Friday’s all-day snowstorm left fifteen inches of new snow. Saturday’s “flurries” left an additional three inches. Last night’s “chance of snow” left two inches.
Extreme frugality is like a crash diet… it’s unhealthy and almost impossible to live with long-term… AND it will set up feelings of deprivation that will almost certainly end in a bout of spending. The money that hurt so much to save gets spent impulsively when you can’t stand feeling deprived any longer… and suddenly you’re back to square one. This yo-yo cycle of deprivation/splurging, deprivation/splurging is not LIVING frugally… it’s PLAYING at frugality… and it’s not a good way to live.
It’s important to save for retirement. It’s sensible to have an emergency fund. It’s essential to live within your income and not go into debt. But where did the idea come from that people who are frugal and live simply… can’t… or shouldn’t… have nice things? Or that they should feel guilty if they buy something new?
What do you do when you buy a bag of oranges and get them home to discover several areas of rot that you couldn’t see when the oranges were in the bag? If you find an item has a broken safety seal, do you throw it away or return it to the store? One woman I know NEVER returns anything, regardless of how expensive the defective item is. I asked her why once, and she said she doesn’t like to complain.
I spent more than three months one year in an enforced almost immobile position because of complications from a back injury. When I finally started to recover and could be up and around again for part of the day, the recommended at home therapy was to walk as much as I was able to. As a surprise, my husband decided to build a walking path that would trail around our property and wind past the nearby wooded area. He took great pains to ensure that the surface of the walking path was smooth and level and that the path would take me past the garden areas that I love and had missed so much… alongside the little babbling brook and past all the froggy activity going on around our small pond. His thoughtful surprise turned my daily (sometimes very difficult and painful) exercise routine into something I could actually look forward to because there was always something new going on somewhere for me to see and enjoy.
Reader question… “We found ourselves in a situation without electrical power for two days last week after the ice storm downed power lines in our neighborhood. We had never experienced a power outage before and weren’t prepared. My question… have you made preparations for power outages and could you share what these preparations are?” –Daniel B.
Raising free range chickens is not an automatic first step (often listed with recycling and composting) for everyone interested in simple or green living. No one should even think of getting chickens unless they are willing to make the commitment to care for them properly… and proper care means a whole lot more than just turning them loose into the great outdoors to “free range” and fend for themselves.
First let me say that I agree… I wouldn’t be happy living a life of purging, scrimping, and deprivation either… but that’s purging, scrimping, and deprivation, NOT simple living. Done right, simple living should be a positive experience, not a negative one… with the emphasis on adding to your life, not taking away from it.
There are indeed many good reasons to purge. It makes sense to purge when an item breaks and repairing it isn’t possible or feasible. It makes sense to purge when clothing becomes too worn or faded or no longer fits. It makes sense to purge as tastes and circumstances change. This “purging for a reason” involves only one… or a few… items at a time and is a gradual, almost automatic purge that happens naturally as your needs change or an item no longer fits your lifestyle.
“From your experience, what would you say is the biggest obstacle that people have to living a simpler, truly fulfilling life?”
A reader asked me this question a few days ago, and I think my answer would have to be one word… “inertia.” The prospect of a lifestyle change is so overwhelming for most people, they are understandably afraid to take that first step. I hear from so many people who really want to live more simply, BUT… and I mean this seriously… they’re making “simple living” too complicated.