Monday, October 8, 2007

The simple pleasures of life

When I think "frugality", it's often associated with budgeting, finding the best deals, being thrifty and not buying more than you need to – all of which are important components on your way to living frugally.

But more than that, on a very basic level, living frugally means living simply, finding joy and contentment in the simple things in life, in pleasures that cost you nothing – or next to nothing. For some, it can be a small adjustment. For others, it can be a total turnaround. To choose your path, you will need to evaluate your long-term goals and the vision of your family life.

The list of fun things you can do with less money (and often less hassle) is practically endless. Take walks, rather than driving; invite people over, rather than eating out – or, for a change of air, go out for a picnic! Instead of slouching in front of the TV, only watch selected good movies (there aren't too many anyway), and during the rest of your leisure time, do something active; grow plants; find a creative hobby; use the library – use your imagination!

Above all, it's mostly about enjoying everyday life with its simple happenings: sunshine and cool, breezy wind. The smell of fresh cookies baking in the oven. Clean laundry on the line, sweet-smelling and sparkling white. Children's laughter; conversations with friends; a new plant that is growing on your garden or in a pot on your windowsill; all the small joys of life which often go unnoticed – what a shame!

Don't let life pass by, chasing after the bigger and better. Seize the moment, and live it to the fullest, nurturing friendship, love, acceptance, gratitude, patience and joy. It might sound contradictory to our entire lifestyle, but I'm yet to meet one person who was made truly happy by money and having lots of things. Not that there's anything wrong with having nice things – but I think many of us could be better off if we just freed ourselves from excessive attachment to material possessions.

… That is the deeper meaning behind the frugal choices I make every day. It's not saving money for the sake of being a cheapskate – it's a desire to live a less stressful and overwhelming, and more simple and peaceful, life.

***
On my journey to a peaceful, wisely-spending and frugal life, I enjoy reading the insight of Rhonda Jean, who gives a great example of living in wonderful simplicity. Her blog, 'Down to Earth', provides lots of helpful tips and advice for those of us who want to live simply and be wise stewards of the earth's resources.

For more frugal inspiration, visit Crystal at Biblical Womanhood!

30 comments:

Patriot said...

Hey! I just came across your site tonight, and I wanted to let you know about a giveaway I'm hosting at my site. It's for all-natural bath and body products made in Texas. Come check it out - and tell your friends!

Thanks!

Hootin'Anni said...

G'day!!! I just wanted to tell you, I left a treat for you at my blog this fine Monday!!! [scroll down below the "Fun Monday" section]

Happy day to you.

Katy-Anne said...

Great post Anna! I agree. It's not about being a cheapskate, although it is about living within your means, and contentment.

Buffy said...

It's funny but people don't seem to be any happier with all the sophisticated technology and the higher standard of living than they were in our great grandmothers' day.

Anna S said...

Buffy - not only that, but the top-speed life we are pressured into leaves us stressed, exhausted and overwhelmed!

Brenda said...

It sounds like it's about SLOWING DOWN. Instead of tapping our fingers saying, "Well, what are we going to do?" we could just get up and wander around--we will find something that needs to be done.

Michelle said...

Good post (as always) We too have been trying to "rid ourselves of all that hinders" and not only is the house getting cleaner but I'm encouraged that I can find important things easily now. Its so comforting to live simply!

Kyla said...

I loved this post. This is an area that I feel really convicted in...my DH are learning to slow down, we spend more time at home, taking the dogs on walks and just enjoying being together. We don't have to accept every social invitation and we don't have to have 20 people at our house every weekend. I am an avid shopper, its not even the new things its more the thrill of the hunt. I love when I find a cute pair of trendy shoes for $10. Now though I walk away and wait to find something that will last several seasons.

Anonymous said...

Yes indeed, Anna. What you have written here cuts to the heart of frugality. It's not about being stingy, although some times in our lives may call for more stringent measures.

To me, it's the difference between being broke & having a poverty mentality beCAUSE you're broke!! A good many things in life are missed, passed over, because of a focus on what isn't there.

I saw application of such a principle (the good focus) in my own growing up years. "It's not what you wear, it's how you wear it" became words of encouragement when considering how to reconfigure one's wardrobe, or when looking for something new & having only a couple dollars to spend. "Sit up straight, & walk confidently" was a good primer for everything from how we behaved in class at school to how to conduct ourselves at a job interview (in that wonderful outfit, of course, that cost a total of $3.50!).
"Come outside & look!!" was uttered when an almost-there-but-not-quite flower bud had finally opened, displaying its beauty, or a family of baby birds was getting its first flying lesson. "I wouldn't call the king my uncle" were words of contentment at a meal that consisted of nothing but soup & bread, but for some reason was just enough to fill us up.

I am trying hard to bring my own children up to have a similar outlook on things. Life isn't easy for anyone. But I know for certain that it would be a lot more difficult, even unbearable, without an attitude of appreciation for all the many blessings given, & a feeling of contentment as a result.

This was such a good post, Anna. I hope others will heed your advice.

Brenda

Anna S said...

Brenda, your input as an older woman is very much appreciated! Often I'm told, 'oh, just wait. You'll want this and this and this.' - well maybe, but is it worth running the rat race for? I doubt it...

Mrs. Brigham said...

You say it so well, Anna!

Have you ever read LikeMerchantShip's "Live Well on Less series?" If not, you simply must check it out, as Meredith shares some lovely ideas. :o)

Anna S said...

Amy, no, I actually haven't read it. But I will. Thank you for the recommendation!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Anna. You know, there is hardly anything more irritating, conversationally, that to hear the words "Oh, just you wait...." followed by a knowing nod of the head. Sometimes this is followed by a litany of not-yet-experienced things that would eventually make me change my mind. I decided early on that I would not say this to people.

There is nothing wrong with your having a strong conviction about many things despite the fact that you are still young. Would someone please tell me just how many years of bad spending, complaining about life, & generally being a pain to others are required before it's okay to settle down to decent living? You've figured some important things out while still in your 20's, & that's a big plus for you!!

Brenda

Coupon Addict said...

Great post Anna. This outlook will make you a great wife and mother. Just wanted to stop in a say hello. Take Care

Julie's Jewels said...

Hi Anna. I found you by way of Katy-Anne's blog. You had left a comment on her post entitled "Pants Free Winter" and I just wanted to let you know that I left a comment in response to your comment that I hope will help you. So if there is any way you can go over there and read it I'd like you to do so. Thank you.

Karen said...

Yep, we live a very modest lifestyle by the world's standards, but to us, we feel extremely rich!

It's also just about not being foolish with what you have. I like the saying,
"I'm not frugal because I'm broke, I'm NOT broke, BECAUSE I'm frugal!"

neuropoet3 said...

It really bothers me when people assume that after I've "lived longer" I'll realize that I want to live differently. The funny thing is - I'm only a couple years away from 30 now, and I am very happy with the life that I've chosen to live since I was young. I chose to follow the advice of 1 Timothy 4:12:
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." In trying to live by this verse I have not only tried to be an example (especially for my children) - but I have been happy. I've always felt that "living simply" fell into the category of being an example of living "life" in this verse. There is so much peace in simplicity -- you'd think more people would realize it is one of the stepping-stones to happiness. :)

Jordin said...

Thank you for another excellent reminder, Anna. :)

Terry said...

This was another post well worth reading.I think my life is fairly simple, but with four kids it's so easy to find the house filled with clutter-much of it unneccessary. We are however, always looking for ways to spend an enjoyable time that doesn't cost a lot of money-bike rides, sitting outside enjoying nature, or playing the occasional board game.

andrea said...

I think what you've said also goes down deeper to the spiritual discipline of being thankful. If we were more thankful for the blessings we have, we wouldn't feel like we had to fill a gap with clutter and chaotic living. I think living a life of simplicity is the result of a grateful heart. Thanks for all you write, it is very inspiring, and I love visiting here! :)

PhDCow said...

Great post, Anna. When we purchased a modest 1930s bungelow last year, friends and family both wondered (out loud) why we didn't buy something grander. Some questioned whether a college professor and an accountant should buy such a small house? Could a family of four survive in 1400 square foot house?

Well, a year and a half later, the answer is a resounding YES! I love keeping the family close. No matter where I am in the house, I can hear both children and my husband. And, selfishly, there's much less room to clean this way.

Our real estate agent showed us some homes that were just above our price range and, sure, we could have done it. But we would be eating hot dogs and macaroni and cheese 7 nights a week for years.

I feel like our family is even more a family now that we're in our cozy bungalow.

Sounds like you've got the right mindset to be a great wife!

Angela

Jia said...

Thanks for recommending that link!

maria said...

So true what you've said! When growing up, we did (as a family) live very, very frugaly (out of necessity!). Nowadays, I have no need financially to live frugaly. And you know what? I still feel the need to live frugaly, to lead a simpler, basic-to-basics, decluttered life! Life is funny, isn't it?

Anna S said...

Maria,

To me, living simply and frugally isn't just about money; it's also about being wise with the earth's resources and not cultivating an unhealthy, greedy attitude of over-consumption.

Crystal said...

Very True! Great post.

I've been learning this a lot lately. Just by baking my own bread I marvel at this. Yes it takes several hours, but the house is warm, and the wonderful scent of baking bread fills the air. It's not just that it costs a fraction of the price to make my own bread, it also is a wonderful experience, and I even benefit because I know what goes in it. I know that I'm feeding my husband and I something nutritious and that the ingredients are healthy. That's just one example.
I think people who aren't used to leading a more frugal life don't understand how taking so long to make a loaf of bread can be worthwhile, but like you said, the changed pace is a stress relief. So is the wonderful experiences I get along the way.

maria said...

Exactly! On a slightly different note, I've often thought that when we criticize youngsters for robbing and stealing so they can buy the fancy trainers or the brand-name sweater we are somehow hypocritical for we fail to see that we as a society are sending them the message that they are what they have on, namely by leading our lives as if one can not lead a happy and meaningful life without "stuff". Ah, the contradictions!

Anna S said...

Maria, that's another one that always puzzled me: stealing is immoral, but spending recklessly money you don't have is perfectly legal!

Mary said...

Beautiful post, Anna. I'm ever so glad that the best things in life are free. We unplugged our television over a month ago and it's been the best decision ever. Our daughters are filling their time in active pursuits and reading more...

Contentment is the key to happiness, and Godliness according to the Bible. I know it's been the hard times of my life that have taught me to be ultra thankful for all my blessings. God is so faithful.

Anyway, loved this post, and thanks for pointing us toward the link to Rhonda Jean's blog!

Sherry said...

Great reminders. It can be so hard to find balance, but gratitude for simple things makes so much of a difference.

I agree very much with Brenda (who, I think, ought to have her own blog). It seems that some people become quite uncomfortable when they see others living simply and not chasing after more things like they are.

Meredith said...

Hi, Anna! What a lovely post.

I think God has blessed you not only with a heart for simplicity, but with the art of conversation. Just look at the meaningful discussion your post started!

Keep up the great work.