September 17, 2010

Living a Simpler Retirement Life - 12 Places to Start

Over the past few years one of the biggest trends in the world of blogging has been the number of sites that promote living a simpler life. If you do a computer search for phrases like voluntary simplicity, zen living,  minimalism or frugality the number of hits will be in the millions.

What is the attraction?  Maybe you are looking for a more satisfying retirement lifestyle. It could be a desire to spend more time on things you like. That may include travel, or becoming deeply involved in gardening or photography. Maybe you want to create your own home-based business. Perhaps volunteering has become a passion.

One thing I am sure of: you are not looking for ways to do more dusting, cleaning, repairing, and maintaining stuff you own. Living a simpler life with less clutter has strong appeal for many. Eliminate things that take you away from what you really enjoy. Get back to basics.

One important point should be made: simplicity in living doesn't have to mean frugality. Attempting to be as frugal as possible will usually necessitate a simpler lifestyle. But, a lifestyle with less stuff isn't necessarily frugal. It is more about surrounding yourself with what is important to you and ridding your life of what does not.

I admit living a simpler life appeals to me. My wife and I cut our living space nearly in half when our daughters left home 10 years ago. I have given away most of the books that I’m not likely to re-read. I have eliminated cable TV because I watch very little television. My backyard has been converted to low maintenance planting so I don’t spend hours watering and pruning. I am perfectly comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt most days. In fact, I just purged my clothes closets by probably 30% by donating them to a thrift store run by a prison ministry organization. Others could use the shirts, sports coats, sweaters, and dress slacks I no longer wear.

 If you'd like to explore this subject
a bit more I have put together a list of some of the blogs  I check often. Click on the blog title to go directly to each site.From each you should get some ideas on simplifying your retirement lifestyle.

Musings of a Midlife Mom:Spending Less With Living More. Sharon reveals her daily struggle to keep to a budget and still enjoy life while keeping her family happy.

Happy Simple Living Blog deals with life balance, kindness, and making the most of what we have.

Unclutterer: This blog deals with reducing clutter and staying organized as a way of being more productive at home and on the job. His ideas are practical and helpful. There is an extensive category list on the right side of the home page.

My Simpler Life: this blog’s goal is to help you create a saner, simpler life. On the right side of the home page is a list of almost two dozen topics. Each one has practical and thought-provoking ideas. That's where I suggest you start is this is whole concept is a little foreign to you.

Rowdy Kittens: Social Change Through Simple Living. One of the leaders in this field, the blog with the funny name has been a leader in controlling your possessions and staying focused on building a simpler life for several years.

Remodeling This Life  is a new site to me. The category list on the right sidebar contains some excellent material. Start with Simple Living and read all the posts, both new and old. Then, move onto another trail.

Zen Habits: One of the biggest and most successful blogs about living a simple life. The number of articles and the range of subjects could keep you busy for weeks. The author writes in a relaxed, personal style that fits the subject perfectly. The link will take you to his first-rate beginners guide.

Living a Simple Life is all about living a happy simple life by getting back to the basics. I really enjoy this couple’s commitment to walking away from the elements of progress that complicate our lives and add stress. These folks follow true simplicity.

Choosing Voluntary Simplicity. All about finding balance in your life and waking up happy each morning. Shirley uses a very personal, one-to-one style that works well. Her archives contain a wealth of fascinating articles. This blog is worth a long visit. I am inspired almost every time I'm here. She writes with true understanding and passion on this subject.

Frugal Dad As you might guess this blog is more focused on the financial side of things. But, he discusses things like drying your clothes on a line outside and downsizing to save money instead of growing your 401K. How About “ How to Save Money on a Tailgate Party” as an off-the-wall topic? I like this guy.

365 Less Things is a fascinating blog. The tag line is reducing our stuff one day at a time. Writer Colleen wants to "declutter every wardrobe, bench, shelf, under bed, pantry and garage space in my home by giving away, throwing away or selling one item everyday for the next twelve months."  What a great idea!  I hope when her year is up she finds a reason to do it all over again.

Finally, I ran across an excellent article for you to read. Living Simply: A Lasting and Fulfilling Way of Life is a well-written explanation of why living simply can be good for you.

Related Posts

Originally posted in September 2010, this has been the single most-viewed post since Satisfying Retirement began in June 2010. As of February 2012 I have freshened a few of the suggested links to include new sites and added some additional thoughts. If this is your first time reading this post I  hope you find the subject and links helpful.

If you'd like to add a comment to those already shown, please do so. I will be notified and respond to you. And, as one of the most visited articles on the blog, there are new people seeing this every single day who would enjoy your thoughts. A satisfying retirement looks different for every one of us. Let's talk about it.


  1. Great post today. We have simplified in many ways over the past few years and even more when I retired this summer. Sold our second car and now have only one. Sold our large 4 bedroom house and are currently in a small apartment. Even when we buy again, we will definitely get a smaller place. Use the library instead of buying books. Cook at home instead of eating out.

  2. Sounds as though you are definitely on the right track, Don. We eat out as a special treat, maybe once a week at most. With the number of cars in restaurant parking lots all day, every day, I wonder why homes come with kitchens anymore!

    I use the hold system at our library like my personal bookshelf. I find a few books I want, have the library find them at other branches and e-mail when they are at the branch nearest our home. Free and simple.

    Thanks for your simplifying actions.

  3. I am almost done with the cable option analysis - planning on saving about $100/mo since we watch so little TV. TIVO with an antenna will give us all of the local channels for $10/mo. Also looking into Google TV which is just hitting the streets. I am taking over cutting the lawn - a small piece of grass in the backyard - to save $120/mo. I bought a leaf blower yesterday and am looking on Craigslist for a cheap push mower and away we go. We recently did a renovation of most of the house and at that time got rid of a LOT of excess stuff. We figure that if we decide to move again, the less the better.

  4. You've been a busy guy! Everything on your list is doable by almost anyone. Great stuff.

    Speaking of TV, I'm going to hook my laptop to my TV so I can stream Hulu and other sites. I'm not sure if the quality will be acceptable, but I'll give it a shot. If not, a WiFi blue-ray DVD player will allow me to stream Netflix and Pandora. That should take care of all my video needs. Bye-Bye $100 a month cable.

  5. I'm down with simpler living. I've always felt my life was too complicated anyways.

  6. Thanks for including us in your list Bob. You have a great site here that I'm sure is helping a lot of people make the most of the time they've worked so hard to enjoy.

    Stop by and say hi again sometime!


  7. Thanks, Everett. I do enjoy reading what you are accomplishing.

    Note: Evertt is the blogger from the Simple Living Blog listed above.

  8. Starshardo...

    Thanks for stopping by and "voting." Life can certainly get complicated, even when we try to control it.

  9. Netflix- we are movie addicts and this cuts our movie purchasing to nothing.
    Cleaning the barn- when we moved in the military we often put things in storage. Sixteen years after getting out of a twenty year career- we are finally going through boxes stored in the barn! Soon we will have a "dollar or less" sale. I have to figure our how to sale antique silver and hummels on the internet though. Those are both taking up space and need new homes.
    Putting in fruit and nut trees. We have lots of acres (something that needs to be downsized in the next five years). We are planting trees on the parts of the property where we will build our final - two bedroom- home. Planning that is a whole different post!

  10. Wow! Thanks for all the info. You've been attacking the issue from all sides. I'd love to hear about your home-building adventure. Maybe I can talk you into writing a guest post on this blog about the perils and pitfalls of the project!

    Netflix is next on my list. I bought a cable today to connect my laptop to the TV. I'll see if the quality is OK. But, streaming from Netflix is the way to go. Paying up to $5 ($7 for HD) from the cable company for an On Demand movie is just silly.

    Will you sell the silver and Hummels on E-Bay? There are risks but it is probably safer and quicker than other options.

    Thanks, Janette, for your comments. And, I was serious about following the house-building adventure!

  11. We have embraced many of these consumer cost saving measures for years, including the ones you mentioned, long before thrifty was popular. You asked us to share one .... one not on your list is dropping the land line (you can port your home number to your cell if you want to keep that number).

    Of course, at some point its not principally about the money. For example, we have long valued returning our time, talent, and treasure to our Parish and other charities, and we have regularly taken extended family vacations. These are material expenses, but we can afford them and they bring us joy. As you have written previously, they are experiences, not "stuff." Also, and I think this is significant, they reflect deliberate choices, not autopilot reactions based on what the Jones own. Ours may not be the right choices for everyone, but they are right for us, at least at this time.

    Enjoy the weekend.

  12. You make an important point. If something brings joy to you or others and it is affordable, there is no reason to not take that vacation or whatever it may be. Saving money just to save money can be as damaging as spending it recklessly.

    Our family vacations to Hawaii when the kids were growing up weren't inexpensive. But, for the memories and family bonding they were priceless. On one of those trips all four of us became certified and went scuba diving together. We will remember that forever. As you said, we made a deliberate choice.

    Thanks for the mention of the landline. We dumped ours 4 months ago and have not regretted the decision.

    By the way, I mentioned in earlier comments about wanting to connect the laptop to the TV. It works beautifully with a very nice digital quality picture. We just finished watching a show on Hulu...almost no commercials and free.

  13. I've hooked my computer up to the TV before, and it makes me wonder why I have cable at all. Another thing to do to live a simpler life is to line dry you clothes (if the weather/climate permits).

    1. I always do and have tomind you wind is good windy weather helps dry the clothes here in windy wellington,wet rain does not and this is the spare room time with windows all open slightly to dry clothes without a dank sick odour if they dry without fresh air circulating the room.

  14. Yes, there are several alternatives less expensive than cable. I'm getting closer to that decision. My contract is up in March.

    Interesting that you mention drying clothes on a line outside. Click on the Frugal Dad link above, scroll down a story or two, and there is a posting about that subject.

  15. hi bob - my take on simpler living is that it's part of essential wellness, that you can't feel well without a degree of simplicity in your life. simplicity works with children too as well as in retirement, which I wrote about on Friday on one of the blogs you mention, smaller living. I'd recommend anyone that hasn't to give simpler living a try.

  16. Welcome, Mark. I read your guest post about simple living with children last week and loved it. So much so, that it inspired me to write a followup to my post of a month ago about learning life lessons from a 3 year old. I'll post it later this week.

    I think children prefer a simpler existence. They are overwhelmed everyday with learning and experiencing new things. Keeping their lives simple can have a tremendous benefit. You are absolutely correct that a simpler lifestyle has benefits for all ages.

    Readers: here is a link to Mark's guest post from last week. You may need to cut and paste, but Mark's piece is worth the effort.

    Also, while you're at it, click on Mark's red-highlighted name and visit his own blog. New Habit: Wellness for Life. I've never seen it before, but I have now signed up for regular feeds. I like it.

  17. This post is such a great resource! Thanks so much.

    My life is so much simpler than it was a few years ago and it's so satisfying. The biggest step I take at the moment is to think twice before buying anything. Do I really need it?

    Living simply is also a great contribution to averting the environmental crisis at hand.

  18. Your point about the potential for a positive environmental impact from a simpler life style is an important one to make. Just avoiding a lot of the packaging that stuff comes in helps.

    Like you, I try to wait before the purchase of a "want." If I still want it a few days later and I can afford it then I'll go ahead. Too many purchases end up being spur-of-the-moment.

    I like the look of your blog ( I have signed up for the feed. Thanks for stopping by and adding your thoughts.

  19. Thanks for all the great links, Bob! We also have an old computer hooked up to the Tv and watch Netflix movies and Hulu that way. I love watching old shows like Father Knows Best, which you can find on Hulu.

    We recently purchased some land to build a much smaller house when my husband retires. I don't want so much to clean!

    I recently read a book called The Ultimate Cheapskate, which I'd recommend for anybody wanting to live a more frugal, and more fulfilling life.

  20. The TV program providers and cable companies keep arguing over how much to raise rates. I guess they don't understand the growing threat of sites like Netflix and Hulu. One of my wife's favorite old TV shows is "Father Knows Best." Now we know where to find it.

    Thanks for the book reference. I see it is available through your blog. I'll check it out.

  21. Simple living can give more benefits to the family, especially during the time of retirement. You can earn more money through simple living and lifestyle.

  22. While I do agree that having a zen life is good, question is how easy is it to attain? Great post..

  23. Billy,

    Zen is a particular form or style of a simple life, but not the only way to simplifying. In most cases it is not that tough to cut back and reduce unnecessary consumption.