It all ties together

Husband and I have dreamed of a more rural lifestyle for some time now. For me the appeal was more outdoor space and bigger pets. But, to my growing fascination, it is becoming so much more than that. Scattered ideas and thoughts that have been milling around in my mind for a while are coming together and tying into our dream, weaving it all into one big picture.

It started with the recent realization that, given our income, we really weren’t saving much money. We were spending alot more than I thought a family of four really needed to spend, and I resolved to change that. Then we came up with The Plan, which provided a tangible savings goal to work towards.

The two areas of our budget that had the most room for improvement were groceries and the miscellaneous fund (money spent on everything other than rent, bills, groceries, and gas). Husband helped with the grocery bill, but I realized that the best way to bring down the miscellaneous spending was to simply stop buying stuff we really didn’t need. And that is when I became interested in consumerism – why do I want this stuff? And how do I stop wanting it so that I can save without feeling deprived?

What I discovered, and what I’ll expand upon in many posts to come, is that the cure for consumerism is a three-step process. First, become aware of the forces that make us want so much stuff and take steps to counteract them. Second, lose your taste for stuff (one great way is to learn where our stuff comes from and what happens to it when we’re done with it – trust me, it will curb your appetite faster than an E. Coli outbreak at Burger King). Finally, change your lifestyle to support steps 1 and 2. Some people call this voluntary simplicity, or living simply (and no, it doesn’t mean you have to forgo modern plumbing, grind your own corn, and live in a strawbale house).

And as it turns out, our Dream to leave the city is exactly the sort of thing you could choose to do if you wanted to start living simply. Isn’t that funny? The very thing that motivated us to start saving money could turn out to be the best way of all to do so! (With the added benefit of changing many other aspects of our lives that we feel need work – living green, Husband working less, and spending more time outdoors).


2 responses to this post.

  1. Hi – I came across your blog from a comment you left at Good 4 Girls.
    My family of five is also seeking to live a simpler life, but within the limits of our city. I haven’t looked through all of your posts, and I’m sure you have loads of ideas there, but what would you say have been the most critical steps to living simpler in your current location? What about biggest challenges?
    It’s difficult to fond people in big cities that feel this way – I’m appreciative of any thoughts you have to share!


  2. Posted by ruralaspirations on February 17, 2008 at 9:23 am

    Hi! The most critical steps thus far have been reducing waste, and vastly reducing product consumption (big changes to the family budget, much greater emphasis on saving than spending). The biggest challenge is that, being in a suburb, we pretty much have to drive everywhere. Though we are a bit of an anomaly in that we are a 1 car family (by choice) and sometimes it gets tricky to coordinate. When I teach, it’s over 1.5 hours by bus each way to the university. But we do it and it’s really not bad. The idea of having another car just seems so wasteful for us in our situation. Hope you’ll visit again!


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