Living well on less

The global economic crisis is effecting my family personally. My son Shane and his soon-to-be wife, Sarndra, both left their jobs six weeks ago to travel to New Zealand for a holiday. They're back now and although they've looked everyday, there are no jobs to be found. Online job ads have fallen 50 percent, bankruptcy in America has been predicted to increase 50 percent this year and there are record job losses in most Western countries. My guess is that many people are finding it very tough going at the moment. Just this week I've had four emails asking about living on one income and one from a lady whose marriage fell apart because of the pressure of working to pay a high mortgage. So let's focus on living on less again. With the changing economic climate, there may be new ideas evolving and people willing to share how they're living a good life with less money.

I have written about this subject before and my feelings now are similar to back then but I want to write today about changing attitudes, which I think can be very difficult to change. Difficult but not impossible.

If you are trying to live on less and have decided to live a more simple and frugal life, then do it wholeheartedly. Stop trying to impress with what you own, stop being impressed by what others own. I have to admit, this is easy for me to do. I grew up in an age before products and possessions began to own us. Back then, unless you were born into a wealthy family, you worked hard for what you had and you made much of it yourself. There was usually one bread winner in the family and the other person, usually the wife, stayed at home to raise children, but also to make most of what the family needed. There were no department stores with row upon row of cheap Chinese imports. If you needed a new dress, you either got a hand-me-down from someone in the family or you would go to the haberdashery store and buy cloth to make the dress yourself. There were no skin care products to buy then, and few cosmetics apart from lipstick and foundation, and the only perfume you would smell in the course of the day was when someone had used perfumed talcum powder. Appliances weren't upgraded as a matter of course. You bought the best quality you could afford and repaired it when it broke down.

Back then, if you needed soap - you made it. If you needed bread, you made it. If you needed jam or a meal or curtains or clothes, you made them. When you furnished your first home, you were either given old family furniture or you would make do with shelves made with bricks and planks of wood. Not that you had much to put on the shelves - maybe a small black and white TV in a grey plastic case and some books. Everyone's father had a metal shoe last so he could repair the family's shoes. This would be done by shaping a piece of leather for the sole of the shoe and tacking and gluing it on to reattach the top of the shoe leather to the sole. A worn down heal was built up again with several layers of leather cut to size. Back then, people took pride in their homemaking and repairing skills. Women and men in the neighbourhood swapped tips on how to make do, reuse and repair almost everything. It was a matter of pride to be able to keep the family going on very little money and to still keep them healthy and happy.

Back then, one family member, usually the husband, worked for enough money to live frugally, and the wife worked at home to make most of the family's needs. Now, usually both partners work to make enough money to pay someone else to make what is needed and wanted, and the skills of homemaking, home maintenance, gardening, knitting, dressmaking, and the fine arts of embroidery, lace making and crochet are almost lost.

So you can see that I, and people my age, have grown up with a different set of expectations. We have seen families and communities working together in a more holistic way. We have seen the outside worker bring in enough money to pay for life's necessities that cannot be home produced. We have seen the homemaker in a much more active and significant role than s/he currently enjoys. We know it works. So when I readjusted my own lifestyle to live more simply and to better reflect those old ways, it was easy for me because it was already part of me.

One of the things that is needed now is to overcome this sense of entitlement that many people feel. They see others with fine houses and possessions to fill them, they think that is "normal" and they should have it too. If truth be told those fine houses have probably burdened their owners with a mortgage that they will work their entire life to pay. The house and possessions own those people. The main focus of their lives will be to pay for their possessions. Children who see that take it as being "normal" and do the same thing when they grow up. If you live your life for and through your possessions you will not be living to your potential. You will be constrained by your focus being on paying for your life.

There is another way. You can cut back your desires and live a simpler life.

Change your attitude about what success is. Learn to appreciate a simpler and more gentle way of living. Encourage your family to work together as a team. Working through hardship will make you a stronger unit. Support your partner in their role, particularly if they're learning new skills. Tell them how much you appreciate their hard work and work equally hard beside them to produce as many of your own needs as you can. There is a lot to be said for independence. Learning to do for yourself will give you better quality goods, will allow you to make things to your own liking and will be fresher, more delicious and last longer than anything you can buy ready made.

I don't often directly challenge you towards change but this is important because times are getting tougher. My challenge to you is to make the decision today to start working on your attitude. I know it won't happen overnight, this is a slow and gradual process. Look at those people you want to copy and ask yourself if they are really happy, do they really have the kind of life you want, or are they too weighed down by debt and envy. Try to appreciate what you already have. Value your family, your health and your ability to work hard. Pull back from the outside world a bit and listen to the sound of your own breathing. Take a day off from your normal activities and reacquaint yourself with your family, your home and your thoughts. I wonder if there was a time when all you wanted was to be happy.

There has never been a better time to step back, slow down and simplify. You can step off the merry-go-round and find yourself a less stressful life where your successes are not judged by what you own and what you can buy. True success has a much more complex character than that and you can start to discover what success means to you by realising that possessions don't have much to do with it.

I hope that if you have some helpful advice you will comment. We are all living our lives in different ways and your words might just be the ones that make a difference to someone reading here.


  1. Hi Rhonda
    I very much enjoy reading your blog and todays post is once again thought provoking and interesting but I am sorry that you have changed your mind re:advertising on the blog as I admired your original stance it seemed to be more in keeping with your message.

  2. So very well said!

  3. Hi, thank you for that post, it really struck a chord with me and has given me a great deal to think about, especially the bit about being envious of others and what they and at times I really struggle to deal with these feelings.

  4. What a lovely invitation to comment. I'm a new reader via the Simple Green Frugal Co-op.

    My dh and I have been married for 19 years. After many years we adopted two children now 5 and 2. We have always lived a fairly simple life and although my husband makes a good income and we live in a fashionable neighborhood we often appear less fortunate than our neighbors. But our little secret is we are entirely debt-free. (I will add that we are currently renting a home in Seattle as we just moved here and the price of housing is crazy.)

    I don't write this to brag but to encourage young couples to live as simply as possible, save money for what you want, buy second-hand and do without all the fancy gadgets and expensive cars. Drive your cars for as many years as possible. (This is the single thing that nags at me as it seems everyone has a "nice" car but it is nice to not have a car payment.)

    Right now, I am working on a project to maintain only 100 possessions for each member of my family. It seems impossible but (except for books and individual toys) we are very close to achieving it.

  5. Thank you so very much for your blog! I stumbled upon it accidentally and now I read it every day and I am working my way through the archives as well.
    I love your philosophy.
    Thank you for this post in particular.
    Funny you should mention shoes.
    I was just complaining today that there are no more cobblers(shoe repairmen) in business.
    At least there aren't here in the US
    Best wishes and God bless,

  6. We've been living on one income since our nearly 10yo was about 4 months old. And I am so grateful that the Lord has continued to bless us abundantly through dear hubby's work. That said, the Lord has revealed much to me about being a good steward, and living on less so we can be MORE available to HIM and his work.

    So I've been learning to garden and preserve food. Learning to strongly dislike my previous hobby of shopping. I've learned to grind grain and make our bread products. We've aquired egg & meat birds to stock our kitchen.

    There are other small steps we are taking, making our laundry soap has cut my household budget by about $35.00 a month (including cutting out liquid fabric softeners), and this week I am trying out dishwasher detergent with the laundry soap ingredients.

    Many small steps, and many heart changes are continuing to change our lifestyles to one that is simpler, more frugal, and more available to what the Lord may ask of us.

  7. I had to look around for the advertising! It's subdued and we totally understand. I prefer to do trades of products for ad times so that I can support smaller businesses and such.

    I love this post. My husband and I have taken advantage of this economy to find ways to live on less and be more simple. We've found ways to embrace it. If he lost his job and we lost our house, we'd buy a trailer and live on the road if we had to.

    I recommend a really great book called "The Worst Hard Time" by Timothy Egan. Really makes you put things into perspective.

  8. Hi Rhonda,
    I started reading your blog quite recently and love it !! What great tips you have. I have been a little hestitant to comment as I am new to blogs, but hopefully I can offer something positive.

    We, like so many others are working hard to get back on our feet. My husband lost his job two years ago due to non work related back problems and although he is now been working again the experience taught us not to take money for granted ever again. Living on the one income gave us a new outlook on things and we no longer yearn to buy things but aim to be debt free, happy and healthy.

    We have put in the vegie garden, keep a few chooks and go without when we don't have the money. We don't buy take away and make all our own bread. What money we are saving we spend on items for the house and garden which will save us more money. By cutting back on other items we have saved enough money for a solar hot water system and have installed this, as we are on bottled gas we estimate this will pay for itself in under two years. I also throw any loose change into a jar and spend the money on buying fruit trees and vegetable seeds.

    Your blog has inspired me to look at even more ways to simplify and we now have a list of goals taped on our fridge to work towards and in small steps change other things in our lives.

    A website that has helped my family (a couple with three birman cats) and which may interest your readers is

  9. Yes I abosolutlely aggree with this Rhonda.
    It brings me peace and joy to be able to live in this way.. Not so many years ago I would have felt deprived. Now I know that the promises of advertising and consumerism are lies and they dont fulfill or enrich in any way.
    The sweat of our brow and the tasks of our hands and the gifts of our hearts are so much more sustaining than stuff!
    Blessings, Juanita.
    Ps I think I am up to 35 or 36 squares for my blanket. Thinking of joining them up soon. :-)

  10. Excellent take on bringing the past into the present and living it. I, too, grew up in that society of stay-at-home moms, and I've done it as well with our children. Swimming upstream and doing without, but happy nonetheless.

  11. Thank you for your comments. They are helpful and interesting.

    Welcome Nina, Helen and anonymous.

    Anon, I was going to write for simple savings at one stage but I was too busy with other things. I agree, it's an excellent resource. I'll put the link on my page.

  12. Hi Rhonda,
    We are kinda learning this the hard way at the moment. We're having ongoing major health issues with our 4 year old, and it has suddenly put all of life into perspective - that the most important thing in the world to us is each other and our children, and how our beautiful house with the 20 year mortgage doesn't seem as important anymore. Even my husband is starting to think differently now - he just said the other day that everything we've been going through in the last months makes him want to sell up, get an older house and go self-sufficient. That's a major breakthrough for him! It was a major thing for me to change my mind on our modern ways (and I'm doing it ever-so-slowly), but for him to do it as well is earth-shattering! :o)
    Thank you for all your encouragement through your blog. We are slow movers, but we're getting there bit by bit.
    Rachel L

  13. Well said. I was a teenager in the money hungry 80's here in the US. Thankfully it didn't affect me to the point that I had to have the latest gadget, but I use my gadget until it dies. We managed to live within our means until 2 of our daughters had HUGE medical crisis' and then I had to leave my job. I'm a teacher, so I was able to come back, but I think as a teacher, I don't live to extravagantly anyway. My downfall is allowing my children to do activities (they are limited in number, but there are 4 kids). I am now hearing too many friends who get new cars every couple years, and the latest iphone, or whatever, complain that times are too tight. One lost her job, but is still going to Jamaica this summer to decompress. I don't get it. While I'm not at your level of simple living yet (can't find the time for everything with working full time and the 4 girls), I am focusing on lowering bills (utilities) and meal planning as a way to keep things simple. I appreciate your writing... keep it up

  14. Hi Rhonda!

    It seems so ironic that you would post this blog! Today, I quit my job so that I could stay at home and take care of the many things that have been neglected for so many years of working - My husband and I are striving for simplicity and have worked hard to get out of debt.

    We do not live in luxury, but what we have belongs to us, not to the bank or any other lending institution. My home is clean (with homemade cleaners), our food is simple but good, and good for us. We plant a garden, put up our food and budget our income to make ends meet.

    Thank you for reiteratng that what we do at home is important and worthwhile. I felt so selfish quitting my job, when so many are struggling just to keep their jobs, or do not have one at all. You always make me feel better - your blog is like therapy to me! Thank you


  15. I'm with you Rhonda!!! Great Post..!

  16. Things I do to help myself live on less...

    1) I don't have a credit card - I know that for the one time it may come in handy there are 99 times that it will just encourage me to spend money I can't afford.

    2) I work in the capital city of my state but when I walk to and from the train station to work I don't go into shops or allow myself to window shop as it just makes me think I want the things I see.

    3) I've cut down the amount of internet shop-browsing for the same reason as above.

    4) I've recently learned that a meal plan for the week will help me hone down my grocery list to just the things I need and I stick to the list.

    Simple things, I know but they help me not covet things I don't need and the less I covet, the less I spend.

  17. Rhonda Jean,
    I truly believe this is Gods way of making us wake up to what is going on in the world and what we need to know how to do and should do. He wants us to be happy and wealthy but we have to do our part for our families. I love your posts. You are truly awesome and inspiring.
    Hugs, Bobbi Jo

  18. I am also fairly new to your blog. This post really was interesting to me and when you talked about how people used to make and do things for themselves, I can't help but believe that they were much happier than most of the people of today.

    Since losing my job last year and searching and searching for a new one I have cut back a lot and it hasn't really hurt me one bit.

    Thanks for your great writing.

  19. Rhonda, my mother is nearly 80 and she has never made soap or bread in her life and I don't think many of her contemporaries have either unless it was a hobby.Did your mother make soap? Mum has always been an excellent and frugal housekeeper though and definitely made our clothes and just about everything else.

  20. My family lived as yours did Rhonda, simply, making do, and going without, and my husband and I did the same when we married. It's funny, I look back and don't remember making a choice, I just carried on the way it was when I was a child.

    My daughter is now a single parent in the US, with little or no welfare to support her, and she commented recently that she's pleased she grew up watching me make bread, grow food, sew and knit, clothe us with op-shop finds, as she also did these things in her marriage, although they could've lived differently. She has no choice now, as she has to make very short ends meet.

    I compare her to friends of mine, the same age, who spend without a second thought, they earn more a day together than I do in a fortnight, but are often broke, and ask to borrow money to get them through. They both grew up in homes where consuming, having the newest and best was the norm, and so this is how they live now.

    A long comment- I think what your post made me realise, and wanted to say, is that our children notice how we live, and emulate it when they can, and the example of living a frugal life, and being content and happy with it, is the best legacy we can give our children.

  21. Thank you for commenting. I am sure these words will help some of our visitors.

    Jenny, yes she did. She didn't make bread though because my dad was a baker.

  22. Dearest,

    I think everyone is feeling this economic downturn in some fashion.

    My husband and I, along with our children are committed to living simple, gentle lives. It truly is a matter of deciding to think outside the norm. After a while you will wonder how you ever lived your "other" life.

    I have been running a series on my own blog called "Providing from Your Pantry". It might be helpful to your readers.

    You can find me at:

    Yours so kindredly,

  23. Thank you Shan, that is a very good link.

  24. Wonderful post and well said. While many will need a good deal of time to work on their perspective before they begin, those that are past that may feel overwhelmed at how they can possiby get off the merry go round. The crazy mortgage is already there, the car payments are already there, the private schools and the jobs that are needed to pay for them won't be found again...and are 50 miles away.

    I'm not in that bind, but so many of my peers are and there doesn't seem a way to really jump off. Maybe a good post on the practicalities from that starting position.

    And you are very fortunate. One of my parents grew up that way too, the other in a life very much like we have now. I grew up my formative years that way, my smaller siblings a city way. I can tell you, the way you and I experienced youth is far better!

  25. belle, I love your comment!
    and agree whole heartedly with the concept of children learning what they live.

    My 4 yo. daughter didn't eat her squishy banana at pre school yesterday and was bewildered what had happened to it when she got home, looking to put it into the compost then a few hours later remembered ... she had put it into the bin with a picture of a worm on it as she saw the picture of the banana on it!
    I had a very proud Mamma moment!

    I love your writing Rhonda.

  26. Oh, Rhonda, this has been the burden of my heart also for a long time. You have said so many things I feel deeply. I appreciate you sharing them and encouraging us to keep striving for the simple, frugal life. If we all lived as you have said, there might not *be* such a threat of global economic stress in the first place.

  27. The biggest lesson I've learned is that making instead of buying is really worthwhile in terms of saving. My former spending self would think, "Why make bread when it only costs about $2 a loaf?" Well the bread I make is superior to the bought loaf and better for us. And if I buy four loaves a week I'm saving about $5.

    When I started baking for our morning teas more savings accrued. And then the saving habit caught on and now I'm finding it costs WAY less each week just to live and live better. Oddly enough it's carried over to our small business. :)

  28. great post..I just love coming here and learning...

  29. At Christmas my husband was made redundant but thankfully found a new job within a week, however his wage dropped by $100 a week... definitely into the low income bracket. I have the potential to earn a good wage as I am an occupational therapist but I will not sacrifice my home life or my family in order to 'get ahead'.
    We have learned to live well on less and not to be too proud... we are renovating our home and I have learned to be a patient renovator, rather than pushing ourselves into debt to have everything finished and perfect. Some of the tv home renovation programs can push us in this direction I find. I write down lists of what I hope to have, for example, a cedar/eco blind for the bathroom window. I didn't race out to Spotlight or settle for an inferior cheap blind, I just waited until we could afford it but guess what, at a garage sale, there it was, exactly what I was hoping for, brand new, still in its packaging for $10, (original price $80) and the exact size of my window.. I always carry a tape measure with me when I go to garage sales! It is hard once you are locked into debt to climb back out. My sister in the uk says she and her husband must both work in order to pay the mortgage, that the cost of living there is so much higher but I'm not convinced, they still go on an overseas holiday every year.. (to escape the stress of work and have family time!) All the friends with children I visited in the UK had so many toys - Some even had rooms dedicated to toy storage! Even here in Oz, I still cannot fathom the queues at Target in July of parents putting trolley loads of toys for Christmas, onto layby. I think you are right Rhonda, it is all about expectations, when we start to give the big presents at Christmas, our children come to expect it, if we buy the costly sugary cereals they come to expect it... but you can change their mindsets, their expectations and even their taste buds! Let them eat porridge I say! And yes, my children now love it!

  30. I'm 56, LDS, and a brand-new college instructor has had us reading for weeks on anti-industrial, eating, cooking...from McKibben's to Pollan's books and a score of other single essay. My daughter your blog via a friend and got me looking, too. I'll try to keep up! You're amazing :)

  31. This post hits where the rubber meets the road.

  32. Hi
    Re the add issue - it doesn't worry me if you have ads on your blog - I doubt I will click on them tho.

    Sorry to hear it is hard for the young folk to pick up jobs now they are home.

    Here in NZ it is still hitting. Dh has been put on 4 day week & there is no job security. Loosing 20% of your pay is tight. But we have lived on less than we earn for years now, it just meant a tighter squeeze on the money purse. And thankfully We have been living frugal before all the cuts so the shock is not too much. We are still able to keep up with our mortgage payments (we have chosen to have high payments as we are wanting to clear the mortgage asap).
    It is nice knowing that what we have we own - yes the couch is very tired - but has soo much character with all the quilts thrown on it to hide the holes, I am quite fond of the couch. Kids friends love coming here as they can eat their dinner on their knees.
    We are all very frugal minded and actually enjoy being this way I doubt I will ever go back to being a spender & waster of money - not that I ever really have done that.

    Love Leanne
    PS when is the book out - the sales from your book would help your income nicely.

    And what about offering your tutorials as ebooks for a small fee
    Thanks for all you kindly share.

  33. Another great post... I love your blog, and YOU are actually on my list of people I'd like to copy :)

  34. Well said...there so many ways to cut corners but yet not looking like one they crawl out of a ditch or looking like hobo.

    Coffee is on.

  35. Rhonda I am so in awe of all you do and write about. I am quite guilty of sending your blog addy to family and friends so they to can read it. I quit my job almost a year ago and am loving it! Our kids are all married so it's just the two of us. I make our own laundry soap. I buy whole chickens when they go on sale for 79 cents a pound. I cut them up and save the thighs for chicken casseroles. I add water, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme and onions to the back, neck and ribs and simmer for a few hours. I pull the meat off for other uses and strain the liquid and freeze it for broth for many uses. When my husband and I looked for a home we purposely looked for a price under $80,000 with a 15 year mortgage. If we make an extra house payment once a year to the principle it is unreal how much money you can save on your overall house price. We are older, like you and your spouse, and do not care to spend the rest of the time on earth paying money out on things we really can't take with us. I was raised in a poor family but we didn't know it! My dh was raised rather affluently but is adjusting slowly. I don't feel guilty about not working. I have to look at it as the opportunity to learn how to re-live again. My 30 y/o son actually renders his own lard (he was born a 100 years late, lol) and is going to teach me so I can learn how to make my own bar soap. We have planted a garden. My son has recommended Mother Earth News to me and I now read it when I can get it. You can also access it online . The lady who made the comment about buying fruit trees...there is an article online about growing your own peach trees from the pit up. It is very interesting and extremely helpful. Thanks for writing everything you do. And the doesn't bother me at all. I am a small business owner and also a momma. I get it. But what ever you do...just be you! Thank you Rhonda, a die hard fan in Texas, USA, Elaine

  36. I'm in the US and unemployment is so high that I wonder how your son could afford to quit a job to travel if he didn't have one to return to. Is your country not having somewhat of a bad time also? Not meaning to be critical, just wondering.

  37. Hi Rhonda
    Love your post today. I grew up with a mom who stayed home and took care of the family and home.
    It's sad to see the amount of children that are left to take care of themselves after school.
    Often getting into trouble because there is no adult to monitor their activities. Children aren't taught skills that will enable them to be independent when they are adults. Most of what they learn comes from watching television programs. I'm not faulting parents where both mom and dad have to work to enable them to provide for their families. However, if their priorities aren't well thought out then maybe they need to do some soul searching about what really is most important to their families' well being. Not a day goes by that I don't give a thought to how fortunate I was that my parents and extended family took the time to teach me so many skills. Friends ask me where I've learned to do so many things (instead of hiring someone) and I can proudly say, "from my parents" etc! parents we need to relearn those skills that we need to be independent and to teach our children those skills.
    Rhonda, I love your blog because you write from the heart. Your information is always sensible, simple, and frugal minded. When your book is published about
    'Frugal Living' I'll be the first to buy it! Hope your week is a quiet one.
    Hugs, Aunt Bea

    P.S. As Elaine, from Texas, says...You can't take it with you, but while you're here you should be a good steward of your finances!

  38. Our Pastor at church spoke about this very thing last week. We will be looking at local churches having a global impact in relation to poverty this month. During last week's sermon one of the things he said was "decrease your wants, rather than trying to balance your wants and have's".

    This struck me, I suppose, because I've learned it the hard way in life and you rarely hear this advice in today's society. It is surprisingly easy to be satisfied with your needs having been met once you choose to be content in whatever your situation is. You simply have to get off the merry-go-round of 'must have'.

    Thank you for your wise and sensible words Rhonda.

  39. Rhonda, you are so right again! It is this sense of entitlement which leads to bad decisions about needing a big house, two cars and at least two journeys abroad during the six weeks of holidays here in Germany, and all of this at the age of 30. I have to admit that I am not immune to this, too, but I only had to think about how we lived when I was a child (I´m 56)to get back to reason. Ten years ago, I used to laugh about some of the thrifty things my parents did, like re-using materials endlessly or never buying disposable wipes, tissues etc. They did it out of economical reasons, because they were used to it, but it was also a "green" way to live. The only thing I cannot remember is making our own soap. I am fairly sure nobody did. And having your shoes repaired by the cobbler was really cheap. Even so my brothers always got small pieces of iron nailed to the tips and heels of their soles. And it meant good luck for the day if you found one of these irons in the street!
    Best wishes

  40. Your blog is such an inspiration to me as a 'young' wife(34)and mother of 3 living on one income and trying to live a simpler life.

    The message of valuing your family was brought home to us this weekend when a family of 6 we know and love lost their 11 year old son in a tragic RTA - everything pales into insignificance in comparison with that.

    with love, Carolyn (UK)

  41. Hi

    There is an advert attached for "catering disposables" - so I guess that one crept in without you noticing. So - I guess a degree of monitoring is required to make sure that "consumerist/non environmentally friendly" products dont slip in - as this one has done.

    I think that advert may not be the only one that "gets through the net" and you have to contact them and get it removed. So - I think you could be getting rather a lot of work (as in having to get this sort of advert removed) - for not much money.

    My blog has a miniscule circulation anyway compared to yours - but I will stick to the no advert rule I decided on precisely because I thought it would create so much trouble for me having to constantly get adverts that are anti what I myself am removed. It also ensures I am beholden to no-one and am not going to worry about offending an advertiser with one of my posts - so my only concern is not to inadvertently break some law or "land up" with some huge firm chasing after me because I've told the truth about them and they want to try throwing a libel suit at me to "shut me up".


  42. Thanks again for this Rhonda,

    I'm relatively new to this concept of 'simple living' - but it's pretty much the same as I've always done and thought of as 'cheap and cheerful' :)

    Me and my partner were both brought up without much money or many possessions. We both learned to love charity shops - for our normal clothes and household decorations, books, and unusual finds.

    He bought this house 20 years ago, and I'm grateful he was sensible enough then to only buy what he and his girlfriend then could afford on one income, even though they were both working full time. It means that now the house costs very little, and we don't have it hanging over our heads.

    My partner was fortunate enough to be able to give up his job last year. He does some part time work that he loves, and has been building up for years. He was able to do this partly because he just didn't spend all his wages for all the years he worked full time. I have a lot to learn from him!

    The most useful thing I have learned in all this is to WAIT - you don't need cotton to make dishcloths RIGHT NOW, you can ask around, keep an eye out to see if you can find some cheaply. You don't need a breadmaker RIGHT NOW, try making it in the oven. Make do with what you have - you might even find it works better than the piece of equipment (or whatever) you were going to buy.

    I've been much encouraged by the way you see nurturing yourself and making your home as positive - I never was much of a cleaner :) But now I do what I can with love, rather than resentment, and find it takes much less time, and I have space for sewing clothes, knitting presents, and whatever the fancy takes me.

    Keep up the good work!


  43. Excellent thought-provoking blog.

    I have to say, reading your blog every day helps me re-affirm my values in the face of naysayers. It's a most pleasurable start to the day and puts me up in the right frame of mind to tackle the daily onslaught of advertising, materially-minded neighbours and scornful family.

  44. You used the perfect word-desire. And you pointed out the right issue-desire brings burden, i.e. debt. But desire also burdens your spirit, i.e. debt brings worry and fear, in other words, suffering. Reading about attachment from Buddhist writings has helped my "attitude" a great deal, but the concept is universal (I am not religious at all) and goes far beyond the Self because this principle speaks of consequences. This is what keeps MY "attitude" in check.

    BTW, my browser allows me to block advertising so I don't see it on your site. If people don't like it maybe they can also block it out. Otherwise, I think the decision to place ads is entirely up to you and I respect that.

  45. Good Post. I am in the US and don't really see the economy changing. We are actually making more money and don't see it effecting us directly in any way. Even with me being a stay at home mother, but we do live debt free and there is much to say about that. Keep up the good work. With all that I read about the economy I am sure this most means a lot to many people, especially those who choose to get into debt.

  46. Well said. The true success bit reminded me of this quote:

    “To laugh often and love much;
    to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children;
    to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends;
    to appreciate beauty;
    to find the best in others;
    to give of one's self;
    to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
    to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;
    to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - this is to have succeeded."
    -- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

  47. As I have been trying to simplify, I am finding the mindset to be the first thing too! It's challenging to go against the culture. Thank you for this post!

  48. Thank you for the post. It is everything I've been trying to say to my friends and children for years. Hope this will get better for your son. Mine's in the same situation.

  49. Thank you for such a beautiful post, for reminding us of what is truly important.

  50. This post is outstanding, Rhonda. And the comments are fantastic as well.
    My husband lost his job due to downsizing in February, and I have always stayed at home, so things have gotten very tight for us!
    He did start a new job yesterday, but the pay is significantly less than he used to make.
    We have been tracking our spending since December (for the most part. Buying a house and having a baby sort of threw us for a bit of a loop), and I have finally done up a real budget. Things are a LOT tighter than I had imagined!
    I'm in the process of trying to distinguish our wants from our needs. I think we're going to bite the bullet and get rid of our cell phone, and TV, and downsize our home phone and internet packages. Right now, it doesn't sound very fun, but I'm CERTAIN we won't miss it once it's gone. I'm 23 and grew up without a TV, or a cell phone, or the I'm sure we'll handle it, and I think our kids will be better off without it!
    Not only is this post wonderful, but I have learned a lot about budgeting and cutting back from your other posts, so thanks :)

    Another thing I am attempting to do is not use the clothes dryer until it's too cold to hang clothes on the line. I've been doing well so far, but have to pay attention to the weather, and hang stuff inside once in a while (I have 2 little ones in cloth diapers, so some days, laundry is a necessity!)

    Melanie in Canada

  51. Hi Rhonda
    I am just a few years younger than you and my upbringing was very similar. The skills my Mother taught me have been so useful throughout my life and I find it a challenge to mend, make my own, and generally live a frugal life.
    Over the years, a growing awareness of environmental issues has added to my wish to live in that way.
    It's very difficult to get that feeling across to other people who have been taken in by the fallacy that happiness is to be found in material things, when there is so much contentment to be found in living simply.
    Personally, I feel that I am now coming into my own and that the situation we all find ourselves in, is a challenge that I want to meet head on!
    Your blog is a great inspiration and contains so much practical advice.
    Keep up the good work.

  52. I appreciate this challenge, and I support you in your decision to bring in more outside income via advertising.

    People underestimate the amount of time it takes to maintain a blog of this size and quality. It becomes less a ministry and more a job, in that it can take time away from the sustaining activities of your household.

    I have long resisted sponsorship on my own frugal blog, feeling that selling something is at odds with the message of not buying. However, I may be making a similar decision myself. I think your readers will understand that the money you earn will be used with as much conscience as you give to the rest of your budget.

  53. I've just found your blog and enjoyed your post today. I'll be going back and reading others. I am in total agreement with's difficult to get out of old spending habits but I'm working on it. I'm making my own laundry detergent and my own bread and enjoying every minute of it. blessings, marlene

  54. How right you are! I grew up in the 50's and we had to save for things. I remember getting an allowance and if I didn't do my jobs, I didn't get paid. We had a Christmas club at the bank so I could save up money to give gifts. Nothing was handed to me.

    Although in the last 10 years, I've probably had more than I ever did materially, I'm also learning how easily it can go away!!!!

    I've tried to get back to the basics and learn ways to save. I've been doing more cooking from scratch and using coupons and other ways to stretch the dollar.

    I want to thank you for your tips and advice. It is so helpful. It's refreshing to learn that there still are people in this world who aren't caught up in "instant everything."

    Now, one thing I don't want to give up is my internet because it has certainly opened up a whole world of people to me. And I love people! Thank you so much from thet bottom of my heart.

  55. Wow!

    This is my first visit to your blog and I'm so inspired. I'm totally new to all of this and I'm very excited about learning more! I look forward to stopping back by and gaining some much needed knowledge!

    Thanks so much!

    Kate :)

  56. You said the trought; don't try to impress the world but think about your own money!

  57. I usually lurk on your blog, being as I'm in a much different climate on the other side of the world and don't have a lot to add sometimes. :) But about this-- I think folks have more resources than they know. You can learn to do anything these days if you have an internet connection; in the US you don't even have to pay for it, as most libraries have internet access. Not knowing how to repair clothing, shoes, etc. need not stop us.

    However I suspect there is still much abundance in the US that a lot of folks won't or don't see. For instance, baby clothes. New baby outfits can run as much as $20 for a simple little pair of pajamas, but at my local thrift store they sell the same things, barely used, for 25 cents. This tells me there are a lot of extra baby clothes floating around out there. Why would I pay 10 times as much for an outfit for my son that's "new" and support sweatshop labor in the process?

    So in other words, I think people have more ways of making do than they know of. I think the biggest thing is not to panic, and there surely are a lot of people around me panicking right now. My great-grandmother got married at 17 and shortly thereafter, with 4 kids, was cooking for a ranch crew on a woodstove while my great-grandfather worked as a cowboy for $1 a day. Whenever I get anxious (or whiny!) I think about her and thank God that at least I can bake bread in an electric oven, not a wood range, and at least my walls are wood and not tar paper. We don't have it so bad if you look at it that way. :)

  58. P.S.--it's hard to make soap in the US, as the sale of lye is very regulated. But you can drip lye-- you get a good amount of wood ash and put it in a hopper. (Sort of a V-shaped container of wood with a hole in the bottom.) Then you pour water through the ashes and it drips slowly out the hole into a container you set there, overnight, leaching the lye out of the ash. You can then use that lye to make soap. I've never done it, but it's supposed to be the way the settlers here did it. Just thought I'd pass it on.

  59. Excellent subject and thoughts, Rhonda. Thank you. You zoned in on the heart of the matter and offered timeless solutions to consider.

    Years ago my husband was out of a job (7+ months). During night-time prayers my 6 year old daughter (she's 19 now) said it best, "Thank you God for everything we have, and thank you God for everything we don't have." She was a wise wee cookie even back then for she saw beyond the plight of no job and no money. She zoned in on the blessing of having little because it made us aware of simple abundance..namely, our family. We learned to really cleave at that time in our lives and it hasn't been forgotten. We still speak of it from time to time, as reliving those moments remind us of gentle provision and *real* life.


  60. As to allowing ads on your blog ...

    The ads are blinking, flashing or blinding. They're really quite unobtrusive. Should I see something I'm interested in I'll be sure to click and will be encouraged that it's helping you just a bit.


  61. Hi Rhonda, as a new but avid reader of your blog, may I say how much I'm enjoying reading about your simple life. As a child born in the 50s we never had much money; my father was disabled and so from an early age we learnt that we couldn't have everything that we wanted, and hand me down clothes, shoes and toys were the norm. As I grew up and later married and had three wonderful daughters, I stayed at home and loved every minute of the cooking, cleaning and dress making that I enjoyed so much. When the girls were older I went back to work, we never seemed to be any better off with my wage as we just spent more on things that we didn't really need. For the past three years I have been retired, the stress of work became to much and I longed for the days when I could go back to my simple life. I am eventually getting back into the swing of things though for a while I felt adrift as losing my income was hard on us both. I love reading your blog and it is giving me hope that although I am nearly sixty, it's never too late to change, so many thanks from a grateful reader.

  62. Hi Rhonda,
    Thank you for sharing your time, energy, thoughts and experience with us.
    I must admit I usually have a feeling of disappointment when I buy something new from the shops. It rarely lives up to expectations and the clothes are overpriced and poorly made.
    I love buying things I need 2nd hand and knowing the money is going to help charity.
    I also find things worked hard for, saved for, and a budget kept is so much more rewarding and feels like a more wholesome, honest way of living.
    Looking forward to your future posts.

  63. Rhonda,
    Thank you for your wonderful blog. This is my first comment but have been reading for several weeks now. Your wisdom and advise is very valuable and appreciated.

    My wife, two sons and I have been living on my income for over three years and I make around 40K a year. Living on this much money can be done. My family is very happy and we still have more than we could hope for.

    I think you have hit the point perfectly. I am not sure about the rest of the world but I see how materialistic we Americans can be and to break this cycle is amazing and liberating. I hope to enlighten others and keep striving to become more independent in the coming months and years. I hope to be able to continue reading and sharing in your wonderful blog and advice. Thanks again.

  64. What you said about 'more stuff' rings so true. Have you been to The video presentation crystallised a lot of what I have been thinking in the last few years. I'm still in my 30s but my grandmothers' (and parents') values are what sit well with me now ... during my 20s I felt the need to have 'more', the 'best' etc. Now I simply aspire to BE more - more educated, more aware, more self-sufficient, more skilled. Thanks for a great blog.

  65. I've been away and just found this post.. I am 63 and what you said about life growing up is what I saw too. What your relatives did not know how to do they bartared the skills they had with another to get a job done. People worked and played together. Picnics, hay rides, pot luck dinners, berry picking, building, canning and on and on. When new neighbors moved in someone always brought them dinner for those first nights and maybe a map of the area and such. You introduced yourselfs to one another and offered sincerely to help where ever and when ever you could. The neighborhood kids knew each other too and you were treated warmly in their homes. You didn't just know the families you knew their grandparents and cousins who visited or lived with them. So many have told me life like you described never happened. Well we know it did and I feel sorry for those who never lived it. It felt good to see it spelled out by you in print! I always have stayed home too and so do my daughters now that they have married. I only wish more of the people still lived like we knew...maybe more of them will turn back to the simple ways and get to know their neighbors again. We used to have to depend on each other and I guess that helped us stay close and not bicker and backbite etc. You had to take the time to know each other...and it was well worth any time it took. One of my favorite times as a teen was when a relative cleaned out their closet. Wow! We then had things we could tear apart and sew and reinvent for us! Up until then we had 2 skirts and only a few blouses for the year. We felt like millionairs! God sure gave you the gift of writing Rhonda. I am so thankful you have used it. Jody

  66. Thank you for your wonderful blog! Your comments struck a chord with me as well.... I have been moving toward the simple life for a few years now, but sometimes get tripped up with the desires for "the best" equipment to cook, clean, etc. It is kind of ironic when you think of making your own laundry detergent and then wanting the most expensive washing machine :)
    I have been making my own cleaners, baking my own bread, cooking and recently making my own soap. I live in the U.S. and have had no problems finding Lye... it is right there on the shelf of the large home improvement store... not sure where Breanna lives, but lye is very easy to find here in Minnesota. Since making my own soap, I will never go back to buying it... the difference in my skin (and my son who has eczema's skin) is amazing. If you have considered trying to learn this skill, I would encourage you to go for it. It is very rewarding!
    Thank you Rhonda for the reminder of wants vs. needs.... we all need to be reminded of this every so often. Blessings to you!

  67. Felt I had to comment on this but needed to think a bit more about it. Blogged today about how I feel that it's the focus of that sense of entitlement that's wrong -- feeling entitled to good things can push us in the right direction. It did when I realised I wanted better eggs than I could get...

  68. Hi Rhoda,

    Another thought provoking post! We've lived on one income our entire married lives and I take my role in the home seriously. We made sure we bought a home we could afford without stress and I've tried to make it a haven for my family. I've planted fruit trees and bushes, we have a large veggie garden and rain barrels, we hang out our laundry, we repurpose what we can, make our own cleaners, but there's tons more to learn and do! Your blog is such a great resource and I thank you for being willing to explain HOW you do things. It's so very helpful!

    I'm a bit disappointed about the advertising but it's your blog to do with as you see fit.


  69. hello! I think the thing is to strive to be happy with what you have, to know the difference between need and want, to want what you need, not to need what you want. Finding beauty and feeling wonder in everything including the mundane is the key.

  70. Rhonda, thank you for this post. It was an encouragement that I needed - sometimes it's very hard to live in "the real world" and be "different". When you meet someone new, the common question is - so what do you do? and when they discover that you don't have a job outside the home, they always say: oh, you don't work! Nothing could be further from the truth, but these people (with this way of thinking) know nothing about it. Being a keeper of the home is a lot of hard work. Thanks again for this post!

  71. I'm not a fan of the advertising either, sorry to say. I find it a bit conflicting with your wonderful messages.

    My dh and I live on a very modest U.S. income of about $25K, maybe a tad more. We live quite simply and honestly I am generally happy with that aspect of my life. When we need something, we have to save for it, so it becomes rewarding to do so. No, we don't have everything we want, nor every need, but our basic needs are met and that is what is important. Compared to so many others in this world I have so much. I don't want to be someone who is selfish and who hoards when others are in need.

    The funny thing is that I don't really feel life is all that much different for us during this recession. The reason for that is because we've been living like this since we've been married and basically my whole life (I've been sick with chronic illness for a long while now). We're used to denying ourselves and yet I feel I am blessed with more than enough "stuff" in life.

    I see many people give up their life for the sake of things. It's quite sad to me. Those things will never give anyone true fulfillment, and it often takes people many years to realize that. I'm just glad I realized it sooner rather than later. A great book to read is "Your Money Or Your Life". Definitely one for the frugal/simple living personal library.


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