How to Handle a Lifestyle Downgrade

We all go through times in our life when we are less prosperous or have access to fewer material goods than we previously had.

A prime example that most of us go through is a dip in our lifestyle when we move out on our own for the first time. Hard reality sets in and suddenly we understand that Mom and Dad can afford the big house, vacations twice a year and a luxury car, but we can’t – at least not yet.

The great recession forced many of us to figure out how to live differently and with less.

It is much more difficult to downsize your life than to grow your lifestyle. Bigger lifestyles creep up on us as we add goods and services incrementally over time. When we have to give some of those up in order to stay solvent, it can hurt. It can cause depression and anger. But it doesn’t have to do so.

Here are some suggestions on how to handle a lifestyle downgrade. They aren’t professional psychological advice, just common sense approaches to keeping a quality life with less.

Find ways to cut that don’t matter to you so much.

On the way up, we added things that we no longer use or care to have. Getting rid of those things and charges can simplify your life and save you money.

Perhaps you don’t get to the gym enough to make the fee worthwhile. Why not substitute a new and more exciting physical activity instead? Bike riding, tennis playing, hiking or in home training are all possibilities.

Maybe you are tired of always eating out at restaurants. You hate the time spent, the fatty choices and the crowds. Try skipping a meal out, maybe even try skipping the meal itself! At the very least, find an alternative that works for you, whether it is a hearty snack, a home cooked meal or dinner at Mom’s.

You can also do a treasure hunt to find those silent money suckers we all have. Small habits, such as turning off the lights, unplugging appliances and turning down the furnace can shave dollars off your expenses with no impact to your quality of life.

Substitute better quality activities for the things you cut.

If you do have to give up something you love, look for a new activity that you want to try, one that is less expensive to do, but satisfying to you. Instead of taking the kids to a professional ball game, go play ball with them. Instead of vacationing at Disney World, try a camping expedition to a nearby state park.

Find ways to make your hobbies pay you (or at least for themselves).

Lets face it, hobbies can be expensive. If you love yours, see if you can find a way to make it pay for itself. Sell items you make or give lessons to someone for a fee or use them as gifts or marketing freebies for your business to attract new customers.

Set a goal and work towards it.

Quality of life is greatly enhanced when you are accomplishing something important to you. What have you always wanted to do? Figure out the steps you need to take to get there and start working through them.

De clutter and live with zest.

Over time we accumulate stuff. Stuff is fun when new and different, but it costs money and it can cost money to maintain. Plus it takes up space, needs to be dusted and gets old and uninteresting. Why not let someone else discover the joy of your stuff. Sell it or give it away and take a tax deduction. Your home will seem larger when you do.

Live in the moment.

Agonizing over the lifestyle change will not make you happy. Sure, you need to deal with it and get things back under control, but as the saying goes ‘You only go around once’. Live life before it passes you by, live in the moment. Force yourself to be aware of a beautiful sunset, a fresh cool breeze after a warm spell, the beauty of the sparkling new fallen snow or of your child’s sleeping face.

Chose your attitude, don’t let it chose you.

You can influence your thoughts and emotions. Focus on the positive, not the bad stuff. Studies actually have shown that your focus determines your direction. Think about the positive side of your life and you move towards it. Think about the negative and it draws you down.

Do something nice for someone else.

Helping others gives humans a natural high. Do something nice for someone else every week. It doesn’t have to involve money or even much time. Light up someone’s face by recognizing their work. Hold the door for someone with an armload of baby. Simple, spontaneous acts can lift your spirits and make your day.

Have you endured a lifestyle change? How did you manage your happiness through it?