Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thoughts on Living Simply

I've had this post bouncing around in my head for some time.  I've been asked more times than I can count how we manage to live our lives on one modest income with 4 children.  My thoughts have been going around and around and I realized that it all really comes down to simplicity.  I can get specific about some things, but in general, simplicity sums it all up.

For my family, living a simple life fosters close family relationships while also allowing us to live sustainably.

In this instant gratification, gotta have it, fast paced world of bursting credit bubbles and housing market collapses, it is no wonder that many have looked at what I manage to do and say "how does that even work?"  I do not purport to have the corner on how to make it work, and certainly a large part of why it works for us is because we have been blessed in many ways.

I say it comes down to simple, intentional living.  Identifying the true differences between "needs" and "wants," being grateful for what you do have and willing to compromise on the things you do not necessarily need.  I am not saying to live a life with no comforts at all, that is not my point, but to really take stock of what we believe to be necessary, beneficial and required for our lives.

This often begins with how we were raised.   I was so blessed to be raised in a family where my mother was dedicated to living a simple, frugal lifestyle.  Through my childhood, my observations of her helped shape my view on how to run a home.  She is still much more frugal than I am and I still stand to learn quite a bit from her.  Taking a good look at where we came from and what were considered necessities in our homes really does help us understand how we came to the mindset we have on what constitutes "the good life," and is imperative to the next few steps.

Simplifying and "slowing" often go hand in hand.  For example, one of the ways we live slowly is by owning one car.  This requires me to "slow down" and cut down unnecessary trips outside the home.  It helps me to focus on my home life with my children while also saving us money that would have been spent if I were to go out every day.  Slowing down can also mean waiting to make a purchase until you have the funding for it.  Paying yourself slowly until the money is there may take a little bit longer, but you will be so happy to actually own what you bought!  Slowing is hard for a lot of people because it is living in direct conflict with our current cultural norms.

Over the next few weeks I'll touch on how simplicity comes into play in all areas of our lives - from raising the kids and educational materials to cooking, homemaking and beyond.  If you have any questions you'd especially like me to address, ask away!

one way we save: one sized cloth diapers


  1. Isn't it encouraging to know that a mother's impact can be so long-lasting. My mother was a frugal lady as well and I find myself repeating some of those habits just because they seem so comfortable and familiar. I have her to thank for that. So much easier than having to relearn a lifestyle!

  2. I completely enjoyed this post! Every word. Very wise. In honesty, I fight against contentment and "slowing down" from time to time. I always come back around though because I have to - rather I choose to so that I can be home to raise and educate my own children.

  3. I know what you mean. There are some times I feel the same way. Then I realize that the things we are putting the emphasis on here really are "the best things" in life. I know I will never regret the sacrifices I made to keep me home with my children.

  4. I'm always baffled when people say it's so hard and so expensive to have children. Taking care of Bert is a joy and because we've bought only what we need and have tried to get as much second-hand as possible, it has hardly cost us a thing. Even his cloth diapers were second-hand!

    I actually ended up with too much baby stuff (other mothers kindly gave me their surplus things and outgrown clothes -- I didn't even ask!) and have given a bunch of stuff away to friends and through freecycle.

  5. I forgot to mention, we also live a simple lifestyle. We do have to make some 'sacrifices' (like no big vacations, not going out to eat very often, and not having a car and such -- it is much easier to not have a car in the UK than in most parts of the US), but I am so happy that I am able to stay at home and take care of Bert (and soon baby #2, too). It is totally worth not going on fancy holidays and not eating in fancy restaurants to be with Bert all the time.

  6. I've been very inspired reading about your simple lifestyle, Chloe! I agree that secondhand clothing, diapers and everything else are an excellent way to simplify your life! We have a lot of second hand diapers and mostly second hand clothes (unless they were gifts from Grandparents). We don't sacrifice quality, in some cases we have very nice clothing that cost a fraction of what it would have been new. All of our furniture is second hand.


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