Simple living, but not the Simple Life!

Today as I was labouring in the rain, I was wondering whose idea this really was….

Nearly 30mm of rain in 24 hours has turned our backyard into a disaster zone. The chickens were happy, with a river view from their front window, however something needed to be done about the ankle deep mud that came with it! Straw helps somewhat, but made even more of a mess of my boots!

I came inside just in time! The chickens had wanted to come out, but I saw a huge black cloud coming up and convinced them that they were better off where they were. 2 minutes later it was pouring with rain! Expected maximum today, 14 degrees C!

Sad to say, it was all my idea. About 4 or 5  years ago, I decided that we would, if we could, start with Simple living. We have been doing many things, from lack of choice, and from habit, for a long time now, so it was a case of what else could we be doing, and adding it in.

For example, for some of our early years of marriage, we were poorer than church mice. I remember when we had our first baby, circumstances allowed us to live with my parents, as DH was studying. The course was costing us $1000 a month. DH’s parents and Nanna were helping out with some money, and after paying all the bills and board, we had a grand total of $50 a week to live on. Disposable nappies were out, they cost too much money. We needed to buy formula, so that came first, and anything else after that was a luxury. Our eldest was dressed from op-shops, hand me downs, and home made clothes. After we got a little money I was able to buy a sewing machine and from then on I can’t remember buying him more than one or two pairs of pants for some years. Pants are easy for babies and toddlers! I even used thrifted fabric from the op shop to make them with, double bonus!!

This was a favourite op-shop find…. fleece suit with a gorgeous pixie hood!

Hand knitted jumper, 2nd hand bouncer and quilt, and hand made mobile hanging off a laundry trolley. He didn’t know the difference!

So the habits of frugal living run deep. We cook from scratch, over 90% of our meals. We favour cheap entertainment over dear, and always find a way to bring the price down if we can.  We budget, track what we spend, and try to always put some extra away on the mortgage for a rainy day.

None of this is easy. All of it takes more work than living a consumerist life. Yes, many nights when I’m in pain, I would much rather DH got take-away on the way home from work. But he is on a bus that doesn’t go through the drive-through, so if I want that, I have to get in the car and drive a 12km round trip to get it. Suddenly, making dinner, even something very simple, seems easier.

I’m not saying we are perfect. We have one guilty luxury, which is Foxtel (Cable TV). But we are not locked in to any contract, so if we needed to, it could be gone tomorrow. This is a choice that we have made for our family of sports mad men. (and women!). Wet and miserable weekends go so much easier when there’s a game to watch, and we can see the TV from the kitchen, so cooking is nicer and dishes go more quickly!

Budget conscious tips will always include cutting back expensive mobile phone bills, entertaining, luxury items, holidays. Well, we have done that already too! Our mobiles cost us $39 each month, for as many calls as we need to make normally. Unused calls roll over, and we can call each other, and DS1, for free as we are on the same network. DS1 is on a pre-paid plan, so that he will learn the value of a budget too.

All this had been happening for years! So what was left for us to do with simple living? We already had all our budget/money/cooking systems in place.

Next, we cut down on our use of consumables. We have home-made knitted dishcloths, that wash easily, and are used over and over. We now have towelling “paper towels” for the kitchen, for all those things that you wouldn’t use your dishcloth for – wiping up a mess on the floor when you dripped the milk etc. Or for things you wouldn’t use your tea-towel for, drying a particularly grubby pan. These have reduced again our dependence on paper products and our budget. Once again, they require a little more effort to wash, dry, fold and replace, however, in the scheme of things they are working well. As a bonus, they were made out of bath towels that had already seen 10+ years of service, and were either too thin or damaged to continue in this way.

Transport is not a serious issue, despite the soaring petrol costs. Now we only have one person working out of home, who has caught public transport to work for nearly 14 years! DS1 goes to school some way away, however he is reliable and catches the bus every day, there and back. He doesn’t expect me to taxi him to school, and has even informed me that he has no intention of driving to school in later years, even if he could! Ds2 goes to school locally, and walks whenever the weather permits, and I drive him if it’s not nice enough to walk. Round trip of less than 1km! He will be going to the same High School as his big brother next year, and will be on the same bus.

So the only need for the car is music lessons, shopping and general running around, which I am trying to combine into as few trips as possible. Petrol here is around the $1.58 /l mark.

Next issue….. Utilities, and what our current plan is!

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2 Responses to Simple living, but not the Simple Life!

  1. df says:

    This made me laugh – those boots could be mine! The clay around here makes us so much taller whenever the ground gets wet! This post was a good read. As you say, living simple takes more efforts in certain areas, and it’s still a work in progress for our family in terms of the real cost. Interested to see what you have to say on utilities!

  2. Pingback: Reviewing the frugal budget | Hands, Heart, Passion

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