You might have seen buzz on Instagram, TikTok, or other platforms about the "soft life," but just what is it, and what has spurred this trend? And better yet, what does it take to financially afford or even sustain such a lifestyle?
Well, according to reports, it's “a life of ease, peace, comfort, and intentional happiness." It is a rejection of the idea that you must hustle in all aspects of your life (ie. work 50 hours a week, exercise 10 hours a week, or have a packed social calendar). For some, it is a protest against the idea that they have to grind through life for others for decades and still barely be able to live.
The challenge that is cropping up with this movement is influencers conveying that a soft life equals a life of luxury and opulence without many discussing what it means financially. Many people can’t cover their bills and save money on the average salary of one job, which poses a challenge, as the popular luxury depiction of a "soft life" can encourage young people to go into debt.
You might want to start living the soft lifestyle but you're not sure if you can afford to when you see influencers living so luxuriously. Here are some important financial aspects to consider:
This is not the sexy part of living a soft life, but it's absolutely essential to living the lifestyle you want. You need to be aware of where you're spending your money. Then ask yourself whether those areas of spending bring you joy and peace, or whether they align with how you want to spend your energy? For example, are you spending $200 a week eating out with friends just because you don’t want to feel left out? Would cutting that amount in half to get a pedicure once a month and watching Netflix with your dog once a week bring you more peace?
Student Loan Hero provides five budgeting methods you can use right away. Pick the one that fits you and do it for at least a month before you make any long-term changes in spending. At the end of the month, select two things that you want to incorporate into your life that makes it "softer" and identify what you can change in your budget to accommodate those things. Make the budget easy and rewarding so you are more likely to stick with it.
Simplify and minimize.
Simplifying your life can greatly reduce mental stress and save money at the same time. Consider reducing your space to a tiny house, RV, or small apartment. Living with less means spending less time and money on things that aren’t essential, and the practice gives you time back to live a soft life on your terms to do things like taking monthly weekend getaways. My family just moved across the country, got rid of 85% of our stuff, and downsized from a 2,400-square-foot house to a 1,500-square-foot apartment by a marina and beach. It's one of the best decisions we have ever made.
Incorporate soft life habits that are budget friendly
Living the soft life is really a mentality that you are not going to hustle and rush through life to try to keep up with all of the things that society says you should be doing, and that includes all the trending luxuries. For example, experts suggest the simple act of taking 30 minutes in the morning to drink coffee and meditate in a quiet place or going or a nature walk as part of the soft life. Do you love reading, listening to music, or a bike ride by the beach? None of that is expensive.
Avoid debt and invest first.
High debt will eventually lead to high stress. If you want a car or home, you might eventually have some debt, however it should be debt that sets you up for a future and is well below what you can afford. Don’t go into debt to buy the latest fashion or keep up with social media trends.
If you are considering buying something on credit, put the information into a debt calculator first and see how much it will cost you in the end. It's also a good idea to set up automatic savings investments through a 401K, IRA, or other automated savings methods. Most companies offer retirement accounts with company matches (bonus savings) and financial advice.
Learn more about your relationship with money and ways to invest and save your money, for a future soft life, by following sound advice from some of our favorites like the Frugal Feminista or My Fab Finance. By following a plan, it won’t take long for you to save up for financing a "soft" lifestyle.
This one requires more courage – chuck the whole idea that you have to work a dedicated job for someone else, have a mortgage, or two cars. More and more people are working flexible, remote jobs as contractors or freelancers and traveling around or living in places with a lower cost of living.
If you could do the same type of work in Wilmington, N.C. or Lagos, Portugal as you do in Newport Beach, Calif., but for a fraction of the price, just think of what else you could spend money on. Could you cut your hours down by 10 hours a week to do more traveling, go to more concerts, get weekly massages or whatever brings you more joy and peace?
Health insurance can be a concern if you are not doing traditional work, and with more people choosing freelance work, more options exist. (This article from Forbes does a nice job of explaining your choices.)
If you want to start slow, try doing side hustles that you enjoy for six months or a year first. Needs some inspiration and practical advice from seasoned experts in this space? Listen to Badass Digital Nomads, Extra Pack of Peanuts, or the Side Hustle Pro.
A soft life is financially attainable as long as you are willing be wise and create a plan. When making decisions about how to live a soft life, think about this advice from Denee Tamia, a Tik Tok content creator and advocate of soft living, and add how to budget for it to your priorities.