Getting others on board

29 July 2009
I want to thank everyone who commented yesterday on the washing powder post. Sharing our our experiences gives us all more knowledge and ways to tackle problems. So thank you for being involved in this community as well as for your information and knowledge.

This post is an answer to another question posed last week. This one is from JoAnna who wrote: I know you've mentioned this before, but I sure would like ideas/help/encouragement for getting others on board. It's like society has certain expectations and it really makes it hard to explain to others (especially my children) that it doesn't have to be "normal" to be in debt up to your eyeballs and anxious all the time.

I think it's pretty unusual for both partners to want to change to a simpler life at the same time. Generally one person feels the need to change and then sets off on a mission to convince others in the family. I know you have teenage girls JoAnna, they will be very difficult to get on board.

This is my post on Convincing your Partner, it's about how I wanted to change but Hanno didn't, and how we got around that.

You have to start with yourself. With any change you need to lead by example. There is not much hope in convincing someone else to change how they live if they don't see evidence of it working well. I'm guessing you've been convinced towards change by reading blogs and books, see if you can get your husband and daughters to do the same. There are blogs written by men, Gavin's is a good example, and young girls, Mia writes an excellent blog full of her hopes and beautiful photos. Please add links to other simple life blogs written by men and teenagers if you know of any, and share your own story if you've been in this situation.

But the focus of your effort should be on yourself and how you work in your own home. One of the things that convinced Hanno that we should change was seeing how much money I saved by cooking from scratch, growing vegetables, stockpiling and shopping in a different way. You could probably start making your own cleaners, that would cost less and save on the number of harmful chemicals you have in your home. Who can resist hot homebaked bread? Whip up some bread for them, top it with your own jam or a tomato from the garden and enjoy it with some cool homemade lemon cordial. And when you sit down to this lunch of kings, talk about the reasoning behind it.

It won't happen overnight but in small bits - slowly, your actions will show them what the change you have in mind looks like. If you can show that by changing a few things YOU are less stressed, more relaxed, happier AND save money and produce delicious food in the process, that will at least start them thinking that maybe change is not such a bad idea after all.

Remember, teenagers are in a time of their life when one of their main motivations is to conform to what their friends are doing - it's how they prove to themselves that they're "normal" and acceptable. You will have to be strong and not give in to their requests for more pocket money and clothes. Tell them they will have to work for what they want, just like everyone else does.

But if you can change yourself, if you become more relaxed and provide a warm and secure home, if you show how the changes you've made have made you happier and more content, if you save money and start paying off debt, if you stop buying harmful chemicals and explain to your family the benefits of that, if you grow or cook delicious food and save money while doing it, if you stop shopping, if you provide a loving home that is welcoming, if you do more with less, if you focus more on a beautiful life than a life full of "I want", if you are satisfied with what you have and show it everyday in your attitude towards your family and friends, then you will be well on your way to convincing even the hardest heart that changing in small ways will produce a meaningful and satisfying life full of many rewards.

Good luck. : - )


  1. Hi Rhonda, the latest small change I have recently made was buying a 5 pack of woven cotton tea towels @ $2.50, cutting each in half, sewing the seam and then using as dishcloths. I had been wondering how to get around the disposable dishcloth dilemma for a while and since reading your 'evolution of the dishcloth' post, I now have ten dishcloths that I can wash and re-use instead of throw out. I am also shopping less since the biggest kitchen table challenge to not shop for a month. I only did it for a week and it proved how easy it is to needlessly spend money until the purse is empty.

  2. I don't use papre towels {well we have one cheap roll that lasts us at least 6 months}.. but did not know what to use to whipe out the grease from cast iron pots etc. I did not want to use my good dish cloths and especially not any paper towels. Then I remembered I think you mentioned saving more uckie or not good for cleaning scraps from clothes we throw away for thatsort of job. So instead of throwing away the worn through synthetic blouse etc I cut it up used it for this then throw it out. Before people had me putting the grease in a glass jar or bag and into the trash. But these can be recycled and reused. I had no use for the blouse now see through from wear! :) I am looking forward to others ideas for getting others on the bandwagon. Our family is all on but we hope to inspire more and more others. We always lived like this out of necessity but found we loved it so we wouldn't change it only do More of it! :) Jody

  3. Hi Rhonda, thanks for the link, I am flattered that you thought of me!

    A few other local green gentlemen bloggers I know are
    Darren @
    Geoff @
    and AussieBob over at

    All great reading, and just goes to show that there are some other Aussie blokes out there that care about changing their worlds


  4. Good Day Dear Lady...
    I have a question for you.

    I see your Dear Hanno laboring in the garden often in your images.
    What percentage of the physical labor are you able to tend to in the garden?
    You see many of us women have this heart and the efforts tend to come from our hand. I think it would encourage us to see that it is your combined physical efforts that achieve those awesome wonders grown on your hand. It is a very different story if the woman tends to much if not all of the hard labor of tending the earth.
    Truly Rhonda do you do the hard labor too?

    Speaking on this , giving labor tips on making the tasks easier is one thing I have not heard you address.
    My husband is now realizing that the "passion" of gardening is not a craft without the need of physical assistance. It took a while.
    Be encouraged any one who identifies .

    To you Hanno
    Thank you for all you do to tend the earth and build the things and join in the passion becoming the wonderful reality you both own.

    Rhonda I mean no offense I would just really like to know. This is really hard physical work. Perhaps it may not of even crossed the mind or page yet it is really an issue for home gardeners.

  5. I have to agree with you Rhonda in that my partner and I are not totally on the same page but if he can see what I am doing is saving us money he likes it and goes along, he also enjoys all that home baking and marveled at the difference in taste of the small amount of food I grew last summer, and wanted the homemade tomato preserves over any other pasta sauce in our cupboard or freezer. He was adamant about no garden beds before but I have two small ones allowed for this next spring/summer. I think if I can produce more I'll might be able to get more for next year too.

  6. Thank you again Rhonda, for a beautiful post. It's so nice to see that there are other ladies out there who don't want to whinge and whine to get people to do their bidding and ideas, but that are just happy to go along their own way and let others catch up as they feel happy doing.

    I am lucky that my family are just starting, my son is only 2 and loves the gardening and the outdoors. My partner isn't as keen yet, but he's loving the home cooking, the building bank account and the ability to be secure in knowing that I am not a spendthrift that is going to have blown all our monye in a mall by the time he finishes work for the day. That's enough for me, to be satisfied, with my efforts to help my family.

  7. We have two teenagers, 17 and 19. Mostly they are OK about the way we live but sometimes there is a bit of friction. When our daughter was younger she would complain that her school lunch wasn't like her friends', there were no bags of crisps and other prepackaged food. Now she is older she appreciates her homemade goodies.

    They both sometimes complain that we are not 'normal' with our money. We see no reason to update our cars just because everyone else does. Nor do we pay hundreds of dollars on concert tickets for the kids like their friends parents. We prefer our kids to work for what they want. Clothes is another issue, teenage fashion labels are ridiculously expensive. Our compromise is that the bulk of their clothes are non brand name but they get a few bits of brand name clothing for their birthday.

    Interestingly as they get older and have to juggle their own finances, their tastes are getting less expensive.

  8. Thanks for the links, Gav. I have known Geoff since we started aussieslivingsimply with Dan. I must pay him a visit. I like Darren's blog, very interesting however, I've never heard of aussiebob, I'll have to pay him a visit too.

  9. Hi Donetta, I'll answer your question in a post another day. I'll write about how we break up the work to be done here.

  10. Thanks for the encouragement Rhonda. I have changed quilte a bit, but patience has never been one of my virtues! I make my own laundry detergent and have banned most cleaners. My hausband likes the idea of saving money and we are both starting to really watch prices at the store. We are planning a move back to ourformer home state of Florida (waiting for the house to sell). The great thing about that is we will be able to garden year round. We tried a community garden plot this summer but so far it has been a disaster! But, with the new home we will be avoiding home owner associations with ridiculous rules and will cut our mortgage by at least half! Baby steps...

  11. Hi Rhonda, I am inspired!! In my hallway I have a bag of baby clothes to go to the clothes recycling bin, instead I will make cleaning cloths etc from them. I know that an organisation would benefit from the money they make from the clothes but if I can reuse them, why not and save some paper in the meantime. Many thanks for your wonderful blog, I read it every day and find so much very helpful, keep up the good work!


  12. While we don't live as simply as we might, the Geek and I have always lived within our means and, as we're Christians, tried not to follow the values of this world. Our elder son is under the impression that we are poor, because unlike some of his friends, we don't go for long overseas holidays. We're really a lot wealthier than the friends; they are migrants visiting their families back home! So you never know what will give people a false (or true) impression of yourself... The important thing IMHO is to live according to your conscience.

  13. Hi Rhonda
    Yes, change yourself first and persevere! In our situation, when I got really serious about how far I wanted to go to change, the family thought I had lost my mind. This was prior to the economic collapse. I insisted on buying a farm with our life savings. Everybody, including my husband, fought me on that but as the collapse revealed itself slowly and life became more difficult for us, they began to see that I knew exactly what I was talking about. We finally bought the farm, not a moment too soon either.
    The children (teenagers) thought it was going to be horrific to leave the city (we havn't yet left but are working towards it). What I did to deal with that was to bring along some of their friends on an occasional trip and also, began to teach some of them skills along with my children right here at home. You would be surprised how many inner city kids are instinctively craving the knowledge and experience of living a rural or a self sufficient life. It is becoming "cool" even to youngsters. Be patient, include others in your learning (and planning), make it fun if you can. That is the best way to deal with teenagers.

  14. Rhonda,
    Thanks for another encouraging post. Changes have been slow in my home, but I'm starting to see some bright spots with the teenage boys. Just last week they both found things at the thrift store after months of complaining how boring it was browsing at resale shops! My oldest found a vintage typewriter (in excellent working order!) and his brother found some nice tools to add to his stash. Both were thrilled with their finds and had enough in their pockets to pay. Sporting equipment is tough on the wallet, but the boys are learning to look on ebay, the resale shops that specialize in sporting goods, or clearance racks and so far have been pleased.
    My youngest is 8 and she just adores her crocheted washcloths and homemade "girlie" bath products.
    I love that they are learning to be creative and content.

    Georgia, USA

  15. Hello! I really enjoyed yesterday's post on the homemade laundry detergent but I did not have time to post my question until today....does anyone know a good soap to use for the soap flakes here in the United States? I would like to use homemade soap, but have not made any yet. This leads to my 2nd question...where can you buy lye in the U.S. ?
    Thanks, Jenny

  16. Sometimes it helps to recognize that you might be moving in the same direction but through different steps. My husband is supportive but would be perfectly happy if we didn't own livestock. On the other hand, he really helps our move to self-sufficiency because he's incredibly handy and builds and fixes so much - something I don't have much interest in learning. So hopefully we compliment each other. As for kids, I think the parents' examples are the most powerful. And just talking about why you're doing the things you're doing.

  17. I'd like to say that I know from experience that it is easier to win over a partner when you can show them a growing bank account or steady reduction of debt. Some years ago we got into debt because of too many expensive things happening at once - the central heating boiler broke down completer and needed to be replaced because it was so old that we could not find parts for it so we lived without heating for a winter; the car, again old, broke down and would have cost several times its value to repair; we had a daughter's wedding to pay for (we did the catering ourselves and I made her dress and those for her bridesmaids)and a daughter at uni who needed some financial help. We had others at home too. And the appliances, all likewise old, kept breaking down, such as the fridge, vacuum cleaner and kettle. I made everything I could, both food and household needs and as much clothing as was practicable. I made the family do without so many things they wanted. My husband thought I was mad but I kept records of all income and expenditure when I showed him how much I had reduced the debt after three months and then after six months, he was convinced and started thinking up ways to save money too. And the family, after they had got used to some of the changes, were happier with the new menus.

    When the debt was paid off, we lightened up a little bit but remained very careful in everything. So now our mortgage is paid off early and it is great not to have debt of any sort hanging over our heads.

  18. Hi Rhonda! I am trying to make some changes due to your inspiration! I haven't gotten the courage yet to try my own homemade soap (but I have made the laundry soap), because I'm just a little afraid of the lye.
    Hope you'll check out "C"'s new post on dealing with the telephone company and on HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON PHONES!!! V.

  19. Hi Rhonda,
    I just found your blog recently and I really like it. I can't wait to read more and more posts. You have such a good way of living, and you live the way I hope to be able to, in the way that my life permits me. I'm 24, and I'm always looking for "happy adults" who live a good life and are satisfied, and then try to imitate them! So, you're one of my "happy adults" now :-)

  20. My teenage son learned to live more frugally because he had to since his Dad had to go on Social Security Disability many years ago.

    While it hasn't been fun for him, he has learned good skills. He has a very rich looking wardrobe and most of his clothes he's purchased at thrift stores (or bought on end of season sales retail).

  21. I like following your change to living a simpler life.

  22. I hope my comment on using old clothes for rags did not make someone cut up and use good clothes they cannot use. I guess that is their business though. Maybe I did not make it clear. I was talking about clothes no longer wearable to now use for wipeing up grease etc... least that is how we now will do it. The clothes I had in mind were thread bare. I pass on any clothing and household things useable. If it is clothing at the very least I reuse the material in the clothes and save the buttons, zippers and such for another project if I do keep it for use. We do not go overboard in this green living but do what we can within time and income. We know how it is to have little and so it is a joy to help others learn to be more independent and give also of what material things we no longer need. We sure would like to do more and we hope to add to our learning. You Rhonda, have sure given us a lot to ponder. Thank you do much and thank your husband too for his inspiration. Jody

  23. Rhonda,
    Just wanted to let Jenny know that she can order lye from in the U.S. or go to and search soap making supplies; they have a list of suppliers. Someone suggested to me trying our farm supply store, but I haven't been over there yet so I can't say for certain.
    Hope that helps!
    Georgia, USA

  24. Hi Rhonda
    Can you post this or otherwise pass it on for Jenny who asked questions about lye and soap in the U.S? Thanks!
    Jenny, some states have banned straight lye but if you find products like Vanish or Saniflush in your state, those are supposed to be pure lye. Please double check this if you find the products and check to see if its safe to use. I have heard this from store clerks who say soapmakers use these when they can find them. I can't find these things in my state or a neighboring one myself so will have to order online. Just google soapmaking supplies. Most likely your best bet.
    Also the following brands will work for "soap" in the meantime: Zote, Fels Naptha, Linda and regular old Ivory. I have used all of these and not one is better than the next except for scent. Linda is scentless, the rest are all distinct smelling. Good luck.

  25. Great post and very inspiring. We try to lead bu example, but sometimes it can be very tiring when others actively denounce your lifestyle as extremist, etc. as one of our neighbors does, but we try and stay positive and in the light.
    The Quinces

  26. Hi Rhonda!

    I have been reading your blog for about a year now and we have been slowly moving to a more simple life. Some changes have been little, such as not buying kitchen towel and some have been bigger but they are all starting to add up! I would really like to start making soap but am a bit cautious about it all. I have read your brilliant tutorial but I don't think that I'll be able to get hold of rice bran oil over here (England) as I haven't seen it anywhere. I know that you linked to a soap calculator to make your own recipe but that seems very brave for my first time! Have you ever used any other oil in your recipe , in place of rice bran oil, that has worked well and that I might be able to get hold of easier?

    Thank you for all the hard work that you put into this blog. It has been such an inspiration to me as we try to change our futures.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read this!


  27. To Karen & Linda -

    Thanks so much for the info on finding lye in the U.S. and laundry soap flakes. I'm on a mission now :)

    Thanks again,
    Jenny Virginia U.S.A.

  28. Reading Rhonda's post and then the comments, I'd like to add a few lines on my experience here. I want to encourage those with younger children and to say that it IS worth it and they WILL get it.

    My children have all just about grown up now. They were initially raised in the city (Sydney) until the eldest was eight then we moved out. A few years later we bought a few acres in the same area we'd moved to and built the house we're in now, where we (me??) are aiming to become more self reliant as time goes by.

    At times I could feel quite alone in this quest as although my husband is very handy and "builds stuff", it all gets a bit much for him and he doesn't always seem overly keen. At those times I'm sure he would prefer living in a unit with no paddocks to slash, no fences to build, no animals to tend to or clean up after, etc. Then he'll surprise me by out-of-the-blue saying "let's get more chooks" or "do you want to start keeping sheep, or alpacas?" or "let's develop the back paddocks"... Pick me up off the floor!!

    My children, whilst interested to some degree and whom have shared the workload a lot around the property over the years, have not shared the passion, however I think that's becasue of their ages, that they hadn't enough experience of the world and hadn't understood the magnitude of what we're perhaps facing.

    The eldest has had times of groaning and winging about tending to the vegies or "more fencing" and so forth, however loves having fresh, raw vegies to munch on and appreciates it so much more. Second son (now 20) occasionally comes up and thanks me profusely for the upbringing they've had and how fortunate they all are, which is nice... ;-)

    My youngest went to live with his Dad back in the city a while ago and is in his last year of school there. He comes home these days and raves endlessly at times about how wonderful the water is here (and takes as many bottles of the water back to the city with him as he can carry), how beautiful and fresh the air is, how green, how restful, how wonderful it is to have fresh vegies (Dad apparently keeps mostly frozen vegies), how lucky he is to have a place like this to come home to as many of his city friends have nothing like it.

    They watch (a bit of) TV, they read the papers and know what's going on in the world; they realise that there are people venturing out to do exactly what we've done. They all say how good it is that they know how "to do things" whereas a lot of their city and suburban friends do not. They feel proud and pleased of themselves but not as pleased as I do as I sit back and hear their comments, because a few short years ago I wouldn't have thought this would be the outcome!

    So, whilst those with younger children may feel it's a struggle, I would encourage you to simply keep going. Yes, it's a struggle at times, but keep your mind on the goal. Hold regular family meetings to discuss ideas and plans, and divide up the jobs. Make it fun when you can but definitely involve the children in the discussions and decision making.

    And the more you quietly get on and do, the more you can show in the months or years ahead to children or impress on reluctant partners that this can work, anad you're on the right track.

    All the best!

  29. thanks for this beautiful post, rhonda. i often wonder how to change people's minds, too, and see that it's not by talking, even if you're passionate and kind about what you believe in ... people are so ready to be on the defensive, and feel like they are being "talked to," even when they are not. this is a good reminder that really, only by DOING, and inviting others into the clean and happy sphere that we've created, can we hope to light a spark inside another.

  30. To the question of getting her teenage daughters on board. I remember when I was a teenager and complaining to my father about not having this or that latest gadget that I wanted (and all my friends had). Instead of going into a big discussion or him dictating things, he just said, "well, you can have that and things like it, or you can have the trips we take, we can't do both so which do you want." Maybe he knew I wanted the trips,so he was willing to phrase it that way, but it really helped me to see it was not just about giving things up. He showed me the tangable results of what we got instead.


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