Plan for your future

9 October 2007

Graphic from

McMansions pffffffffffft!! It is environmentally and economically smart to live in a house that meets your needs without exceeding them. It is economically sound to save up a deposit for a home and then to pay the loan off as fast as possible. If you are being wise economically and environmentally, you’ll also have a car that suits the size of your family and not the size of your ego.

Our standard of living seems to have exceeded our means to achieve it. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that two-thirds of Australian households currently have some form of debt. For the first time since the 1960s the Household Savings Ratio is in the negative. Which means that although we have traditionally saved about 10% of our after tax income, now we Australians are spending more than we earn. A shift in our thinking is overdue. Maybe Australia is ready for a simple change. Maybe the world is too.

When I decided that enough was enough, I realised that buying more things didn’t make me feel better, in fact, it made me feel worse. I started to think about all the rubbish I’d bought over the years and how much money I’d wasted buying it. I stopped wanting to go shopping and started thinking about a more sustainable way of life. New things didn’t satisfy me anymore. What I needed was a new way of living, new values and a more self-sustaining and holistic way of being, not (more) new clothes. I didn’t want to run into the hills and live like a hippy, I wanted to live a decent and fulfilling simple life in modern Australia. Living more simply and paring down my wants gave me that life, and much more.

You would think that giving up things would make me feel miserable and powerless, but it did the opposite - it strengthened me. It showed me that I was strong and sound and appealing without all the props that I'd had in the past. I was still okay, even if I wasn't dressed in the "right" colour for this year. Who knew! LOL

Working out what I needed and what I should still spend on made me more mindful of my spending. After a while it became a game to see how little I could spend. I wasn't being cheap and I didn't feel poor, I was readjusting my life and having fun while I did it. And you know what, now that I spend very little and I rarely give purchased gifts, I feel generous; I feel I have an abundance and I give freely of myself. That's the real gift, all else is flim flam.

I wrote about connecting the dots the other day and if you want to change your life and try to live more sustainably and simply, connecting the dots on what you're already doing and what you need to do is a good way to plan for your future. You must have a plan or a map. When you write things down they become more concrete and real. Your plan could be a written point by point list of where you are now and what you're doing today to live the life you want to live. What do you want your life to be? If you want to live in your own home, be debt-free and stay home with the kids, work out a step-by-step guide to how you will start to do that today. And if you do start today, what will you have to do next week and next month to continue towards your goal? Write it all down. If you want to change jobs and move to another part of the world, write down what you have to do today, tomorrow, next week and next year to make that happen. Even if all you want to do is to change the way you shop so you can save for a family holiday, write down all your points. Map your future.

In our consumer driver society, this is uncharted territory. You need a map, and your point by point plan will be your map. There will be many temptations put in your way to try to lure you back to spending and being "normal". Don't fall for it. If you lose your way or if you get side tracked, your map will be there to help you back to your chosen path. A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. Make your first step today.


  1. Oh my goodness! I feel exactly the same way and it's so nice to come to your blog and hear the same things I'm feeling. I have to say too that I just feel sick when I think of the time and money I've wasted. But then again...I wouldn't be on the path I am now if I hadn't traveled that road.

  2. I hope it's o.k. if I share your blog on my blog - I'd love my friends to come visit here!

  3. Hi Rhonda,

    Your article really hit home with me. I'm trying to make conscious choices but find I'm still spending a significant amount of money to achieve that, which is something I will have to work on.

    My family absolutely love your lemon cordial recipe by the way, I made a second batch yesterday as the last one dissapeared so fast, we could never go back to softdrink and cordial from the shop, all they taste of is sugar.

    Thank you for the wonderful ideas!



  4. I found your blog over the weekend and have delighted in reading your old post. Then when I read this one I realized that I must comment.

    I wrote a similar post today.

    I would not say that I am part of the global movement...but I have lived this way a long time. Since my husband had his accident I have strived to use everything we have to the ultimate capacity.

    We are moving to the country(it is cheaper) so we will begin the life of chickens and goats in December. I am looking forward to this.

    So my family and I are very careful of our spending and or usage. I am happy to read your blog, because you are not preaching a lifestyle but living it!

    Thank you
    New Mexico USA

  5. Thanks Rhonda :)
    Everyday I become aware of all we consume and I try to make the changes the best I can with what I have. I really appreciate your encouragement. It does get easier.

  6. Just wanted to say, I love your blog; well written, interesting, practical. I can't do all you do because of disability but I like your ways and am learning things that I can do. You are living in a way that has been pushed aside but is the only sustainable way to live; how my grandparents lived.

  7. Rhonda, thank you for another inspiring essay on simple living. For someone a good few years younger than you, it's extremely valuable. I share your convictions, but not your experience, and love learning from you.

  8. Thanks again Rhonda for yet another inspiring post! I have all these plans in my head, but putting them down on paper and working out the steps to make my plans happen is not something I had thought of doing. Normally I am very practical, but I guess there is a bit of the dreamer in us all! My goal for this week is to write some stuff down :) So I can make it happen.

  9. So true. I love your picture with all the buttons! I enjoy collecting buttons especially wood and ceramic

  10. Rhonda, another fantastic post. My plan at the moment is to take one day at a time, get through each day without spending a cent, expect for needs. I am trying hard to distinguish between needs and wants. Small baby steps I know, but this is all a new concept to me!!! Looking forward to your next post !

  11. It's funny because I recently found a list that I had written about four years ago, a five year plan with things to do along the way to get me to my goals. Some goals I had completely abandoned and that's OK but I can see that I am still moving towards the others and it was good to be able to see my progress.

  12. Thank you for your latest post - good advices there.

  13. hi rhonda,
    i feel your self-empowerment in your write-ups. and i agree with you that indeed the richest are those who don't have the most but those who need the least!

  14. Rhonda,

    while i agree with the majority of what you have said, i do disagree with the "buying a house and paying it off asap is economically sound" part. Well, not the paying it off part - THAT part i agree is economically sound! However, in certain parts of the world, NOT buying a house can be just as good a decision, economically speaking.. for example, here in the UK, house prices are ridiculous - at the moment, if you bought the average house, the mortgage repayments would be more than the average rent! in addition, where we live is actually social housing, and while i don't like many of the people who live around us (it being social housing), i love the actual house and garden, and the fact that we don't have to do any of the repairs or improvements to the property. A case in point would be a while ago, when the kitchen plumbing sprung a leak: a plumer would've cost upwards of £100. As it was, we called the housing's repair team who were with us within an hour and repaired it.. and the cost (to us) was nothing. Its not ideal, but there's a lot to be said for actually living this way and saving spare money elsewhere.


  15. We are in the final stages of preparing our homestead to meet most of our needs. We hoped to have it all done in 10 years, but many things conspired and it will be one more before we're done.

    After that we'll concentrate on paying off the mortgage. Our plan for the future includes staying here surrounded by the fruit of our past labors.

    Our biggest hurdle will be saving enough to live comfortably without government aid. The US social security system appears to be in shambles. We've been using your change jar idea. Every coin gets tossed in and when it is full, we'll deposit it into the retirement account. Baby steps over the next 25 years are bound to add up. Right?


  16. Amen to that! Living Purposefully, with a goal and a direction is truly the journey of life, I think. The blessings are the surprises along the way
    Thank you for this post Rhonda

  17. What a thoughtful post. I definitely agree with not buying more things - and waiting to buy something, as if you really want it that badly, saving up for it in the first place will give added dimensions of pleasure - and if it turns out you don't really want it, you've not spent any money. I think we live in such a consumerist and driven society that we're all going to end up with a lot of 'stuff' and won't be any happier for it. My mother always said that history repeats itself and some people choosing to not have the biggest car or the most expensive home and possessions are showing that they can live as others have done previously - a simpler and happier existance (wise lady, my mother!). I also think that possessions cause a lot of stress and hassle and we aren't happier at the end of the day. The only things I spend money on (tight budget here as mortgages are hideously expensive!) are the odd ball of wool and the odd cookbook - the rest I dream about and I'm happy at that!

    Thanks for your comment on my blog - I've met so many people through that post, and I'm very glad I posted it and got to ask the question. It's something I feel doesn't get asked enough in the public domain, yet it's such a momentous thing that thought should go into it. Your insight was very much valued - thanks!

  18. Rhonda,

    Do you ever which you had more than your acre? Do you ever just want more? Sometimes it is hard for me to read about others having so much more room to grow veggies and such.

    Thank you,


    From Ky

  19. renee, we have more than enough for our needs so I don't want more.


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