The Story of Stuff Video
If you haven't yet watched this video, I highly recommend it! It tells "The Story of Stuff" [click on URL to open in a new window]:
So, I read "Frugal Isnʻt Cheap" [that was the actual title of the book, not "Frugal"], and didnʻt learn much new stuff that I didnʻt already know or do. The author [Claire somebody] recommends things like shopping at discount stores, not living past your means, not eating out as often, things like that. One thing she recommended that I hadnʻt really considered before [I am not sure why, since itʻs not really ʻnewʻ] is saving at least 20% of oneʻs monthly income every month. I think thatʻs a great idea [and of course, would be great if everyone started doing this in their 20s], and so I suppose it was a good reminder of the importance of saving. Since our countryʻs future economic situation [as well as the global economy] is so uncertain, saving more is a really great idea [I know - duh!].
People talk about voluntary simplicity quite a bit. Of course, what one person calls 'frugal' or 'simple' will likely differ from what someone else thinks it is. In fact, my guess is that what I think is 'frugal' or 'simple' would be different from what Allan thinks is 'frugal' or 'simple'! In this blog, therefore, I'm just writing about it from my perspective. [I actually have a book called "Frugal" that I plan to read as I'm curious to see what the author thinks frugality is.] Last summer, my regular job ended [it was a grant-funded position], and I've been underemployed and looking for work since then. I've been forced to be frugal and, I suppose, not really voluntarily. The economy is tough, including in Hawaii. Jobs are scarce here, even for people with my education level and experience [and maybe more so]. Thus, forced simplicity has been my world for a while now. It's a very strange experience, but, on the other hand, it really shows me what is important, what I need to "live" or "survive" or "meet my basic needs" and how to [when I'm able] feel grateful for all the great and wonderful things I do have [not always easy when one is continually looking for work or worried about the future, economically]. To me, then, the answer has been "buy less stuff". That's pretty much it! Really! I certainly do weigh specific purchases [do I REALLY need to buy or do that now; can it wait?], and where in the past I would have gone ahead and bought something, I weigh the idea much more. Is this fun? Is it pleasurable? Am I glad to be "buying less stuff"? Well, yes and no. It's great to be less of a polluter in terms of packaging and things that don't break down very easily. It's great to acknowledge that I don't REALLY need [of course, 'need' is another word that could be discussed in another blog] that thing now [and for many things, can do without for quite some time]. It's wonderful to live more simply and focus on meeting my basic needs [food, water, paying the required bills, etc.] and knowing that, for the most part, those are 'enough'. However, I'll admit that I dislike having to weigh things so much. I can say that I have some sort of pleasure from being able to make purchases for the 'fun' of it, and not worry if I'll be able to buy gas for my car or something like that. Let's face it, I'm of the consumer culture. One of my fondest memories [of many] is my mother and I going shopping for clothes together [back in my teens]. We really enjoyed this activity together, and of course, I have positive associations with shopping. They aren't as strong as they used to be, but I am still aware of them. I am used to having 'enough' "disposable" income to buy the cheaper stuff [I couldn't afford a BMW or Ferrari], or to travel once or twice a year. Now, keep in mind that I've been buying about 99% of my clothes, and many other items such as kitchen gear, bedding, hats, and other sundry items at thrift stores or garage sales for many, many years. I haven't been a 'mall shopper' for many years [although I do enjoy window shopping a couple times a year; just walking through the local mall and looking at stuff is pleasurable]. So, the pleasure of shopping was instilled in me from early years. I've weaned myself off of it, for the most part, and don't feel that it is a loss or a hardship, for the most part. Just on occasion, when I'd like to do or buy something that is a bit 'bigger' than the usual basic needs, I feel the pinch of 'frugality' or 'involuntary simplicity'. Most of the time, no big deal. But on occasion. I know of, and have read about, so many people who are in such 'worse' situations than I am in, and I know that I am very blessed with the choices I am able to make with my [now much less] income. I have it pretty good compared to many who are suffering much more than I am in this really challenging economy. I try to keep that in mind when I feel down about my situation. When I notice that I'm feeling down, I'll try to remind myself to feel grateful for all the wonderful things and recite them out loud. It's a good practice! But not always effective [in changing my mood]. Perhaps, though, with practice I'll get perfect at feeling grateful all of the time!! We'll see! :)
Speaking of people who are worse off, I'm currently reading a book called "Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm" which is a very hilarious memoir about a woman who struggles through REALLY tough times [much tougher than mine]! I highly recommend her book. I think the author, Mardi Jo Link, is absolutely hilarious! I find myself in awe how she makes such tough times so funny! HILARIOUS!!
The authors of the blog could be either Willow or Allan of Anima Journey.