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Thread: Live Simple and be Happy? (AIB Budgie's Simplicity)

  1. #1
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Live Simple and be Happy? (AIB Budgie's Simplicity)

    This quote, from a good guy I met once while he was in town from a neighboring state, sparked some thoughts in my head...

    Quote Originally posted by Budgie
    I don't completely buy the "both have to work" crap. We live in bigger houses, have bigger lawns, have bigger cars, have more and bigger electronics, have more clothes, eat out more, and have more plastic crap from Wal-mart than ever before. Work two jobs for material gratification exceeds the satisfaction of raising well adjusted educated children. If more couples had a modest material lifestyle, they would have more time for family and friends. This may not be true for all households, but for the upper and middle class, most could manage very nicely without both parents working 40 hour work weeks.
    I have begun to think of ways to "trim my material fat" so to speak.
    I have been thinking of how our society (once again, I reference my generation as one of the more evident) is an obsessed consumer. Budgie mentions electronics, clothes, and eating out more and how it reflects upon the kids we have today. I agree with his statements and have thought about changing my life more (albeit without kids) to simplify.
    Looking around my pad this weekend:
    Do I need a larger TV to fill out my armoir? No, the TV bought at half prices after Thanksgiving a couple years ago, works fine. I can see the screen clearly, and it has a built in DVD and VCR for when it is movie time

    Do I need the NHL Center Ice package for my dish? Probably not. I like the fact that I can watch the Habs, but do i need to watch every game and spend $120 more for it? No. Next year I will not renew my subscription. I can get a hockey fix by watching the Avs, the minor league Eagles (in town), or the NCAA Champs DU

    Then a thought occured to me:
    Do I really need this much TV? With the exception of sports, I do not watch much else. On Wednesdays I watch LOST on ABC, but that has not been holding my interest of late and I will not freak out if I miss it. The GF, in a simple living discussion we had Saturday night, said that TV would be hard for her to go without. I suggested we have a night or two where TV is off limits. We can read, talk, play cards, make a nice dinner, who knows what else . Basically not have something pandering to us, messing with my sleep cycles.

    Why am I focusing more on TV? There are other ways to live simple:
    Do I need more clothes? While the clothes I buy are inexpensive, I tend to buy (and have) more than I need. In fact, to make room to store all of them, I need to give some away. That will be a 'soon-to-be-undertaken' project.

    My car is a 2005, do I need it too? Well, here is my confusing part. I like my car, I can afford the payments, it is a gas-sipping 4-cylander Subaru that does great in the snow, can haul the GF, Dog and I to the mountains and will, if I maintain it properly, last for a long time. But do I need to be spending $350/month on car payments? I am still thinking about this, but I feel in the long run that it is the ideal car for me and my future, so I think it will stay

    I am looking forward to doing more to simplfy my life. Not this may not mean shopping at the Dollar Store, but if I trim some necessities, budget well, and work down the CC debt, then I think my GF and I will see some improvement in our well-being and lifestyle and maybe we will learn something.

    Has anyone else done something like this? Does Budgie care to elaborate? Any other examples of non-necessities that people do not need or have trimmed from their lives?

    As always, I hope to spark some extansive dialog, but that doesn't always happen with my threads-- but I will try anyway.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  2. #2
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    As far as the car goes, If you are going to be making payments on a new model at all it is good that you bought a car that is not considered disposable (ie Ford, GM, Chevy, and so on). I would look at it that way. It should last. Buy something once.

    I'm a student now so I live fairly simply. There isn't a lot of discretionary spending. Tuition. Rent. Utilities. None of this is really able to be lowered. The only real discretionary items in my spending are food and drink - and since I tend to enjoy cooking and using quality foods, this is very hard to lower.

    But I do not have a TV. I do not have a stereo. I have a laptop, my digital camera, and a set of speakers. I have books, lots of books. Books are one item that I have never forced myself to spend less money on. I've also got quite a bit of money in design supplies. Pantone markers and watercolour paints and set squares and Itoya Finepoint felt tip drafting pens and on and on it goes. None of these are especially discretionary.

    So the moral of the story is this: live as a student (except an employed "student" with a fat savings account from lack of spending). :P

  3. #3
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Well, we forgoe cable. We don't really need it, and we get about 18 channels over the air here in Chicago anyways. We did just buy a new TV, but that was because the old one (which we got for free) was about dead.

    We have just our one little 1998 Mercury Tracer that is cheap to run and maintain, is all paid off, and was free to begin with (FIL bought for my wife during her soph. year in college). We don't intend on buying a new car, ever, but will probably buy a late model used car and try to pay if off in 1-2 years.

    We also purge old clothes every year. It's very satifying to have less stuff. [GeorgeCarlin]I'm really agin' stuff.[/George Carlin]

    Btw, zman, it's good that you car fits with you lifestyle and needs because you would lose alot of money, if you tried to unload it after only about 1 year. You have the right idea, keep it and maintain it well, and it will probably last a long time.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    90% of what is in our attic could disappear and it wouldn't be missed what-so-ever. Ms.P and I were talking about similar things this weekend - the need to purge stuff. This came about with questions from family about what we need for Christmas and quite frankly there wasn't really anything we "needed." The new iPod and other wants would be nice and things like that, but need...
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Bertrand's avatar
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    Living the simple life

    My wife and I really do try to live the simple life. Not because we are cheap - though some may disagree, but because there is no need for the excess. We do not have cable or a dish, just rabbit ears and 9 stations. My wife gets some really great clothes from Goodwill (especially the one in the wealthy part of town) and I splurge for clothes every other year and look for sales. No need to rent movies when our library has a huge selection. I drive a '97 Corolla and fill up my tank twice a month because I can walk to work.

    Little things like that can make a difference.
    Satan in the Suburbs

  6. #6
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartanlike 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, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and to be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
    Henry David Thoreau - Walden - from 'Where I Lived and What I Lived For'

    I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any time for that one. It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves. I had not lived there a week before my feet wore a path from my door to the pond side; and though it is five or six years since I trod it, it is still quite distinct. It is true, I fear, that others may have fallen into it, and so helped to keep it open. The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men; and so with the paths which the mind travels. How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity! I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. I do not wish to go below now.
    Thoreau - from 'Conclusion'

    I think it's a great idea for everyone to go into "the woods" (or at least to pose those questions) so that all might find where the surplus in life lay. By that same token anyone who has undertaken this quest will know that there are some good reasons why we have adopted the trappings of civilization which surround our lives. Undoubtedly, there's materially much that we can do without in our lives, but before we Do Without it's probably just as important to understand why we should do so.
    Last edited by Maister; 31 Oct 2005 at 4:41 PM.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  7. #7
    My wife and I also discuss this often. When we were planning to have our first child (21 years ago), Mrs. Transformer wanted to stay home as a full time mom. At the time she was a computer programmer for a major local company and making much more money than I. But it has worked. We purchased a modest home with a mortgage people would kill for and we have lived here for 18 years. Most of our friends have moved up to larger homes.

    We never regretted the loss of income. Having her home with the kids had benefits money could never buy.

    Although we do have cable, very limited reception where we live, we pay only for the very basic. Like some of you, we don't watch much television and have discussed getting rid of cable.

    I do agree with having a good reliable car. There are good cars out there without hefty price tags. I know nothing about repairing cars and maintenance is very expensive. Buy a good car that will last long beyond the payments.

    We try to pass the idea of a simple life onto our children, but in today's society it is tough getting through to them. There is more to life than material goods. This is particularily hard when their friends have cars, ipods, laptops, plasma televisions, and on and on.

    My wife did go back to work after the children were in school. She went in an entirely different direction - she is a preschool teacher. Her hours allow her to be home when the kids are at home.

    Next fall, life may need to getting even more frugal in the Transformer household as we will have two children in college.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I try to live a simple life, no cable, I buy used low milage cars. I just bought an 03 Sable to replace my 99 Taurus. The car is pretty darned nice, gets 30 mpg on the road, and had 9,000 miles on it, when I bought it. Not $300 carpayment for this guy! Had the trans not given out, at 150,000 miles I would still be driving it.

    I dial down the thermostat when I am not home. I do not spend a ton of money on clothes. No cable. I take the bus when I can to save the car miles for long trips to the cabin or to see my family and friends. For trips with obscene numbers of miles I rent cars so mine lasts longer.

    My only indugences these days have been in things that will pay benefits. For example, my cabin is a nice place to keep my $$ in something that I can blow say at the casino. To purchase this, I rolled my home mortgage into my cabin one, and refied it at $376 a month at a 10 year fixed mortgage (those extra payments the first 5 years really did pay off!). The cabin is an investment that I can enjoy, has tax benefits, and appreciates in value.

    I also invest in my health. I am a member of a private health/tennis/social club where I had to have a credit check and several references to join. Since I am there 4 times a week and use their shampoo, deoderant, soap, shaving supplies, towels, and get free laundry for my gym clothes and undies, its really not that bad of a deal.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    After having lived nearly 10 years in the simple life, I am liking abit of decadence and know that my displays of decadence require making choices and forgoing other things.

    I like buying good clothes. So a pair of $$ jeans, a few shirts and new clothes for work each year are a must. I am just really carefule to not buy too trendy, but to buy fashion and quality. Except for one pair of jeans someone else coaxed me into buying.

    I have few knick knacks around the house, but the ones I do are all chosen for a purpose and make me happy everytime I see them (Josh Simpson planet, Where the Wild Things are toys, books - over 1500 and growing, original artwork and photos)

    Extravagant items I know my bikes are extravagant, but they also have a purpose, yes I know this could have been filled for at least 1/3 less, but there is something about talking to a person who builds things makes you appreciate them more. Plus, like with clothes, function over trned for each of them means I keep them for 10 years plus each.

    I don't take vacations, I do eat out frequently and do eat at $$$ places.

    I can fit everything I own into one full sized van.

    I don't think the simple life is all it is cracked up to be,but living fiscally responsible and focussing your pleasures is more than it is cracked up to be. Now to get back on track and remember a few things about life.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  10. #10
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Now this is my kind of Tread!

    Everything I own other than my car can fit into a 12’ by 10’ by 6’ storage locker.

    Internet is available on campus and at many local businesses.
    Laptop was bought for $50 and repaired
    Car is a rebuilt salvage and I paid about ½ of what it is worth. It get about 30 mpg
    Only reason I have cable and a newspaper is it is free at my apt complex. (Otherwise I would not have either)

    Tips to simplify:
    Cut the cable all together. Go to a locally owned inexpensive establishment that serves choice beverages and has multiple big screens. Much more exciting to watch games with other people anyway. (Buffalo Wild Wings and such)
    Reading books is better than watching TV
    News, scores, and such (local and national) is available online, mostly free too!
    Why have a land line if you have cell phones? Most companies have some program where you can call other people in the same program for free.
    Walk or ride a bike as much as you can. (Saves on wear and tear on car, gas, and gives you exercise)
    Cut the internet, get a wireless laptop instead of desktop. Many businesses offer free wireless and some cities including Philly and Grand Rapids have it for a low fee if not free for most if not all parts of the city.
    Other than a tux or important clothing, if you have not put it on in the past year, donate it.
    The majority of the time, most people can not tell the difference between a high end suit maker, and Goodwill and a good tailor.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    Being forced to evacuate with very few, but important, belongings made me realize what's important and what's not. I realized that just about everything that was left behind was disposable.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  12. #12
         
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    decluttering

    The SO and I have been in the process of decluttering our lives and possessions. Anything that hasn't been used or touched in a year is given away (except for collectibles). How if we can get the kids to d othe same.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    I have few knick knacks around the house, but the ones I do are all chosen for a purpose and make me happy everytime I see them (Josh Simpson planet, Where the Wild Things are toys, books - over 1500 and growing, original artwork and photos)
    Quote Originally posted by donk
    I can fit everything I own into one full sized van.
    Sorry, perhaps I am reading this wrong, but 1500+ books fit into a full-size van?

    My wife and I try to live simply. We share a pre-owned Ford Focus ($123/month). Our condo is extremely minimilist (empty) and we are selling a bunch of stuff before the move to NC and plan to donate more to Goodwill. We did buy a bigger condo (1400+ SF) because we had planned to have at least one child here. We have cable, but a smaller TV. Many of our things are hand-me-downs from friends and family members or bought used from Craigslist.

    I sometimes annoy the wife because I prefer to try to fix things before buying a new one (especially clothes and electronics). I fixed our 20-year-old dryer with a $12 rubber cable this summer.

    We both try to take lunch to work at least four days per week. Fridays tend to be "buy a lunch day." I make coffee at work, but the Mrs. likes her Dunkin Donuts. We only eat dinner out 1-2 times per month, but usually splurge. I think one of the biggest wastes of money is eating mediocre food at a restaurant. Anything that you can make at home, should be made at home

    We plan to spend much of our extra income on travel and, like DetroitPlanner, we hope to have a getaway lake/mountain cabin/shack eventually.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Nor love thy Life, nor hate; but what thou liv'st
    Live well, how long or short permit to Heav'n.
    -- John Milton

    Words I try to live by.

    To fill out my response, I live like a pauper anyway. I kind of have to as I'm poor. I could save money by getting a roomate, eating out less often (about twice a week or so now, always at cheap diners, cafes, or lunch counters), or cancelling my subscription to facets (very good movie rental place) for $24/mo. I have no car and no cable. I live in a modest apartment in an inexpensive neighborhood. All my appliances are ancient, as are both my desktop and laptop computers. Not really much fat left to trim.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    100,000 years of human progress, so I can go back to subsistance living? I don't think so.

    I fully accept that a lot of the stuff we have is crap, but I like my crap. I wouldn't shed a tear if it all burned up tomorrow, but sooner or later it would be replaced by new crap!

    Also, I buy cheap. Our most expensive vehicle only cost $4,500. That was the big (3/4 ton Ford 4x4) truck. I was given the little truck, the Audi was inherited, and we've had the Bug for ages. Lots of TV's, but all from yard sales, etc. We shop at the outlet mall near the house. Costco for food. You get the idea. My big weaknesses are gaadgets, guns, books and motorcycles. Mostly that stuff is cheap.
    "If you love something, let it go."
    What kind of crap is that?

  16. #16

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    I am definitely pretty excessive in odd/eccentric ways.

    I have ancient appliances (original stove-1980 vintage, an old refrigerator from the 1980s, original plumbing fixtures (going to have to replace or reconstruct them, sadly enough), my apartment interior needs repainting (and I have wayyyyy high ceilings, so painting it myself would be acrophobically impossible for me ), and I still need to replace some of my OLD carpet.

    On the other hand, I horde architecture books, cd's and collections. I also dress fairly expensively, if casually. I have cable internet and cable television, even though I watch relatively little television. I also eat out way too often and like expensive food at the grocery store. I have a very, very nice bicycle (which is new-but only because my older bicycle disintegrated on me under warranty).

    My goals for this year are to cut back on the heavy and expensive lunches, and the junk food which is terrible for me as well as being expensive.

  17. #17
    But if you don't spend every penny you have on useless crap, people might start to think you are poor!

  18. #18
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello
    Sorry, perhaps I am reading this wrong, but 1500+ books fit into a full-size van?

    .

    Surprisingly, books, when packed properly fit into very little space. They are the most volumous thing I own. They fit into 25 or so boxes. Mostly paper backs. It also helps to "know" how to pack and stack things.

    Table in firts , legs up, fill a dresser with all clothing, slide it into the space between the legs. slide in chairs and other rigid items, then start filling in the space with boxes. As the load gets near teh top of the legs of teh table, slide in teh mattress and box spring, then stack things on top that are more fragile (lamps, dishes, electronics etc. )

    Maybe my new career should be moving things.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  19. #19
    Cyburbian sisterceleste's avatar
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    You people obviously don't have kids in college yet. It gets expensive around here feeding, housing, moving and educating this household.
    You darn tootin', I like fig newtons!

  20. #20
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by sisterceleste
    You people obviously don't have kids in college yet.

    Or hobbies

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by sisterceleste
    You people obviously don't have kids in college yet. It gets expensive around here feeding, housing, moving and educating this household.
    One girl in college, two teen age boys, and infant twins. We spend money like its going out of style. I know there a lot of things we could cut but why do you make money? To save it? no!! I make money to spend it!! I plan on spending my last dime with my dying breath.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    RJ's house is very minimalist (but nice), so when I come home, I realize just how full of stuff my place is. Granted, my house is 1/2 the size of his, and I have a kid and 5 pets, but still... I know I need to get rid of a lot of "stuff". We don't have big t.v.'s, Ipods, laptops, digital t.v., etc but the child has every video game console known to man, and tons of games. But we rarely eat out, buy cheap clothes, and don't spend much money on outside entertainment. I say we're doing "so-so".

  23. #23
         
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    There are tons of things I could give up to live a more minimalist lifestyle...do I plan on doing it? Probably not. My home is way more space than the boys and I need, I have a shopping habit that is out of control, I keep the fridge and pantry stocked at all times (and get a little nuts when it is running low), we do not eat out a lot but I "go out" often, I have cable, cell phone, internet, video games, 5 televisions in the house ( I am probably most embarrassed by this simple fact ), and could probably go on and on. Many of these things were gifts or hand me downs from my parents or other relatives but its still no excuse, I live way beyond any of my needs. I give lots to charity when I find the time to "thin out the junk", I try to teach the boys how lucky they are to have the things they have and not take them for granted. I work hard, I take good care of my kids and try to live a good life, and while I may have a lot of "things" the boys are still my main concern and would walk away from anything I own in order for either one of them.

  24. #24
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess
    RJ's house is very minimalist (but nice) ....
    I think you're missing the point that I'm starting over. I had lots of crap in the past. But I'm slowing getting stuff that I like. I'm just very careful what I select to bring home. This takes time.
    RJ is the KING of . The One

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by savemattoon
    We spend money like its going out of style.
    This has become our life recently. We're really trying to save, but I swear, being out of the office for 12 weeks is harder than it looks. Luckily for our pocket book I'm on bedrest right now so I can't go shopping anymore. But this nesting phase has really hit the bank account hard. All of the sudden I had the desire to get Energy Star compliant light bulbs and a programable thermostat so off to the store I went. At least I'm doing something good for the environment, right?

    I don't think I could stay at home though, especially not after I had children in school during the day. I'd get bored, and honestly, both of us working will allow us to take more trips and, yes, splurge every now and then and I don't feel bad for that.
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

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