my simple life: go to the woods

On this blog, I preach all these holier than thou things like how you should buy sustainable meat and organic vegetables and expensive local olive oil soap blah blah and I’m wary of people thinking I must be rolling in $$$. I’m conscious of alienating people who think that because I live this ‘trendy eco-friendly lifestyle’ I must be cashed up. In reality, despite having two degrees (one Bachelor and one Masters) and over 10 years of work up my sleeve, I’ve never earned a yearly salary of more than $70K. And at the moment, I'm working only 3 days a week.




This is the thing: I don’t spend money on manicures or gym memberships or ornaments to adorn my shelves (I used to, but not anymore). I work my lifestyle and budget to allow me more flexibility on where and on what I spend my money. This way I’m able to use my $ as a vote for the kind of world I want to live in. E.g., I buy food direct from producers at farmers’ markets because I want to support more sustainable farming practices.

What I’m getting at is this: I’ve opted for voluntary simplicity. I spend money where it counts, and pull out all sorts of tricks so I don’t have to when it doesn’t. (The trick of course is knowing when it doesn’t.)

To some, voluntary simplicity sounds like self-deprivation. To me, living as economically as possible is freedom. Simply put, spend less and you need to earn less. Conversely, the more we spend, the more time we have to dedicate to working to fund our lifestyles. Of course I need to earn enough to pay for my basic necessities, and I have a mortgage, but beyond that? The endless pursuit of more money so that I may buy a hermes bag is an exercise in wasting time.

To me, living simply is like Thoreau* going to the woods. It forces you to live deliberately and to front only the essential facts of life.

I’m making it my life’s mission to prove that living a more economical, simple and efficient life can make us happier and our environment better off. And that we can live well with less.

I shared this short video a while back, titled A PlenitudeEconomy, and I think it’s worth revisiting right now. It explains, in a sweet and succinct way, how living with less can help us lead richer, more fulfilling lives:




Also, right now, two of my favourite websites is The SimplicityInstitute and Minimalist. If you have some time, I highly recommend you peruse their spoils.  

Don't get me wrong - I’m not proclaiming that I’ve come to a neat ending where my life is simple and efficient and economical. I’m chugging along on such a journey. As I chug I want to share it all with you. Hopefully I end up encouraging a handful of people who never thought it possible to live better for less and as a result, go on to live more fulfilling lives.

I’m going to do this in a series of posts and off-shoots over the following months, covering the various realms of life: food, household stuff, beauty, fashion, travel, entertainment, work, etc.

I’m calling it the My Simple Life series.

It’s not about drastic cuts to spending. It’s about living more smartly, efficiently and more economically in small, easy and healthful ways – a little bit here, a little bit there and it all adds up.

*Thoreau embarked on a two-year experiment in simple living in 1845, when he moved to a small, self-built house in the woods:


"I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it."

Will you go to the woods with me?

P.S I found this ASIC infographic on what Aussies spend their money on, which I thought was so interesting. https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/managing-my-money/budgeting/spending/australian-spending-habits . For whatever reasons, they haven’t included single parent households, which is a great bummer.

And please tell me what you think of my blabbering... am I spinning gibberish or am I on to something. I’m not the only one!


18 comments:

  1. I get the same feeling from people when I say I buy organic fruit for my kids. We are not rich, but I look at my budget ...buy our clothes from op shops if possible, grow our own vegetables and bake my own bread....result I don't spend alot on groceries. Shopping with our feet in my view is the perfect way to change the world by changing the view of the consumer in the eyes of big business.

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  2. Hi Maria

    I am really looking forward to your 'simple life' series.
    I have been following your blog for a few months now and I love it. You really inspire me to live a more simple life.

    Thank you!
    Alix

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    1. Thank you Alix, I'm so happy to hear that!

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  3. I love love love this - Isn't it funny how people associate 'eco friendly' with 'cashed up'...for me it's about putting your $ on the things that matter to you, and it's super freeing (in my experience!). I'm working on my own blog at the moment, and a series in the works is 'Live Simply' about my own simple journey - looking forward to comparing notes!

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    1. Thank you Becs! Sounds terrific... is your blog up and running now or is it in the making? I clicked on your name but it didn't send me there...

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    2. It's still in the works Maria! The techy stuff is kicking my butt at the moment, but I'm determined to get there :) I'll let you know when I'm up and running.

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  4. Hi Maria - I am sorry that you had to justify your lifestyle to those who roll their eyes at eco-friendly choices. I am seriously trying to spend less and its hard to do! I guess its a matter of asking myself do I NEED it or WANT it.

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    1. Thanks Anon. Remembering to ask yourself 'is it a need or a want?' is definitely a skill that develops with practise! It gets easier and more of a 'no-brainer' as time goes on. x

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  5. Hi Maria,

    I love your blog and it always inspires me. I live in the city and my daughter goes to school where there are a lot of well off families. I am a single mum with a high paying job and can afford many of the things others have also; althigh I choose not to spoil my daughter with material possessions. I also have to contend with people who consider me to be "alternative" and "hippy" and snarl at my choices. It's hard to find like minded people in my area. I do find living simply challenging at times (although I try!) and have to constantly pull myself up on silly spending and poor choices so I am looking forward to following your new series. Thanks so much!

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    1. I love that you're teaching your daughter to value what she has and look towards simplicity. That makes me so happy!

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  6. Thank you Maria, and everyone else on the comment thread!

    I, too, am on this path of simplicity (the iquitsugar one too!) and for the most part I am on track. It's when I detour (unintentionally) and fall back to old, non-serving habits that I need a boost of inspiration to get back to "my road"!
    And today, reading your Ratatouille post and the loveliness of this one (with the addition of like-minded comments) I am once more buoyed and determined to go the way ─ even though, still, the pull for my 'impossible' dream of owning a Birkin remains strong! lol

    Keep up the "blabbering" ─ it's seriously GOOD Blab!! :D

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    1. Ha ha, thank you! Maybe you'll be lucky enough to find a Birkin in an vintage shop one day :)

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  7. Thank you for your blog Maria - reading you and others over the past year has shaped my desire for a simpler life and I am amazed by how much less I am spending and how good it feels :)
    And the ratatouille sounds amazing - and will be simmering away in my big blue pot on the weekend!
    Anna x

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    1. Your comment's made my day :) Thank you.

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  8. i agree - looking to head further down this same path in stages, as and when i can. appreciate the links.

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  9. Thank you for the beautiful post. I am with you Maria!

    Inga

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