10 July 2012

The ability to live a simple life

I've never thought of myself as a trend setter and indeed I don't think I've ever set any trends but it appears that within our particular environment I am. Or rather we are - Wayne and I are a partnership and our lifestyle is as much a result of that partnership as it is of my efforts.

Seventeen years ago - wow, it's that long - when disaster struck we stepped back and took a long, hard look at our lives, our lifestyle, our hopes, dreams and goals. It was a forced step back and a very forced look, but we did it.

What we realised was that a lot of what we did was based on what others around us were doing and our concept of what was expected and indeed acceptable amongst our peers.  It was like being hit with a brick to realise that for the most part we preferred being at home with our young family or spending time just together. We didn't have to be doing anything special or have organized "date nights" or even leave the house.

We weren't big on eating out or parties or long holidays (although I am partial to room service). We didn't want a bigger house (more work) or new cars.

Instead we wanted to be able to enjoy the things we had.

And so although we refer to that time as "WHEN DISASTER STRUCK" in hindsight it wasn't so disastrous.

We stepped back and made the decision to put our money, time and energy into the things that were important to US. If our family and friends didn't like it, that was OK. But we wanted a better life, not a busier life.

And we wanted it for our family.

So the decision was made. Things were tough but I would be a real stay-at-home mum. We would raise our children with our values to our standards. We would become the family we wanted to be.

In a nutshell we would ditch all the stuff we did and had that wasn't important to us and focus on the things that were.

We switched from avid 20th Century consumers to simple living. We made our tree change without realizing that was what we were doing.

In fact at the time my main focus was keeping a roof over our heads, food on the table and the new baby.  I didn't even notice that turning the sandpit into a veggie garden was making us self-sufficient. Or that cooking from scratch and learning to recycle were lessening our impact on the environment.

Those realizations came later, after we'd become comfortable with our lifestyle and decided that we were happy, happier in fact than we'd ever been before.  We were living better on less than half our previous income and it was easy.

It was so easy that we had friends and family members, even mere acquaintances, asking us how we did it. To the outside world our lifestyle hadn't changed all that much, but our circumstance certainly had and they knew it.

Fast forward all those years and we still live simple lives.  Not to be confused with poor lives, or miserable lives or hard lives. I am very fond of my creature comforts and while I would one day love to go off-grid, for the time being we are connected and make use of the electricity it supplies. I still go shopping and yes, I even buy new things, but not before I've tried to find whatever it is used or to recycle or remake something I already have into it.

There is a family joke that if ever anything happens and we have to choose what to take with us in a hurry I'll opt for the dishwasher and the vacuum. I probably would too!

Because we decided 17 years ago to focus on what's important to us and do away with all the things that weren't and that were actually making us unhappy, we became by default a part of the simple living movement.

Simple living or living the Cheapskates way, doesn't matter what you call it.

I'm just so grateful that disaster chose us to strike, because we've never looked back.

And we've never been happier.

PS - a quick update on our EWSM Real Food Challenge

It's easier than I thought it would be.  I am sure having a fully stocked pantry, with a good stockpile to fall back on helps. But those things help with any pantry challenge. I love that I am concentrating on our food, putting more thought into making our meals consist of real food.  Things like tomato soup ( Karina asked how to get around using canned tomato soup here, EWSM Real Food Challenge Days 3 - 6 ) haven't posed a problem.

Sticking to our meal plan - well sort of!  It's school and Uni holidays here so everyone is home. That means we are busy doing lots of out of routine things and some of our meals have been swapped around, but they've all been real food.  The meals we haven't eaten will slot into next month's meal plan easily enough.

This challenge does mean though that the veggies are being gobbled up faster, there are gaps showing in the garden. My Diggers catalogue arrived today and I spent a lovely half hour drooling over seeds, planning what to put in the gaps and what we'll be eating for the next few months.

One thing I have noticed on this challenge, and I absolutely love it, is that my shopping time has been cut even more. These days on my "short shops" I literally run in, pick up the milk, cheese and eggs and leave! Depending on the queue at the checkout I can be in and out of the supermarket in under 10 minutes!

Oh joy, oh bliss, oh more money in my purse :)

How are you handling the EWSM Real Food Challenge?


  1. Hi Cath, your story was inspirational and really resonated with me. Thanks for all your efforts and for being generous enough to share with the rest of us. Cheers, Maureen

  2. Hello Cath, loved your story, as you say, something good came out of something bad Positive thinking! Children need to learn by example, with love, respect, honesty and happiness, and money cannot buy this. Keep up the good work! Yours sincerely Annette.

  3. We too are "simple life" type of people. It is such a beautiful feeling of freedom from all the things around us that weigh us down unnecessarily. I have a friends who have a tv in every room (they don't want to miss anything). A computer in almost every room, keeps downloading just about everything they see, says "I will read that when I have time", then complains they don't have the time to do what they want.

    I feel sorry for them, but they figure - well they are getting old and want to enjoy things before they die. Not my idea of living, but they don't want to listen. They are not dining out or party type of people though.

    Thank you Cath, for all the information, hints and tips you give us to live simply and cheaply. Much appreciated. Hugs, Katherine (Sydney).

  4. God is Great - He continue to Provide in our Leanest Year for over a Decade,
    Thankyou Cath for your Inspirational Website, amazing Supporters and fantastic everyday advice.
    God bless you & Keep you Safe in 2015.


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