PDA

View Full Version : How voluntary is your simplicity?



Acorn
12-8-11, 12:33pm
There seems to be a crosshatch of approaches to simplicity. Some of the ways people seem to stumble towards a simpler life are minimalism, aiming for a smaller ecological impact, frugality, climbing out of debt...

Did you always lead a simple life or did you you wander on your way to building a simpler life? Was it voluntary?

I've always lived frugally, below my means, but was very much an active consumer. It was accepting that I was a minimalist that led me to really embrace a simpler life and it wasn't until I stopped consuming that I was able to clarify what I wanted my life to look like. So my simple life is very much voluntary. It befuddles people that know me because they think I can live "better" than I do and don't really understand the voluntary aspect.

goldensmom
12-8-11, 1:04pm
Growing up on a farm we had to be frugal and minimal because everything went back into the farm, there were no extras. I embraced the lifestyle while my siblings did not and went on to pursue professions that allows them to be ‘maximumialists’. Frugality is also fun for me. I like simple. I have enough and do not wish for or covet more. It’s a good thing because when I retired from my paying job our income was cut in half with no change in lifestyle. So, my simplicity is learned, voluntary and necessary.

loosechickens
12-8-11, 3:16pm
I think that both of us are by nature, voluntary simplicity folks, although my sweetie is a bit more consumer oriented (really more "early adapter of tech" oriented), and I'm much more a minimalist. For example, I was totally happy living for the 2 1/2 years in our VW Vanagon camper van. That level of possessions seemed really perfect to me. The joke in our family (and we're STILL quite minimalist compared to the mainstream, since we live in a motorhome with many fewer opportunities to accumulate stuff), is that if my sweetie goes first, I'll be filling dumpsters and donation bins for thrift stores, because I'd be pretty happy with about half a dozen changes of clothes, minimal kitchen equipment and few belongings.

I LOVED it when we spent three months in Europe with one carry-on bag each. Although in my life here, I tend to accumulate books beyond reason. But everything else, I'm pretty much a "one robe, one bowl" sort of person.

There was a time when frugality was a matter of necessity, but it's been many years now that we've had a sufficiency of money, and could have bought a lot more than we have.

I just LIKE small living spaces. I LIKE having few belongings, but of good quality. If I had multi, multi millions, there really aren't many things I would buy. Heck, right now, we could buy pretty much anything we would ever want, but don't.

We've been frugal and saved for so long that our problem is more in being willing to SPEND a bit more loosely. We are getting ready to do something unprecedented for us, go for on a two week Princess cruise over the holidays to celebrate our 32nd anniversary and my 70th birthday, through the Panama Canal, and while in reality, the cost hasn't been any problem for our budget, we've been concerned about the environmental impact, necessity to buy some new clothes, etc. It's been almost funny to watch us, so outside our "comfort zone" because of doing something that people in our financial position do often and with no angst at all.

catherine
12-8-11, 3:29pm
Huh, the topic is different than I thought--I thought it was going to address the "simplicity" enforced by the recession and enforced economic belt-tightening...

Interesting topic.

I do think I am hard-wired to a simple lifestyle. I remember when I was in high school and we got a second TV, I cried--?? Have no idea why. Then, when my aunt offered to start my "hope chest", where most girls my age would pick dainty china or lace, I asked her to buy me a cast iron pan.

Houses that have really got me drooling since I was young were tiny cottages.

Gems and jewelry means nothing to me. Nothing. I don't get it, honestly. What intrinsic value does a diamond have, other than what you can sell or pawn if for? You can't eat it. It doesn't keep you warm. So in my book, it's worthless. I guess that's why I'm just a simple liver at heart. Plus I've had bad luck with diamonds. I lost one in our vegetable garden (and frankly didn't even go that nuts looking for it--unlike that news item where the husband went to the landfill and searched through trash to find his wife's ring that he threw away by mistake). And my DH gave me diamond earrings that I brought to the jewelers to have cleaned--at a very inopportune time. Turns out the jewelry store was robbed and a drug dealer stole and sold my diamond earrings. So now, I just by inexpensive jewelry made by either local artists, or from BeadsForLife.org.

I'm learning frugality, because I'm a bit of a frivolous spender (although not a big spender). But my wants and needs are really pretty small.

herbgeek
12-8-11, 3:58pm
I grew up without a lot, for a variety of reasons, most of which had nothing to do with my parents economic status. As a result, I went the other way in young adulthood and I am still susceptible to the NEW and SHINY. I think I manage the purchases well, but its not something that comes natural per se. I came to voluntary simplicity in my late 20's, when disillusioned with a work environment that could dispose of you at any time regardless of how hard or how well you worked. I wanted to have options (to be vulgar, I called it my f u fund). I didn't want the worry over money to drive me, or make me do things I consider against my values.

That said, I also do like small spaces and small things just because they are cute. I mostly like less and small due to easier maintenance, rather than some loftier goals.

Gardenarian
12-8-11, 6:24pm
I am naturally frugal. The one time I would have liked more money was when I was in college. My priorities were different - I'd spend money to to see a great band and then go hungry for a week. The current depression hasn't affected me (no loss of income) but it has inspired me to become more self-reliant.

My dream house has always been a one room cabin in the woods :)

jania
12-8-11, 7:34pm
I'm simple by choice though it has really helped me in the past when I wasn't making much money. I was never very materialistic but, looking back, wish I had felt some community support when I was younger in the areas of living simply and minimalism. It is so great these days to just do a web search and find out there are indeed others that share the same values, though at this stage in my life I feel confidant (mostly) in my choices.

Tiam
12-8-11, 10:43pm
Yes and no. When I make more, I spend more. I indulge in more products that I would do without if I had to. But I also don't really upgrade to much higher things either. I still keep it simple. ish.

Rogar
12-8-11, 10:53pm
After living a fairly frugal life for years it no longer seems like something I "volunteer" for, as if stepping forward for some sort of mission. It has become a passive activity and is just the way it is. Now, if there were some reason to become more of a consumer, that would be something that would have to be voluntary.

gimmethesimplelife
12-9-11, 12:43am
I grew up without a lot, for a variety of reasons, most of which had nothing to do with my parents economic status. As a result, I went the other way in young adulthood and I am still susceptible to the NEW and SHINY. I think I manage the purchases well, but its not something that comes natural per se. I came to voluntary simplicity in my late 20's, when disillusioned with a work environment that could dispose of you at any time regardless of how hard or how well you worked. I wanted to have options (to be vulgar, I called it my f u fund). I didn't want the worry over money to drive me, or make me do things I consider against my values.

That said, I also do like small spaces and small things just because they are cute. I mostly like less and small due to easier maintenance, rather than some loftier goals. I LOVE that, what you call your fund! This is also part of what drove me to simplying - being disgusted with a work environment that pretty makes most of us disposable.

Tiam
12-9-11, 2:07am
My voluntary simplicity is most challenged by being able to save reasonably.

Acorn
12-9-11, 2:19am
Loosechickens, I think your cruise sounds like a wonderful celebratory trip. I think you'll really enjoy it, but having lived so simply, I also think you will be somewhat aghast at the excess of cruise ship traveling. We took our first cruise (Mediterranean) a couple of years ago and both my husband and I were really stunned at the amount of food wasted. It was a wonderful trip (a gift) and we enjoyed ourselves, but being used to living frugally the juxtaposition of a cruise can be really eye opening.

Acorn
12-9-11, 2:27am
Seems like most of us are naturally inclined towards simplicity or frugality. I guess it is challenging for someone who is not naturally inclined to embrace these kind of choices - must be why there are so many people in financial trouble. I get perplexed when I see others in financial straits not making, what to me, would be obvious changes. Probably the percentage of the population who are naturally frugal is quite small.

I've been thinking about the voluntary aspect because it seems to be the most misunderstood. People understand the need for belt tightening during tough economic times, but to live frugally and simply by choice almost makes one at odd with society.

With Christmas coming up I was trying to come up with something I might want as a gift and I couldn't come up with anything. I really have everything I want and need and that seems like a hard concept to grasp for some people.

sweetana3
12-9-11, 7:33am
We are pretty frugal by choice. In fact, when we retired and our income dropped by over 50%, we found out we had been living on our retirement amount for years so it was no issue.

RosieTR
12-10-11, 10:02am
I think I'm somewhat naturally simple, though I do like good food. DH likes stuff more than I do. Most of the big items we have were ones he suggested/wanted such as a TV, couch, etc. I have a hard time "pulling the trigger" buying stuff unless I definitely need it, even if it's something I'm likely to use and enjoy once I get it.

jp1
12-10-11, 12:59pm
I definitely tend towards frugality without trying. SOmetimes I think I go too far with it, not because I don't want to spend the money, but because I hate shopping. For instance, at work we're biz casual all week. Monday through thursday I wear a dress shirt and slacks. On friday I dress down a bit more. I wear a black pair of khaki pants and a green pullover long-sleeve collar shirt. I've been wearing the same outfit every friday because my other similar clothes all wore out months ago. I'm surprised no one at work has commented about my 'friday outfit'. The truth is I need more casual clothes suitable for work but I just can't convince myself to go shopping for any.

loosechickens
12-10-11, 4:13pm
"Loosechickens, I think your cruise sounds like a wonderful celebratory trip. I think you'll really enjoy it, but having lived so simply, I also think you will be somewhat aghast at the excess of cruise ship traveling. We took our first cruise (Mediterranean) a couple of years ago and both my husband and I were really stunned at the amount of food wasted. It was a wonderful trip (a gift) and we enjoyed ourselves, but being used to living frugally the juxtaposition of a cruise can be really eye opening." (acorn)
--------------------------------------------------------
This was actually something of a big concern, especially for me, because I am NOT interested in spending the entire two weeks having my sweetie point out every instance of "wretched excess", which he is prone to do, hahahahaha.......so we have agreed that the "wretched excess" would be going on whether WE were on that cruise or not, so we are simply going to enjoy ourselves, my sweetie is NOT going to calculate the carbon footprint of the cruise ship, we ARE just going to have a good time.

We're also coupling it with several extra days in Miami visiting a relative, so we're really looking forward to that as well......

We started our glide into consumerism the other day with the purchase of new underwear for both of us, and a reallly nice silk sport jacket for my sweetie from Travelsmith.......I've made myself four new pairs of slacks, bought two blouses, borrowed a lovely dressy top from a friend, loaded up my Kindle with things I've been wanting to read.....I'm almost READY.....and it's still ten days until we leave.......

Jemima
12-10-11, 4:31pm
I came to voluntary simplicity in my late 20's, when disillusioned with a work environment that could dispose of you at any time regardless of how hard or how well you worked. I wanted to have options (to be vulgar, I called it my f u fund). I didn't want the worry over money to drive me, or make me do things I consider against my values.



It was much the same for me although it happened later in life (late forties), when I had a boss who was borderline sociopathic and my chances to change jobs were zilch. Enlightenment began to dawn when my favorite aunt died and left me over $100,000. I paid off the mortgage, got a decent car for cash, and invested the rest. My monthly expenses dropped of course, and I began pondering just what it would take to be financially independent. I came across Your Money or Your Life about that time and began working my way to voluntary simplicity. (I do wish I had thought to call my savings my F.U. Fund, though. Love it, and I think it would have been more motivating than just calling it "the portfolio" or whatever.)

There have been times when simplicity and frugality were definitely not voluntary, nine months living on a pittance of Workers' Comp for a back injury, but because I knew what to do that actually became an enjoyable time after the pain subsided and I could do volunteer work and shop at the thrifts.

Over a year ago I had a depressive breakdown, a combination of another unbearable boss and cholesterol that was *way* too low, and it was at that point I decided that I had to retire or damage my health, possibly irreparably. And so I retired this past September. My only regret is that I didn't do it sooner, but I suppose retirement has to be experienced before deciding on how much money is really needed to live the good life.

Unlike Herbgeek, I love space in my living environment so I've been spending a lot of time emptying closets, reorganizing, giving the good stuff to charity, and pitching the rest. Then I'll redecorate, frugally of course, and have frugal celebrations with my friends. After the nasty Pennsylvania winter I anticipate, I'll be back to volunteering and expanding the garden. :D

Mrs-M
12-10-11, 9:09pm
Completely and totally voluntary for me. Always simplicity and frugality in the way I ran the home. For me, the plainness of simplicity and frugality is a big attraction. Everything reusable is so warm and inviting, and of course, the financial benefits of living such a lifestyle measures head and shoulders above it's competitor, Mr/Mrs. Consumerism/excess/wastefulness.

MamaM
12-10-11, 9:52pm
I would say I am simple by nature. I never care about having a lot of things but I sure loved what I did have and took care of it. For instace, I mostly played outside but in the winter time, I was content with my Barbie and a few of store bought items for her but most of the time I borrowed items from my mom's sewing stash and made my own things for her. That and Legos and I was a content kid. Otherwise, I was outside, dreaming, building, racing, hiding, jumping, enjoying my animals and playing in my parent's vegetable gardens.

In my younger adult years, I lived with just a bed, a small table and chair, small chest that housed most of my stuff whenever I moved, a wardrobe that could fit into a duffle bag and a few bit and bobs. I lived like this for many years and as I didn't need something, I either sold it or gave it away.

In the past 7-9 years my life has changed a lot and unfortunately, the reality of it is I have accumulated WAY more that I ever wanted. But I am working back to get to where I feel comfortable and happy. My problem is dealing with others who don't think the same way and finding that balance.

Acorn
12-11-11, 7:24am
Completely and totally voluntary for me. Always simplicity and frugality in the way I ran the home. For me, the plainness of simplicity and frugality is a big attraction. Everything reusable is so warm and inviting, and of course, the financial benefits of living such a lifestyle measures head and shoulders above it's competitor, Mr/Mrs. Consumerism/excess/wastefulness.

Yup, that sums up exactly how I feel as well Mrs M!

Acorn
12-11-11, 7:26am
"In the past 7-9 years my life has changed a lot and unfortunately, the reality of it is I have accumulated WAY more that I ever wanted."

MamaM, the same thing happened to me. At one point I had a house full of stuff that I actually did not want to own. Very strange our society. There are millions of people in the world who do not have their basic needs met and then here we are in the first world accumulating things almost by happenstance.

mira
12-11-11, 8:44am
I grew up in a house full of clutter. I used to get in a heap of trouble from my parents whenever I attempted to 'tidy up' out of frustration :). When I was a kid, I also remember feeling like I always needed something new in order to feel 'right', which is not a great way to be, obviously. My tendency towards simplicity is probably born out of feeling uncomfortable in clutter and having matured emotionally to the point where I no longer require stuff to feel content. Both my partner and I earn comparatively very little, so I suppose that's a factor as well. It's nice to know that we can still afford the things that really matter to us despite our low income.

Mrs-M
12-11-11, 12:21pm
Acorn. Big warm hug for you this morning! Just because. :)

pony mom
12-11-11, 10:47pm
Growing up only my dad worked and mom stayed at home; she was very careful with his small income and managed to pay off the house and never have any debt. I've never been one who needs to have whatever I see but I do like nice things but don't have to own them. In my late 20s I had a serious episode of depression; to help myself, I read so many self-help books. It was then I found Your Money or Your Life and started keeping track of everything. My depression was partially due to not having any control over my life, so controlling money helped a lot.

Now in my 40s I still keep track of any expenses and can't imagine not living that way. I don't think I could just go through the month with a wallet full of cash and not know where it went. Right now, my income has gone way way down and I'm being even more frugal, which seemed impossible. Even though I love the things I own, sometimes I wish I never bought them in the first place. My main expenses are my horse, health insurance, and paying my parents some rent (too poor to live on my own), and car expenses. Everything else is extra. It's a bit of a fun challenge to buy things I need, trying to find the best deal, do without, or use an alternative.

Shopping makes me a bit depressed because there really isn't anything I want and it seems like a waste of time. Well, of course there are things I want, but can't be bought, like a better paying job, my horse's health and soundness, etc.

My sister and I were raised the same way, and yet she's the total opposite to me. Loves buying things, thinking it'll make her happy. A depressed, hard-core alcoholic, she's unemployed and will spend the little bit of freelance paralegal income she makes on wine and manicures/pedicures, toys for her cats, clothes...it never ends. Has no concept on how to live under her means and when she was making 50+K/year, she was still in debt. Two bankruptcies later, she hasn't learned her lesson.

If I could part with many of the nice things I've accumulated over the years, I'd be pretty minimalistic. In the meantime, I just don't bring anything new in.

Tradd
12-11-11, 11:10pm
I was something of a packrat when I was a kid, but sometime in the last 15 years, I've been living much more simply, having less stuff. Part of it has been moving every 2-3 years, so who wants to haul that much stuff around?

My mom always had a lot of knicknacks around, which in the past 20 years or so has simply made me somewhat claustrophobic. I like clear surfaces. Things on the wall are okay-easier to dust!

I moved into my temporary digs today while my rented condo is undergoing repairs. I had 17 tubs of stuff (18 gsllon ones), a few plastic milk crates with kitchen and bathroom items, and three trash bags with my bedding (inckuded a large fluffy comforter). The 17 tubs had clothes, books/class papers, and other assorted stuff..at least 6 contained some books! 4 tubs of kitchen stuff remained at my place, along with furniture.

This a minimal amount of stuff, but I still want to get rid of some of it (class print outs will be pitched as soon as I take final exam as I have them in digital form).

Acorn
12-12-11, 6:31am
Acorn. Big warm hug for you this morning! Just because. :)

You are a sweetie MrsM! Never one to turn down a warm hug. :)

Acorn
12-12-11, 6:38am
Pony Mom, my brother and I are much the same. Our parents were fiscally responsible and tried to impart those values in us. In the end, it turns out I am more frugal and careful than even our parents were, but my brother can't even manage to live within his generous salary. I wonder how much of being inclined to simplicity is somehow ingrained in our personality and how much of it is influenced.

"It's a bit of a fun challenge to buy things I need, trying to find the best deal, do without, or use an alternative." Yes! I always say the challenge of living low on the food chain (or consumer chain) is fun. It's engaging and more interesting that simply buying your way to a solution - that is the voluntary part!

Spartana
12-12-11, 8:15pm
Working class Dad and SAH Mom until I was 13ish. Didn't have much but my "cash-only" Mom and us 3 kids were OK with that, where as my mega-consumer "always-on-credit" Dad wassn't. Then Dad left us - penniless and homeless living with our grandma - and Mom worked 2, sometimes 3, minimum wage jobs to support us in a very frugal manner and get back on her feet. She eventually found low-income success. Was able to buy a small house and paid it off with help from roommates - even had a boarder when we kids were still there, never any debt for anything except the affordable mortgage, saved a bit ($20K) for retirement to suppliment her very small SS (less than $400/month), worked until she was in her 70's, sold her house and moved to a retirement community and was able to nicely suppliment her savings and SS from the equaity and spent the rest of her life travelling around the world to far-flung places. She even left us kids with a small sum (big to us) inheritence. My Dad - who worked full time plus had a 30 year military pension, who payed no alimony or child support, and was married to a woman who also worked full time as well as had a good pension, never saved a dime in his entire life and spent most of it in deep debt. Their retirement income was close to $75K and yet they were deep in debt. My Mom's retirement income was less than $12K/year and she past away with over $40K in savings and a paid for condo.

We kids all kept those same values (Mom's not Dad's fortunately!!) and all of us have choosen a frugal, no debt lifestyle irregardless of our incomes. Basicly all of us chose to live far below our means, find ways to suppliment our incomes like working extra jobs, getting roommates, forgoing many things that others had, etc... We/I never had debt of any kind except for a rapidly paid off mortgage, and we/I would save, save, save rather than spend, spend, spend! So while living a frugal, simple life wasn't a choice as a kid, it was voluntary as an adult. And yes, I did lose alot of my investment income (approx. half - $250K) due to the recession, but because I live a very minimalistic "spartan" life, I can still live the life I want. It'll just be a bit frugaller :-)!

pony mom
12-12-11, 10:44pm
I wonder---those of us who grew up in a simple home and are frugal ourselves, did we feel deprived of anything growing up? And those who grew up the same way and felt cheated and deprived, are these people living above their means, trying to make up for the lack of whatever in their younger years?

My mom had no problem putting off purchases, saving up until she could afford exactly what she wanted. Married 50+ years, my parents still have their first bedroom set and several nice pieces of furniture, none of which caused them debt.

My sister thinks back and says she doesn't want to wait for what she wants--she wants what she wants NOW! Two bankruptcies later, she still thinks my mom was foolish to put off her purchases.

Back in 2002, I started shopping for a new car; I had saved up a decent amount of money but couldn't decide which car to choose. So I waited and saved, still couldn't make up my mind, so waited and saved some more. By 2003, I ended up buying a much nicer car than I would have been able to afford the year before. Now, I probably wouldn't buy a brand new car again, but what started out as a baseline Honda became a nice Subaru Forester with lots of bells and whistles (which I didn't get charged for because the dealer was very late meeting me and had lots of cars to get rid of).

How many times have we put off buying something, then find the same thing or something much better at a better price? Patience pays.

Zoebird
12-12-11, 11:26pm
Early on, raised frugally because my family wasn't wealthy. later on, i found the ability to buy anything to be overwhelming.

So, when we moved here, I took on the voluntary simplicity/minimalism that I prefer.

But, moving here and doing that was a choice. So voluntary.

now that we are here, we are working hard on building our business. This means we are exceptionally frugal at all times. I have to be, in order to make it work. Frugality is everything. I made a huge (expensive) mistake yesterday, so. . . i'm down about that. Burned my whole garden-fund. Go figure.

jennipurrr
12-13-11, 11:07am
I am naturally frugal. My parents are restrained with money and so I picked that up from them. I was raised to save for something if you want it, etc. I also have a general aversion to "stuff" - I don't know where that comes from...my Mom loves knick knacks and junk like that. I like clean walls and very little clutter. I would call myself a minimalist (others have) but I feel I am too messy. I always think people who are truly minimalists at heart have everything in its place.

Some aspects of simple living come pretty naturally to me, like not buying things I don't need or can't afford, not wasting, etc...but other areas like reigning in my spending eating out or traveling, well its a challenge every day!

DH is also similarly frugal and minimal (although he is also the organized one) and it is a direct reaction to his chaos and upbringing with no money. His family has never managed money well and everything was always had to mouth, even when it didn't necessarily have to be if people had made better choices. So, he is very into stability and preparation now.

iris lily
12-13-11, 11:36am
I've always had money because I've never spent more than I made. I am hardwired to hate and fear debt. I think that comes from my dad who was frugal but who also transmitted, silently and subtly, the fear that is held by depression babies.

I've gone on binges over the years, binges that last for months or years even (the clothes buying binge when I stopped smoking, the antique illustrated book binge, the flow blue china binge) but they were always against a well padded bank account and generally frugal habits in other areas. And, it was only one binge at a time. When that collection was complete it was time to move on. Currently I binge on lilies 'n iris and lately, daffodils!

DH seldom buys anything, I mean, he will go YEARS without buying something for himself. A few years ago when he chirped that he wanted to buy an old Mercedes SL
that we had, on a lark, gone out to look at, I was gobsmacked. He did buy it! Before that, 15 years ago, I had to push him to buy the vintage Vespa scooter that he now loves.

Honestly, when you never pay interest on anything, that frees up a lot of money to spend on stuff that you want. Interest is The Enemy.

Spartana
12-13-11, 4:34pm
I wonder---those of us who grew up in a simple home and are frugal ourselves, did we feel deprived of anything growing up? And those who grew up the same way and felt cheated and deprived, are these people living above their means, trying to make up for the lack of whatever in their younger years?



I am also interested in this. I always hear people saying that they grew up in frugal, thrifty families and they want what they see as a better life for themselves (i.e. more luxuries) now because of it. They felt deprived of the finer things in life and don't see living a frugal life as appealling to them. I see many of my friends who grew up in low income working class families, and even those from middle class families, who are mega-spenders now. They refuse to live like they did as a kid and will go to just about any lengths to have luxury items and lifestyles - many now losing their homes because of it. I, and my siblings, are on the other side. I grew up without much and never felt deprived at all. I discovered that I was happy without alot of money and "stuff". It motivated me towards a more frugal simple live because I saw the value of that life as a kid - and the value of not being deep in debt or living beyond my means in a futile pursuit of consumer happiness. So I guess it works both ways. For some it motivated them to want more luxuries, and for others it motivated them to be just as frugal as their parents.

herbgeek
12-13-11, 6:47pm
They refuse to live like they did as a kid and will go to just about any lengths to have luxury items and lifestyles

Heh. I resemble that remark. :laff: I always felt completely dorky as a kid, because my mom refused to buy me anything in style. I always felt inappropriately dressed wherever I went. I was so envious of my best friend from a well to do family who had the right dress for the prom, the right outfit for football games, the right outfit for everything.

This is a pretty big thing for me, to be comfortable with what I'm wearing. I like quality clothes, and can tell the distance between cheap and quality at 100 yards (only slight exaggeration). So I mostly shop at a consignment store now, and most of my stuff is Talbot's or Ann Taylor. That and a decent haircut go a long way for me. (My mother could not cut bangs to save her life!)

But other things? No, not into status symbols. I drive a Honda Fit. ;) Don't have an ipad, wii, xbox. My jewelry is mostly costume (other than gifts).

Mrs-M
12-13-11, 8:30pm
Originally posted by Pony Mom.
I wonder---those of us who grew up in a simple home and are frugal ourselves, did we feel deprived of anything growing up? And those who grew up the same way and felt cheated and deprived, are these people living above their means, trying to make up for the lack of whatever in their younger years?I grew up in a very frugal/simple home-environment (non-deprived, but not a whole lot extra), yet I carried forth the ideals and practices I was raised by. On the other hand, I know of people who were raised the same, yet practiced little, in the way of their upbringing, some in fact carrying forth nothing related to same/like-minded practices/ways.

This is one of those typical comparables, where lifestyle practices reflected (and carried forward) are certain to vary slightly from person to person, group to group, but for the most part I do believe a lot of ones upbringing, sticks, and is continued or carried forward in a generational pattern if a stark difference in personal wealth doesn't exist. In my experience, it is those groups of people who excelled much further and greater than their own parents (wealth and purchasing power related), that tend to separate themselves from, and leave behind their more simple, humble, and moderate upbringings/beginnings.

Additionally, I also believe there's a strength factor related to incorporating simple and frugal into ones life and style, if a more hardy and robust impression was cast upon those residing in such an environment as younger people, as compared to those who may have had the exposure to (simplicity/frugality), yet escaped having the same driven idealism's, communicated and impressed their way.

loosechickens
12-13-11, 8:39pm
My father had a friend years ago whose father owned a hotel and casino. When this guy was about twelve years old, his father took him through the hotel/casino and pointed out everything that would be his some day, and said, "there is only one really important thing you have to remember......WE are the people who sell the liquor and own the slot machines, we are not the people who drink it or put our money into the machines".

My family was kind of like that about money. They weren't rich, by any means, but their credo was clearly, "we are people who collect interest, not people who PAY interest". I got the saving and investment habit early and never lost it.

Both my sweetie's and my family were "Depression babies"....both our fathers grew up poor and made their way into the middle class by hard work and thrifty habits, and all four had serious habits of living below their incomes, which is something we have done all our lives as well.

Our big problem these days is learning how to spend because the years we saved for have arrived. But that habit of frugality is hard to break, and it's a lot harder for us to spend than it is to save. Saving comes really, really easy.

Mighty Frugal
12-13-11, 10:52pm
I grew up in a poor household. Aside from the mortgage we did not have any debt. We also did not have Adidas running shoes or Jordache jeans or Farrah Fawcett shampoo..and man, did I ever want those things!

Now as an adult I am frugal enough to enjoy my 'wants'. I am not a fool with my money and have zero debt and this frugality affords me to buy the trinkets my younger self didn't have a chance in ever owning.

So, to me, frugality is all about control and the power to buy what I want.

One of the biggest turning points in my path to frugality came when I was in my mid 20s. I worked in a small design department and it was a young kooky group. There was one woman who was 50 (!! so ollldddddd back then to me;) ) and she would constantly grumble about the hours (pretty much overnight some nights) and the pay (horrendous) and the reps (picky) and everything else. When I asked her why she worked here she replied that she was laid off from her fab-u-lous job and this was the only job she could get.

I remember looking over at her angry tired face and saying to myself 'I will never be that 50 year old woman who HAS to work somewhere I despise to make a meager living' And the VERY next day I opened up an RRSP (pension fund) and began to really consciously watch my spending

I am very happy to say that now that I am approaching 50 (I'm 45) I have kept my promise. With zero debt, a healthy bank balance if/when I lose my fab-u-lous job I can wait for another great one or just get an easy low paying one and I will be fine!

So I suppose to me voluntary frugality will help me when it becomes involuntary-which is what I had growing up

HKPassey
12-14-11, 12:53am
I am also interested in this. I always hear people saying that they grew up in frugal, thrifty families and they want what they see as a better life for themselves (i.e. more luxuries) now because of it. They felt deprived of the finer things in life and don't see living a frugal life as appealling to them. I see many of my friends who grew up in low income working class families, and even those from middle class families, who are mega-spenders now. They refuse to live like they did as a kid and will go to just about any lengths to have luxury items and lifestyles - many now losing their homes because of it. I, and my siblings, are on the other side. I grew up without much and never felt deprived at all. I discovered that I was happy without alot of money and "stuff". It motivated me towards a more frugal simple live because I saw the value of that life as a kid - and the value of not being deep in debt or living beyond my means in a futile pursuit of consumer happiness. So I guess it works both ways. For some it motivated them to want more luxuries, and for others it motivated them to be just as frugal as their parents.

I think maybe the key is whether or not you actually felt deprived because of your family's frugality. If you were teased or otherwise made to hate the situation, then you're likely to go the "spending is security" route. For myself, there are certain triggers I just can't stand, like washing and re-using plastic bags or putting plastic over the windows in the winter, or eating thin watered down soup or chili. Those make me feel poor and deprived, while cutting down old clothing into quilts or teddy bears or patchwork clothes, or finding a new way to stretch a meal, just makes me feel creative and adventurous, because those were things we did as activities.

iris lily
12-14-11, 12:55am
I think maybe the key is whether or not you actually felt deprived because of your family's frugality. If you were teased or otherwise made to hate the situation, then you're likely to go the "spending is security" route. For myself, there are certain triggers I just can't stand, like washing and re-using plastic bags or putting plastic over the windows in the winter, or eating thin watered down soup or chili. Those make me feel poor and deprived, while cutting down old clothing into quilts or teddy bears or patchwork clothes, or finding a new way to stretch a meal, just makes me feel creative and adventurous, because those were things we did as activities.

yep, this is the key.

lhamo
12-14-11, 7:40am
My family was very frugal when I was growing up. One of my first financial memories is sitting at the kitchen table watching my dad cut up his credit cards -- this was during the gas crisis, so I must have been around 5. I think he and my mom had gone to this Christian seminar called Basic Youth and they advocated a no credit lifestyle. I didn't quite understand it at the time, but did remember that my dad basically said "from now on, we only pay cash for things." Of course, the next time we went to the store for our monthly grocery stockup (another one of my mom's frugal habits), I probably asked her how checks worked and why she wasn't paying cash. Cheeky little thing I was....:)

We were definitely geeks. My mom made most of our clothes for years, basically until we each got to middle school and put our feet down. We also had tons of handmedowns from cousins. Some pretty funky stuff that usually didn't match! I had one really traumatic "you just don't get fashion" moment when I was in fifth grade. I found a pair of New Balance trainers at the Nordstrom rack that were on a great sale, and I was so happy that I was finally getting a pair of brand name shoes. Trouble was, New Balance was a very new brand then, and not as trendy as Nike. People laughed at my shoes. I was crushed. Back to geekdom for me -- stuck with fake keds from kmart after that.

I went into a bit of a spendthrifty mode when I hit high school and got a part time job (= spending money). Spent a ton on records, especially new wave and gothic imports from the UK. Also bought a fair amount of vintage/thrift store clothing. Lost the spending urge for the most part when I got into college and had to pay bills. Did go a bit crazy with books during grad school. Moving to China and the invention of ereaders has helped with that addiction, though I do still have a serious thing for cookbooks. Try to limit myself to 2-3 a year.

Now we have this kind of wierd hybrid lifestyle where we have spent a ton on some things that are important to us (nice apartment, regular trips to visit family), a bit more than we should on some things that make life easier (taxi rides home in the afternoon for me -- though that may change as a new subway line will open up in a few weeks that will make a subway commute more viable), and relatively little on things that some people spend a ton on (food -- though here I splurge a bit too -- clothing, entertainment). If you looked at my life from the outside -- and especially my skyhigh apartment -- you probably would never say I was "living simply." Both DH and I work FT, which complicates our lives in some ways, but I could not really see myself NOT working either. We have the kids in private school, which we pay for partially. But compared to many expat families I know we live AMAZINGLY simply. No car, only part-time help (some people have a full staff of several household helpers, a driver, a gardener, a cook etc. AND only one working parent...), not going out all the time, mostly enjoying time at home with each other.

There are some things I am still working to change, and sometimes I fantasize about selling the sky-high apartment and taking off on some crazy adventure like starting our own organic farm or scuba diving business (and I don't even scuba dive! yet...), but for the most part I am happy with our choices and how our life is set up. I could do without my commute, and wish I had more flexibility about where/when I work. but mostly its good.

lhamo

Mrs-M
12-14-11, 11:13am
Originally posted by Mighty Frugal.
We also did not have Adidas running shoes or Jordache jeans or Farrah Fawcett shampoo..and man, did I ever want those things!ROTFLMAO! And isn't that the way. :)

Acorn
12-14-11, 11:34am
Originally Posted by pony mom
"I wonder---those of us who grew up in a simple home and are frugal ourselves, did we feel deprived of anything growing up? And those who grew up the same way and felt cheated and deprived, are these people living above their means, trying to make up for the lack of whatever in their younger years?"

I've wondered about those who "make up" for deprivation, real or imagined, from their childhood too Ponymom. There have been a few people who have told me they were unhappy with the financial circumstances in which they were raised, but there have also been people who've told me they were perfectly happy growing up in tight financial circumstances.

I've sort of gone the opposite direction. Though frugal, my parents were very comfortable financially and I was one of those kids who had all the nice clothes, a car, all the stuff a teen could want. But as an adult I've realized that all those material things are meaningless to me so I have ended up living a seemingly more frugal life than my upbringing.

ApatheticNoMore
12-15-11, 9:16pm
I think maybe the key is whether or not you actually felt deprived because of your family's frugality. If you were teased or otherwise made to hate the situation, then you're likely to go the "spending is security" route.

Yea teased about clothes. A bit sensitive on that subject to this day. You do kinda see how absurd the whole thing is when the kids who teased me came from families with less money than mine, but my mom were cheaper for sure.

razz
12-15-11, 10:35pm
Growing we were poor but so was everyone else or in somewhat similar circumstances. I do like good things and have had them but now am giving many away as my priority is changing. I still like quality matched dishes but they are white Corelle with pretty crystal, good flatware, classy homecarfted tablecovers, comfortable and neat clothes, good but simple food, a good haircut but simple facecare, live theatre shows through cheap subscriptions, simulcast HD Metopera and Bolshoi ballet at movie house prices. Smaller 1400sf house but very comfortable heated with wood from our woodlot, garden produce or locally bought food preserved for winter.

I have felt deprived at times and highly rewarded and the distance between the two is often not that much, mostly perception.

So, in response to the OP, my simplicity is voluntary most of the time.

HappyHiker
12-16-11, 10:01pm
I think being frugal is hard-wired into my very nature. Music and art and books are very important to me, but I seem to find ways to have these "must-haves" in my life for very little outgo and this keeps me quite content.

It just seems too darn easy to go out and shop to your heart's content and pay regular retail prices...anyone can do that, given enough money. What's the challenge? But to fill your needs in creative ways and eat healthy foods for little is more inventive and interesting--at least in my humble opinion. Perhaps the thrill of the hunt?

I love garnering compliments on my frugal finds and treasures.

catherine
12-17-11, 10:21am
I wonder---those of us who grew up in a simple home and are frugal ourselves, did we feel deprived of anything growing up? And those who grew up the same way and felt cheated and deprived, are these people living above their means, trying to make up for the lack of whatever in their younger years?



I don't think I thought about not having when I was young. I think it depends on if your family was 'frugal' voluntarily or involuntarily. Thinking back, I remember I didn't have many clothes, at least until I was old enough to make them myself.

When I was twelve, my mother divorced my alcoholic dad, and because it was the early 60s, her only source of income was the best job she could get: a bookkeeper making just above minimum wage. So, she sold the car, and told us that we were not allowed to offer our friends snacks. One time, I gave my best friend some Saltine crackers, and my older brother caught me and he held it over my head for weeks that he was going to tell mom--a handy piece of blackmail for getting me to do his bidding for a while.

I don't remember feeling deprived, but my mother definitely had a backlash when she got a fairly decent inheritance and went a little crazy spending (I was in college by then). She and my stepfather (whose own falling off the wagon was directly connected to this inheritance) blew through $80,000 in 1970s money in a matter of a couple of years.

OTOH, I'm definitely not the most frugal person in the world, but I'm far from being a spendthrift. I spend very little on clothes compared to my peers. For my day-to-day wear, I buy thrift store, or raid my daughter's closet (she left a lot of clothes behind when she moved out--at the moment I'm wearing a pair of her old sneakers and her old cardigan, and I'm actually wearing a pair of my son's old sweatpants that he outgrew years ago). BUT, I do "invest" in good business clothes (on sale) at Ann Taylor. I have never bought new furniture, except for a futon and a floor sample Pottery Barn set of file cabinets, which I put an old piece of glass on and use as my desk.

I only feel deprived when DH (who IS a spendthrift) dictates unwarranted savings. I feel I save enough to more than make up for occasional splurges--especially when he spends money frivolously all the time. You might say that this IS a sticking point in our marriage.

JaneV2.0
12-17-11, 12:22pm
Both my parents were frugal--sometimes to the point of tightwaddery--so there were many times as a child I didn't get the "right" kind of clothes, or the toy I yearned for. As an adult, I deny myself nothing, to be honest. I have more clothes than I wil ever wear, and the exact same dolls I so wanted as a little girl. But I did internalize the lesson on how to spend less and get more, so my parents' lessons weren't entirely wasted on me. I have a sibling who's more of a purist, much closer to common simple living tenets than I.

I always was the black sheep...

In answer to the original question, the simplicity in my life--such as it is--is voluntary. I wanted not to have to work and to shoulder as few obligations as possible, and I've achieved that. I'm paring down my belongings somewhat, which is never a bad thing. But I didn't take a vow of poverty and I don't really want to live like a monk--except maybe for a brief retreat here and there.

I've long said my ideal of simplicity would be living in a hotel, but it had better be a suite with a big walk-in closet.

artist
12-22-11, 7:55am
It was a very voluntary thing for me. My husband and I always saw having more than what we actually needed and could use to be a waste. Even now we try to live below our means and we do avoid purchasing things if at all possible. repair, reuse and repurpose has been a running theme in our home for years now. The economy has touched us in that we can't really save anything right now, but because we have lived below our means we are able to manage without the set backs in income hurting us too much.

We could live with much less, space wise, than what we have now,however, we are not in a position to move at this time. I work in town and dh works 15 minutes from our home and we still need the extra room for when our college age son comes home from school. I also need space for my home studio or I will need to rent studio space, so we have to consider that along with our costs as well. Perhaps when it's time to retire we'll downsize more. For now we just simplify what we do have to minimize yard work and such so that we can make the most of our time.

Marianne
12-22-11, 9:28am
Interesting thread. I'm glad I came into it rather late in the game as there was so much to read.
For almost all of my adult life, being frugal has been necessary. DH grew up in a family that was very poor, yet they had the 'correct' clothes to put on the appearance that everything was alright. He's still like that to a certain extent. Drives me nuts.

I grew up with frugal parents, not wealthy by any means and bills were always paid. I hated the hand me down clothes (being the youngest of three girls), but now I'm quite content wearing the clothes required by my current lifestyle - whatever jeans and sweatshirt I grab from the closet. My current choice is being eco frugal, yet in a way, it's still necessary. I doubt if things would change much if we suddenly were handed a million dollars.

Merski
12-23-11, 9:25am
My parents were not frugal and as a result we grew up poor and even food deprived, holes in the shoes, inadequate winter clothing, you name it at times. I went through a similar spendthrifty time when I got my first job as a teen and then as a young adult married with two high-tech incomes no kids. I have summoned up whatever frugality I had sleeping within me fostered mostly by the tightwad gazette and later by YMOYL and this board. I do fall off the wagon sometimes but I have a loving husband who reminds me gently what our goals are etc. My work is in a library now and cut back severely because of the economy but because I've had years of frugality training we haven't suffered and will be retiring in 4-5 years not with FI but with street smarts to live within whatever means we have.

Marianne
12-23-11, 10:55am
My parents were not frugal and as a result we grew up poor and even food deprived, holes in the shoes, inadequate winter clothing, you name it at times. I went through a similar spendthrifty time when I got my first job as a teen and then as a young adult married with two high-tech incomes no kids. I have summoned up whatever frugality I had sleeping within me fostered mostly by the tightwad gazette and later by YMOYL and this board. I do fall off the wagon sometimes but I have a loving husband who reminds me gently what our goals are etc. My work is in a library now and cut back severely because of the economy but because I've had years of frugality training we haven't suffered and will be retiring in 4-5 years not with FI but with street smarts to live within whatever means we have.

Same here.

babr
12-24-11, 11:13am
as a kid i always had a gut feeling that we were living beyond our means; turns out that was true; anyway i think that got me started; being frugal; but i never realized that underneath all these layers i really was a simple gal; its been so freeing to get rid of the baggage; no makeup; most of the things; i own were gifted to me; or hand me downs

good question

SophieGirl
1-7-12, 12:30pm
My story of simplicity?

I feel this is how God is calling me to live.

Also, I've seen more than I care to of where the road of extravagance leads --- and I don't want to go there. It's destructive to mind, body, and soul. People spend money going to these places called "gyms" where they rent time to spend using machines to fill a need that only exists because they let machines do everything else for them! No need to wait for the year 5555, it's happening (as described in the song) right now! "Your arms hang limp by your side. Your legs aint got nothing to do. Some machine's doing that for you."

My journey into simplicity is a work-in-progess. And yes, I'll admit, the economy is *one* of the factors encouraging this --- but it is only one of *many* factors. Most of my reasons for the work I'm doing in the area of simplicity would be there even if we were in an era of the greatest economic boom.

Seriously ----- most of my life, though, whenever I could allow the desire to surface, I would express a desire to just chuck all the modernity and go live a simpler life ---- and I was quickly explained why I "can't". I was born and raised a technocrat.

In my journey to simplicity, though, I can't say that I never felt tempted to turn back, though. Though persevering seems to be worth it, I'm not going to say it isn't necessary. And I certainly won't say I don't falter at times. Old habits die hard --- and nasty, undesirable ones unfortunately aren't an exception to this.

Mrs-M
1-11-12, 3:57pm
I've visited and revisited this thread, many, many times, and the more I think about it, my dedication towards simplicity comes by way of involuntary, rather than voluntary, although voluntary, serves as a comfortable happy-medium by definition.

Stella
1-12-12, 8:50am
I think I come by it naturally. I remember telling my mom when I was 5 that I wanted to spend a week living in my "cabin" which was really a series of well-spaced bushes by our house and I wanted her to give me $20 for groceries and I would see how far I could stretch it. She was amused, but did not agree.

I did not grow up in a frugal household. My family, my mom's family of origin in particular, are relatively well off. We had big expensive birthday parties, big expensive Christmases, big expensive vacations, a condo on the beach in Mexico, domestic help, etc. My grandma owned a chain of clothing stores, so I could pick whatever I wanted for free and she had lots of brand name stuff.

Socially it didn't help me one bit. In my case the excuse for my social awkwardness must be laid on the fact that I was equal parts smart and smart-ass and I wasn't particularly good at keeping my mouth shut and following the crowd. In retrospect, I think a lot of what I considered to be undeserved, unprovoked attacks by "all" of my classmates was probably done by 4-5 girls and I'm not so sure I didn't at least partially provoke it. I didn't mean to, but their "boys will think I'm cute if I pretend to be dumb" thing hit a nerve. I can see now that they were just normal, insecure middle schoolers just like I was, but their insecurities took a different form. I hit their insecurities and they hit mine. I don't know who struck first. It doesn't really matter now. The point is that I never did get the idea that having the right stuff or having a lot of money actually made you popular. I'm kind of thankfull for that.

Anyway, what I did get from my family was a sense of adventure, which has actually played a huge part in my SL choices. In high school one of my fellow geek friends had aging hippie parents and I thought her mom was so insanely cool. She had a huge organic garden and she knew how to do pretty much everything. That was a big factor in my SL lifestyle.

I started out my adult life with a pretty strong commitment to a different kind of life. I quit full-time employment when I was 23 years old and haven't looked back. I got married a year later and my husband intentionally looked for work that would allow him to be home more. Since we moved home to MN almost 6 years ago he has been working seasonally and either been at home or gone to school half of the year. He is moving into a career that will eventually allow him to work for himself. We've kept our focus on staying flexible so we can take advantage of opportunities that come our way, for example, by keeping our fixed expenses extremely low, having me home full time, homeschooling the kids and having Zach work relatively flexibile jobs.

Our simplicity voluntary in that I chose this intentionally, but there have been times when things have been tight and the frugality part has been necessary. I wouldn't change a thing, though. Like Sophie, we feel a calling in this direction. We've been incredibly blessed along the way. By remaining open to alternative solutions, like sharing a household with my dad, we have been able to get our expenses down unbelievably low for a young family with five kids, live in an incredible neighborhood with people who share our values, travel and do all kinds of things we wouldn't be able to do with a normal lifestyle. God has been good to us!

beach pointe
1-21-12, 8:27pm
My quest for simple living I would say is 30% voluntary, and 70% necessary at this time in my life. I'm 35, became single last year after a long term relationship, and was unemployed for 4 months. I'm now working again as of last week (full time), sold my SUV in November 2011, and I'm kind of starting all over again. I exhausted my resources as I did a bit of travelling to get away while I was unemployed...and so now I'm eagerly anticipating my first paycheque to establish my savings goals for 2012.
I was not raised in a frugal home. My mother has a serious (and saddening) spending problem, a shopaholic. That's the only thing that brings her joy (and sorrow). And while growing up, we had less than all the other poor kids, sometimes we had nothing. Throughout the years in adulthood, I had some pretty good incomes and was able to afford myself all kinds of stuff, but now that I'm older I'm tired of that kind of consumerism - collecting stuff that I end up not using. And now I understand the spending dysfunction that I saw with my mother, and I want so badly to do differently than her, so I don't end up like her.
Like I mentioned above, I have savings goals for 2012, and some other personal goals such as travelling in 2013...

Blackdog Lin
1-22-12, 9:36pm
I grew up poor, but we didn't know we were poor, I only see it in retrospect. In the very middle of the small-town middle class, 6 kids with a dad that had a good stable job for the times (gas company). We grew up eating rabbits and squirrel and fish and cornmeal mush. Granny was a big presence in our lives, and having grown up during the Depression, she had opinions on how frugal a person should be. I personally laughed at her and her ways. And during my 20s and 30s, I rejected her ways, and was stupid with our monies.

But with age does indeed come some wisdom. As I hit my 40s I came to see that Granny's ways were the smart ways. I think it's an age thing. As you become older you become smarter with frugality. I started remembering Granny's ways of getting by, and started living the simpler life that she did. We're much much better off for it. I get to retire this year because of living with Granny's ways.

For me it's at little bit of both: voluntary and involuntary simplicity. We do without the "toys and whistles", to enable us to have a life to enjoy with less money.

Thank you Granny. I didn't thank her when I could have for what she taught me.