March 4, 2016

Simple Living: Where Did It Go?

A few years ago blogs about simple living, voluntary simplicity, and cutting back were all the rage. The topic was always showing up on Google. Books, videos, and consultants were eager to help us simplify our lives. I remember one fellow who had his moment of fame after writing about his total wardrobe: 15 items.  I got caught up in the trend apparently: over the years I have written about the subject in one form or another dozens of times. Two of the most read posts on this blog are about this subject.

Maybe all the attention was because of the lingering effects of the serious recession that had peaked a few years earlier. We were looking for ways to stay afloat in tough times. Cutting back and simplifying was a way to live less expensively. We were also waking up to the effect our lifestyle was having on the environment, our stress level, and our relationships.

Maybe I am just out of touch, but the buzz over simple living seems to be much less a topic of conversation now. Yes, I am aware of the tiny house movement. However, living by choice in a 150-250 square foot home strikes me as somewhat extreme. 

Selling over 3 million copies, Marie Kondo's  book about the life-changing magic of tidying up is not really about simple living, rather keeping things organized and properly stored away. Yes, she does preach that throwing out much of what someone owns is good. But, the goal seems more about neatness than fewer possessions. After all, she admits she loves to shop for new things.

The subject of simple living isn't constantly in front of me anymore. I have been trying to decide why. It can't be that we have all cut back and reduced the clutter in our life. It can't be that we have figured out how to be happy without much stuff. Our economy goes into a serious funk if we stop buying more..whatever. Maybe we tried simple living and decided we don't like it that much.

I don't think so. I have a theory and it goes like this: simple living was a new idea for many in the modern day developed world. Raised on a diet of more is better we had forgotten that life didn't need to be that way. We thought doing without more stuff, cutting back on the unnecessary, and delayed gratification was different. Maybe it was better, maybe it wasn't. But, new and fresh are powerful concepts.


Early adopters were attracted to the promise of less clutter and a simpler life. It gave folks a way to step off the constant consumer merry-go-round. It seemed noble, maybe even virtuous as a way to live. The desire for how-to information, or the validation of the choice to live more simply spawned all the blogs, books, and other material. Simple Living was hot, it was top-of-mind. I still have almost 30 books about voluntary simplicity. Yes, I get the irony.

What has happened over the past decade or so is a growing awareness of the futility of looking for happiness in possessions. What I think many folks have learned is that enough is never enough, if money or stuff are the measures. Satisfaction is always another ...something....away. Frankly, I find this shift to be very encouraging. If my theory is right, then the goals behind simple living have become more a part of our collective mindset.

Of course, there are millions of our fellow citizens who would claim I am nuts. They are convinced that money does buy happiness in the form of fancy cars, nicer homes, better schools for their kids, a condo on Maui, or a satisfying retirement. The American Dream demands a constant striving upward.

Several years before retirement I was caught up in that bigger-is-better game. My income supported a very nice lifestyle. Maybe not coincidentally my marriage was not the best and my kids were not happy that dad was always away on business. I bought clothes and cars that "fit" my station in life. And, I was unhappy. I had no friends, no spiritual life to speak off, nothing but work to define me.

15 years of retirement and six years of writing this blog have taught me to get my priorities straight. Forced to leave that life rather suddenly, I discovered a crucial fact: there is nothing wrong with possessions as long as they make you happy and bring you joy. Otherwise, they are meaningless. They are just things.

Now, I enjoy my house very much for what it brings me: a place where family can gather for memory-making and shared love. It is much smaller than where we lived when I was riding high, without the pool and spa, but it makes me very happy when I sit on the back porch and watch our dog play, or enjoy a cup of tea and a good book. I find joy when sitting on our living room sofa, next to my wife, watching a favorite movie or show.

I own two older cars, both a bit banged up with lots of miles. I hate to shop. I buy very few books anymore; I have my own parking spot at the library. I gave away close to 30% of my clothes and at least 60% of my books and music CDs. When something breaks or wears out, Betty and I discuss whether it needs to be replaced. The answer isn't always, Yes.

So, I guess I have accepted the basic premise behind simple living. I didn't actively decide to live that way. It just happened over time as retirement gave me the opportunity to reassess and readjust how I live. I wonder if my experience is rather typical for many of us. If so, that would explain why simple living has left the headlines and just moved in with us.

I am very interested in your reaction to this topic. Do you remember all the simple living/voluntary simplicity blogs or books of just a few years ago? Would you consider yourself as living a simple life, or at least simpler than it once was? Do you feel a little unhappy that you have had to cut back during retirement instead of enjoying the fruits of years of work but have made peace with the situation?

Living a simple live in 21st century America, or any developed country, is not easy. It actually takes work to live more simply.

Strange but true.



42 comments:

  1. A most interesting post, one that caused me to pause and really give some thought to the topic. My gut reaction is that yes, I do still practice simplicity within my life, now considering it a norm rather than an outlier.

    I was first introduced to the simplicity movement via 'Your Money or Your Life,' a book that likely affected many of us, in many different ways. For me, it was the 'aha' that connected the pursuit of physical possessions with the equivalent expenditure of finite life energy. A second book that had a lasting effect was Jeff Yeager's 'The Ultimate Cheapskate,' which really opened my eyes up to how much of my spending habits were unconscious. He has a tremendous exercise in the book where he challenges readers to go a full week without spending and see how it feels. His premise, rightly so in my case, was that the average American household has enough food to feed it's inhabitants for upwards of a month (think freezer, pantry, garage, etc.), and enough underutilized entertainment to last for upwards of a year (think un(der)played games, unwatched DVDs, unread books, etc.)

    As a result of these books, additional readings, and yep, even your just completed 'The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,' I try my best to practice simplicity in many areas of my life, though of course, my interpretation will likely differ from yours, or from anyone elses. For me, it means to value and take care of what I already have, to remember that the best things in life really are free - time spent with family and friends, and for me, time spent outside - and to be careful not to spend simply to alleviate boredom. It's led me to really appreciate and enjoy home cooking, to maintain a small herb garden, to value our home's proximity to hiking canyons by foot, and the ocean by bike, and to practice the one-in, one-out rule. (The last of which really keeps the lid on my shopping impulses!) And lastly, by practicing simplicity where I can, it leaves room for the elements of my life where I don't necessarily wish to practice simplicity - foreign travel, RV'ing, backpacking and airfare to visit family.

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    1. As I would expect from you, a well-written, excellent recap of the integration of simple living into your everyday existence. I have read the books you have mentioned and agree that each brings a slightly different perspective to the topic.

      When simple living first became the hot topic of the day, it came with certain moral overtones about consumption and getting rid of things. Now, I think the premise of simplicity has matured and moderated a bit, making it more of a mainstream reaction to an overly complicated life.

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  2. Like many folks, I'm a mix....I have always been interested in recycling, simplicity, owning less, not buying just because I'm bored and paying attention to my life. This side of me has warred with "but I want it NOW", keeping all the family heirlooms (someone may want that someday) and wanting to help everyone (at the expense of my health & my sleep.) One major lesson in my life has been to balance these two parts of my personality; that is a work in progress. As a valued part of that process, simple living is not the ONLY guiding factor in my life, but it is definitely a part of how I choose to live my life.

    I also enjoyed "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" & her second book "Spark of Joy" is been fascinating.

    pam

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    1. You raise an important point, Pam. Emotional and commitment simplicity are every bit as important as consumption and lifestyle simplicity. We can easily become too available to others or the needs that are all around us. We can allow others to use our emotions in a way that hurts us. Simplifying in this regards means being aware of our personal limits and adhering to them.

      Thanks, Pam. Your comment just opened up a new part of our thinking about this subject.

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  3. Reading your post made me chuckle. My dear daughter is pursuing simplicity, however, I've never seen anyone work so hard to achieve what should be "simple." She's always reading about the topic, purchasing storage containers, rearranging possessions, and attempting to downsize. All in the name of simplicity. I believe living simply is noble, but I also know that life can become complex, too.

    Like Tamara, I read 'Your Money or Your Life' and was impacted by its message. All of us make many decisions--every day--that ultimately determine how we live. That book helped me become more mindful about what I value. Right now, I'm walking on that pathway of learning to be content, regardless of whether life is simple--or not. One thing I know for sure, I will not be trading my home (with its full basement, garages, and barn) for a tiny house (although I'd enjoy putting one in the backyard for a guesthouse, surrounded by a white picket fence). There I go...unsimplifying my life.


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    1. I had somewhat the same reaction to the woman who wrote the "tidying: book...isn't she making this much too difficult? Isn't she obsessive about neatness, beyond the normal urge to keep things in their place? Since the book has been on the best seller list forever, maybe not.

      I can relate to your daughter's situation. I went through the same manic phase when I first latched onto simplicity as a way of life. Over time, I internalized the concepts and, like you, focused instead on what makes me happy. It turns out that a simple life is it.

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  4. I am a little over a month away from completing my 2nd year of retirement. I wanted to retire so I HAD to make a lifestyle adjustment a year or two prior. I am happy to say that I have gone from being a free spender to buying just what I need. I don't know if it was from reading about simple living on blogs or forums or more about downsizing because I thought I wanted to sell everything, buy and RV and travel. I didn't do that.

    So that process of downsizing kind of led me to a more simple lifestyle. I liked the change as I was doing it and I love the changes now.

    Like Pam and Tamara, I also read the book 'Your Money or Your Life' when it first came out. I was deep in work at the time a true 'workaholic'. Even after that book I still 'chased the dollar' for another 18 years. The book that really got me thinking of retiring earlier than I had planned (work until death??) ... was a book 'Get A Life' by Ralph Warner ... "You Don't Need a Million to Retire Well".

    I had already downsized my house 20 years ago while working and paid it off on a 10 year plan. I will say that I am MUCH more happier with the freedom of retirement, living a simple life with a lot less income and a lot less stress. I am not sure 'life' has become easier, there are always challenges hiding around the next curve in the road but I really feel that my life has become easier after making a lifestyle adjustment and more fulfilling.

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    1. First, I love all the photos of your hounds on your blog. Great stuff.

      Here is an example of something I have done in the last week to simplify my life. In the backyard I replaced four live potted plants with artificial ones. While much more expensive than the real thing, I eliminated the frequent watering as warmer temperatures approach. I eliminated the twice-a-year switch to summer tolerant and winter tolerant flowers. I eliminated the need to have someone water them when we are out of town. In short, I simplified my life, even while spending more money.

      Congrats (almost) on two years of retirement. That is actually a pretty big deal. There are a fair number of folks who are back to work by now because they couldn't figure out how to be happy without the structure a job brings.

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    2. Thank you ... those hound photos are more or less the "main topic" requested by my readers/followers now. The blog started as an RV blog, moved slighting to a retirement life blog with a little mention of 'the hounds' and then it migrated into hound photos of no matter what they do and writing a little about retirement life outside a small Midwest town. It kind of got a life of it's own.

      I think I am going to try your idea on artificial potted plants. All of the potted plants I plant every spring are killed off by either summer heat or unexpected thunderstorms where the winds and excess water kills them. My annuals never recover it seems from the harsh winters (minus this year) ... so I am going to give that a try and see how it works. Thanks for letting me know about that simple change.

      In back of my mind months prior to my retirement date I would wonder "sometime" if I was made for retirement. I was a true workaholic, weekends, nights, some holidays ... even from home if possible. What I found though after I retired, the "freedom" was such an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction ... that I joke with people that I found out I was a "natural born slacker" ... not a workaholic .. LOL

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  5. I think it's mostly a matter of personality. Some people like to live a spare, simple, well-organized life; others only feel comfortable when they're surrounded by lots of things, close at hand. The only problem I see is that these two people usually end up married to each other!

    P.S. I'm the more simple type. My motto is: the richest person is the one who has everything they want, but nothing they don't need.

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    1. Your motto is the new face of simple living.

      Luckily, Betty and I both agree about fewer things and more experiences. Being an artist, though, she doesn't quite grasp the concept of neatness.

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  6. Well, condensing 2 homes into one was the most simplifying thing we've done and I couldn't be happier. I may have been over zealous in my paring down, like wishing I hadn't given away a particular coat, but it does feel good to be 'lighter'. One house and one car. Who'd a thunk it!
    b

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    1. That is what I am finding hard to do ... sell one of my cars. I'm single but have two cars. Driving less in retirement, I really don't need two .. at one time while working I had 4 .. lol. That must have been a HUGE job condensing two homes into one.

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    2. Getting to one car is a goal for later this year.

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  7. I don't believe living a simpler life, or minimalist living, or whatever one wants to call it, is dead. After a life of consumption, oftentimes because we had to due to family, job responsibilities and the like, many of us are looking to hit the reset button. Like Steve above Deb and I thought we were going to get rid of everything in our large home, buy an RV, and hit the road fulltime. Fortunately my rational brain ran all the numbers and decided that was not a very smart way for us to go (although I still find myself reading a lot of RV blogs and the like. I guess it is more wanderlust than a movement to simplicity that drove that original choice.)

    I have read a lot lately on minimalist living, mostly free Kindle books, since after all free is good, right :) Nothing has changed in the sense of getting the clutter out of our lives, but I appreciate that many of the authors are not saying to become a hermit living in a cave somewhere, or living out of a van and using the forest as your open toilet. Instead they oftentimes emphasize quality over quantity, electronics if they simplify your life, and so on. If you can get a more organized life and save money at the same time, you are on the right track.

    Deb and I have made a conscious effort to start to move things out that we aren't using, letting others have the benefit we no longer are accruing. Good clothes that we haven't been wearing are going to the Goodwill so others can get use out of them. Some things will go on Craigslist or barring that, also to be donated. In return we look more strongly at what we are buying, and asking if we really need it. By clearing out and buying less, over time we will get to a more minimalist life, and likely enjoy things more. You definitely hit on a good topic, Bob, and one that is still very timely.

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    1. I was hoping this post would spark some good exchanges. I agree that simple living isn't dead. In fact, my premise is it has become mainstream enough to not seem radical or unusual.

      Thanks for the remimder that donating things not needed is the way to go.

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  8. I agree with those who say that simple living isn't dead. But it is difficult. My wife and I have committed to living more simply and, Bob, like you we ask whether things need to be replaced when they break. We live in a small home cluttered by all that caring for our disabled son requires and we must live simply out of necessity.

    The problem from my perspective is that I am, at the age of 67, fighting a lifetime of living in a consumer society and buying into the idea that a good citizen is an acquiring citizen. Our economy depends upon consumption. So, I have many, many years of wanting all the latest and biggest and brightest gadgetry and gimmickry. I feel a bit like an alcoholic trying to stay sober while living at the bar.

    Unfortunately for our desire to live simply, I sometimes fall off the wagon.

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    1. I understand completely. The siren call of consumerism is very, very, hard to ignore if you live in America. Actually, one thing that just occurred to me is that watching things like Netflix instead of regular TV helps a bit because streaming services have no commercials. Watch regular TV and 18 minutes of each hour is spent trying to sell you stuff. At least with Netflix and Amazon Prime the commercials are removed. There is one less trigger.

      BTW, we are glad Kiko is doing better,

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    2. Good suggestion and thanks for your prayers for and good wishes to Kiko.

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  9. I think the movement to have ever counter clear and few decorative objects has gone too far. First, I made fun of my parents for having every wall space filled with things from their travels. But they traveled the world, were I realize now justly proud, and my father could talk about every object. I took one object---a gorgeous shoeshine box from Turkey. There's a long story behind it that I have forgotten--sort of on purpose.
    But a couple of weeks ago I was visiting my best friend. She has nothing on the kitchen counters, no books, cd's, dvds, few objects except ones that look as if they were plucked from a Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware catalogue cover.
    I spent my entire trip home calling myself a hoarder as I collect glass and crystal, have way too many books---they fill six of those new style unobtrustive bookshelves, art pieces made for me or signed by the artist (she thinks my house is way too filled) and other things.
    I was incredibly shocked to walk into a house anybody would be proud of. Yes I have things but no clutter.
    I read blogs from all age and interest groups and yes the simplicity movement is growing. Simplicity is out of control. I have a mariachi band of small clay animals made by a Mexican craft person with an amazing story. I've had it since I was 15 along with much else from Oaxaca. Somebody told me I should get rid of the band; because of who made the band the value is immense---the personal value to me is even more. I don't have all my things out at once.
    Simple living is great but that doesn't preclude owning things---and I will always prefer reading a book to a device. just me. I don't allow computers or any other devices in my bedroom. That's a personal preference. I think people should have at least two hours away from any device before going to sleep. But I don't preach that.

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    1. You are making a very important point: simple living should be about surrounding yourself with things that bring you joy or memories, not getting rid of stuff just to have a clean counter. For many people clutter makes them nervous or unhappy. Others own lots of stuff that means nothing to them. They should declutter.

      For others, things that have been collected on trips, or made by themselves or friends that line all the shelfs, are not candidates to declutter. Those items have meaning and bring happiness.

      I guess I see simple living as keeping what is meaningful and getting rid of the stuff that is not. Also, it means not shopping as a hobby or to battle boredom.

      Thanks, Pia.

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  10. My experience is that the "movement" has evolved over the years..I remember after reading "Your Money or Your Life" and following The Simple Dollar blog moving onto the Simple Living books and blogs and most recently to Minimalism ones, like Becoming Minimalist or Zen Habits and even Mr Money Mustache. The recent authors are those who grew up under the earlier influences and are carrying on the flag for a lifestyle that is very alive and well.

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    1. I agree, what we see is an evolution of the original push to simplify. Where we are now is probably much better because living a less complicated life is more sustainable than a radical cut in everything.

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  11. Bob, your last statements in the response to Pia summed up what I got from Kondo's book - keep what is meaningful and being mindful of accumulating for all the wrong reasons. Like Tamara, I engage in selective simplicity. I live frugally in some aspects of my life, i.e. most meals at home, growing and preserving food, while spending a lot in others at times, i.e. travel, concerts and plays. It is a challenge to live simply in a complex world. It isn't necessary to leave the home to spend money, as long as the furnace/AC is running or the lights are on and cable/phone/internet is buzzing. I do believe the big question is - How do you want to live? Sometimes that means saying "no" to ourselves as well as others, including the consumerism that prevails. Not everything that counts can be counted and some of it is free. Or is "free" another of those idealisms that has two sides as often freedom comes at the expense of something else. My desire to accumulate was altered the day I was showing off my newly acquired scrapbooking skills to my aunt, who said, "Nobody will care about those things when you're dead." I was offended at first, then admitted to the truth in her statement. From that point onward, I seldom bring anything into my home that doesn't bring me joy or isn't a necessity, including the scrapbooking materials.

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    1. You aunt kind of missed the point though, didn't she? At that time the new skills were enjoyable to you. The fact that nobody might care after you are dead isn't the issue. Did you care enough to pursue that activity over something else? Obviously, yes.

      Of course, over time maybe a new interest grabbed you so you cut back on scrapbooking supplies and time. But, I think the test we each have to pass is whether money spent makes us happy and fulfilled. If so, then go for it. But, if we can't honestly say something will add to the quality of our life, then pass.

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  12. I don't know if it is simple living or simply not minimalism.

    Personally, I do not want to have a Spartan lifestyle and we don't travel much, we have/make our own memories. We love our home and don't have this big need to be out and about all that much. One or two short trips a year reminds of us of how simple our life is and how much we like living it.

    We have chosen to live within our modest means, don't taken on new debt without reason and have the things that make us happy, but still have the things that we need when living in a rural area, if the power goes out for any length of time or a blizzard socks us in for a bit.

    It is more about being comfortable with what you have and not attempting to keep up with whoever, while staying active, enjoying what life has to offer, in the way of simple pleasures, while we can enjoy it.

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    1. I couldn't say it any better than that, Harold. Being comfortable in your own skin and own environment creates satisfaction.

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  13. You have such a talent for raising really interesting questions. I grew up in a working-class family that was stable, but where there was never anything extra. My toys and clothes were mostly either hand-me-downs or homemade. On the one hand, this left me with a desire to have new things (no interest in antiques or thrift shop bargains!). On the other hand, it taught me that one can live a perfectly comfortable life without a lot of stuff. I remember a conversation I had with my sister-in-law right after I started working a new job with a higher salary; I mentioned that I was saving about half of my paycheck because I didn't need more than half to live on. We were riding in my little compact car at the time, and she replied that many people would spend more on a car. But I always loved driving little compact Toyotas and didn't desire anything bigger or more luxurious.
    I would not describe myself as making a special effort to live simply, but I put my consumption where it really makes a difference to my quality of life. I just put an addition on my house that cost more than the original property did, but I eat simple meals made of whole foods that I cook from scratch and seldom eat out. I am a voracious reader, but borrow most of my books from the library rather than buying them. I could care less about the latest fashions and mostly wear well-made classic clothes that I bought 10-20 or even 30-40 years ago.
    Of course, "simple" is relative. I imagine many upper-middle class Americans would find my lifestyle simple or even spare, but Americans living in poverty would find it quite luxurious. And, by global standards, where almost half of all people live on less than $2 per day (less than $800 a year!), almost all of us are living luxurious lives. -Jean

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    1. Your last point is one that needs to be highlighted. We think of something we are doing as parred down, or exemplifying simplicity. Yet, for the vast majority of the world's people, that "simplicity" would be an extravagance beyond their wildest dreams. Just running water and an indoor toilet places us in the top tier. Several billion folks do not have fresh water, much less indoor conveniences.

      That sad fact doesn't mean we should feel guilty with our situation. But, I think it is important to put it in perspective. Maybe that reminder can make us happier with what we do have.

      Thanks, Jean.

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  14. Could our separation from the consumer fray be that we are no longer "in that group"? Although, there are more then a few with two houses or a large RV and a house here. Different kind of stuff? We seem more simple, but are we really?
    We no longer have to read about simplicity. The websites that touted it the most were purchased in the last several years and now hire boring staff writers to repeat with a spin. I've stopped reading them.
    Simplicity is very different for the 25-40 yr olds. Youngers tend to have loads of college debt (which they are hoping someone else will take over), and are still applying for loans for $350,000 houses in my area. They don't accumulate "stuff" but they (and their children) do accumulate experiences. My kids would be more then happy for me to take a picture of almost everything and then get rid of it- so they do not have to. Then we could take the money and all ten of us could go to Europe for a week!
    I wonder what my grandparents would think if they saw every"thing" they accumulated sold to the upper middle class so my kids could go on a trip.
    I have moved down three tax brackets, stopped going to professional sports games, no longer play tennis at a club, and would not change a thing

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    1. I think you are right: simplicity has been turned into a multi-million dollar business with TV shows, books, blogs, and seminars. Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?

      "I have moved down three tax brackets, stopped going to professional sports games, no longer play tennis at a club, and would not change a thing." YES!

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  15. Hello Bob. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for the past several years but never commented until now. I do remember the simple living movement and have many books on voluntary simplicity. My favorite and most influential is “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominquez and Vickie Robin. I learned that I didn’t want to work until I die, so I began my journey to be more mindful of my spending and saving. Fast forward to 18 months ago, at age 59, I was able to leave my somewhat stressful, full-time job because I created that freedom for myself. I made it happen because of that row of simple living books still sitting on my shelf.

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    1. Thank you for being a reader and leaving a comment, Diane. The Dominquez/Robin book is probably the single most cited source on this blog. I read it several years ago and found the concepts to be empowering.

      We should compare titles of simple living books sometime!

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    2. Here you go. Simple Living by Frank Levering and Wanda Urbanska, Circle of Simplicity by Cecile Andrews, Choosing Simplicity by Linda Breen Price, The Simple Living Guide by Janet Luhrs. One of my favorites is The Millionaire Next Door, as well as Mary Hunt and Dave Ramseys books. Do you remember the PBS special "Escape from Affluenza" from about 15 years ago. That's what got me started on my journey.

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  16. I also have been reading your blog for a few years now and have never commented. I retired from teaching 3 years ago, but took a part time receptionist job in a nursing home a couple of months later. I am very interested in simplifying but also feel that it is just a normal part of my life now. I created my own little experiment this year--I am trying to purchase no new clothes, jewelry, or shoes in 2016.....so far so good for 2 months. ( I still have way too much of each, but it feels great to not be adding to the accumulation.) I am finding that the "not buying" is just as satisfying as the buying was.

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    1. I can't remember the title, but I read a book a few years ago by a fellow who bought nothing except essentials (food, gas, etc) for a year. Your plan sounds much more reasonable!

      Thanks for your readership, Sue, and welcome to the comments.

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    2. Could that have been "Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping" by Judith Levine. She and her partner Paul got down to the basics and calculated a savings of $8K for the year. Loved that book.

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    3. I saw a documentary about a couple who lived in a NYC apartment who went a year without running water or electricity. By the fourth or fifth month it became rather miserable. There are limits!

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  17. I also read "Your money or your life"- I think this book influenced me the most. When I started calculating how many hours I had to work in order to buy something I became much more careful with my spending. It is a much happier life if you just surround yourself with things you love. I am decluttering to hopefully get to that point. That is my idea of simple living.

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    1. The trick is figuring out what you really love.

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  18. We are lucky because both of us enjoy things that save us a lot of money.Ken has always been an incredible handyman.He fixed a portion of our roof recently, and is currently working on painting all the trim on the house, little by little.. it's fun for him! I have always enjoyed cooking from scratch so we have Soup and homemade bread night meals, vegetarian entrees, and some gourmet style meals that I have perfected for very little cost vs. restaurant meals. We do go out once a week to Rubios or Rigatony's ,local places, for early bird meals,or with coupons to somewhere else for date night. After two years of retirement we have found that we mostly enjoy what we did before: going up and down to Pine for a few days here and there, and a couple of beach trips a year.I also travel some to visit girlfriends in Oregon and Washington state every year, I get airfare sales easily.Or I save points on credit card by using it for everything and paying it off each month. We have experimented with how we would spend retirement, and after all, we've come up with,simple is best for us! We love our daily lives, library, museums, yard work, getting together with friends.Geez..sounds boring, but we have finally gotten pretty content!!!!! Ken does see patients still, just a few.And I do astrology charts for clients at my leisure.. it's fun and some extra income for us.

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    1. It doesn't sound boring, it sounds very much like our life, except for the painting of the trim and the roof repairs!

      I just got a $50 gift card for Lowe's from some points on a card that doesn't get a lot of use, but that was enough to get some solar lights for the backyard.

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