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Thread: Your best simple living advice?

  1. #21
    Senior Member rosarugosa's Avatar
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    Sounds like she was a wise woman, Zoey!

  2. #22
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    Lots of great advice, information and stories. Thanks everyone for sharing. The only things that comes to mind for me are:

    The best way to save money is to not spend it.

    Those that have, worry about not having. Those that don't have, realize there is more to life than having. (This one took me a little while to understand, but I have found a way to apply it to myself as a positive. LOL)
    To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world. - Anon.

    Be nice whenever possible. It's always possible. - Dalai Lama

  3. #23
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    I see most people are being more deep and insightful - I especially liked kib's point - but my best advice is to refrain from immediately and automatically replacing things that break or wear out. Get rid of the old one, but then try working around not having it for a few months before you make the decision to replace. Any change is going to feel inconvenient until you get used to it, but you may be very surprised what you can comfortably live without once the changes become habit. This is especially significant with major appliances, since they are expensive, noisy, use a lot of electricity, and take up so much space. Over the past several years I have declined to replace a dryer, furnace (was not my only source of heat) and refrigerator. Of them, it was the refrigerator I was initially most skeptical about doing without, but now I am SO glad not to have one! The change has really simplified the way I manage food and meals, completely eliminated food waste in our household (nowhere for leftovers or those half full tubs of cottage cheese to get lost and forgotten) eliminated the annoying monthly chore of cleaning out the refrigerator, and forced us to reduce our formerly out-of-hand condiment collection to just a few things that we actually use regularly. Also, it has been replaced with built in shelves that are both functional and decorative, and really give the kitchen a cozy feel. I love not hearing the thing running, too!

    When my chest freezer broke, I did decide to replace that, because having a big freezer is a help rather than a hindrance when it comes to simple living (in my opinion) but I took my time to really choose the right freezer instead of making a panic buy.

    I have taken a similar approach with my personal clothing. Getting rid of good clothes just because I don't wear them often is hard, so instead I have stopped buying anything new until I actually DON'T HAVE that type of item. If one of my two favorite sweaters that I wear in rotation all winter wears out, instead of buying a new favorite while continuing to store a dozen second choices that I rarely wear, I choose one of those to promote to "favorite" until it wears out too. Only when my last two sweaters are wearing out, and that drawer is nearly empty, will I shop for (only two) replacements. For me, this slow method of simplifying and decluttering by not replacing has come much easier than getting rid of most of my possessions all at once would have.

    That would be the first advice I would give to someone just getting started in simple living.

    And another good piece of advice, if they have a favorite non-profit organization, is to consider that as the alternative use for the money before making any purchase. "Do I want that cup of coffee enough to spend five dollars on it instead of donating an extra five dollars to ______?" "Which will make me feel better, having those sixty dollar shoes, or donating sixty dollars to ______?" This encourages very frugal spending without creating a mentality either of self-pity or one of miserliness. It has worked great for me.
    The more you know, the less you need.

  4. #24
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    Tea, What a sensible way to approach simplifying. I do wonder how you live without a refrigerator, though. Cheese, milk? We live about 20 minutes from a grocery store so don't go often now that we are retired. My friend has been 8 weeks without a refrigerator waiting for a repair. I'm going to call her today to see how it's working. I am going to be thinking about this no refrigerator plan. thanks for the idea.

  5. #25
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    I am really curious about the refrigerator also. I went without for a week waiting for a repair and it was a big pain using a cooler. We did get rid of our freezer because we didn’t need it. We like to entertain and we love leftovers. I would think you would need to shop daily or keep some stuff cold.

  6. #26
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    nswef & Teacher Terry - Well my first reaction here was to make a silly joke: I live in Michigan and don't have a furnace, how do you think I keep things cold? Yay, whole house refrigeration!

    Now for the real response: Not having a refrigerator was a big pain for the first few weeks, because I hadn't learned to plan accordingly, and we were also stuffing about a billion (by my rough estimation) bottles and jars of condiments that had accumulated in the refrigerator in to a cooler. Once I pared the condiments down to just a few, it was only a matter of developing better habits around food usage. This is why I suggested doing without something for a few months if possible. One week in I was still thinking "This is ridiculous, no way I want to do it long term." by three weeks in I was thinking "Well, it's doable I guess. . ." and six or seven weeks in I was thinking "Wow, I can't believe we didn't make this change sooner!"

    A big part of it is recognizing what does and does not actually need to be kept cold. Fresh fruits and vegetables don't require refrigeration for food safety, and while certain types last slightly longer in a refrigerator, it's also easy to let them go bad unseen in there. Most things of that nature now go in bowls on the counter top, where we see them and use them faster. If something starts to get wrinkly, it gets noticed and used first. No more finding slimy carrots in the refrigerator drawer. Potatoes go in a dark place of course, so they don't turn green from light exposure and poison us.

    We do use a cooler for the few items that really do need to be kept cold. I use the contained ice method (filling empty plastic juice bottles with water, freezing them, using them in the cooler, then re-freezing the same water when it's time to swap out) which is both less wasteful and less messy than using loose ice and having everything in the cooler get wet as it melts. The freezer is probably sort of key to making this system sensible. I definitely would not recommend anyone buy bags of ice for a cooler long term - which sounds less efficient than running a refrigerator, and also like a big hassle. But since I'm running a small chest freezer (which incidentally only uses 1/6 the amount of electricity the refrigerator did) anyway for meat storage, it's just a matter of swapping out the frozen bottles every day or two.

    We do not shop anywhere close to daily - it's usually every two to three weeks. We don't seem to buy a lot of stuff that needs to be kept cold, usually just yogurt and maybe a block or two of cheddar cheese, or some juice. Butter goes in the freezer except the one stick we have out in the butter holder at room temperature. Cheese actually doesn't even need to be kept cold, I have friends from the UK who are appalled that most Americans refrigerate cheese, which they claim ruins both it's flavor and texture. They keep their cheese in a special cheese box at room temperature, as most Brits apparently do. I still put mine in the cooler though, foolish American that I am.

    Leftovers go in the cooler, but always get eaten the next day because I know not to cook another big meal until space has been cleared in the cooler. This is a more efficient method than stuffing lots of different kinds of leftovers in the refrigerator at the same time, as we sometimes used to, which often allowed the less popular items to get pushed to the back and spoil. I have gotten better about not cooking more than we can use in a reasonable amount of time, unless it's a dish that freezes well. For the sake of efficiency and convenience, I make certain foods - like chili or lentil soup - in huge three gallon batches, and freeze most of it in quart sized plastic yogurt containers so it can be thawed out later for quick and easy meals. This is actually more enjoyably than refrigerating it and having to eat the same thing for a week straight, because we can wait until we actually want it and it will still be good, whether a week has passed or three months. I was actually doing that long before the refrigerator broke, but just thought I should explain what happens to really big batches of perishable food. With something like pasta that doesn't freeze very well, the leftovers go in the cooler and become tomorrow's lunch, and I've gotten better at estimating how much to make.

    We don't entertain that often, but if we did, I would probably get a second cooler for more space, but only get it out and put ice in it when needed.

    Of course I was not suggesting this would be right for everyone, just that it turned out to be very right for my own household, and I suspect most people probably have some major appliance they could learn to very happily live without.
    The more you know, the less you need.

  7. #27
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    I love this refrigerator story. I could do it. But I donít have a freezer. Ha.

  8. #28
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    I also find Tea's "no fridge" story compelling. It's so true that it's a trap for food that gets wasted. And most refrigerators are big energy-sucks.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  9. #29
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    Tea, Thank you for your story. It sounds quite do able they way you have set it up.

  10. #30
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    Our RV refrigerator broke and it’s expensive to fix so we use 2 coolers on trips. But honestly I hate it. When I was in graduate school in Wisconsin I didn’t want to pay to use the dryers in the apartment building so I got some drying racks. It caused mold in the apartment. Probably my favorite appliance is the dishwasher. I hate washing dishes with a passion. You are definitely badass Tea.

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