If you simplify your life, and slow things down.. can you save money? I'm looking for opinions and experiences here.
I've found at various times we've spent a lot less when we've been absorbed by "cheap pastimes" or passions, such as:
- video games
- deciding to organize a room
- starting a website :)
- writing some code
It's incredible how fast some things can burn through your money:
- dining out
- going out for lunch
- get-togethers with friends or relatives
- home renovations
- procrastination (it's easier to buy an exercise machine than to actually use it)
- "hobbies" (scrapbooking, collecting, autos/motorcycles)
Depends what you mean by simplify.
I thought I would save money when I talked the family into dropping cable TV, but it ends up coming out as a wash because we rented more and bought TV shows online from amazon.com. (Then we bought a new computer so I could keep working on my laptop while the family watches streaming internet, we save money, but not as much as I thought)
We did a great purge of "stuff" from the garage and closets a couple of summers ago because I wanted to simplify (some clothes, extra pots and pans, a coat rack, unused electronics) and now I am seeing their replacements coming back into the house in the form of new purchases.
I guess my lesson is that you cannot make another person simplify their life. I love my wife for trying so hard to help me with my plan, and I certainly don't blame her for wanting a coat rack again (it is just who she is, she doesn't see the irony) but I should have considered how my desire impacted those around me.
I've seen various blog posts (mostly from Penelope Trunk) refer to "optimizers" versus "settlers." The optimizers are the go-getters, the ones always on the move, trying to optimize their time, their life, their experience, etc. They tend to be younger, on average, live in bigger cities, and on the whole, tend to be less happy. The settlers are the ones who settle for what is, live in smaller cities, and tend to be happier, albeit "less interesting".
Assuming that your idea of "slowing down" refers to moving away from that maximizer lifestyle, yes, I think you'll probably save money. Apparently it costs money to be unhappy! Going out for meals everyday, going out with friends every evening, shopping for the latest and greatest whatever, buying the newest gizmo, trading up your car every 3 years, traveling every other weekend to far-off places, making your life "interesting" - these all cost, and far more than their opposites.
Take time to be happy with what you have - enjoy your comfortable and broken-in shoes, enjoy your paid-off car, enjoy some quiet alone time with a good (library) book, appreciate the delicate tastes of a homecooked meal over the in-your-face greasebomb of restaurant food, take a walk, shut off the latest Apple iDevice, and just be. You'll save money, find calm, and feel refreshed.
*Apologies for waxing philosophical - though the connotations of "slowing down" sort of insist on it :).
Maybe it's a slightly different interpretation of "slowing down" that you're referring too, but selective procrastination can definitely save you money. It's basically a technique for advertisement resistance: When I see some item that I want (but really have no need for), I just procrastinate getting it. This mostly involves just not actively going out and getting it, waiting for it to go on sale (and then waiting for a better sale), and just generally being lazy about it. If I still want it by the time I get around to it, then it's usually something that I consider worth its value. Usually though, after a month or two, I've forgotten about it altogether and moved on to the next thing.
This is most effective in avoiding buying the latest tech gadgets and depending on your gadget consumption can save you hundreds. I'm currently procrastinating buying an iPad until it either goes down in price, a nice alternative shows up, or I decide that it's worth getting myself to an Apple Store - or I decide it's not worth the hype altogether.
I think you need to have the experience of over-consumption to realize that buying more stuff won't make you happy. And then when you see TV commercials and ads everywhere, you no longer will want the stuff.
When you do that, then you slow down and start to value spending time with the people important to you, doing stuff and going places with them. It's the experiences that count, and some of the most fun and memorable stuff you can do is free or cheap.
By simplifying my hobbies, I have more time for money-saving activities such as researching deals, creating an effective coupon-clipping system, and making more foods from scratch (which doubles as entertainment since I enjoy it). When I run frantically from activity to activity, I tend to mindlessly throw away more money, too. By living more intentionally, I think about my purchases more as well.
On the simplifying note, never underestimate the power of less stuff in terms of being able to fit into a smaller home. That leads to less space to heat and cool, which leads to savings. Everyone has their comfort level with less, of course, and some people love space. There are just trade-offs to more stuff.