Why I Focus on Simplicity (and How You Can Simplify Your Life in 2016)

I just got home from a 5-day trip to Toronto, where I attended the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. It was my third time attending the conference and my first time speaking at it, and it felt great to be in a room with so many friends again. I like going to FinCon in the U.S. every year, but that conference keeps getting bigger and crazier. This year, with more than 900 attendees, I truly felt like it had lost its community feel; fortunately, the Canadian conference has maintained it.

With just 125 of us in one room, the conversations were longer, went deeper and were more authentic. We shared successes, discussed plans for the future and politely offered to help each other wherever possible (as Canadians do). Still, I occasionally feel as though my blog doesn’t quite fit into the personal finance niche anymore, since I’ve embraced minimalism and found so much joy in a life with less. A few people actually asked me why I’ve decided to focus on these topics, and the answer is easy:

When I was in debt, that was all I could see. Paydays, due dates and outstanding balances – all I saw was numbers and they caused me nothing but stress. I attached my self-worth to my negative net worth, and couldn’t see past all of my mistakes. I simplified my life out of necessity, cut out all of my “wants” from my budget and sometimes felt as though I was depriving myself… but I paid off my debt in two years, and have enjoyed the benefits of a life without it ever since.

Obviously, getting out of debt changed some things for me, but it was just the beginning of my journey to live a more intentional life. Since then, I’ve embraced minimalism, gotten rid of 75% of my belongings, challenged myself to do a two-year shopping ban, and truly changed my relationship with money and “stuff”. I’ve also created healthier routines, taken better care of myself, nurtured my relationships, been more mindful of my digital life and travelled everywhere my budget has allowed.

Getting out of debt was a good first step, but breaking down every part of my life (including my personal finances) and simplifying it is what has truly changed me and made me a happier person. One additional bonus is that it has allowed me to connect with another community of bloggers, all of whom share the belief that simplifying is the answer to many of our problems. So when Courtney Carver asked if I wanted to contribute to an online course on this subject, I jumped at the opportunity.

A Simple Year

If you want to simplify your life in 2016, A Simple Year can help. Each month, you’ll tackle a new topic pertaining to your life, such as clutter, busyness, self-care, food, relationships, work, travel and, of course, money. Our contributors will guide you through written content, homework, live webinars and other resources. I’ll be guiding you through the topic of money, and will be including a few new worksheets + a copy of the Mindful Budgeting Program.

There’s a full course outline on our website, where you can review the list of topics and lessons we’ll cover throughout the year. While I’m only guiding you through one topic, I am personally looking forward to being a participant every month, as there is so much wisdom in this group. From now until November 20th, we’re offering this yearlong course for $180 (25% off the regular price and only $15/month). In January, registration will open again at the full price of $240.

I hope you’ll consider joining Leo Babauta, Courtney Carver, Jules Clancy, Brooke McAlary, Rachel Macy Stafford, Erin Somerville, Tammy Strobel, Colin Wright and myself, as we try to help you make 2016 a joyful, thoughtful and simple year. 🙂