Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Voluntary Simplicity

I've been thinking about voluntary simplicity a lot for the past couple of days, except I wasn't aware of an actual movement. It started with a conversation my husband and I had about "affluenza." We both love beautiful things and want a lovely home, but we feel strongly that living in debt is too high a price to pay. We want to be debt-free and feel that this is one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids. After all, money is one of the biggest issues in most marriages, so why live beyond our means when we know it's one of the leading causes of marital strife?

Later, I came across the idea again while doing research for my other blog, Greener Chic. After writing about Tasha Tudor's simple lifestyle, I decided to poke around and see what grassroots movements existed that seemed similar.

After looking around, I found the book Your Money or Your Life . I think I'm going to get the book! The whole idea was reminiscent of William Morris' News from Nowhere, so I did a google search on the Arts and Crafts Movement and voluntary simplicity and came across this post by my friend Paula at The Beautiful Life! Great minds think alike, I guess!

There's nothing new under the sun, and "Voluntary Simplicity" is of course just a new name for a very old idea. Living simply has been advocated by many people throughout history, at least as far back as Jesus Christ himself.

I love Morris' vision of a more simple future, where people embrace a less complex existence:

"There were houses about, some on the road, some amongst the fields with pleasant lanes leading down to them, and each surrounded by a teeming garden. They were all pretty in design, and as solid as might be, but countrified in appearance, like yeomen's dwellings; some of them of red brick like those by the river, but more of timber and plaster, which were by the necessity of their construction so like medieval houses of the same materials that I fairly felt as if I were alive in the fourteenth century; a sensation helped out by the costume of the people that we met or passed, in whose dress there was nothing "modern"."--News from Nowhere

I'm not sure if Morris' vision of the future will ever come to pass, but it would be nice! Especially when I look around my city and see cardboard McMansions going up in droves.


paulahewitt said...

great minds do think alike! I think there are lots of links between VS and A&C ideas. I would recommend Duane Elgins book Voluntary Simpliciity as well- it is more of a discussion, Your money or your life is a 'how to' to be honest i havent done the exercises in it - but I do follow a lot of the ideas - its a great book to read before a 'day at the mall'! i think making the decision of what to spend you money on is important.Our moment of truth came one day early in our marriage (with only one kid i think) when we went to the coffee shop next to the bank to talk about our budget. we bought coffee and cake, and then in the course of the conversation realised we had just spent $15 on average food, which we didnt really enjoy, instead of going home and making our own coffee for 'free'. it wasnt just the cost of the meal - it was the fact we were eating it without even thinking about it, and our budget, and we werent even enjoying it- it was just habit. basically - we will still go out and buy coffee and cake occasionally, but when we do we know what the 'cost' is and we make sure we enjoy it (and, of course, we dont go any where where paper cups are the norm). As for furniture cars etc -we pay cash - if we cant afford it we dont buy it - i dont want to be paying off something that depreciates quicker than you can pay of its debt! My husband is slowly making nice timber furniture for our home, based on Stickely (he has bought several books of stickly furniture patterns).

K Spoering said...

There's nothing like cleaning out a studio closet to make you want a more possession-free life! Actually, a simple life has always been a goal of ours - a life of stewardship: of not allowing possessions to possess us. It is not easy in today's material world, but always a good goal!
I try to remember Morris's advise to have nothing that you can't use or don't truly love.

Floribunda said...

I'm really enjoying Earthly Paradise. It is a lovely blog, a gorgeous rabbit hole down which I don't mind falling both to admire the A & C images and to read the thought-provoking text. We definitely practice a pay-as-we-go mindfulness about purchasing, and have lived debt-free our entire marriage of 11 years. Although many of our friends eat out far more often than they cook at home, and live in houses that are a couple thousand square feet larger than they "need," we have been content with our choices.

Fete et Fleur said...

Beautifully written Margaret! I loved this. This topic speaks to my heart. The book sounds like a great resource. I'm going to check it out.


momi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.