Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Living Simply

"Live simply so that others may simply live." I love this quote though I can't remember at the moment who is famous for having said it.

Simple and frugal living have a rather bad rap if you ask me. So often they are thought of in the same vein as "deprivation" and "poverty". But that's not what it's about at all. Living simply and frugally is about taking into account what matters the most in your life and paring down the extras so that you can focus on what's most important to you. Let's say you absolutely adore sailing. You live far from the ocean and rarely get a chance to be on the water, between working full-time, keeping up your house and tracking your stock portfolio. But, wow. You really do love sailing and would like to make it a huge part of your life.

Someone who was dedicated to living more simply would take all these things into account and then start creatively brainstorming ways to add more of what he loves into their life. He might decide to pare down his belongings, sell his house and buy a sailboat big enough to live on. Doing this might mean that he needs less income, so he could work the summer months giving tours or sailing lessons with his boat in the US and then spend the winter off the coast of the Bahamas fishing and relaxing.

There are so many real life stories similar to this fictional story. So often when we are faced with a problem, we hurry and throw money at it. Something breaks in the house? Rush out and find a new one at the store. A family wants to start using cast iron pans and pots instead of their current non-stick cooking ware? Hurry, get to the store and buy a new set.

To me, living simply and frugally is really about being more creative. If something in your house breaks, pause for a few minutes before running to the store. Is there something else you could use instead? Does a family member or friend have an extra of these items gathering dust at their house? Could you buy it second hand? Thrift stores are much more than musty basement deals with shabby clothes. Our local Goodwill has a ton of great kitchen appliances and some brand new items like dish towels, curtains, rugs and more. The next time my coffee maker goes on the fritz or I am in need of something else for the house, I'll check there first.

It's not about deprivation, it's about looking at things another way. Taking the time to be creative saves you money, and it also saves resources. Every single "THING" that has to be made uses valuable resources. It also is one more thing that will eventually land in the trash one day. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle--and RE-THINK.

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