Thanks to Dave Ramsey and his Endorsed Local Providers program for sponsoring this post and inspiring us!

The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

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Sometimes I look back at how drastically our lives have changed from the way they were ten years ago.

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Here’s the shortest way I can tell you what happened.  We finished residency and both began working in medicine.  We made great money but we had incredible debt.  Our student loan payments alone were $2700 per month.  Gulp. We bought a brand new house and two new cars.  We joined the country club and bought the clothes to match.  We took fancy trips and worshipped at the altar of hedonism.  We thought we were doing what doctors were supposed to do.  We did it like champs.  We weren’t keeping up with the Jones’s. We were the Jones’s.

Then due to some due to some circumstances with our kids, we decided that I should come home for a time.  Oh, you don’t even know.  It was one of the hardest years of my life.  The income loss was just the beginning of the squeeze.  I slowed down enough to look around and see what was crumbling behind the perfect facade.  Here’s what I saw.  I saw a woman who had come to believe that she deserved anything she wanted.  I saw a woman who had lost touch with the reality of most of the world.  I saw a woman whose worth was tied up in status and wealth.  I saw a woman I didn’t know any more and I didn’t like her very much either.

So, I set out to reinvent myself.  Which meant a slow stripping away of everything I had come to believe was important.

Here are a few ways I changed my life to step off the terrible treadmill called the rat race of life.

 1.   I stay home more.

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Since I left my practice 7 years ago, I’ve found that the hardest thing about being a work at home or stay at home mom is the staying at home part.  But guess what?  I’m way more productive and spend way less money when I stay home.  I try to stay home 3 full days a week and that means saying no to things I would enjoy doing.  It means taking my work seriously and doing it even when I’d rather be shopping or lunching.

2.  I cook (most) of my own food.

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Now, listen.  This was not easy.  I realized early on that 5:00 is not a good time to start thinking about dinner.  I had no clue how to feed a family of six regularly without losing my ever loving mind.  But, the only way to get more comfortable in the kitchen is by getting in the kitchen. When I first started learning to really cook, I watched the Food Network and read lots of cook books.  You will learn to love it by doing it and getting better at it. Fifteen years later, one of my favorite things to do in this world is put on some good music, pour a glass of wine  and chop up some ingredients for dinner.  You’ll save plenty of money and eat much healthier.  (You’ll stay home more, too!)

3.  I grow my own garden.

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Just tonight, I went out to my little garden and clipped some swiss chard and some mint to go in our salad.  I canNOT tell you the joy of growing at least some of your food.  It feels like you’re somehow cheating the system.  And in our temperate climate, we can have something growing in there for most of the year. It’s good for the soul. It’s good for the body.  And it’s good for the wallet.  This year, I used the square foot gardening method and I’m loving it!

4.  I pursue things that are fulfilling.

 

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I firmly believe that one of the reasons we spend to0 much is because we’re not fulfilled in our everyday lives.  We’re not following our passions.  We’re not living for others.  We do the same thing day in and day out and fail to see the magic of ordinary life.  I started reading like there was no tomorrow.  I started pursuing my life long love of writing, it changed so many things for me.  I wasn’t preoccupied with stuff anymore.  I started using my gifts in ways that helped others.  It changed everything about my life and most certainly my bank account.

5.  We didn’t give ourselves a raise.

 

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This month we reached a milestone.  We paid off the mortgage on our farm!!!!  It felt so surreal when I sent in the last check.  This 40 acres with a cabin and barn now belongs to us.  And guess how we were able to afford that while putting a bunch of kids through school on one income?  When Stevie got a raise at work ten years ago, we never let that money become part of our regular budget.  He set up a different account and eventually used that money to buy and improve this piece of land.  We never got used to having the extra money so it didn’t feel like we were missing anything.  I wouldn’t have had the foresight or the discipline to do that but I’m so glad that he did.

6.  I see that it’s often more blessed to create than to purchase.

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I started pursuing a more creative life.  I learned to knit, sew, stitch, and craft.  I homeschooled my girls and made every last handicraft under the sun.  So many things that I would see that I wanted, I would try to find a way to make it way cheaper than I could buy it.  I fell in love with thrifting and antique shopping and came to prefer items with a story.

7.  I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace course and saved $5,000 fast.

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I read his books, took his course, and saved $5,000 in 6 months.  I decided against upgrading my car and drove the  (paid-for)  beast for 11 years.  I didn’t realize how much we were overspending on insurance before we talked with our ELP .   We got help with our taxes so that my creative business wouldn’t be a liability for us and we maximized the amount we were saving for retirement.  I would not consider myself a frugal person, but I’ve learned that these principles are as much about joy and peace in your life as they are about money.

Dave’s Endorsed Local Provider program is such a huge help because we can use the professionals Dave recommends.

The truest thing you can say about money is—

All the best things in life are free!

I look around at our lives and see that almost all the things we enjoy and love about our lives are things you can’t buy.  And, what’s the most important reason to  find ways to save some money?  In order to be generous!  Steve and I want to be able to help our kids, our church, and our community.  We want to continue to sponsor children in poverty and we hope to keep learning ways to live generously with the world around us.

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What are some ways your family has made lifestyle changes in order to simplify your life and save money?

 

34 comments on “7 Ways I Simplified My Life {And Saved Money}”

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I did not know about the book or the local provider program. What an encouragement you are, Edie. I admire how you just went after it all. I have always wanted to learn how to sew but have been too scared to try. A simple lifestyle can actually give you MORE . I’m trying to learn to let go and get the bigger prize.

  2. Loved this post! My husband recently decided to pursue his dream job, which meant forgoing his usual salary. We are having to live off our savings until he is able to regain a salary. This advice is so helpful and real! Thank you for sharing! Although we have had to cut back considerably, we are finding great peace in living with only what we need.

  3. Loved the article! This year we have planted a 3X8 container garden with 24 different veggies in it – each in it’s own square foot of dirt. We also have 2 laying hens. I look forward to going out to the garden, picking a few veggies, gathering up a few eggs and making dinner! Thanks for the reminder of what’s important!

  4. I started reading Dave’s books about 10 years ago. I eventually convinced my husband to take Financial Peace with me. I am so glad we did, what a difference it makes when you and your partner are on the same page financially! Living simply can be a challenge, especially with kids. We struggle with wanting to travel and show the world to our girls and knowing that doing so would strain the budget. I currently work 3-4 days/week. I constantly go back and forth between feeling like I need to increase my hours to help us reach our goals sooner and wishing I could work less and be able to take better care of the house and be there more for the kids. It’s all a trade off. Bottom line is that I feel blessed with the work, family and life I have. I work at an incredible non profit dental clinic that treats the working poor. Our patients and their daily struggles can really help me put perspective on what is really important in life.
    Thank you Edie for your thoughtful posts.

  5. Number 4 (pursue fulfilling things) has been the key for me! My family has a similar story to yours… when we went down to one income, but it took a couple of years of living like we had two salaries for me to realize that something would have to give. We took Financial Peace and I began seeing that peace really wasn’t to be found in having everything or even in doing everything. Now I focus on what makes my soul sing (and honestly that isn’t going to Target and spending a ton of money on things I don’t need)… it’s writing, and reading, talking walks as a family, dancing with my kids, and singing to Alzheimer patients… when I start to feel the itch to spend money, I just open my computer and write a blog post or I start making a fabulous dinner for the family. Then I feel joy, joy — and it doesn’t cost me a thing!

  6. Hi Edie, I love this post! Thank you, once again, for sharing your life and your story with us! You are an inspiration! I, too, prefer something with a story! ;0) Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!
    Blessings,
    Cindy

  7. We’ve just begun the Dave Ramsey adventure, and though it’s been a hard adjustment, it has been a blessing. We are seeing so much clearer how God wants us to use our money, and how in turn, He invites us into the simplicity of His love.
    Thanks so much for sharing this part of your heart today.

  8. Another great post, thanks! Good timing too. I feel big strong winds of change in my life. Exciting, intimidating, wonderful. I appreciate the encouraging nudge.
    My fave of your seven points here is to be fulfilled. I agree wholeheartedly.
    And of COURSE grow your own food! Of course.
    Thanks Edie!

  9. Congratulations on paying off the farm, my friend!! We paid off our mortgage a few months ago and yesssss, it is the best thing ever. My favorite part is being able to give more freely and more generously. It is absolutely addicting and I wish everyone knew how incredible it is to give like no one else. <3 So excited for you!

  10. Hi Edie, great post! Life becomes so very “rich” when you spend time on the things that truly matter & are personally fulfilling to our souls! So, thank you for encouraging & inspiring me! I just listened to your great podcast with my 6 yr old son by my side & I know he was also listening & soaking in your words of wisdom along with me! 🙂

  11. Nothing like owning your property out right. I mostly have stayed at home with the few part time jobs here and there. My husband was in the military so often my “job” was packing, moving ,setting up and in less than 3 years starting all over. Never took to gardening but do a good job wiht fresh and delicious meals if I so say so myself. 🙂 We went overseas as second career for almost 14 years and still do that kind of work here. We do have to watch the spending. I do but often find it hard and a struggle. Thanks for sharing your story and the fact that is was do able and not guilt inducing!! So many of posts or blogs on the topic can be that way, I find.

  12. I too left my “paying” work as an engineer almost 9 years ago to take care of our three kids and home! What a struggle! It was hard to give up the rewards (money, praise, raises) that you get at a job for what sometimes seems like a thankless task. Looking back though I know it was worth it. Budgeting is still something we are still working on. Thanks for being so honest in your posts and in sharing your faith. You are an inspiration!

  13. I absolutely loved this article… Life is so much better when you focus on your actual life and not things. I am just like you get me a glass of wine and I could spend my whole evening in the kitchen!

  14. Oh Edie- I am always forever grateful for your openness & honesty. Direct hit-
    Congratulations on paying the farm off! Good thinking/planning Steve-
    Question: Did you & Steve take Dave’s course together? (it says I took) Our schedules are such at the moment, we cannot attend together. I was considering taking it by myself.
    I love where you said, “We were the Jones’s”
    My husband had over $80,000.00 in school loans when we married. He became a doctor later in life. It was something we discussed at length before marrying. (we are both older than you & Steve) My closest friends were like, are you SURE? That’s a lot of debt! God has taken super care of us. We trust Him, stay close & try to perform His work well. That loan has been paid off along with a couple of others as well. That second paragraph you wrote: that’s the real deal there Edie. I’ve been there. What’s behind the facade…
    Thank you for sharing about Dave/insurance- I/we need to look at our insurances! I’ve been thinking that and haven’t taken the action. I am going to do that next week. I think # 4 is one of my favorites. And we just got a garden in this year. YAY!
    Hope you and your family and Ruth & her family are having a good Memorial weekend 🙂

  15. Thanks for sharing your tips! Great advice!! We are big Dave Ramsey fans too! Our church had the pleasure of hosting him and Rachel a month ago and had a book signing. That’s my kind of rock star!!

  16. Appreciate it intended for discussing your guidelines! Great guidance!! We have been large Dave Ramsey lovers as well! The church acquired the particular enjoyment involving web hosting him or her and Rachel every thirty days previously and acquired any guide signing. That’s my own type of rock and roll superstar!!

  17. STAYING HOME. I mean, it’s huge and really at the top of the list for this mama! Creating, learning new handicrafts, canning, cooking, gardening, reading, writing…these things ground me, which in turn, keeps the whole house from spinning out of control.
    Love that you’re trying square foot gardening this year. We’ve had such success with it (just updated SF garden pics today~ https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.840691355945629.1073741830.629350127079754&type=1
    thank you for your words, xoxo

  18. Great advice! I completely agree with #4…our need for more is usually a sign that we are trying to fill another void in our life. I know that has been the case for me, and I’ve noticed it in our children as well, when they go into “want” mode. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Great post Edie! We went through Dave Ramsey’s class back in 2006 and because of that had always decided to live off of one income so that I can be at home with our kids. Now that I am working a little bit everything that comes in from the blog goes towards paying off our house. I can’t wait until the day finally comes when we get to send in that last payment but I’m also fully enjoying doing something that I love in the meantime. 🙂

    ~Sarah

  20. Just this weekend I began rereading the Mitford series by Jan Karon and came upon Homeless Hobbs’ comment “Sometimes you have to gag on fancy before you can appreciate plain”. I knew in that moment what my soul has been telling me for weeks – get over your instant gratification phase, simplify, and breathe again. Reading your post just confirmed that. Thanks to you and Homeless Hobbs. 🙂

    • Great quote from homeless Hobbs. Live those books! I have to agree with staying home! What you don’t see doesn’t tempt you! I think it’s important to create a home you want to spend time in. Not through ” things”, but through loving routines with your kids, creativity, music, keeping a (somewhat) orderly house, fresh linens, meaningful reminders of good times had and great coffee!

  21. I love the post on saving and Dave Ramsey. It’s funny , my soon to be sophomore is taking a personal finance summer class and the class is based upon Dave Ramsey’s theory. My son was telling me about the videos they have watched with Dave and his daughter. This is a great way for kids to learn at a young age how important it is to plan ahead and stay out of debt.

    Thanks for sharing you story!

  22. Hi Edie, I love your blog!!! I would love to know your paint colors in the laundry room( wall color and cabinet color). I also want to know more about the weekend conference in August. Thanks so much!!!!

  23. We have been following the Dave Ramsey “snowball” method to reduce our cc debt and seeing great results. I checked “Smart Money Smart Kids” out of our library and am currently reading it, really good so far !

  24. Hi Edie, I love this post and can relate, somewhat. I left a paycheck 19 years ago to stay at home with our first child. I remember thinking our finances would be so tight that we wouldn’t even be able to eat at McDonald’s dollar menu, ever, lol! We began following Financial Peace in 1998 after the birth of our second child. We even sold our 2 story brick house (my status symbol at the time) and took what little equity we had in search of another home. That equity came to $28,000. I remember saying that we’d never find a home for that little. Well, leave it to God to always show up with a small house for $22,000. We were able to flip it and another one after that as we eventually have made our way to our current home on 8 acres in the country. We’ve been following Financial Peace ever since. Over the past 19 years, I’ve learned to do some of the same things you’ve mentioned. It really does reveal the truly important things in life. Thanks for sharing your life with us!! It encourages us all 🙂

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