Gas and food prices are going up. So are credit card and mortgage interest rates. Do you find yourself at a loss for energy and quality time, with or without your family? Join the club! We are constantly urged, by society or our conscience, to simplify. But how many of us actually take steps to do it?

   I've learned to ask myself a few questions before I buy something. Is there anything on this list you could adopt?

   1. What is the value to price ratio? Is it on sale? If not, 95% of the time, I won't buy it. Is it worth what it is being sold for? Will I absolutely use or wear it to merit spending the money on it?

   2. Can I wait? If I can wait 2-4, even 6 weeks to buy it, one of two things will have happened: I will have forgotten about it, ergo I DON'T NEED IT. OR, I will have found a way to get it cheaper or make up for the expense somewhere else.

   3. Do I really need it? Yeah, that cutlery set is gorgeous, but the forks I already have are doing their job pretty well... And that lawn mower in the back yard? The blade won't turn! Do I really need a new one, or can I get it repaired?

   4. What are my goals? If I want to pay off the credit card, it does no good to go out on a shopping spree. PAY OFF THE CREDIT CARD! Or what about that trip to Spain I want to save up for? If I buy this item, how many steps behind will I be? And how many little items will I justify buying? How much further behind will this put me on my goal? Little purchases ($20-50-$100) can add up.

Now that I've asked myself these questions, I have to look around the house. What can I get rid of? Do I have enough for a yard sale? If not, I take it to the Goodwill or Salvation Army and I get a receipt for the value of my donated stuff. That's tax-deductible! 

Here's more stuff you can do to simplify:

   1. Fix your own meals at home. It's cheaper and better for you.

   2. Decide what things you really don't need and have a garage sale. Purging the closets and drawers makes me feel mentally refreshed, and the house feels cleaner and more organized.

   3. Turn the TV off. In fact, I've cut the cable down to just the local channels, and I invested in a DVD player that has wifi access. I pay $8 a month for Hulu, and I get all the TV I need. Our family doesn't miss cable! 

   4. Coupons. I've just started on this and last time I went to the store, I saved $20 just by using coupons. Coupons are especially great for toiletries (body wash, razors, etc.) when you happen to find a "Buy One, Get One" deal. The down-side is that, for food, most coupons are for prepackaged, processed food full of chemicals, preservatives and who-knows-what. 

   5. Get a water filter or purifying system at home. Buying bottles of water can get expensive and pollutes the environment with all that plastic. Not only that, but it supports the shady business practices of big companies who are "harvesting" that water. (See the documentary Tapped.)

   6. Grow a garden, even if it's in your window sill. There's just nothing like tasting a tomato kissed by real warm sunshine.

   7. Run all your errands as a gas-saving route on one day.  You can save gas by scheduling a minimum number of stops and mileage traveled if you PLAN your work and work your plan.

   8. Drive the speed limit. First of all, any speed over 65 is only going to waste your gas. Make the most efficient use of your gas by driving the limit and keeping your tires at optimum air pressure. Second, are you really in that much of a hurry? Feeling hurried makes us anxious, increases blood pressure, and could possibly affect driving ability. Slow down. 

   9. Take ONLY the medications you need. Studies have shown that too many Americans are deficient in too many vitamins and minerals, mainly due to diet. Eat your vegetables. Put down the processed foods. Eat less. Lose weight. Do research. Are you taking medications to treat the side effects of other medications? Chances are you can find an alternative, natural or not, to treat the REAL underlying problem. Don't treat the symptom. FIX THE PROBLEM.

   10. Relax. American lives are stressed ones. We hurry from one place to another. We stress about paying the bills. Too many crimes are committed because we can't control our anger. 
   Take a break. Even if it means only taking a bath. Drink a cup of Nettle tea.
   Take a breath. Taking a few deep cleansing breaths can be very relaxing, and it's good for your circulatory system.
   Stretch. It keeps you limber and is also an excellent way to calm yourself.
   Exercise. A proven way to feel better. There is no argument for this one.
Alright guys, there's a start. For more tips, here's a link I found to a blog dedicated to simplification:

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