I’d like to think I might be an expert in this category, but I’m not sure what gives anyone expert status on these things. I mean, I’m not a financial or money expert of any sort. In reality, I don’t like to talk about money— so this really is not a post on how to get rich in money, but how we live our good (great) life. We’re a middle-class family with two incomes. We’re not rich. We have tighter weeks and really easy weeks and have great adventures in both. BUT I do know that I’ve been living this way my whole life— so maybe that qualifies me as someone in the know. In our family, we truly believe that less IS more. Each day we grow. We choose to have a great life and we are happy with it. These are some of the most basic rules we live by. Maybe some will be helpful to you.

How To Have A Great Life Without Spending A Lot Of Money + Saving Some Too

Don’t buy disposable products.

Pretty simple right? Disposable stuff not only costs money, but you use it once and throw it away. Then you have to go back to the store and buy more of it. And again. And again. We have three cloth piles in our kitchen. One for cloth napkins. One for kitchen towels. One for kitchen rags. Eventually (years later) the kitchen towels get old, and they become kitchen rags. Sure, there is an initial cost for buying cloth, but it’s a one time fee that you won’t have to address again until years and years later. And as a bonus, you can find beautiful cloth pieces that will brighten your home. This rule applies to all disposable products— plastic bags, paper towels, paper napkins, paper straws and plates, plastic silverware, paper or plastic cups, diapers(!)– oh jeez, especially diapers, nursing breast pads even— everything. Except for toilet paper– buy that.  (You can find a ton of beautiful cloth pieces while thrifting. All our napkins we’re either bought on sale or you can find cloth ones here. Some snack bags/ Similar sandwich wraps here. We used THESE cloth diapers.)

Don’t buy cheap crap.

Yes, crap. All the random cute junk or plastic toys or whatever else that you see that will only be used for a short amount of time until you get sick of it or it breaks. Have a hard time not filling up your cart at superstores? Easy, don’t go to them. Sure, maybe you’ll miss out on that new dress and sandal design that just came out that everyone seems to have and love, but guess what? You probably don’t need them. Trendy pieces don’t last long— after a few washes or use the items wear and you’re left wanting something new.

Invest in expensive things (sometimes).

Okay, this won’t always work, because sometimes expensive doesn’t always translate into long-lasting and high-quality. BUT investing in high quality and timeless pieces is a good idea. So you’ve been saving money from not buying crap, right? Maybe not a lot, but a little bit— and each little bit adds up. Buying one well-made pair of shoes or one really well made timeless shirt— even if it’s double or triple the price of your cheaply made trendy items will save you money in the long run. Like your reusable household cloth items, invest a little— save a lot. Alex and I have beautiful things in our home— most of it is old. Some of it is handed down (major win!) and some are pieces I’ve collected over time.

You don’t need to buy transitional pieces because you’re in a transitional stage (unless your planning on selling everything, picking up, and leaving with no return back). Sure, I’ve bought my fair share of IKEA pieces along the way– it’s cute, it can be cheap, and it’s user-friendly, but I’ve also saved and purchased for items in this life journey that have traveled up and down and far and wide with me.  Buy versatile pieces you love that will last. You will be able to treasure and use these items forever. (At 200 something dollars that swinging chair was a save and invest piece for me.) We’ve slowly bought new, good quality, long lasting pieces over time. And we’re excited to have them for years and years to come. You can see our updated living room tour HERE.

Invest in classic things (always)

I have four, six, and eight+ year old pairs of shoes that still look good— and not because they’ve been sitting in a closet–because believe me they’ve been danced in, ran in, partied in, played in, etc. They’ve lasted that long because they were well-made shoes. Same for clothing. Yes, maybe I wouldn’t wear all the clothing I wore 10 years ago— but most of it, I will. And yes, maybe my friends and family will make comments like “omg you STILL wear those shoes?!” but, hell yeah I do! And Alex too (but let’s be clear, he wears his shoes and clothes— not mine). Easy and timeless staple pieces that I can wear forever and hand down are where it’s at. Even though kids grow fast— there are ways to make their pieces last longer too. We love dresses (you may have noticed) they are the perfect transitional item, not only are they (mostly) timeless, but they are GREAT for layering in hot and cold weather (they last through seasons) AND many last triples the time because once your kiddo grows, the dress becomes a shirt.

Buy some things second hand.

I written about shopping secondhand quite a few times before. Secondhand is pretty straight forward. Maybe you don’t want to go thrifting for clothes, fine, I get it (maybe try to do it online?). But you can find beautiful furniture, housewares, and neat vintage toys while thrifting. You know what is amazing to buy secondhand? Children’s clothing. My most loved baby clothing items on Marlowe, I purchased second hand. Kids grow fast— sometimes so fast that they only get to wear something once, so why not buy it second hand? Or you can try things like THIS or see if your town has freecycle— even cheaper than thrifting! Or of course, barter with friends and family. Maybe they need a bed and you need a table, etc. (Everything in the picture above is second hand, except the vase.)

Buy a house.

I’m hesitant to put this category up here— because I totally understand that south Florida living is much different than other parts of the country and the world. For instance, I know I could not in any way have bought a house on the west coast or in New England, but here and other places, it’s possible. Paying rent takes money out of your pocket that you will never see again. Paying a mortgage is an investment that you will see and if needed, have returned. The cost of my house makes most peoples mouths drop— double digits over here for this short sale house. My mortgage is half of what my rent was— even when I was living in a 350 sq space apartment. So if you can, invest in a house.

You don’t need a big one (a house that is).

Big houses cost more money. They require more upkeep. You need to buy more things to fill them. Your utility bills increase as your house size increases. Consider down-sizing, and know that a smaller house does not mean less. Edit: as of 2019 we’ve downsized and LOVE it.

If you don’t have money, don’t spend it.

Credit cards are good to build your credit score. Credit cards are not free money, you do have to pay them back AND pay interest. This counts for all things on loan. Save your money, when you can afford something, buy it. Yes, this wont always work, but save as much as you can first to buy something. Don’t spend invisible money. I have two accounts: One for spending. And the second for saving— college for Marlowe! travel for our family! and emergencies. I do not touch my savings unless I absolutely need to. And going out for dinner or even a two buck cup of coffee does not count as a “need to”.

Make stuff.

So I’m pretty sure there are two types of people… those who think “why would I do it myself when I can pay someone else to do it?” and those who think “why would I pay someone else, when I can do it myself?” Do it yourself. Sure, there’s a lot of things you should leave to the professionals— lighting, plumbing, roofing, but what about other things— like landscape? Or painting? Or cleaning? Or painting your nails? Why not try to do it yourself? Or what about artwork? Or other fun pieces for your home? Games for kids? A garden. Making things, making art, and doing things yourself cannot only save you money, but will be rewarding, add character, bring personality to your home, and is an activity for your family or yourself to enjoy! Not crafty? Who cares. Art is art. It doesn’t have to be serious, have fun and let it make you happy! Make food! Making your meals from scratch will end up being cheaper than processed foods (see below) and it’s a fun activity that doesn’t cost anything (besides the cost of food—- which you profit off by eating, duh). Skip the coffee to go and make coffee at home. Learn how to make bread, pizza dough, pasta sauce, elderberry syrup, deodorant, and whatever other convenience products you might buy. You can check out my DIY section: HERE.

Eat leftovers + meal plan.

Wasting food sucks for so many reasons. Have fun with leftovers and meal plan accordingly. Meal planning can be a pain in the butt– and to be honest, I don’t do it enough, but even a little meal planning goes a long way to not wasting food and not wasting money. Interested in cooking for yourself and your family more at home? What about this.amazing, super-duper, awesome and user-friendly cookbook

Don’t buy processed foods.

Processed foods are not only terribly bad for you, but they always are SO MUCH more expensive than unpackaged, fresh ingredients. Bonus points if the food you buy is in season and local— you save on expensive out-of-season farming practices and save money on transportation costs. It’s also good for the environment (less transport, less gas, less truck, plane, boat emissions) and the food tastes better. The packaging is expensive and bad for the environment. Last I heard, (this was 10 years ago in a sustainability class, so don’t quote me on this) 97% of the worlds trash is packaging. And chances are if it’s packaged, you’re paying an extra bit for the companies advertising.

Buy fresh, unpackaged foods (as often as you can) and make big meals to last you throughout the week. Also, processed foods are packed with chemicals, sugar, and salt, so you’ll save on medical expenses too 😉 Speaking of the environment, meat is expensive, buy less of it. (Mock meat too. Pass.)

Drink water.

It’s free. Other drinks are not.

*We invested in a home water filter this year. We love it so much. The water is as clean as can be and the filters only need to be changed once a year. Life changing. We drink it and cook with it too!

Love your home. 

If you own it or if you don’t — if you live alone or with others—- no matter how big, small, cramped, empty your space is: love it. And spend your time there. Grow there. Cook there. Eat there. Entertain there. Watch movies there. Read there. Connect with others there— online and not. Find inspiration and inspire others. Activate your brain there. Spend a lot of time there— in your home. Outings, dinner, bars, while they might be fun, are not free. Your home is free. Spend your time enjoying simple activities in your home and enjoy each moment– even the stuff that can feel like (or actually are) chores. Make it your happy place and spend your time there.

Plant a garden.

Sure, we may not all have the space to plant large gardens to sustain of vegetable needs, but even a small terrace/balcony or sunny window can provide a bit of food and/or at least herbs. The startup is usually inexpensive, seeds are dirt cheap (see what I did there?), and not only does it provide you with food, but planting a garden is fun! And can be good exercise… or at least therapeutic! And it’s time-consuming, in a good way. There’s nothing more satisfying or beautiful than vegetables, fruits, and flowers, grown in your very own home. We built our own garden beds— they were super cheap and have held up rain, tropical storms, and humid sun for years now. Learn how to build your own garden beds here. And learn more gardening tips here.

Explore your community.

So, I’m not saying to become a recluse and prison yourself only to your house and yard— that’s not fun and you won’t be feeling well rounded or like you have a great life by never getting out and interacting. DO get out too. But when you do go out, explore your (free or cheap) options! Farms, gardens, community events, and festivals, strolls around town, the park, the beach (if you have that), find fun activities that don’t cost a lot of money or any money at all. There are family-friendly activities that can be found that are cheap to free— just look and ask around and you will find them!  Also, look into memberships! Found a place you love to visit that isn’t free? Look into a membership, some are absolutely worth it. Our local zoo is 18.95$ for adults and 12.95$ for kids each visit. That brings us to 31.90$ per visit for Marlowe and I. (1,658$ a year for a once a week visit). But a yearly membership is 85$… so say we go to our local zoo once per week (which we do), that means each visit is only 1.60$ for the both of us together… plus two quarters for the birds. 1.60$ a week is still money spent, but for us, this seems worth it.

Open a window or put on a sweater. 

We all live in a place where we can adjust our external temperature almost without a second thought. We turn up our ac or heat at the touch of a button. It’s a nice luxury, yah? It also costs a lot of money and burns a lot of energy— it’s bad for our wallets and for our earth. I spent the first 7 months or so in this house without AC. That’s pretty much unheard of in South Florida. I just told myself I was sweating out toxins, haha. We keep this home warmer than most people in south Florida, yes sometimes it’s not the perfect temperature inside this house, but you know what? That’s okay. We absolutely don’t feel like we’re lacking anything just because the house isn’t 72 degrees year round. We’re happy. Not in south Florida? Layer up in the winter and cuddle more.

Don’t spend money.

If you do have money, don’t spend it, or try not to spend it. (I know, crazy, right?) Spending, no matter what kind of deal might be advertised, is still not saving. Figure out what you really need instead of what you really want. I’m not saying to never buy things you want and don’t need, but make each purchase a well-thought-out decision. Do you need to go to a salon? Or do you want to? Do you need to go out to dinner instead of having a romantic night in? What else could you use that dinner money on? To save for a house? Pay off your bills? Save for a vacation? How happy will that new purchase make you feel now? In a month? In a year? Will this new product even be around in a year? Will you tire of it? Will it break? Will it benefit your life? Your health? Your family? Will it benefit and grow your business? Or will it just be another thing.

Invest in everything… especially things that help you grow. 

This kind of rounds up a lot of points I already mentioned. Everything should be looked at as an investment. Clothing, furniture, art, books, food, and experiences. If you can learn from it, grow from it, expand on it, live healthier by it, and create from it, it might be a good idea. Consider those thoughts when making each purchase. Will this purchase help me grow or not? If not, save your money.

Don’t rush. Buy less. Do more. 

Self-explanatory. Enjoy the little moments. Set your table. Enjoy the process. Cook together. Enjoy the process. Sit together. Eat together. Talk together. Enjoy the process. Clean together. Enjoy the process.

Be happy with less. Be happy within your means. Do happy things. Be nice. Be happy now. 

At times it can be hard to know that what you have is enough. Really—who cares what others are spending their money on. Comparison doesn’t bring joy. Be happy with what you have, not unhappy with what others have. Did you know our previous town was on the top 100 list for most dangerous/crime filled cities in the U.S.? Our neighborhood now isn’t that much better— while just a few miles away is one of the richest (the richest??) cities in the country. We’ve created a beautiful place within our space and within our means. We might sweat a little more and our days might be filled with more work, but we find fulfillment in those things. Doing happy things makes people happy (go figure) and doesn’t have to cost any money. Being nice is free, and it makes you feel great! The small details are happy and so are we.


Like I said, these are just rules we live by. These won’t work for everyone. But chances are if you’re sitting in the comfort of your home or office, reading this post, you might be able to benefit from a few of them 🙂

Have more tips? Leave them in the comments! I’d love to see them and learn from them, as I’m sure others would too!

Have a great week, friends!


  1. Caroline

    Thank you so much. Wonderful post. Great that you shared it on Instagram again or I would have never found it. So much knowledge, wisdom and all summed up so beautifully. You rock!

  2. This is by and large my fave post that you've written. Simple, true, meaningful.
    Thank you. I will come back and read this often.

  3. I liked a lot of your tips. I'm glad you said that some of these things would work for some but not for others. A lot of people forget about those that are in bad health and don't have a lot of energy. I finally gave up and started using disposable paper products because at my age (45) being in not great health and having two young children I just can't do it all. It's not a matter of being lazy, like I saw in one comment. You have some great ideas here, I just hope that others will consider not everyone can do all these things for various reasons.

  4. This speaks straight to my soul and is exactly what I've been working on in my life. I read so much of this out loud to my husband we kept nodding our heads in agreement. Love

  5. I think most people would agree that saving money is something “easier said than done”. Personally, I believe it’s a mind-set that needs to be developed by creating good money-saving habits.

  6. Excellent ideas. Brilliantly articulated. Simplicity and wisdom is the only way to a happy and fulfilling life.

  7. I absolutely loved this. A refreshing, uplifting, and wise message that definitely extended beyond the realm of finances…and delivered with sincerity! Thank you so much for sharing!

  8. I absolutely loved reading this! A profound and positive message delivered with modesty and sincerity. You are inspiring and so sweet! Thank you so much for sharing.

  9. Wow! I love your blog. Most of the time, there is no need for too much spending. Simple things will make us happy. Well, I believe being appreciative really depends on what's in our heart. If you have a beautiful heart, you can see things beautifully. Thank you for sharing this beautiful heart of yours

  10. This is one of my all time favourite posts that I bookmark and return to again and again. So eloquent and inspiring, and it really reminds me to be grateful and make the most of what I have. Thanks Drea, I love your blog!

  11. Hi.
    This blog is very interesting;) I like it:)
    maybe we can follow each other? let me know! <3
    here is my blog: shootingdiamond.blogspot.com

  12. I absolutely adore this post. I've shared it on facebook and took a lot away from it. In particular? "Be happy with less. Be happy within your means. Do happy things. Be nice. Be happy now."
    As a university student, it's easy to get frustrated with money. With not having the means to do things. With not getting all the trendy things. But you're right – you need to enjoy life, enjoy the processes, and live within your means. Be happy with what you have. I love this. What an amazing post!

    Loving your blog,,
    ~ Samantha

  13. Is my first time enjoying long blog like yours. Totally true and thanks a lot for unlighten us. We do love your blog!

  14. I haven't been a reader of your blog for very long, but it very quickly became my favorite! You and your family are so precious and inspiring. I've always been a very unhealthy eater who never exercises and just stays inside all day. You're inspiring me to break free from that. I'm not sure you'll ever read this, but you guys really make my dreams seem more possible. Thank you! 😀

  15. love this post! is is great to read about shared philosophy when sometimes i feel that our society is more and more fixated on consumerism and i feel farther and farther removed! reading this made my heart happy. thanks.

  16. Your blog is such a refreshing read – thank you for sharing! I know from first hand experience that there is no happiness to be gained in buying more 'stuff' or unfavourably comparing my finances or life with others. Been there, done that – what a waste. I have finally reached a place where I am learning to embrace the simple, wholesome and good things about my life – my home, my marriage, my children, my precious family life – taking pleasure in living within our means – investing for our future – and learning to live happily in the moment. Sounds like a recipe for sheer bliss and I'm working on it. Planting a garden is next – watch out!

  17. this post has inspired me to rethink the way we are living. I am an expat; a london girl living in Cyprus about to move back to london and then onto Dubai. We have a dog who travels with us and we have flights to buy, friends to see and it all adds up pretty quickly. Making a few small changes, that in perspective wont impact our lifestyle will make a huge difference.

    This is the first time I found your blog and I will totally be coming back. x

  18. I'm so glad i chanced upon your writing. i'm in my late 20s and have been supporting my own life. i agree with most of your points. this is a good reminder, especially on the "don't spend if you don't have the money" part… 🙂 i'll bookmark your blog! <3

  19. This post spoke to me. This is exactly what I need to hear.
    As of 2010 when my first child was born I was awaken by the good things and bad things of life. LIke what we put in our bodies and how we affect our plant by our good or bad habits. I've come so far and I've made a lot of good changes in to my life for my little family and I. But the whole money thing, didn't cross my mine until now! Not only am I privilege to stay home with my kids and have an amazing husband that support us, but i've realized that being smart about how you spend your money is not only benefiting me but my husband as well. That way he wont have to over work to make money for things we don't need to!! that also means, more time to spend with us! So thank you so much for this, very inspiring! I love your blog!!

    Ps. Where did you your beautiful mandala plates??

  20. I totally loved your post! As a mom steering towards green living, your ideas work wonders and I know its value!

  21. Loved this post, totally how we live.

    P.S Not really missed the blogging community, but I had to catch back up with you. 🙂

  22. Loved this, totally how we live. Been missing only a few blog since I left the blog community, and yours is one of 'em.

  23. first time reader. loved this post. you're teaching your daughter a priceless lesson by living a beautifully simplified life. you are so ahead of the game.

  24. I love this! Thank you. I have never read this blog before but found a link to it on Clementine Daily this morning. You sound a lot like me 🙂 …I also used to live in the FL keys, but no longer.

  25. Just found your blog and love it! This is such a great post and many of your rules we live by as well. I think, you need to enjoy the little things to truly have a fulfilling life. Thank you!

  26. Just looking for some inspiration to get back on the "Saving Train." Thank you very much for this post! I love your ideas & outlook! It's good to see someone getting along with "less" and having so much more in the way of what things really counts.

  27. Oh, I absolutely love this guide. My husband and I have been living pretty intentionally in regards to finance since we got married (to pay off debt), but we intend to continue to live in such a way and save most of my income to put towards a house. We've decorated our house now with secondhand finds and discovered a real love for thrifting. I've also re-evaluated my wardrobe, trying to get it down to lasting staples mixed with thrift store finds. Thanks for this refreshing reminder.

  28. Oh, I absolutely love this guide. My husband and I have been living pretty intentionally in regards to finance since we got married (to pay off debt), but we intend to continue to live in such a way and save most of my income to put towards a house. We've decorated our house now with secondhand finds and discovered a real love for thrifting. I've also re-evaluated my wardrobe, trying to get it down to lasting staples mixed with thrift store finds. I'd love to always live like this. The simplicity is refreshing. Thanks for this refreshing reminder, and beautiful house!

  29. Lovely! I actually wanna set a reminder to read this piece once every month. I mean really, why do we go out so much? We meet up and go out. It's not even like we're trying to meet new people, nope, we hang with the same people all the time but never in our houses. We go out to pay for food half the time we can make at home, and same wine we drink sold at 100% more than at the supermarket. Ridiculous!

  30. The smartest post I've ever read! Thanks for so carefully and eloquently putting into words something that I need a little help remembering …and will definitely pass on to some "fritterers" I know who just fritter money away on mountains of things that are small and cheap! xx

  31. This is one of the best blog posts I've ever read. I love it! Everything about it… I totally agree with your sentiments here and think the same things. This is so lovely, I almost want to weep when I read it. 🙂

  32. Hey Drea! Great post! I'm curious as to where you do most of your clothing and shoe shopping for yourself. After spending countless dollars on cheap, trendy clothes that have neither lasted nor do I want to wear anymore, I'm finally realizing the value of well-made, functional, timeless clothes. With that being said, I'm curious as to where you get most of your pieces. Thanks! Sam

  33. Hi Drea! I loved reading this post. I definitely strive to live the way you do more! Hopefully I can a beautiful home of my own one day! 🙂

  34. My first visit as well, great post! I already practice many of your guidelines, but it's good to have the reminder. Thanks for sharing.

  35. Hi there! My first visit to your blog. What an awesome post! – can't wait to see what else you've written 🙂
    The bit about disposable stuff – never thought of it like that before and also I wasn't even aware of a lot of those re-usable items, so thanks for sharing!

  36. I love this post and every single point you make. Kind of feel if more people lived like this and less were desperate for things they can't afford there would be a lot of happier people in this world with a lot less debt problems. What an inspiration you are and your home is beautiful.

  37. I love that post. I am glad to read that some one else is living similar or for me ' normal ' life as we do. We are in similar situation, 2 incomes but not that much money to overspent and with baby coming soon. So we cook everyday, shopping from local farmers and thinking about necessary stuffs. I think it's better in each way.


  38. Thank you so much for this post! I did a similar one on my blog about cheap dates, but this is such a great post for a way of living! I am seriously going to be way more mindful about what I purchase and it's thanks to your article! Thank you so much!!

  39. What a beautifully written post! These are definitely things I try to implement in my life, and I have times that I'm successful and times I'm not. I will bookmark this for those times I just want to go shopping for clothes I won't like in 6 months 😉 You have a beautiful home!

  40. One thing I will say is that I have been very rich at one point and also very not rich. The real bad part was adjusting from having a lot of $ back to not. I almost think it is better to never have a lot or never to live like you do? I was very happy during all periods. The thing that $ does is make things easier. Not happier, just easier. Today there are many good blogs and lots of clever people that DIY. I find this a good thing. Gives one hope.

  41. Love this post and am feeling so inspired! I actually took notes! These tips are all wonderful but my favorite one is the one on loving your home. Just what I needed to hear! Thank you!

  42. Your last two tips really hit home. I hate the feeling that I always need something. I can't wait to implement more of these things and enjoy the more simple things in life!

    xx kate

  43. Very interesting post! Some of the ideas are easier to do than other, but all of them are awesome advice. Cheers!

  44. This is your first post I read, and love it! I agree with pretty much all your suggestions.
    We are expecting a baby in April, and I have bought some stuff second-hand, the rest I got from my sister or cousin. I guess I have enough clothes to last me at least through the first year. And when I am done using them, they'll go back to my sister for her next baby, or the next baby in our family. Not only it's cheaper this way, but I also love sharing stuff with people I love!
    Now I just have to find re-usable milk pads…

  45. Loved everything about this post, i'm even asking my partner to have a read too!
    Your house + space looks beautiful!

  46. Amen to everything you mentioned above! Our little family lives in Southern California, where the cost of living can cost you a pretty penny, but we have been able to save up to invest in a house, travel and eat well all because we have learned the value of saving and being wise with every pretty penny we receive. It is a tough job, but it pays off (literally) in soo many ways. We are now down to one income, but I must say we are quite content and thankful for all that we have, and it is true, the things that make us the happiest don't cost a penny! Too many blogs these days boast about the latest trends, home decor, restaurants that we "need" to have/try/buy. It is refreshing to read about simplicity and that it is not boring or prudish! Thank you again for these reminders, and for teaching the world how to be happy on less! : )

  47. Great article, great advice and I am happy to say I already live by some. It is nice to be reminded to enjoy the simple things and be happy in the moment. It is so easy to be caught up in the flurry of life and focus on the destination, all the while forgetting to enjoy the journey, thanks. I am enjoying the warmth my fluffy dog is giving to my feet and the company he offers me.

  48. Thank-you for your post. I was beginning to think I was the only one living this way. I am so glad to hear you enjoy this type of lifestyle as well. I live a long ways away from South Florida but my life is so much the same as yours! This lifestyle brings me so much happiness and satisfaction!

  49. It's so nice to hear about others that have the same approach to life as me because sometimes it can get a little tiresome having to defend why I don't keep up-sizing my stuff – I like it the way it is that's why.
    A small tip about your "don't buy disposable": Starting around New Years Eve and all through spring I save mid sized plastic containers from food (here Greek yogurt comes in 1 liter plastic buckets which is perfect and food safe) to use for picnics in the summer. Before we leave I pack the food in the containers and when we're done eating they can just be thrown out so I don't have to lug a big picnic bag around since the picnic is often just the beginning of our evening out. By the end of the summer the containers are all gone and my cabinets have room to be filled with the preserves I make in the fall.

  50. It's so nice to hear about others that have the same approach to life as me because sometimes it can get a little tiresome having to defend why I don't keep up-sizing my stuff – I like it the way it is that's why.
    A small tip about your "don't buy disposable": Starting around New Years Eve and all through spring I save mid sized plastic containers from food (here Greek yogurt comes in 1 liter plastic buckets which is perfect and food safe) to use for picnics in the summer. Before we leave I pack the food in the containers and when we're done eating they can just be thrown out so I don't have to lug a big picnic bag around since the picnic is often just the beginning of our evening out. By the end of the summer the containers are all gone and my cabinets have room to be filled with the preserves I make in the fall.

  51. Thank you so much for this lovely post. I really enjoyed it.
    And its incredible how much we have in common even through we live in very different parts of the world.
    Greetings from Germany 🙂 Karin

  52. First time commenter here. I absolutely love this piece and couldn't agree more with your recommendations. Beautifully stated!

  53. Found your post via bloglovin….what a great read, I don't do much of this & want to & need to ….am printing out your post & keeping it! Your house is absolutely beautiful – as is your attitude to life, thank you 🙂

  54. Thank you for a wonderful post! You touched on many things that I do daily to center myself with thoughts of abundance and gratitude … working in my garden, setting the table (even if it's just for myself) and lighting candles daily.
    I'm sharing this article because it's a great guide on how to truly enjoy life!
    Best wishes!

  55. Great post – The "don't spend money" and "invest in everything" particularly struck a chord with me. I am now taking the credit card out of my wallet – out of site, out of mind and more money in the bank. Just the reminder I needed today, thanks! 🙂

  56. Love these ideas. Honestly I'm terrible with spending money – I get paid and then it's gone. But I've got a goal of moving to Sydney towards the end of the year which means I've been saving – it's hard to do when I've been spending money non-stop for the last 4 years but keeping a goal in focus is really helping.

    I think my favourite one of these tips is to buy a house – it's a much better investment than renting and I've always hoped I'd be able to buy a house quite young. Hopefully in a couple of years if I save enough…

    Erin, beingerin.com

  57. Wow! Thank you for taking the time to write this. Over consumption overwhelms and depresses me. It's an empty gesture or habit that leaves people feeling the need to buy more and keep up with the rest of society. More shoes, bigger vehicle, bigger house, home cinema system, the latest intelligent phone… I also LOVE the photography.

  58. I live in a small house with my parents and two sisters. Our house is so small, sometimes I get embarrassed when people visit us. But after reading your post, I'll learn to love what I have. Thanks for inspiring me! 🙂 xx

  59. Wow, i love saving and have all my life. But my husband is not like me, he's quite wasteful in that sense. We struggle to balance each other out. I just love your post and the pictures, the advice. it's all so precious 🙂 <3

  60. Such a beautiful blog you have. I love the photos! And this post is great. I agree with every single thing you wrote.


  61. What a fantastic post!! I feel like I do lots of these but need to get better at some (such as making more meals with non-processed ingredients… I'm pretty good and avoid soy and things, but some of our favorites are field roast sausages and Daiya cheese… And the toddler is picky, soo then I give in.) It's really refreshing to see someone break down this way of living because it certainly is how I was raised and how I hope to raise our family. Sending this to my husband now!

  62. Thanks for write the post. I ready enjoy to read the see the post. Amazing! And thank you 🙂 again.

  63. Such a great post! Thank you, thank you, thank you. Now I am going to go away and apply every single thing you have said 🙂

    june lorraine

  64. This post warmed my heart. We live by many of these rules, too. Sometimes I feel like we're not achieving much by doing these things, but reading your post reminded me of how beautiful our simple life really is. Thanks.

  65. If consumers consumed this way things would be made to last. More people would have jobs making real tangible goods. Our global economy would prosper.

  66. We try to live by most of these rules too. Our society would be so much better off if we quit consuming so much and took care of ourselves, each other, and our earth. I'm happy you were able to put it so eloquently:)

  67. Hi Drea, I just found your blog via Pinterest, and I'm a big fan. I have always hated waste. My family has always used cloth napkins, and we've never had paper towels on hand. I am a college student now, and I try to live simply. I completely agree that less is more. I am usually looking around trying to figure out what I can get rid of. Declutter, destress, and invest; that's what I love 🙂

  68. Love this post for so many reasons. I need to work on buying less crap, disposable things and processed food. And buying a house! Question – what do you use for trash bags for the kitchen/bathroom?

  69. I'm kind of in love with this post. So on point. Very useful tips. Some things we already do, some things to start doing and a few just to be in awe of you over (making your own deodarant=awesome). I wish all people would buy less crap. You go in a store and are overwhelmed by all the crap, which you know people are buying because, duh, it's there. And then I feel sort of sick when I think about how it can't last and it will be in a landfill. And about all the energy spent making it to start with. Ugh. Anyways, excellent points. (:

  70. Love this! I am a big fan of reeling in spending and making more conscious monetary decisions. I definitely got some useful tips here. Thank you.

  71. These are really, really great tips and I'm already thinking about these things when I'm buying something (something I didn't think about before). And now when I'm out with other people and they're thinking about buying something that I know they really don't need, I remind them by asking them if they really need it and that they should consider going home and thinking about the purchase, and if they still want it, they can always go back and get it (so it's not an impulsive buy, because I personally would be too lazy to go back to return things and sometimes they are nonrefundable.)

  72. Lovely list! Very inspiring. I've just started shopping for clothes second hand and am loving it! Who would've thought I could fill my wardrobe with $5 jeans!

  73. I just turned 30 last week and I've really been thinking a lot more on living purposefully…putting more weight behind my actions and the things I love. This post totally speaks to me!

  74. Great post! These are things we try to do in our own lives (though some are easier to stick to than others). One tip I would add, instead of having relatives give the kids toys or gift cards, ask them to gift memberships to local attractions! I learned this trick from a friend whose parents did just that. This year my parents gifted Margaux a zoo membership instead of things and it's a gift that'll last the whole year. Boom.

  75. Wow, Drea, I couldn't agree more! I've always hated wasting food and I love cooking – that's what you said, why buying tomato sauce when I can cook my own?
    Some months ago I moved from my country and from a shared flat to a teeny tiny studio. I threw away lots of things I didn't need, mostly of it, as you said, (useless) cheap crap and it felt right, almost purifying. Now I live more happily, with less stuff, trying to save money for the things I really want and not buying a lot of things that will make my studio crammed and messy – and still feeling right.
    Thanks for your advice!

  76. Beautiful post Drea! Couldn't agree with you more, but today especially, I needed this. So thank you!

  77. this is a beautiful post, thanks for taking the time to put down on paper the things that I've been trying to preach to my family and friends for a lifetime! not that I have it all down – it's an area that can constantly be improved upon. i.e. I've never tried making my own sandwich baggies…but I love the idea! you guys are great.


  78. i love this post so much! we just got started trying to live like this and i think we're doing a pretty darn good job. the hardest thing for me: nursing pads. which kinds do you suggest? i use disposable now and i go through them like crazy and they're SO EXPENSIVE. i cringe every time i buy them.
    ps we use cloth diapers and i swear we're saving millions! love it so much!

  79. this post was so good! i live by the motto to try to consume like my grandmother would have consumed….they ate whole foods, they re-used everything, they didn't buy on credit, and they didn't have the target cheap junk trap. Now, I do love a good target trip but I think about almost everything I purchase and attempt daily to consciously spend.

  80. This was a joy to read! I found your blog via a pin for this post and had jaded expectations for a 'minimalism' post based on others I've read that didn't have worthy content– not to mention SOUL! The images of your life are inspirational, and that's saying a lot when it's what gets me off of my behind and to the hard work of budgeting and saying goodbye to overwhelming possessions.


  81. This is amazing and much needed right now. I'm inspired to use my fabric scraps as napkins and clean out my ever-growing piles of "stuff." Thank you!

  82. Great, great post and so well expressed. Loved the pictures as well. The food thing is so true and it is hard to explain to people you can afford organic if you are focusing on changing your eating habits to real food and cutting out processed and boxed items.

  83. A brilliant post. I feel life has so much more value when you live within your means and appreciate the things you have. Or indeed if you buy something that will make a valuable contribution to your life rather than just the result of a quick purchase. I often find it hard to maintain but if I am in a shop and see something I want I often walk out, wait a day (or a few hours if I won't be back again) then return to it and then I realize its just clutter and I don't need it.

  84. these tips are perfect, and EXACTLY what I need to hear right now! Living on meager grad school income can be so hard, but I really really don't need most things I want to buy

  85. such a fantastic post! i follow the same sentiments in nearly all regards, but there are definitely a few that i am going to try out 😉

  86. I love all these tips and I agree with all of them too. I'm always shocked to find out that some people are always in an temperature controlled environment. Maybe it's because I live in a developing country or in a pretty moderate climate, but it has always seemed so wasteful to me. When we went to Thailand we did turn on the air conditioning at night because we'd have something closer to a fever dream than sleep when we didn't.

  87. What an inspiring post! I've been having trouble saving recently. I'm making the transition from college and being supported by my parents to supporting myself, graduating, and living on my own. It's definitely difficult to change your mindset! I'm trying to currently and hopefully I'll get better and better at saving and not spending.

    Thanks for such a great, inspiring post!

  88. YES!! so much good stuff. my husband and I just spent the last seven year working towards becoming debt free. we finally are!! we've adopted A LOT of these same ideas along the way and it's helped us reach our financial goals. life isn't fun when you spend it constantly worried about money. really loved this post.

  89. We have a lot of the same rules as you, now. But a few years ago, we got ourselves into some debts that we are still paying off. But in less than 2 years we will be out of debt (minus the mortgage), all while raising two small kids while working full-time and paying high daycare costs. Unfortunately, living in Canada means we have to turn the heat up more than I would like (hello -22C weather we have been having), but we try to only turn it up a little when going to the playroom in the basement. Some really great ideas here though, and I have already forwarded it to my Mom. One thing we don't do enough is "be a tourist in our own city" and explore/go on outings. We are currently planning our summer and trying to list as many free or inexpensive things as possible.

    One tip I would add – get a rewards card (like Airmiles). Sure, I don't earn enough to go on a trip, but for two summers in a row we have gone to the Toronto Zoo for free (using points), which is a great all-day outing (and we bring our food rather than buy it there) and saved us nearly $80!

    Another tip – check your library for free passes to museums etc. Not sure if this is strictly a Canadian thing, but our library has museum passes that will get families of 4 into local attractions for free. You can borrow them for two weeks at a time.

    Also at the library – the summer reading club for kids – great prizes (passes to attractions, free books etc.) and borrowing books rather than buying (our library also has movies and video games to borrow as well).

  90. Exactly what I needed to hear right now. I love your blog! Thanks so much for this encouragement, 🙂

  91. Great tips and a great post! I think a lot of it comes down to laziness. If you want to live a wonderful life on a budget, you can't be lazy. You have to be willing to plan ahead. You have to DIY. You have to shop around. And I love that you kind of point this out and say to enjoy that process. Sometimes when I'm busy or tired or stressed it just isn't fun, but most of the time it is. Great perspective on life, lady!


  92. This is my favorite post of yours ever and I have been reading for quite some time but rarely comment! I truly love all of the points you made, thank you for sharing!!!

  93. YES!!! So good!! We are in south florida also and keep our house temp at a balmy 80 degrees and with the ac/heat off as much as possible. I like to think that people not that long ago did not have ac so we don't have to have it either. 🙂

  94. Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes! This is SO GOOD Drea, and why I value you as a blogger. I share ALL of these values and I'm so glad you wrote about them so eloquently and thoughtfully. Thank you for living this way. And sharing about it. xoxo

  95. So many people I want to send that last part to about being happy with what you have. It's so important. People are always wanting more or comparing what they have to others, trying to follow a trend, not living within their means which just breeds negativity. I hope this post helps change some peoples minds! I know we have really tried to get rid of so much to start out living in our new house simply and loving what we have and only investing in pieces that will last and we love. Not buying cheap things to make do. No more of that. Thanks for posting this! It's perfect!

  96. This is a great post! 🙂 I've tried to live a simpler life over the past few months and de-clutter a lot, so some of these tips will definitely help! It is a constant challenge for me to be happy with what I have, hopefully when i'll get older (and wiser) i'll manage to live by more of these rules… And i definitely need to start cooking from scratch more. I always thought I had pretty healthy food habits but reading this, i feel like i can definitely do more. Thank you from France! xx

  97. I was looking forward to this post and you didn't disappoint Drea, it was excellent. Very positive and inspirational. A tip I'd add is to always take your own snacks and drinks when you go out. Children often complain they're thirsty and/or hungry, and I make sure we always have a drink each and something to eat, plus extra water and snacks always in the car. We can't afford to go for coffee and a cookie when we're out, but even if we could I'm sure we wouldn't, certainly not on a regular basis. It really mounts up, for things that don't really have any nutritional value. Thanks again for this post Drea, excellent.

  98. This is all so obvious when you read it, yet not if you know what I mean?! One of your best posts ever Drea. Thank you for writing it all down. I was nodding along in agreement, but I am going to save it and read again and again when I feel the need to 'keep up with the jones'.

  99. I'm currently a student (studying abroad at that) and every time I spend money on something I could have done myself, I get anxious. So many people around me spend, spend, spend that I don't know how they do it. Going out, eating at restaurants, going to events, going shopping…when I can't even remember the last time I bought shoes. I recently learned how to make a really good (vegan!) pizza dough and the pizzeria? Well, right now, I'm never going back.

  100. Best. post. ever. I think it helps that I feel as if I have been watching you do all of these things for years. Way to bring it home and inspire me all over again.

  101. I think this is my most favorite post you've ever written Drea! I am not very good with money, but I'm trying to get better. Especially now that its all me taking care of us. Thank you for posting this, reminding me how important investing in things is. xo!

  102. This is such a inspiring post! It's good to know that one can lead a life that is good for the human and the environment without costing a fortune, I definitely benefited from the tips 🙂 I only wish I knew about your blog sooner~

  103. this is a wonderful post! I kept agreeing with everything you said. my husband live pretty intentionally like you. stuff is stuff and it is suffocating when you try to pack too much in and fall into debt.

    Great job. for real. this post, your heart, it all!

  104. Oh my, I love this post! 🙂 I have some of the same rules like you, but I hope to live by more of them when I get older and (hopefully) have a family and a house 🙂 I have to link to it from my blog, hope that's okay?

    Another tip could be to paint your secondhand furniture. I bought an old table, that I think will last forever because of the quality. It was very cheap because of some staining, but it didn't matter because I had planned to paint it purple. I now love my one-of-a-kind table 🙂

    • Yes! of course its okay! And yes! I'm a big believer in upcycling furniture. Great tip!

  105. Great information. I thought I was living as inexpensively as I possibly could but I buy disposable things (tissues, paper towel etc). Your post has given me serious food for thought. Thank you from Australia.

  106. Favorite post you've ever written! I swear you are my soul sister. haha You and your Alex remind me of me and my Alex. Thanks for always reminding me to stop. and enjoy the process….

  107. Awesome post. Thank you for sharing your tips! It's always good to be reminded of things like these. I hope as I get older I'll get better at putting them into action!

  108. One of my favorite posts of yours! This was just the kickstart/reminder I needed, thank you. I am so so so in love with those stained glass shutters. Did those come with your home or did you find those thrifting as well?

    • they came with the home! So many fun quirky details in the house. I'm almost positive the owners two times previous to us were artists 🙂

  109. Really great post and very timely, at least for me. My long time boyfriend/fiance and I were just talking about this: bills, not spending money on crap, to buy a house? so on and so forth. Awesome post and great points! 🙂

  110. Hello! Long time lurker, first time commenting. This was beautiful. Perfect. Flawless. My husband and I work minimum wage jobs up in Ohio. We sell antiques for a living. People asked how we expected to make it and raise his teenaged daughter. To me, that was a personal challenge. Here we are, 2 years later, went from broken down Volkswagen to car payment, from a tiny apartment to a small and lovely house with a yard and have enough left over to get our whiskey on at home. All from cooking from scratch, Craigslist and fantastic blogs like this one. I'm proud of you!!