Friday, April 18, 2008

Living With Less Is a Choice

While I was re-hanging my newly cleaned blinds and curtains in my bedroom yesterday (a once a year task that it not my favorite), I clicked on the TV and Oprah had a show on about living with less. It was a follow-up to a show on freegan living. Immediately, I was intrigued and left it on because first, it was not Veggie Tales and secondly by worldly standards our family is odd so I wanted to see if there were any people "like us". Did anyone see this show?

They took two families and gave them a challenge to live with less for 7 days, yes, just one week. The first family admitted in the very beginning that they are wasteful, I guess the first step is admitting the problem. This family has picky eaters and the mom was making four different dinners a night, o.k. who has time to do this or the money? Even though their refrigerator was fuller than me on lasagna night, they went grocery shopping and spent $200 on more food they are going to throw out next week before they return to the grocery to buy more. The topper here is that they can not even afford this lifestyle, they are robbing Peter to pay Paul. The husband is struggling to keep them in this lifestyle and is not being very successful.

Oh, and the kids, I ache for these spoiled children. They are growing up thinking this is the standard so when they are out on their own, they will expect to still live at this level. When they don't, they will be lost and will be discontent, not living a full, joyful life. There is no work ethic being instilled in these children, so on top of thinking they will be able to live at the same standard, they will not have a work ethic to bring in money. Sadly, they broke the rules repeatedly during the 7 days. I don't think this is going to be life-changing for them. They need to meet some Katrina victims to get a little life perspective.

Now, the second family grieved me even more for the children. The five-year-old spent between 3 to 5 hours a day, yes, A DAY playing video games and the daughter had the TV on all day and night. The mom was ready to make the change as she saw her five-year-old going through withdrawals as an addict does when taken away from his "habit". Woohoo, this family did the challenge and have made some real life changes, I think they "got it". Seven days is a start, but it is lifestyle choice.

I am so blessed to have a frugal husband, I am not sure many wives would say that and in reality when we were first married, this was not my favorite quality of his. With "retiring" from the work world to be a stay-at-home mom and now a homeschool mom there have been many sacrifices, but I would gladly do it all again.

No, I don't have a ton of great clothes (hey Oprah, since you are simplifying, could send me some of your clothes), or get pedicures, or my hair fixed at the salon regularly. But, my husband thinks I am a princess and treats me like one. He does not deny me "things" because I never put him in the position to have to buy my attention or love or to be wasteful. If it is something that I feel that I NEED, I get it. If it is something I WANT, we talk about it and see the feasibility of it.

It is a choice for us to live this kind of life. In return, I am already seeing the fruits ~ we have children who are learning what real work ethic is, we will help them find their life passion and having fun doing it, we own 92 acres that we paid cash for, we own our vehicles, we don't have credit card debt and we are just in our mid 30s (o.k. so I have a birthday in a few weeks that is going to put me much closer to the 40 mark).

Living a simple life does not mean you are somehow inadequate or you are "poor". I feel like one of the richest women alive.

The Park Wife


OKGardners said...

You have it all right! You are going to be fine AND have dependable children. That is so nice to hear.

Parents who don't EXPECT any help from their kids or don't TEACH them how to function in a home by working and do chores and keeping their room tidy, are NOT doing these kids a favor. They are actually creating "adult disasters." The kids will grow up expecting to be waited on and thinking they have no responsibilities whatsoever. They probably will not be respectful to authority and will have trouble in school, on jobs, and in a marriage.

I'm so very happy to hear that you have it RIGHT. We don't have to have "Things" to be happy. A good faithful, God-fearing husband who loves us is worth his weight in Gold - especially when he is also a good Daddy like Big Buckaroo.

Love & Prayers for your family,
Betty in Oklahoma

Blessed said...

This is so true! My husband and I are working towards paying everything off so that we can use just cash - we started last year with over $65,000 in debt plus our house - now we're down to less than $30,000 plus the house - Oh, and when I throw things away or give things away now there aren't 10 other things to take their place - it's great! We're hoping to instill these principals into our little one so that she won't ever have to wake up one day and ask herself how she got into so much debt - buying without thinking before we had the money, that's how it happened!

Valarie said...

We are trying to get out of debt, well actually we are not that far in debt. We just have a side business, that seems to always need something. I want my children to be able to have a live where they do not depend on credit, and they have a job that they love.

Renee in Seattle said...

I loved the Fregan episode on Oprah. I belong to a co-op where we go to grocery stores and make arrangements to take the food they pull from the shelves, but don't give to the food bank, and then we distribute it among the members of the co-op. Hoity-toity health food markets participate, as well as Costco, bakeries, etc. and as a result, I get all of my food for my family of 5 for FREE, that is fruit, vegetables, dairy, goodies, meat occasionally, bread, etc. I get it every week, and in turn I work for the co-op 1-2 times a month. My food is FREE. Did I mention that I have NO GROCERY BILL? That my food is FREE? And it is not rotten, spoiled, bad food, just getting near it's pull date and the grocery store needs to make room for the fresher stuff. We are also called gleaners, but we call ourselves a co-op.

So, to recap, we pay NO MONEY for our food, and this food was going to be thrown out, but instead it is stocking our fridge and gracing our table.

(As you can tell, I'm a bit pleased that I don't have a grocery bill in these times of inflation!)

Dawn said...

It's scary to imagine what society will be like when this next spoiled generation comes of age. Too many of them come out of college with high debt (I mean credit card debt, not school loans) feeling as though they immediately deserve to have everything their parents worked 30 years to build. I applaude your decision to live the lifestyle you've chosen. We, too, do our best to live in financial freedom (cash not credit) and teach our children the meaning of work. We could pay for their college - but we won't. We'll help, but feel they'll appreciate the education much more if they've had to help pay for it as well as developing a strong work ethic in the process.

lolly said...

You guys are so wise. (Like 'the Lions') I'm very proud of you. :o) Love you all much!!!

Mommy Lion said...

We are right there with you!
And with Dawn on the school thing. We'll help, but want them to do it on their own. My hubby did it without any help from parents and very few loans. Which are now completely paid off! WOOHOO!
It's hard not to be swayed into the lifestyle of convenience that our society has today.
Keep up the great work!

Jan said...

Your children will grow up knowing how to take care of themselves and understand that "things" don't bring happiness.
We did pay for our 2 children's college but it was a state school not an expensive private college. They also worked and got Pell Grants when they could. They got out debt free and it has helped them get started with their families not a have college debt to repay hanging over their head.
Deferred gratification is not a bed thing. Jan C.

Jan said...

Oops. I just read my own comment a day later. That should have been a BAD thing! Jan

A glance at my world said...

I agree. I grew up in a home that didn't have a tv, we went out to eat like twice a year, and I had all homemade clothes...but I was the happiest kid in the world. I never thought "gee, we're poor." I actually like growing up with a simple lifestyle and I hope when I get married and have kids they can have the same appreciation for the little things like I do. :)

To Renee- you rock! I totally want to join your co-op :)

Anonymous said...

We are going to move to Washington D.C. for just a year. We are planning on only taking clothes, a few kitchen items, towels, and bedding. We are going to see how little we can live with and what we can get for free. There is a web site called freecycle where people give away lots of stuff. We are going to try to get most of our funiture there or at thrift stores and then freecycle it back when we leave. Hopefully this will show my family how little it takes to be happy.