Live a Good Life in a Bad Economy: Live Simply
By Jeannette Samanen

Jackie enjoyed great success in sales until the economy tanked, and she watched her
commissions shrivel.  Jackie drove an expensive car, ate at fancy restaurants and spent
heavily on entertainment.  She enjoyed looking good and liked buying the latest

She saw no way to maintain her lifestyle, however, on a fraction of her normal income.

Jackie felt upset and depressed about her shrinking means, until she came to view the
situation as a challenge.  When she stepped back to consider where she could
economize, Jackie identified a number of ways to cut back.

As she began to live more simply, she learned to do without many of the things she
had long considered necessities.  Though Jackie's financial situation remained tight,
living simply relieved a lot of the pressure and completely changed her experience of
the situation.

You Can't Control the Economy, but
You'll Reduce It's Impact if You Simplify Your Life.

We're living in hard economic times.  You may have little or no control over shrinking
income or the declining value of your investment portfolio.  You do, however, have
control over how you deal with these realities.  How you handle reduced financial
circumstances will significantly impact your situation.  

Learning to live simply will help relieve the pressure.

Our culture tells us that the key to happiness is that expensive new car, a big house or
the latest electronic device.  However, research shows that obtaining something new
makes you happy only briefly.  You soon habituate to whatever you just bought,
leaving you no happier than before.  Before long you are looking for the next great
thing, which will ultimately disappoint you, as well.  When you recognize that the
things you buy do not create happiness you take the first step toward living simply.

Learn to know the difference between what you want and what you need.

We all have basic needs:  the fundamental needs of food, clothing and shelter, the need
for transportation, the need for entertainment.  In our affluent society, it's easy to get
confused between what you want and what you need. Learn to ask yourself, "Do I
really need this, or is it just something I want?"

For example, you need a car to get around, but a smaller car with better gas mileage
will do the job and be better for the environment than the flashy model of your
dreams.  You may want a new outfit, but do you really need it? If your answer to this
question is "Yes!" then learn to enjoy the treasure hunt that shopping at consignment
stores provides. You can even consign some of the clothes you no longer need.

Jackie had never had much interest in cooking.  She ate out so much, she didn't need to
bother. Once she started eating -- and entertaining -- at home she found she actually
enjoyed creating dishes for herself and her friends.

By disconnecting her cable service, Jackie saved the monthly fee which added up over
the year.  It was hard to imagine living without multiple TV channels until she joined a
book club and discovered the pleasure of reading books.  The books cost her nothing,
since she got them from the library, and she enjoyed the lively discussions with her
book club friends, also free of charge.

The Best Things in Life are Free

In addition to the needs mentioned above, we have other basic needs:  the need for
love and companionship, the need to feel a sense of accomplishment, the spiritual
need for connection to a source greater than ourselves.  Here is the great news:  
satisfying these needs takes no money at all.

When you simplify your life, you free time and attention that can be directed to the
things that give true satisfaction.  Spending more time with your family and friends,
walking in nature, spending time in meditation, prayer or religious fellowship will
enhance your life more than material possessions ever can.

Less involved with entertaining for business, Jackie spent more time with her family
and friends.  She also found time to run in the evenings after work.  As her arms and
legs pumped in rhythm to her breathing, she learned to release the stresses of the day.  
Though her sales figures remained low, her speed and distance improved steadily,
providing her with a sense of accomplishment.

Jackie took the old guitar she had from her college days out of the closet where it had
been gathering dust.  On those evenings when discouragement threatened to overtake
her, playing her guitar seemed to help.  Strumming the familiar chords didn't improve
her financial situation, but it relaxed her, distracted her from her worries and somehow
put things in perspective. The satisfaction Jackie gained from steady progress with her
music offset her unhappiness about the bad economy and its impact on her life.

Jackie has come to value living simply. She doesn't miss many of the things she'd once
assumed were a necessary part of her life. In many ways, she finds her life richer than
when she had greater financial security.

No one knows when the economy is going to pick up again.  By learning to live
simply, you can get more enjoyment from your life while you are waiting.

About the author: Drawing on skills and expertise developed over 30 years experience,
Philadelphia life coach Jeannette Samanen PhD provides effective life coaching, empowering you
to achieve your goals.  You will receive her free article "5 Easy Steps to Access Your Inner
Wisdom" when you subscribe to her
"Make Your Good Life Better" newsletter.

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