DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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19 July 2007

Not spending


Picture from allposters.com

Learning how to stop spending is one of the most difficult things to do when you first start living more simply. Simplicity embraces and encourages thrift. Being thrifty by choice or necessity is not being cheap and it is not poverty. Being cautious with your resources – financial and otherwise – gives you the choice of saving for whatever is important to you. That may be paying off the mortgage years early, travelling, being a one income family so one of you can stay at home with the children, being a single parent with the responsibility of raising children without a partner, saving for the deposit on your first home, retiring early or paying for your child’s university degree. It may even be something as simple as eating fresh organic food that you’ve grown yourself and learning how to bake bread and make cheese.

Changing to this way of life puts you in control of your standard of living, it can reduce the amount of stress you live with and it will show your children and friends that happiness and contentment is the one thing not available in the vast shopping malls of Australia.

Trying to outdo friends and neighbours with what you own, or pretend to own with the bank, is rarely packaged with happiness. When I hear fellow Australians talk about their flat screen TVs and media rooms, I feel sad for them and a little ashamed that we’ve come to this. Remember that simple living doesn’t mean giving up pleasure. It means instead that you choose your pleasures, you work towards them and you abandon the negatives that get in the way of achieving the life you want. It definitely doesn’t mean that you duplicate the lives of every other family in your street as dictated by the TV advertisements that pour into our homes every day. Advertisements are cleverly produced to show only the potential benefits of buying, rather than the damaging ones. We aren’t told that Australians now owe 36 billion dollars on credit card debt; they don’t say we have record levels of bankruptcy and we spend more than we earn. Advertising never urges us to be prudent with our money, it rarely advises caution. It focuses on instant gratification and self-interest.

If you move towards a more simple life you establish your
own goals, you decide what is important to you and you work to achieve those goals. And the good thing is, once you leave behind the need to buy whatever takes your fancy, you start to see the vast potential of your new life because you aren't blinded by all that "stuff".

13 comments:

  1. So very true and well put. I have been feeling the need to write about our over consumption but as it's a sensitive topic for many of my friends and family members, it's difficult for me to know how to approach my feelings on the topic. But now it's beginning to block my posting in general. I am always so impressed by how eloquently others are able to write about it. The happy and full life does come from less objects. It feels so awkward to me when I do "have" to spend money anymore as I spend it so rarely now. Thank you once again for your wonderful words!

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  2. p.s. what an absolutely gorgeous picture that is in your post today!!

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  3. We don't have much in the way of disposable income so it is relatively easy for us not to overconsume ( though many in our situation are seriously in debt). However when discussions with family and friends turn to the effects of materialism and overconsumption it is assumed by some that we take the position we do because we aren't rich and if we had more money we would be the same as everyone else.I'm certain we wouldn't be but it is frustrating to get into these conversations because people get very defensive. It really isn't a rich versus poor argument, it's about treading lightly, not taking more than your share, looking after what we have and that includes the earth. It should be just as easy to take this position if you have a surplus of cash or struggling to make ends meet. Surely it leads to a fairer more caring society.

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  4. Sadly overconsumption is huge on my husbands side of the family but thankfully not on my side :) I feel that my inlaws think I don't like to spend money out of guilt as I'm currently not earning any myself,(hubbie is is a high earning job) but I'd rather be frugal with everything ~ we still live comfortably, eat well etc. and as I'm a practical person if something doesn't have a good "use" and be at a good price I won't get it.

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  5. I grew up with very frugal parents, we never missed out on the important things, but there was no unnecessary spending and things were repaired many times. I had a time in my life when I started earning real money, as compared to the many low paying cash in hand jobs that allowed not much more than survival, then I was wasteful with my money. Even then I wasn't much of a consumer, but now my journey has brought me to a place where I actually don't like to give my money to those large greedy businesses. We are comfortable and happy (I think) and hopefully setting examples for the children that will benefit them later in life.

    Lenny

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  6. I too grew up with frugal parents and never felt that I missed out. I didn't own a new bike till I was 12, but I always had a bike to ride and always plent of friends to ride them with. It saddens me how a lot of todays children think that second hand or used isn't good enough. My children ( nearly 14 & 11) love getting bags of clothes from others. Being a single parent means I too live frugally, because I want to spend my money on the important things in life. Thanks for your elegant summary Rhonda.

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  7. For me, the lure of buying is strongest at the end of a difficult day at work, when I want to 'treat' myself, and yet i almost never buy anything I deeply desire (which I think is different from wanting). The things I value most are time and peace; ironically, these slip further from my grasp each time I buy a little want because I then have to work just a little longer in order to cover the money I just spent. I think part of the evil genius of advertising is its ability to draw us from the path we want to take. I'm not denying my own responsibility in this but I think it can be hard thing to fight.

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  8. I notice that a few comments mention the sensitivity of others to the concepts of simple living. I am so thankful to see that it is a common problem. I note the same sensitivity from many of my friends. Jenny, my friends are different to your friends, they think I am rich because I choose to live simply and not work. They keep wanting to know how I do it and I cant but help notice greed and envy in their eyes whilst they repeat "We can't afford to do it". That really irritates me as these people are often more financial abundant than myself. I just tell them that it is all about being "rich on the inside" and it is a daily struggle to live more harmoniously with nature and the world. The anxious focus on money and the questioning has taken some time to ignore.
    Bella

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  9. Addit,
    I really loved your previous blog "things I wish my Mother had told me"...this is such a beautiful sentence. The last few years I have seen the world so differently and grown up in a way. I always seem to let my mind wander to "I wish my Mother had told me more about the world...I have been discussing this with my friends who have daughters - there is so much wisdom with age that we all need to recognise the importance of handing on knowledge. I really enjoy reading your blogs and I think it somehow replaces the conversations I miss having with my mother. Thanks again for your wonderful words !
    Bella

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  10. I grew up poor. So we couldn't have everything we wanted. So myself and my siblings all went crazy in our early 20's, making our own money, credit cards piling in (and debt piling high). We consumed heavily, because we could for the first time in our lives. My sister's almost out from under the mess, and I think she was the smartest of the three of us. My brother's still in deep. It's a difficult thing to curb your appetite for anything really if you feel deprived. I'm glad with age comes wisdom, but it's a tough lesson to learn the hard way. I plan to do everything I can to help my children understand the differents between money/things and real happiness.
    It's sad to hear that Australia has an overconsumption problem as well. I guess I thought it was an American problem only.

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  11. We were brought up to belive that you "are" what you can do....not what you possess.....if that makes sense!

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  12. Great post! We have cut back on our spending, our belongings and, consequently, the amount of time we have to work away from home. It's all relative.

    My friends, acquaintances and coworkers don't understand how we can survive with just two part time jobs. I tell everyone that you can shrink your lifestyle to live on whatever income you have, if you really want to. Most don't want to. It's that simple.

    It's worth it to us. Perhaps not to them. We happily do without a lot of things that society considers necessary and do not miss them.

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  13. I do work full time and as I live on my own can afford a few more luxuries. I choose to live simply, grow my food, cook from scratch,sew and knit, it is not about how much money you make but how much you spend and I don't have a large TV and most of my friends, think I am strange as I don't have all the mod cons. I always think do I really need it before I buy. It is so good to read your blog and know there are others like me out there.

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Thank you for your comment today. I love reading your opinions and thoughts. We have built up a wonderfully diverse community here that I'm very proud to be a part of.

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