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31 December 2007

Starting your simple life

I wish I could step into your homes and help you work out a way to start your simple life. It seems to me that starting is one of the most difficult parts of the process. Oh, it does become difficult in places along the way too, but the starting of it, that's hard.

We all have different circumstances and different ways we want our lives to be. For some, the main goal might be to completely scale down spending, driving, watching TV and to turn an otherwise normal suburban home into a little farm. Others might want to get out of debt while keeping their life pretty much as it is right now. There will be some families struggling with two parents working to provide enough for a growing family. Their idea of a simple life might be that one of them stays home with the kids and concentrates on saving money while the other continues to work. You might be about to retire or become an empty nester and see now as the right time to simplify. There are many scenarios, many ways to live more simply and many ways to start.

All of them take time.

It's a wonderful thing to have plans to work to and goals to fulfil but listing 20 difficult things to achieve in a short space of time will just set you up for failure. So instead of doing that, when you first start moving towards a more simple way of living, decide on one thing and start with that. You'll find that one thing will naturally expand into other areas that will lead you along. For instance, you may decide to reduce your debt. The first thing you do is gather all the information you have about what you owe, what you earn and what you need to live on. That, I hope, will lead you to make a budget for yourself. Your budget will allot your money to whatever it is you need it go to, and as one of those things will be to continue eating, you might see the need to shop in a way that will save more money. That might lead you to stockpiling. So as well as reducing debt, budgeting and stockpiling you might then decide to make more of your own produce. You learn to bake a good loaf of bread, you teach yourself how to make sauces and jams. Six months later you look back and here you are doing four important activities - debt reduction, budgeting, stockpiling and cooking from scratch - that are generally part of most simple lives.

You've made your start. That one activity lead you by the hand to others and your simple life is beginning to open up before you.

Once you've been consciously working towards your new life for a while, you might like to start working on yourself as well. Simply living is more than the practical aspects of cooking, cleaning, decluttering and gardening, it's also an attitude. It will help you a lot if you get rid of the nagging need for more, better and new. This need has been created in all of us by advertising and seeing what new things our friends and neighbours have. If you can convince yourself that you really will live well and be happier living a simpler life, then also convince yourself that having more, better and new will highjack any attempt to make your life simpler. You have to redefine for yourself what success is for you. In the past it might have been an overseas holiday every year or good clothes, now it might having no debt or baking bread your friends and family say is the best they've ever eaten. You can replace energy sapping activities with life affirming ones. It just takes work and time.

Above all else, I want you to stop thinking that you can't live as you wish to live. If you want to be happy, content, loving, successful, debt-free and healthy, then a simple life will help you gain every one of those wishes. It will be hard work to re-program your wants and desires, you'll work harder in your home because you'll stop paying for the conveniences you're used to and you'll have to explain your unusual lifestyle to your family and friends, but as you peel back the layers of your life and see how wonderful living can be without all the crap we have been urged to buy and how life affirming and significant you can make your every day existence, you'll wonder why you were ever sucked into the mess of more, better and new in the first place.

I am happy to answer any questions you may have if you're stuck in your move towards simplicity. I don't have all the answers, not by a long shot, but I might be able to offer a something you may not have thought of yet. Just ask away in the comments box or send an email if you'd like a more private answer.


  1. I have to say that at this point my easiest and most abiding change toward the simple life was to give up TV.

    I really didn't realise how many times a day I was told I was not good enough if I didn't have XXXX by that box. It took a little while to break the "I want" habit but all of a sudden that underlying push to consume was gone.

    Of course the extra time to get stuff done didn't hurt either..

    Kind Regards

  2. you're just so soothing. it's funny how words land in our lives just at the times that we need to hear them. the additional irony is that sometimes the original intent of the message (in this case pursuing simplicity) can sometimes be substituted by a separate topic (such as pursuing life passion and renewing dreams) and still mean almost the same thing due to way the message is given. if you can't tell by my comments i've been contemplating a lot lately and your words (and those of others) are continuing to help me believe that i'm thinking in the right direction. i may email you for some additional wisdom in the next few days about life in general if you wouldn't mind....

  3. Well I've been thinking a lot lately about resolutions, I don't usually make NYE ones, just seems like setting myself up to fail. This year though I've decided that I am going to attempt to make 2 changes in my life
    1. read less about how I'd like to live and do more,
    2. work on my thoughts towards what I do, eg stop feeling annoyed about the cleaning etc and realise that they are never ending tasks and do them with love for myself and my family.

    I'll be relying on your wonderful words Rhonda to help me implement an maintain these pressure of course :)

    cheers Lenny

  4. I love this post Rhonda - it IS about just picking one thing at a time and starting with that. Methinks there is a lovely connection between doing the things the REALLY bring us happiness (spending time with family, friends, sharing good food, making little gifts from home grown produce, taking the TIME to really CHAT with people) inadvertantly save us money too!

    The people we love and who love us don't really care how many bedroons or bathrooms our houses have, or how many cars we own - all you need is a comfy couple of chairs and an excellent teapot. OH, and some chooks or ducks to laugh at while you are chatting.....

    Have a lovely day ok?

  5. Wanted to say Happy New Year and that I`m glad I somehow fell onto your blog because it truly is helpful and inspirational. Just what I need!


  6. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    Thank You for another Wonderful Post! You are so helpful! Thanks for taking the time to help so many people!
    Blessins', Lib

  7. Thanks for the encouraging post. I didn't realize it, but "living more simply" is my main goal this year. I'm going to be linking back to this post tonight!

  8. Rhonda,

    Hello! I wanted to wish you a Happy New Year! I have been so blessed by your blog. I have so many goals for this next New Year and many are because of you. You make me want to live more simplier and to save our money.

    Here are a few of my goals....

    1. get up earlier

    2. have a larger garden and a cold frame.

    3. We want to start a worm bin.

    4. We will be completely out of debt except our home after the New Year.

    5. I don't watch much T.V so I plan on cutting back on the computer some:)

    6. I can crochet but I would like to learn to knit.

    7. I want to plan our meals before we go to the store. Maybe even make a calender of meals.

    8. Make a budget and stick to it.

    9. Save more.

    10. Live more simple we don't "need" much:)

    11. Love more....

    12. Forgive more....

    I am looking forward to the New Year and all your new posts:)

    Love to you,


  9. Well said simply authentic! You are a kind wonderful person rhonda and I thank you for your kind words, encouragement and timely thoughts. You always seem to be there w/ words of wisdom at the times I need them most! I appreciate knowing that you are there w/ any questions I may have and are so willing to share your experiences.

    Have a happy, healthy new year everyone!!

    central Illinois

  10. Wise words from a wise lady:D

    All the best for 2008:)

  11. Rhonda, you help every day by reaffirming goals and sharing ideas. Thank you so much for reminding us how possible a simple lifestyle is.

  12. Thank you Rhonda. A new year is always a great time for trying new things, to make changes. Slowly, very slowly I have been working towards living more simple. I have a few things I really want to more energy into this year and because of that I am looking forward to the new year with hope.

  13. An encouraging post, thank you Rhonda. I do believe the key really is convincing ourselves we don't need more stuff.

  14. Just heard on the radio that it's already the New Year in Australia. Wishing you all the best in 2008. I look forward to checking in with you every day, you are such an inspiration and give so much food for thought.

    Happy New Year!!!

  15. What a great post! Thank you Rhondda and thank you for your encouragement on the MSE forum.

    Happy New Year to all!

  16. Hi

    Pleased to see you back again on the MSE website. A useful bit of "cross-fertilisation" going on between us all here...all grist to t'mill.

    Thanks for your comments.



  17. Wish that I were as wise at my age as you are Rhonda. So many great ideas and lots of encouragement. The garden season is fast approaching at my place and I'm itching to start my cold frame and to implement some water containers to store more rain water. In the last month alone we've had 30 inches of snow, almost twice the normal snowfall. I keep thinking about all that lovely water! lol
    keep sending us more info on the simple life. I, for one, have been completely exhausted from the 'commercialism' that rules our lives. I've taken major steps to simplify my home, and the way my family looks at the two phrases,'I want...' and 'I need'. Somehow,'I want' doesn't play a role in our lives much anymore! Happy New Years 2008, Rhonda. Hope it is everything you strive to make it!

  18. I just found this blog and I can't wait to learn more. I really do want a simpler life. It seems hard to break that kind of statement into smaller goals but you make it sound doable.

  19. Rhonda----love your blog and have learned so much. I don't dknow if it is listed in detail or not but could you possibly elaborate on your home management notebook?? I know you keep a detailed journal on gardening and such, but when there is time, could you give a more detailed description of what important listings are in there?? I am creating one and am trying to keep it packed with important info and keep out the redundant and"junk."

  20. Greetings! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site?
    I'm getting sick and tired of Wordpress because
    I've had problems with hackers and I'm looking at options for another platform.
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