7 September 2011

The changes we make

Last week I had a delightful email from a woman who told me that after reading here for a few months, she made big changes to her life and is now reaping the benefits of those changes. She decluttered, started cooking from scratch and living within her means; she has a plan in place to pay off her mortgage in ten years - she'll then be 41. She wrote to thank me for motivating her towards change and to tell me how surprised she is by the strong feeling of independence and of being in control she now has. It's always wonderful getting emails like that mainly because I absolutely understand what they're saying; it mirrors the changes I made in my own life which resulted in similar feelings of empowerment.

If someone had told me before I started living to a budget, cutting back, slowing down, decluttering and generally living below my means, that I would be reinvigorated by it, I would not have believe them. I didn't really think much about how my changes would make me feel, I just needed to save money and that was that. Now, years down the track, I feel more in charge of my life than ever before; I feel independent and strong, and optimistic about staying that way.

I don't write much about this feeling of empowerment but it is always there and it is enduring. I guess it starts building when new skills are developed. There is always a better way of doing things, new recipes to learn when tastes change, improved methods when you've been doing a task for a long time. Then small changes turn into bigger ones and the learning continues. The more you do, the more you learn, and the more you're capable of doing. Then your changes enable you to pay off debt faster. That builds self confidence and the feeling that even if life doesn't always go as planned, you would cope, no matter what. Add to that a feeling of independence that comes when you stop buying fashions and fads. You don't get swept along by popular opinion, you stay true to your own values, confidence builds and you know, deep down to your bones, that you can look after yourself.

And that's all we really need to do.  If we can look after ourselves and our families, if we have confidence that even if the economy bottomed out and stayed that way for a prolonged period of time, we would have the capabilities to not only get everyone fed, but to thrive, then that serves us for that day and the next, and it builds our feelings of independence and of really owning our own lives. If living simply makes you feel empowered when times are tough, imagine how you'll feel when everything is fine and dandy. You'll feel like you can do anything, and maybe you can. And that, my friends, is a great pay off for any sacrifice you may make along the way.

So if you're new to all this, I encourage you to dive right in; there is a wonderful life waiting. If you're convinced you'll be giving up many of the things you love and be restricted as you cut back and live on a budget,  when you get used to your new life, worries about deprivation will be replaced by confidence and that feeling of independence. Your life will open up and instead of seeing difficulties ahead, you'll see challenges, opportunities and freedom. And I promise you that will outlast any feeling you get from a new pair of shoes or going to a concert that you can't really afford.



  1. AMEN!! I had a brush with the "real world" today and it left me shuddering. I just can't escape the feeling that the vast majority of people are "caught in the devil's bargain." They keep running ever faster and never feel like they're getting anywhere. Whew! Glad to be home with my cats and away from the traffic and crazy busy people with their iPads and "smart" phones and "important" wardrobes. A few hours in the "normal" world and I'm exhausted! How do people make themselves do that every day?

  2. Rhonda Jean I too am on this road of de-cluttering,getting out of debt and becoming more self-sufficient.Even though I am fairly new at this once again(we were out of debt before)we got careless, let things get out of hand then hubs lost his job and that is when the economy went down. Husband was in construction and it has been a challenge but we will make it back to being as we were but better, smarter and having learned from the things we have gone through.
    I love your blog and I too find inspiration to be a better more self-sufficient person.
    Thank you for all your information you share with us. You are a blessing to us all. Hugs, Bobbi Jo

  3. A lovely post Rhonda, you're so right about those feelings of empowerment! I've been drying herbs and making jam this weekend, and it feels so good, even if it is squeezed in round full time work!

    Very much looking forward to your book :)

    Jenni x

  4. I agree totally with what you say here.
    Am still in the process of decluttering - it's a big job! I am looking forward to having less 'stuff' around.
    Best wishes Bridget

  5. Thanks heavens for your sound advice and gentle encouragement as well journey this road together! The little changes I have made really do add up. I have a savings account. Something I never thought I'd have. I get a thrill of epic proporations harvesting food from the garden and preparing it for our table. Simplicity is the best gift to give yourself!

  6. Rhonda, you are so right about that feeling of empowerment. Paying cash for everything and having money set aside for various things is an amazing feeling. As is the emergency account - that's one lesson I wish I'd had growing up!
    I heard on TV last night that a huge number of Austalians only have a repertoire of 5 dishes they can cook. Apparrently many others don't know how to boil an egg! Many have never baked a cake from scratch. This is the opposite of empowerment. Aren't we lucky to be on the path we are on, and able to do things for ourselves and experience the wonderful comfort and satisfaction that comes from that.
    All the best, Madeleine

  7. Good morning Rhonda,
    Truer words have never been written!
    Why just this weekend I was all puffed up and brimming with pride. The only part of the meal that sat on our table that was not grown by us was the meat (although we do have some nice Tilapia fish that could have readily cured that omission).
    There is truly no feeling like it, to be able to provide for your family. We can all admit to that.
    It makes me wonder about our menfolk.
    At least those in my part of the world.
    Have we deprived them of their share of this wonderfully empowering feeling and are paying the consequences as the scales are being tipped more and more in our favour? We talk about there being no more gentlemen or dare I say 'manly men' and that fathers are not there in the home any more.
    Now, in many instances, we are the breadwinners. The hunters. The providers. Admittedly nowadays, at least here in the Caribbean, it is more likely that the female will be given a job faster than a male. We are staking claim both in and out of the home. But the man must also be given his moment to shine too. Because we all need a sense of pride in our endeavors, a reason to be.
    I think perhaps Rhonda that is why you have such a successful union. You both have great strengths and you both use them towards one goal. You allow each other to shine.
    So, here's to the men. The ones who struggle WITH us. We appreciate you!

    Trinidad & Tobago

  8. There is another side benefit to this new life too. Since we are enjoying working along in this life now we are more relaxed and do not listen to much of the news shows. There is much to keep our interest and use of our time at home. We listen enough to be informed enough to vote wisely naturally. Yet the every day hipe the news touts we avoid. Yes, once you feel the difference in your attitude and such you will never want to go back. Sarah

  9. I recently posted on my blog about making cheese. I was asked why when shop bought is just as good. I tried to explain why but i'm not sure i was understood. I'm happier when i home make things be it food or craftwork. It does give me empowerment. I'm gradually doing a lot more to change my lifestyle & i think the family is also happier for it. Great post as always.

  10. When you step away from a consumeristic lifestyle, you see things through different eyes. It is not easy, but it is a far more rewarding life to try and do things ourselves. I really enjoyed this post.

  11. That is a very important lesson learned. Marketers would have us believe that to feel happy and empowered we need to consume, and when that doesn't fix it the answer is to consume more Right?. And I have found it to be completely opposite, and thankfully more and more people are coming to this realisation as evidenced by the number of people reading blogs such as yours and sharing their own stories on their own blogs.thanks for sharing the email Rhonda. Things seem to get even easier when you her these great stories.

  12. Hi Rhonda, love your blog. I started changing the way I think and do things.
    It does give you confidence and power, if you are in control of your life.
    No possession is as good as debt free feels.
    The simple things in life are simply the best.

  13. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you say, you have a good way with words - a very empowering post.

  14. The only thing I can say about this post is that you are absolutely right Rhonda. I hope more and more people will understand it and give it a try.

    Thanks again for sharing!

    Love from Holland

  15. I had a poster on my wall in college (univ) in the States of a little rowboat piled high with hippos with the words: "More is not always better".

    That about sums up your well-said post, today, Rhonda.

    Cape Town
    South Africa

  16. I love this post and it has further motivated me forward in our journey toward debt payoff. These past few years we have become much more self sufficient and have totally changed how we spend our money. We think of our income now as voting power. We VOTE for how we want to see food produced (our garden gets a strong vote, as do local farmers) and we even VOTE for how we want to see products manufactured. We try our level best to buy second hand clothes and other needed items and if we can't find what we need used, we buy as "locally made" as we possibly can.

    All small changes in themselves, but they add up to a HUGE lifestyle shift and solid teaching in the home (by example) - the best teaching there is :)

    Your blog inspires me every day - to keep on working at it and also to stop more frequently to "smell the roses". I need that reminder often... XO

  17. Rhonda,

    I just love your blog. Your voice is so encouraging without judgment. You encourage your readers through small steps. You make it seem possible. I never tire of your telling of your personal journey. It is truly inspiring and worth emulating.

    The global nature of your blog is astounding. I simply love reading about how people all over the world are making significant changes.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your journey with so many people.

  18. Rhonda, I do understand the feeling of empowerment and so much in particular when I place food in front of my family that is home grown, really local, organic and wholesome.

  19. Today my hands ache from picking and shucking dozens of ears of corn .. then cleaning,blanching and scraping from the cob .. freezing half and staying up to pressure can the other half. It was hard work for sure .. but a good feeling knowing that my purchase from my local farm family helps them directly .. and the food was processed within just hours of picking. You can bet it will be enjoyed more this coming winter remembering how it got to our dinner plates.

    I'm so glad there is such a momentous movement in returning to providing for our families with things they need .. and not their every want. The past several decades have proved disastrous with rampant use of credit and living beyond our means. Your blog always inspires me to learn a new skill or rekindle an old one. Thanks!

  20. what a fabulous motivational post. thank you! visiting here always renews my commitment to living a simpler, more satisfying life!


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