31 May 2007

Step 1 - Thrift

Thrift is the glue that holds simple living together. It allows you to live well on a lower income and it will help you to get out of debt and stay debt-free. Many people come to the fork in the road that directs towards simple living or continued consumerism when they are deeply in debt. We have filled our world with products and dug ourselves deeper into debt to get them. Why? Why would you want to work your entire life to pay for “stuff”.

Every dollar you spend has a certain amount of greenhouse gases attached to it. Generally what you buy has been produced and delivered to your waiting hands, using fossil fuels. Not spending saves not only your money but also the environment we all live in.

Every dollar you don’t spend and every person you encourage to live simply allows the planet to recover just a tiny bit more. It will take huge changes in spending patterns and attitude to heal the damage done, but true change starts in your own backyard. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. Thrift plays a part in almost everything you’ll do in your simple life. You need to use less of almost everything you have. You’ll be thrifty with your money, the way you buy your groceries and how you use them. There are many ways to be thrifty with clothes and shoes. Shopping at thrift shops and making your own are two important strategies. You’ll develop ways to pay off your mortgage early or save for a deposit for a home – all by being thrifty. You’ll be thrifty with your consumption of electricity, petrol, gas and telephone calls.

We all know that money doesn’t buy happiness. A quick look at the newspapers will reveal the miserable lives many wealthy people live. Of course, happiness doesn’t automatically come with a low income either. That will take a change of attitude. It takes a commitment to your future and to your quality of life to make it happen. When you’re content with what you have, be that a lot or a little, and when you see that your future is full of possibilities, then happiness will not be not far away.

Contentment is not dependent on how much money you have, in part, it flows from the way you view money and how you deal with it, but it’s more to do with how well you use what you have. When you’ve got all your simple systems set up, you’ll feel in control of your life and what happens to you. If it’s the first time you’ve felt that control, it will be very liberating.

Our consumer culture has taken away our ability to provide for our own needs. It’s lured us in with promises of an easy life where everything you need is made for you. Let’s take back our power to make the things we need. What you make yourself will be better quality, healthier, safer and more suited to you and your family than almost anything you can buy at the store. When you start making your own things you’ll wonder why it took you so long to start.
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