Downshifting means working towards simple living by making conscious choices to leave materialism behind and move on to a more sustainable lifestyle. It does not mean simply cutting back and trying to live the same life only with less money. Downshifting requires prioritizing, an adjustment in values, and a totally different mindset… not just a change to a more frugal way of living.

People decide to downshift for a variety of reasons. Many want to get away from “living competitively”… job stress, consumerism, and feeling they have to live up to someone else’s expectations. Other people downshift because of a life changing experience, health reasons, or a crisis in the family. Often downshifting comes out of a wish to conserve natural resources. Whatever the reason, downshifting isn’t limited to any age or income level.

Once the decision to downshift has been made, then comes the question of how. Usually the first step is to create more free time for yourself by working fewer hours. This may involve something as simple as cutting down on overtime, or it may involve changing jobs or deciding to work at home. There is no one solution that fits every circumstance because everyone’s situation and needs are different. Taking your time to analyze your own options will prevent you from making any hasty spur of the moment decisions that you might later regret.

Hand in hand with a change in the number of hours worked is the need to consume less and therefore spend less. As you prioritize your true needs and wants, you will find that many of the “things” you used to spend money on no longer seem important. You will also discover that a more balanced life will feel very empowering because your new simple living changes will result in actually having more options and access to more discretionary money even though you are earning, spending and consuming less than you did before.

Here are some downshifting ideas to get you started, but keep in mind that living a simple life is not about self-denial… you should not give up something that is really important to you.

  • Limit the number of services you purchase. Anytime you can do something for yourself instead of paying someone to do it for you, you can save considerable amounts of money.
  • Eat out infrequently, if at all. It is easy to get in the habit of stopping for a quick meal instead of taking the time to cook dinner, but this is one area where there can be really big savings, plus the real food you cook at home is always much healthier.
  • Change the way you shop for groceries. Comparison shopping and buying to restock your pantry and your refrigerator when items you use regularly are on sale results in huge savings.
  • Live green. Recycle, start composting, and limit what you throw away. Conserve gasoline, electricity and other resources to help reduce your carbon footprint.

Over the last several years there has been a huge change in attitudes and values and for many people a change in the definition of real success. Personal growth, an enjoyment of life and feeling a real connection to family while keeping a healthy balance between work and free time have become more important than titles and big incomes. More and more people now believe that even one person can help change the world. Downshifting can be that first step!

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Comments

Alexandra

Nice article…I’m linking. :)

Di

This is a great article and I like your practical tips. Thanks

Andy @ Retire at 40

Downshifting is actually one of most recent changes in my life. I decided to downsize not only my home but lots of other parts of my life too.

Since I’ve started this journey, I have become happier and healthier, I exercise more, I eat better at home and I am saving much more money than before. Oh, and I’m working four days a week instead of five!

Faith

I’m trying…..I’m trying.. So glad I found your blog……me too…I want
SIMPLICITY…SEARCHING……….

Deepika

Thanks for the Article. It makes you rethink about your life style and lets you see into yourself, even though if it is for a moment.

downshiftingnow - the marvels of a normal life

Hey, this is great. I’ve just started my downshifting journey… in my own way, but it’s good to know I’m not alone! thanks!

Lifestyle Lift Journey

I totally agree with you Shirley. My family is working toward voluntary simplicity. Our changes to achieve the goal are gradual but we do gain great satisfaction every time we manage to simplify a small potion of our life. Sometimes we get too stressed by living competitively and tempted to go wrong way. Whenever that happens we try to stop and think what’s really important for our lives. That usually brings us back to the right track of a simple life. Thank you for your post. I’m glad to find your blog. It’s very encouraging.

Brice

Less is more.

Jireh Malinuca

Yep,,,i’m so grateful,i got a chance to view your blog….i’m a student and i really devote myself in living a simpler life…here in phillipines..thanks

Jane

Reclaiming Jane…that’s what I’m trying to do, moved to Fort Collins, Colorado and my commute is 39 seconds (for real).
Is anyone else on sensory overload? With all of the ways too stay in touch, I’ll admit,sometimes I simply don’t want to be found…don’t need to tweet or skype or constantly be texting on my smart phone.
There is solace in silence. Does anyone else feel the same?

DLHB

I have been researching wood burning ovens as an alternative to electrical ranges when I came across you blog! Now I am reassured that the choice I am making is in fact possible! Amazing article. Thank you for taking the time and effort to keep this blog! It has so many amazing things I will be able to reference once we get ours put in :o)

Truly Thank you!

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm

This is a a great blog! We are downshifting, leaving our jobs and rental home to take to the road in our camper full time. We are touring across Canada, wintering in BC. We will work along the way and workamp. This, along with our home businesses (I am an artist) will, we hope, be enough to supply our meager, downsized needs – no rent/morgage, no debt!

We are absolutely thrilled with our new decision and are leaving at the end of July! We are very excited about it and can’t wait to drive away!

Marlies

I am thankful to have come across your blog. I agree with Jane on there being solace in silence. I would much rather hear the birds singing or at least my dog (I have a malamute) howling than have the tv on all day. I too am finding my way back to a simple life and enjoying the simple pleasures instead of this idea of sensory overload.

NWO

For me this article is what its about. I want to work less and enjoy life more. I have cut back on spending, doing my own gardening, growing vegetables and fruit, recycling things, making do and mending before spending! I am almost as the stage where I could consider part time work, and sustain the same lifestyle, freeing up my time to explore the things I want to do, and probably be able to cut down my expenses further in the process. I want to work to live and not live to work.

Joy Christena

I am a senior and finally have more time for the important things in life, like seeing more of family and friends, getting rid of excess material things in my life, doing things i love (like teaching dance to seniors, started taking more photographs and developing this interest, reading ebooks while sitting in cafe and sipping cappaccino) and that contribute to others. I have little money, live in a converted garage in Brooklyn, buy at supermarkets like Aldi and Trader Joe, walk much of the time and love it, or take mass transportation. Would love to talk to other seniors re shifting to a simpler lifestyle that is rich in non material things.

Joy Christena

Amy

Thank you for this page. I am only in my early 30s and have ‘burnt’ out three times already due to work pressures.time to cut down to a 32 hour week I think and start appreciating a simpler life.
Sheryl…good lack to you..sounds fantastic

Marlies

Trying to live a simpler life is an absolute eye-opener. My husband works outside of D. C. (home is in WV) and seems to be chasing money. Not a good priority; in his defense, there are no electrical jobs where we live that pay what he is used to. I cannot get him to understand that money is not everything. Things that need to be done aren’t are a casualty of his working too many hours. Thank you for listening.