of the neighborhoods you usually look at and see if you can save some money by buying in a different area.
We all know that not everyone has the nicest resting face. It was right after I graduated from high school that I realize that if I’m not paying attention I kind of always look like I’m scowling. So, I started by making a point when I was out and about to smile at people, I challenged myself to see how many people I could get to smile back at me by just smiling at them and the results were surprising – people really react positively to a smile!
While I don’t necessarily go out with the intention of making people smile any more I make sure I am quick to smile and love to see it spread.
One of the most important times I’ve found that I need to smile is when my kids first wake up in the morning. If they come into the room and I am busy I’ll try to stop what I am doing and give them a smile and a hug. When my daughter was little she often woke up really early and her mornings would often start out with me frowning and trying to get her back to sleep. Looking back I wish I could change my reaction, I would have smiled at her and pulled her close for a snuggle, and while I can’t change the past I can change how I respond in the future.
Want to enjoy your life? Be present. Put down the phone, the book, the camera, the bills and look around you. Watch your kids do silly things, read them a book, go for a walk, enjoy the moment that is before you.
If you are looking to live a great life, serve others. You don’t need to Google “benefits of serving others” for long before you come away with a whole host of benefits. I think it is not only important to serve others ourselves but also to teach our children to do so. Of course, one of the best ways children learn is by watching their parents!
Look for needs in your neighborhood or church and ways you can serve your friends and family. You can start teaching your children simple ways to serve like opening the door for others when you are out and about, asking company if they would like something to drink when they come over and cleaning up toys before leaving a friends house, etc.
And there you have it, some super simple ways to have a great life without spending a lot of money! If you have any tips you would add to this list I would love to hear them.