Living Simply…what does it mean to you?

I have noticed lately that folks talk a great deal about living simply. Yet when I think about that term I wonder what the hell does that mean exactly? For some folks it means living within their financial means and not accruing debt, for others it means getting off the grid and living off the land, for others it means  crossing the country in a veggie fueled RV and taking whatever job they find to put food on the table.

Right now for me living simply means struggling with getting out of debt, yet I still succumb to a daily iced coffee on the way home from work…this is down from the multiple espresso drinks I used to buy daily, yet it still involves spending cash, just a lot less than I used to spend.

I no longer visit malls unless I know exactly what I need, I go in, get what I need and leave quickly before I buy something just because it was cute or on sale. Yet I still get weak in thrift and consignment shops, hence the second vintage dress I bought recently that no one in my family likes…what do they know?

I cook a lot more from scratch, yet I still eat the occasional meal out especially in the summer time when I just don’t feel like cooking. However it tends to be an inexpensive salad or tart from a local eatery. Gone are the days of the $75 lunches. Though I know there are many that would say that I still waste money, true but I strive to find my balance between living a lot more simply but not feeling deprived. Drugstore lipstick probably could work at $5 a tube but MAC lipstick at $14 a tube definitely works and if I save 6 empties I get one free.

So what are you doing to live more simply? Do you even think about living a more simple life? Let me know…I can always use ideas to streamline my life.

10 thoughts on “Living Simply…what does it mean to you?”

  1. I guess making your own food is the thing to do now…clearly I’m saving in a city gal kinda way which is still a big step 🙂 I could have bought a car by now but I haven’t because I really don’t “need” it with Chgo transportation taking you anywhere you honestly need to go….might take longer to get there but it’s all good. I started buying bulk last mth using someone else’s Sam’s Club or Costco card so I dnt have to buy my own membership. I buy for the kids via eBay from other moms but now I think I should hit up more thrift stores. I dnt cook much so I conserve my bulk groceries but I use my microwave well, using my crockpot more to make big meals when I do cook, and keep appliances unplugged to reduce my elec bill….not sure if that’s working well or not. Technology is what kills my budget every time though….cell phone plans & going over my mins. If I can get that under control then I can put more towards my debt. The good thing is I haven’t incurred any new debt….just the same ole crap as before so I’m a year closer to being a home owner.

  2. A really good question; a very large subject and range of perspectives, as you suggest. I’ve recently started a new blog, Life After Sixty, Simplified (, and I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface on living simply and frugally (the two seem to go together in my mind). And there must be hundreds of books and blogs out there about living simply!

  3. Hey Shay,

    Well, thanks to a serious lapse in timing/judgment I am now having to pay out an extra couple of hundred bucks a month that I can’t really spare, so now I’m about to get real simple up in here. Mainly my weakness is food: When money was less of an object, I went out on a regular basis and, when I cooked, I splurged on Whole Foods-quality ingredients. I think I’m going to have to plan my meals a lot better now and limit my goings-out to coffee or one alcoholic drink. Other things I probably should give up but won’t: my gym membership (already super-cheap at $18/month), my Netflix membership (I have no TV so my primary source of entertainment is Internet), my Internet (yeah, right).

  4. First, I can echo just about everything Chris wrote. Second, we do make just about all our food from scratch and we hardly eat out anymore. I don’t drink coffee anymore, either, but when I did, I just made it at home. Whenever I go out for the day with my two pre-teen unschoolers, I pack a bag of food and we bring water in our steel bottles. I can’t imagine (and won’t) pay for bottled water. We bulk-buy our groceries, many days we don’t drive anywhere, we buy fewer clothes and repair and wear out what we have. I’ve even stopped thrifting as much because I found myself bringing home just too much stuff. We do splurge on some things (and spend for quality over quantity) like the arts, technology (mainly for the kids–my cell phone is 5 years old) and local &/or organic food.

  5. I live in a small town with only one market. I can drive to the larger store but prices are basically the same. We are eating more frozen veggies, and any fruit I get from my outlaws is frozen and or I make applesauce instead of buying it. When we lived in NJ it was game on shopping/movie/dinner out every other week. Those are now considered “the good old days” I wish I had MAC lipstick, ain’t none to be found in the sticks.

  6. Natural Nubian, I def think its harder to not spend money when you live in a major city. Yes, there are lots of free events that we don’t have in a more rural state but my big city friends find it funny that I really can live without my sushi and serious coffee beverages. Heck, when I was back in Chicago I could easily spend $15 a day before I even got to work. Now I am down to $2.50 for a iced coffee.

    Danielle, how is Angel Foods? I have heard mixed thoughts but it looks like it can be a big money saver.

    Chi-chi, you are a lot like me when it comes to money and savings. Its all about balance.

  7. I was never overly extravagant to begin with but I do like to eat out. Now I make it count. I go out to a good restaurant. No Applebees or anything like that. For me its absolutely sucks to get a medicore meal and still have to pay for it. But now that winter’s (aside form Xmas and it will be humble this years)coming it’ll be a lot easier not to spend money. I’m also downgrading my cable. For most of my groceries I use angel food ministries. They have food packages like family packs, seniors, just fruits and veggies and meats. It’s not bad. So I usually buy the family, fruits and veggies and the seniors (for when I dont want to cook) packs. Everything comes up to around $80. Then after that I have to buy the kids snacks and few extra things. It cuts my food shopping in half.

  8. For me, living simply is just living within our means and becoming as self-sufficient as I can without driving myself batty. I think it’s just about recognizing those things that are really important to you and why and prioritizing those things so that all of your decisions and actions support those goals. No wasted energy or money. And those goals could be a simple as being able to have a latte every so often without throwing some other aspect of your life into chaos. For me, it’s being able to buy a book or a skein of yarn without serious problems. It’s being comfortable and really enjoying life because you’re reflective and conscious in your living. Not just mindlessly going through the motions, buying into the whole “Get more. Get better. Get bigger” schtick that’s pushed on us these days.

  9. i’m challenging myself to a serious fincial fast this september. although i’m saving the cost of living here in NYC has gone up significantly since fall 08, but my paycheck is still the same. so i’ve decided i cannot purchase anything i do not absolutely NEED for 30 days. i’m even heading to DC for labor day wknd and have a wedding to attend so this will be quite the challenge. i always legitimize my spending, and in NYC walking around the town on wknds to enjoy the summer sun can easily burn a hole in one’s pocket. wish me luck 🙁

  10. We committed a while back that we would not borrow any more money, for anything, ever. We’ve cut down about a third of our debt since then, and although we are now closing our garage door by hand (the ancient opener having given out at last) and other such things, we find that we can get on just fine without borrowing.

    We always tried to live frugally, but we’re doing more canning and preserving, beans and peaches and jams and what have you, than we have before. We do more thrift store shopping. We eat out less. More salad, less meat. That kind of thing. We’re a long way from Thoreau, but we’re closer than we were, and this seems the way to go for us.

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