DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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10 July 2013

A life reinvented

More than anything else, I am a mother and a worker. Shane and Kerry were 20ish, about to leave home to build their own lives, and although I'd continue being a mother, that hands-on parenting part of my life was over. What was left was a worker so I guess it made sense to return to the work taught to me by the person who gave me my working class values. My mother showed me the true value of work, and through that, how to be reliable, punctual and ambitious. Now that I look back, I think she must have almost given up on me many times because I was the worst student. However, I did remember most of what she taught me and when I needed it most, a few years after she had died, I remembered how to create a home and look after it.

Thanks Mum.


Luckily Hanno is a worker too and with him at my side, I wanted to create a workable system that would allow us to retire. I wanted us to leave paid work but to continue working to grow and home produce whatever was possible. I didn't want to be self-sufficient. I knew that was impossible with the amount of land we had, and our ages. Besides, I didn't want to isolate us, I wanted to be part of a community, helping when I could and being helped when we needed it.  Self-reliance was my aim. I wanted to take back the power that advertising and shops had over me and become independent again.

When I told Hanno my plan, he thought I'd taken leave of my senses.  Plan B - back to stealth mode.


By the time I mentioned it again, a few months had passed by, the kids were gone and although I was still taking the same amount of money out of the bank for housekeeping, I wasn't spending it. With my new method of shopping, home production, increased fruit, vegetables and eggs from the backyard, I was spending a fraction of what I used to spend. Hanno was out working at the shop every day so he didn't know what I was doing. When I showed him the savings, he started believing that maybe we could do this. A few months later he closed the shop and joined me at home.


When all this was happening I hadn't heard of simple living and it was only when I went online to research thrift and the frugal lifestyle that I discovered it was a real movement. I started reading books that I bought from America but I was disappointed that the way I was living this life wasn't mention in those books. My life was centred on work in the home and backyard and how that could support a simple life. I realised that I had to make my own rules and eventually I'd start writing about what I was doing. And that is how our lives have evolved since then - if it fit into our life and suited our values, we did it. We found that one thing would lead us to the next and by following that road less travelled, we discovered what worked for us, true happiness and each other. Again.


Changing your mindset is the most difficult part of changing. You have to be convinced that what you're doing is right and even though it involves a lot of changes, it will benefit you in the long run. I have no doubt that we can only change ourselves. You can't make anyone else change. We can show others what is possible but it is up to them to be convinced and to change themselves.  Giving up $200 haircuts for $25 haircuts and $800 dollar handbags for Envirosax takes strength and commitment but it's doable and it will help you with the other changes that follow. Actually, I think those changes are the easy ones, it's committing to daily change that can be difficult because you have to make that commitment every day. Happily, those daily tasks soon become habits and start to form your simple life.

Tomorrow - how to start living simply if you're 30, 25, 20, 15, 10, 5 years younger than Rhonda. :- )


36 comments:

  1. What a fantastic series! I am LOVING these posts... can't wait for tomorrow!

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  2. Hi Rhonda,

    I never tire of reading and re-reading your posts about simple and frugal living. I especially identify with how you quietly reacted whenever Hanno thought you'd gone bonkers with your simple living plan. I have done the same thing with my husband and although he still has moments when he thinks I've gone round the bend, he's basically on board now. I just keep on quietly plugging along trying to simplify and be frugal. Sometimes I see a glimmer of hope like the other day when he said, "Our tomatoes sure taste good," instead of calling them my tomatoes. So even though he doesn't say much, I know that he feels more a part of our style of living than he once did.

    I'm on day two of the cash challenge and so far so good. Yesterday I never left home, so I didn't spend anything. Today I put gas in my car using cash. Using cash saved me five cents a gallon, which is an added incentive!

    I hope the other readers will report how they are doing with this challenge.

    Diane in North Carolina

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  3. Thanks for sharing. My dh and I are also looking at a completely new life once we move to the island. For now, we'll both keep working but the bulk of that is to pay off the bitty mortgage we have, build a house on the land we own so we can turn around to sell it to buy a piece on the island, that will then finance the new house there and the beginning of the new life as well. But in the meantime, trying to figure out how we can live on less, much, much less is the challenge, one we thankfully both excited about!

    We do no spend days, are thrifty when it comes to gifts, clothing, books, etc.(charity shop, library, sales) and making our own as much as possible. I've dug out my sewing machine and we've taken up gardening. So far, that's as afar we we've gotten. We've always lived frugally, saving before spending, a decent house with a small mortgage vs. a monster house, etc. We live comfortably but are stressed by the environment and the busyness of life. We are true islanders and look forward to a new pace of life, as soon as we can get the plan executed!

    Looking forward to reading your next post!

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  4. I have started getting things going in this simple life direction too. I had to laugh at "Giving up $200 haircuts for $25 haircuts and $800 dollar handbags for Envirosax takes strength and commitment..." because I have never wanted those things in the first place. No makeup or shoe/clothes issues either, which is making it kind of hard to find places to cut back. More cooking at home with stuff that is already in the pantry/freezer instead of eating out or buying new ingredients is one way. Thanks for all your ideas. I like the way you think.

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    1. It was something I heard when I gave a talk at the library yesterday, Sandra. I'm not sure about the handbags because I can't imagine paying $800 for one but I know there are a lot of women who have $200 haircuts.

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  5. Finally, someone makes sense! I have read so much about simple living until I want to toss my cookies. So many books, blogs, and information makes it feel like this has to be all or nothing when really it is about doing what works For You. Somewhere along the line, you mentioned "Radical Homemakers" as a good book to read, I think. It took me two days to read it around my other responsibilities. It makes sense, too!

    At last! I feel like I have found what works for me and that I am not bonkers. I want to retire so badly. Just going to campus for a few minutes today gave me a headache! LOL However, I know I have to work for a few more years BUT now I have a clearer sense of how to attain that goal... or maybe retire a bit sooner! Would that be a treat!?? I realize that "living simply" can be in bits and pieces, not all or nothing as so many people seem to think it should be. I am feeling optimistic!

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    1. You hit the nail on the head, Matty. It's all in bits and pieces and what works for you.

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  6. Rhonda, Once again I'm reading and learning - your blog is great. You've inspired me to make blueberry muffins this week - just took a bag out of the freezer. But more important you reminded me to be thankful for the parents I had and the lessons I learned growing up. Two weeks ago we cleaned out the deep freeze and created a "Captain's Log" (nod to Star Trek). We wanted a list of all the things in the freezer to make us more efficient in our planning, buying, and cooking. (That's how I know I can make the muffins. Bonus: They are from my mom's garden!) Anyway, thanks again for creating such a good blog.

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  7. Just before I opened your blog this morning I was actually reading through this weeks Coles & Woolworths catalogues. I mentioned to hubby just how full they were of packaged stuff - frozen packets, tins, pouches etc. It hit me really hard in the face as there were pouches of 'pasta sauce for kids - 2 serves of veggies in every pouch'!!

    As you stated above, this self-reliant journey takes you on a whole new mindset. We view all these brainwashing marketing differently. No longer do we get sucked in to all these expensive, unhealthy products. Instead we take charge of our lives by going back to basics like our grandmothers & great grandmothers did before us.

    I love controlling what & how we eat. I love growing & making what we eat. And like you Rhonda I love even more that I am just not spending hundreds of dollars at the supermarket anymore! Instead I see that money growing in other areas for us to use as we wish.

    Thanks for a good read this morning - was so much more interesting than the shop brochures!

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    1. Hi Sandra,it's scaring me to look in the babyfood section and see pouches of food for them when it's so easy to make baby food!!
      processed biscuits full of palm oil, dehydrated apples, overpriced veges, rusks with 8 ingredients-rubbish food lacking in nutrients.Your 'pouch' post has got me going!
      jelly

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  8. These changes become part of one as time passes, that is a really good feeling and there is no sence of sacrifice after a while. Spoke to a lady the other day who is building a big new house, the sad part is that they are throwing away or selling everything they own in order to have all new stuff in the new house. One thing they HAD to have she said; was TWO washing up machines along with dozens of other gadgets. They work away from home very long hours and place the children with friends, relatives and in kindergarten. They have big salaries, but very little time together. I felt saddened as l left, and puzzled at her choices, but most of all l felt thankful for our simple little home and all the time we spend together. Pam

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  9. Good morning Rhonda, I've loved reading your recent blogs. As time goes on I just keep adding to the list of things that I can make for my family, reduce our budget and live more consciously. It started with making laundry liquid, menu planning, planting more food to grow, stock piling, biscuits, dinners from scratch, bread and just this week I've made a few more changes....I made my first batch of chicken stock from left over bones from your chicken stew!, and my income has increased by about $1000 dollars a months this financial year so I convinced hubby that we should dump it into our mortgage to reduce our debt and our lifestyles will still remain the same. He supported my idea :)One more thing, I've started writing down everything I spend in a little book. Thank you so much for your inspiration Rhonda. Oh and one last thing I came to realise is that I just need to do what works for me now, today. Right now we can afford to put an extra $1000 into the mortgage a month but in a couple of years I may have another baby and won't be able to do that and that's okay. We will just do what we can with what we've got and not get to strung up on plans. Have a great day :)Jade

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    1. Wild applause and a standing ovation of one. Well done Jade, you get it.

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  10. I was just telling my hubby last night about your comment yesterday about a dollar saved is really a dollar and a dollar earned is 70c. I always find a gem of wisdom in each of your posts - today I just got hungry looking at those muffins lol!

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    1. I did too! I just laughed out aloud!

      Love, love, LOVE your blog Rhonda! Only purchased your book around a month ago and have so many pages marked for action. Thank you x

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  11. The warm fireplaceJuly 10, 2013 8:25 am

    So enjoying your posts Rhonda, as "Matty" says you just make sense, i like the way you did all this underground till you could prove that it worked to Hanno, when my husband and i were working up on our land yesterday, it felt great that we are working together for a common goal.
    Sue

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  12. Love your post and I do love that part of your story where you "did it anyway quietly" and then showed Hanno that it was possible. He could have said "I don't think it's possible which he indicated" however that didn't stop your belief in living a simple life and you showed him after how it could be done. I think that is key....try it instead of thinking of all the reasons it can't be done. I love Jade convincing her husband to put the $1000 in the mortgage after all their wage that came home last week will still be the same this week and the $1000 go towards saving thousands in interest. I also think it is great that they are doing it while it is possible and other times when a baby comes along that won't be possible. What we do this month or next year may change as your family life evolves and change is the key. I also love that everyone is really getting that it's not an "all or nothing" thing and we don't have to "move to the country" to live simply. Your posts are very inspiring to lots of people young and mature age and I think we are all enjoying going back to basics. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

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  13. PS...how many people have got pay rises and saved the money....I'll bet most people just use it to live off. I was one of those people however I was single with a mortgage so there wasn't a lot of spare cash to save back then anyway. Most people learn to live off the wage they have whether it be $50,000 or $100,000 so any pay rises (not there are many these days unless of course you are a politician today) rarely find their way into our bank accounts, normally it's spent. If you are the smart ones that have saved it I totally commend you. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

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  14. True, true Rhonda! And we gave up paying for haircuts altogether. A $20 home hair cutting kit has served us well for years. {smile} I am loving your series, thanks for the encouragement!

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  15. I love following you and your family on your blog. We turned our financial life around back in the 90's after I read "your money or your life". In 2003 we bought a little mountain cabin in bad shape. We are renovating it ourselves with cash as we have it and hope to be done this fall which marks 10y. We paid it off in 5y-which was the plan. This place is our retirement plan.

    We live on 33% of our income. The rest is tax and savings. We have such freedom and although we both still work and wish to, it is a wonderful feeling that we have options.

    We've removed all our grass and raise food in a semi-serious manner. I put many gallons of ratatouille and many cups of pesto in the freezer each fall and I am growing my skills along with some food.

    Thank you for all you do for your readers.
    From Idaho USA

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  16. Such a lovely post. We have been living the simple life for years. It is a wonderful lifestyle, but there are times when it can seem difficult. Your blog provides such encouragement as well as the comments you receive. I always enjoy learning new simple tips. My latest involves the garden. We live in a northern climate and we have a 90 day growing season. I love fresh greens and could never use up all I planted. I recently learned to put the greens in my dehydrator. They turn paper thin and crumble easily, but they will be a great source of added nutrients for winter soups or smoothies.

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  17. Love what you said about Envirosacs & haircuts. My Hubby recently got a raise, so instead of me cutting my own hair I splurge & get a $18, & instead of using plastic shopping bags, I got some Envirosacs for my birthday to use!!! Love your blog Karen

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  18. Rhonda, I absolutely adore your blog. It gives a sense of warmth, and I wonder how you do that online :)
    I couldn't agree more with you when you said "Changing your mindset is the most difficult part of changing". And I need some motivation to be able to do my house-work. I am a lawyer by profession (although I have a blog) and by the time I get back home I am not really in a mood to indulge in any household chores, although I feel the need to do so. Any help/tip in this regard would be great.

    Cheers!

    Anya

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  19. ik ben zo blij met je blog, ik probeer van alles uit om eenvoudiger te leven, het past zo allemaal bij ons, ik heb de zakjes - geld methode toegepast voor m'n huishouding en het werkt goed , dank je wel, heel veel liefs uit holland, marion

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    1. Marion, I had to translate this in Google. For the rest of the readers is says: I am so pleased with your blog, I try everything to make it easier to live, so it fits all of us, I have the bags - cash method applied for my household and it works well, thank you, lots of love from holland

      I'm sending love back across the oceans.
      xx

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  20. Hi Rhonda,
    I wrote a comment to you a while ago to thank you as your blog really helped my partner and I save for our first overseas trip as we learned the difference between what we 'wanted' and what we 'needed' to purchase/spend.
    Just would like to update, we are now in Paris :-)
    Using cash only here so may be able to take part in the cash challenge after all!
    Hope you're well,
    Rebecca

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  21. Im a lurker for months now and I dont usually comment but I especially loved this post. I live in NYC but I was born in out in the country in Dominican Republic. When we came to this country I saw canned food for the first time, never saw the milkman, food came packaged so at first I was a little lost on everything. What a culture shock. My family adapted to the new city and lifestyle creep. I kept the values my granny instilled in me of never acquiring more than you need but at one point I slipped too. When my daughter was born I was unemployed and spent that time with her. I have been working so much My daughter tells me she misses me all the time. Breaks my heart but I need to work a couple of more yrs before I can retire and give her all my attention when she is home. Grandma worked at home, she had gardens, animals, crafted and built or made almost everything she owned including our clothes. My granny never attended school but she was the best accountant I know. Skills like that are dearly packing in todays age. The best way to get ahead is not necessarily more work outside but rather what you can do at home. I had a huge house, i downgraded and bought a 3 bdrm home which only cost me 30k with very low taxes. I dont own. Benz even i can afford it not because its a luxury item but rather because time with princess is more important to me. I can use that money later for other things. My family things I have lost it but its been yrs since i felt happy here. NYC makes me feel trapped so ive had to come with a plan to get away and still be well. I read blogs but none of tbem sounded right until i read yours. You sound like granny ;) thank you so much for sharing your journey and wisdom with us. It has been a big help.

    Sandra from NYC

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  22. As we continue to live more frugally and simply, our savings are beginning to add up.Yesterday, saw us emptying our bath water onto the garden for desperately dry plants. We had both bathed in it using a minimal amount of bubble bath and were reluctant to just throw it away. We have now bought a small pond pump so we don't have to lug buckets of water around. That way, we should be able to water direct from the bath - time will tell. Either way, it is saving us a lot of money on our water bill, especially as our 4 water butts are almost empty due to lack of rain.

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  23. when I first took our finances by the throat it was with the aim of paying off a loan ahead of time, thus saving on interest. I told OH and he too thought I was mad but I quietly cracked on regardless....the loan was gone 17 months early (30 month term) and he was won over!

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  24. Thanks for your always wonderful posts. Our family has been living as simply as possible for the past couple of yeas. It's a very gratifying experience to be able to do so much for ourselves. In 18 months, we will be debt free, and with 2 kids still at home, and we have begun to try and envision what changes we want to make in our lives. My hubby does still want to work, but not at what he is doing now. It's hard when everyone around you is driven by how much stuff they have, what they drive, and how big their salaries are. (it's especially hard with school-age kids whose friends all live a throw-away lifestyle) We garden (preserving around 30% of our family food needs each year), shop direct from farmers for about 60% of our other food needs. Grocery store shopping is very little. I cook fresh meals daily, bake breads, knit, make soap, laundry detergent, hand cream and more. We re-use, make-do, or do without for as much as possible.Some days we feel so alone in our priorities and thinking, and sites like this are so refreshing! -Deb in Manitoba Canada

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  25. What a wonderful post !! I try to cut back too. Yesterday I cut my husband's hair for the first time. I used a trimmer we already had and it gave a wonderful result. He no londer has to go to the barber. That is 9 times 15 euro in our own pocket. I stopped colouring my hair and now only make appointments to cut my hair once in the three months instead of every 6 weeks, with colouring. that is 76 euro a year instead of 540 euro. I hope to find even more things to cut back on ; )

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  26. Rhonda,

    I just wanted to say thank you for this series of posts. I have been reading your blog (lurking) for several years and yearning to find a way to stay home and become a homemaker for my little family. I have been the primary breadwinner for about 6 years and I am just exhausted. I finally gave notice at my corporate job and I am nervous about that, but excited and calm and at peace for the first time in so long. I am so excited to begin this adventure, but I know I have to do it slowly, lots to learn. As you say, it is a life reinvented, perhaps even a rebirth of sorts. Thank you!

    Warmest regards,
    Amber

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  27. In addition to your wonderful series, I have to say how very much I enjoy your photos!! Homey and cozy and yummy about sums it up. Yesterday I planned to bake a cake for my youngest son's 21st birthday and planned on chocolate with peanut butter icing. My supply of box cake mixes didn't include chocolate and momentarily I thought about driving 5 miles to town to purchase one--special occasion, after all. Instead I got out the recipe collection and baked a chocolate cake recipe of a dear older friend who passed away 3 years ago, used a favorite frosting recipe from another son's teacher (probably 18 years ago) The cake was baked and decorated in no time, provided warm memories as recipes often do and was delicious....thanks again for your encouragement, Rhonda!

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  28. I am really enjoying reading this series of blog posts. I like seeing how others do things; and especially try to adapt them to fit out needs.
    Like you...I operate in 'stealth mode'...in fact, I operate in stealth mode in almost everything I start out doing.
    Sometimes The Honey (my husband) will pick up on it and begin to follow suit; sometimes he gets his own ideas and comes to me with them---I pretend he has the best idea ever and agree to jump on board. Otherwise, if I try to talk him into doing something-- he isn't so agreeable.
    Looking forward to reading more.
    thank you, Patricia

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  29. HA! My husband thought I had lost my good sense too when I told him how I dreamed of living off grid and the like. He's slowly coming around though and we are hoping to make that a reality some day...although with 4 children it's a little more complicated. But I am not giving up.

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  30. Hello Rhonda,
    I'm so happy to have discovered your lovely blog! I included this post (even though it's older, I think it's timeless) in my "Joyful Reads for the Weekend"--the link is here if you'd like to take a look: http://www.joyfullygreen.com/2014/09/joyful-reads-for-the-weekend-vol-32-how-to-do-anything-better.html. Looking forward to learning more about your simple living journey.
    Best,
    Joy

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