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Living a Simple Life: Simple Living in a Bad Economy

One of the greatest misconceptions that people have about simple or frugal living is thinking it it will mean they must make a great sacrifice of many of life's pleasures. Nothing could be further from the truth. Simple living, also called "voluntary simplicity" does not mean to live as cheaply as possible. The idea is to try to live as well as you can on less. In our current air of economic crisis, this becomes all the more attractive. Recent reports suggest that people are spending less, but in doing so they are actually taking more time to shop very carefully and plan wise choices. That doesn't mean purchasing everything from your local superstore. A simple and frugal lifestyle is much more conscious of responsible choices in shopping and living.

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It is certainly a possibility to be happy, content, live a fulfilling life, and have all of your day to day needs met in an extremely satisfying way by living in a simple and frugal manner. It does not require great sacrifices. A vow of voluntary simplicity can bring more to your life than simply extra savings in your budget. You can gain a sense of inner peace, a focus on the importance of the more simpler things in life, and certainly less financial concerns than you would have living the overly-commercial lifestyle of today's society. Many simple living advocates think of it as a challenge that they are eager to accept. Living well on little is an art, experimenting in fresh, vivid, lifestyle choices that are often overlooked and forgotten. So what are some of the principles of voluntary simplicity?

Eating With the Seasons

Most environmentally-conscious people refer to this as eating locally produced foods. It is also popularly known as the "Hundred Mile Diet" thanks to the book of the same name. This very green way to eat is budget friendly and very delicious since the foods are so fresh. Foods that have to travel long distances to reach the stores in which they are stocked and sold to you cost more due to the travel and storage costs. The same is true for foods that are not native to your area or country. Eating foods that are local and in season brings the freshest ingredients to your table and it helps you save money and resources in the process. Canning, dehydrating, and otherwise preserving foods that are in season allows you to extend the local eating into winter months too, and at a great savings. Imagine this winter eating a delicious meal of homemade pasta and homemade tomato sauce that you prepared and preserved in the fall. Now that is living well for little and reaping the delicious bounty that is available! Eating in season may also be simplistic in other ways—a meal of homemade granola and berries so fresh that they explode in your mouth can be a "gourmet" meal.

For many people simple living also means growing your own food. It gives a sense of accomplishment, a connection to the earth, water, and air and an opportunity for exercise and appreciation for nature. Even in limited spaces you can grow grape tomatoes in a window box or fresh herbs on the window sill inside your kitchen. Sprouting is another simple and easy way to get wonderful nutrition and good eating. Food doesn't get any fresher than when you grow it yourself.

Making Time for Things That Matter

Simplicity can mean forsaking expensive entertainment outings. Not only are they expensive and often less than environmentally conscious, but they never seem to relax us the way they should. Instead, opportunities for neighborhood walks, hikes at a state park, and reading in a comfy chair at the bookstore become an escape. Simple living enthusiasts treasure moments, events, and time with their loved ones—these are the things that matter and the things that create bonds of love and caring relationships in so many ways. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe once said, "One ought every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words."

Simple is Classic

When evaluating new clothing purchases it is important to look very closely at every item. Make sure it will coordinate with at least five other things you already own. This helps to assure that you do not by something frivolously and later regret the expense and find that purchase hanging in your closet barely worn. For the sake of storage and for laundry day don't buy too many clothes. Consider your needs and the versatility of a slim yet sophisticated wardrobe. Pants in several basic colors, coordinating shirts and sweaters in different styles, a few stylish dresses, nice shoes with clean lines in basic colors—you really don't really need much. In fact, you probably already have a favorite few outfits that you wear repeatedly. The same is likely true for the rest of your family. Choosing a basic and limited wardrobe allows us to buy quality items since we don't have to have such great quantity. Sturdy classic clothes in earthy or neutral colors never go out of style and always adapt to whatever function you may need to attend.

If that doesn't sound like your style consider the wonder of thrift stores and consignment shops. Beautiful, gently used clothing can be found for extremely low prices, freeing up your saved dollars to be put to some other good use. In fact you'll find much more than clothing there. Consider buying secondhand for other needs in your life. You can decorate your entire home tastefully and affordably by buying second hand. Timeless and beautiful pieces can be found at a great price and no one will know the difference.

You can apply the principles of voluntary simplicity in your life. You can live a "rich" life on relatively little and can feel good about it too.

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