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A Simpler, Fuller Life

Posted June 28, 2011 7:53 AM

Many folks changed during "great recession." Even beyond trimming spending habits. The time "saved" from doing less shopping sometimes got invested in simple, lower-cost activities with friends and family. More reading, cooking, gardening, new hobbies, old hobbies. There was also a surge in minimalism, a movement to consume less, own fewer things, to define ourselves more from what we do rather than material things. Did the "great recession" lead to any positive and lingering changes in your life?

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#1

Re: A Simpler, Fuller Life

06/28/2011 11:32 PM

I wasn't alive during the great recession, but have lived through several recessions. I recently retired. There is a lot to be said for moderating your ambitions, living within your means, or below your means and saving the rest. I was never a saver, but seldom lived too far above my means. Our house is 1250 sq. feet on an acre. It was new. We bought the lot next door and live on over an acre of beautiful land. It cost a total of about $114,000 new. We could have spent twice that. We will keep our three paid for vehicles a few more years before buying another new vehicle. We live on the outskirts of a city of 70,000 in central Illinois. We have four large hospitals nearby and almost all the major franchise businesses.

Weather is moderate. We recently installed an inexpensive natural gas heater stove in our living room. It saves a lot of money. by not heating the whole house, if we don't need to. We can afford to keep an optimal temperature because of owning a small, well insulated house. Our heating and cooling averages about $150 per month. It could be lower if we decided to make it so.

I put in a raised bed garden, a greenhouse, and an orchard. We are trying to prepare for the worst, but we really have no worries. I plan to make more survivalist type measures also. Storing food, water, fuel, etc.

We could cut Comcast. We saved $100 a month by dropping Sprint and going to Virgin Mobile phones. We don't need to drive much, but do a lot of traveling. We have not been conservative with money, but have had good incomes. Didn't save much though.

My wife has to work ten more year, because she is only 55. We hope to travel Europe when she does. Take 9 months and wander around. I saw it in the service.

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#2

Re: A Simpler, Fuller Life

06/29/2011 4:03 AM

Yup too many get sucked into the consumerist rat race spending money they don't have on what they don't need.
I've long since reduced my working week, given up an expensive hoby and replaced it with one which pays for itself.
I'd much rather make something than buy it. We should be educating kids to appreciate the crafts, but of course that doesn't suit the great capitalist ideal of constant growth and consumerism.
It sadens me that many kids have been conditioned to sneer at handmade in favour of store bought.
I recenty showed a small group of kids a couple of my sculptures at a local garden and when I asked why the thought I made a sculpture one kid said 'to make money'.
(I'd donated the sculpture, and I was trying to show them it was made for the pure enjoyment of it).
Actually the kids were great and they really 'got it' in general.
Del

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#3

Re: A Simpler, Fuller Life

06/29/2011 7:19 AM

Yep. Panic selling in on-line auction sites.

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#4

Re: A Simpler, Fuller Life

06/29/2011 7:44 AM

I am not from America but from India. I retired 12 years back. I live on my savings and pension. We have good interest rate here around 9% per annum for senior citizens from the fixed deposits in scheduled banks. Of course I live simple life which is common here. But inflation here due to rise in crude oil prices is killing common man. So many corners are cut to survive.

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#5
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Re: A Simpler, Fuller Life

06/29/2011 8:27 AM

What do you recomend for cutting corners, tin snips or an angle grinder?
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#10
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Re: A Simpler, Fuller Life

06/29/2011 11:05 AM
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#16
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Re: A Simpler, Fuller Life

06/30/2011 7:16 AM

Take 10 Pound bill and knife you use for making bows, cut all the corners.

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#6

Re: A Simpler, Fuller Life

06/29/2011 8:42 AM

I've always been driven, not by a craving to have everything, but by a fear of having nothing. It tends to put the significance of the, "little things", in perspective.

To those that are climbing aboard the, "less is better", bandwagon, I say, "welcome aboard". The biggest thing you'll find that you're giving up, is the stress that comes with trying to keep up with everybody else. It's a nice place to be.

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#7

Re: A Simpler, Fuller Life

06/29/2011 9:04 AM

This is a thoughtful post. I have a decent prospect or retirement in a few years. I have seen a few poeple loose eveything because they lost a job through no fault of their own. My son lost his job and was severely lucky to find one a month later in a zero job market area (Cape Coral FL). I have started looking and preparing for what I would do inthe face of a job loss or major income reduction. I have become a hoarder of easily stored foods. I have began to study self reliance strategies for when or if food becomes something I can't easily afford.

I am almost to the point of trimming down cable tv, internet and, phone capabilities.

I can go to free wifi areas to check email, buy from Amazon or, use Skype.

My phone will become a Walmart phone and be used for needed communication instead of entertainment.

I will use an antenna for TV because there are a few stations nearby and I have a collection of movies available from the public library.

After all of that, my communication bill is reduced to $180/yr.

I am sure many of you can come up with ideas everyone can use if you will post them here.

Perhaps a minimalist section would be resonable here.

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#8

Re: A Simpler, Fuller Life

06/29/2011 9:26 AM

I have 500 channels on the TV but there's never anything on

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#12
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Re: A Simpler, Fuller Life

06/29/2011 11:34 AM

Yeah, watching the cat is more entertaining.
Del

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#17
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Re: A Simpler, Fuller Life

06/30/2011 7:22 AM

Is the "Cats" still running U.K & U.S?

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#9

Re: A Simpler, Fuller Life

06/29/2011 9:58 AM

I was ahead of the trend. I got laid off in 2001 from an R&D lab in a specialty chemical company and started working for myself as a contract worker. I learned a lot and formed my own consultinig / contract R&D company with a research lab and pilot plant. I love what I do and could happily continue until I drop dead with a smile on my face. I have clients/partners all over the US and around the world. I still see bad times ahead and try to prepare. I try to learn useful skills that can be used to barter for useful items. I teach biodiesel production at local tech college, I have a garden and hope to can some veggies. My car is a "poor man's hybrid" which starts on diesel then switches to used cooking oil after warming up. I'm trying to learn how to make my own beer & wine. I buy "junk" silver whenever I can, believing it will be more valuable than printed paper. I'm not yet independent, but I'm set a lot better than most folks I know.

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#11

Re: A Simpler, Fuller Life

06/29/2011 11:14 AM

I saw the 'great recession' coming in about 2005 (I read the Economist) and decided to simplify. I put my 2500 sq/ft house with pool, hot-tub, etc. in a remote California location on the market and managed to sell it just as the market started to tank. I moved to a mid size town in the Northwest, in a small well insulated, rented home. I've cut my utililties from ~$800/mo to ~$150. I'm a light switch nazi, and have replaced my incandescent bulbs with CFs (I don't like the color much but it's better than stumbling around in the dark). I turn off most of my business equipment when I'm not using it.

I work at home. My wife works for the local hospital about 1/2 mile away. The supermarket is a block and a half away. Instead of driving 40K miles per year I now drive maybe 3K miles. I've lost ~30 lbs because I walk more. I put in a big vegetable garden. We don't eat out much any more, and avoid packaged foods as much as possible by cooking from scratch. I haven't been to WalMart in years, so my collection of imported plastic junk is shrinking rapidly. Since I have lots of tools (used to work construction when I was younger) I've started building my own furniture. I've switched all my magazine subscriptions to digital. I think the next step is to learn to live without cable TV.

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#13

Re: A Simpler, Fuller Life

06/29/2011 12:09 PM

Just a few ideas:

1.Netflix is less than ten dollars per month. Thousands of movies to choose from. You need WI FI. It runs on Wii, Play Station, XBox, and others.

2. Cable cutting is a great goal. Radio is free.

3. Eat less, but store more.

4. Plan on staying home in emergencies, if possible. Being on the road is not a good idea.

5. Water storage is vital.

6. Lentils, rice, spices and multivitamins will keep you alive. It is probably a better diet than you are already eating. Store plenty and rotate it out. If you don't want to eat it, donate it. Corn can be made into cornbread, hominy, fried mush etc. Cooking oil is important. Salt, sugar, flour, peanut butter, etc. A hand operated grain grinder may be useful.

7. Alternative energy to run basics. Batteries, small solar panel, generator, flashlights, lanterns, candles.

8. Keep extra prescription medications, medical supplies, etc.

9. Have plenty of toilet paper , paper towels etc.

10. Dandelions are a great fresh vegetable. The roots can be dried and made into a beverage.

11. We love to eat out, but it is a waste of money, and tends to make you fat. We are.

12. We have all fluorescent lights, and love them. They save air conditioning in the summer. Electricity is more expensive than natural gas for heat in the winter.

13. You don't need health club dues if you have a large garden. Fruit and nut trees are more useful than shade trees.

14. Lawns can include some attractive edibles.

15. Mother Earth News has a lot of information to make you more self reliant. It is online.

16. Composting saves money on fertilizers and planting mixes.

17. A small greenhouse may be useful. It helps me with "cabin fever" in the winter.

18. Wood heat is a good way to save money if you live in an area with plentiful free wood. It also provides exercise. Get an efficient stove. Probably not worth it if you have natural gas available, but that is up to you.

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#14
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Re: A Simpler, Fuller Life

06/29/2011 12:24 PM

Nice list. Especially the prescription meds and toilet paper. Also good to have plenty of beer on hand to wash the water down.

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#15

Re: A Simpler, Fuller Life

06/29/2011 12:33 PM

I buy monthly bus passes. Buy them at the college bookstore and save an additional 10%. Bus route a block from my home was eliminated, so we walk the mile (just over 15 min) to get to a different bus route that is more flexible anyway. Will probably put no more then 1000 miles on the car this year - yet we go everywhere we want to.

Leaning more on public transit is something we should have done years ago. How long would our cars have lasted if we hadn't been driving so much?

The walking has replaced the health club when coupled with doing our own lawncare. (In full agreement about the gardener's comment a few posts back!)

Made a deal with neighbor to go halves on internet. 2-Tracfones + MagicJack keeps telecom down to under $200 /year - we seldom answer the tracfones, but instead return calls on MagicJack.

I bought my house largely to its proximity to public transportation, even though I didn't use it very often until last year. We use it everyday now, and don't feel we're handicapped for it. In fact, made it to events last winter that friends who drive could not get to, due to weather conditions. We have good bicycles, but use "klunkers" retrieved from garbage piles for commutes to the bus stop - in case the bike gets stolen or vandalized we didn't want it to be the "good ones".

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#18

Re: A Simpler, Fuller Life

07/04/2011 1:22 PM

About 8 months ago I found an amazingly effective way to cut a good 20% - 30% off my electricity bill. It has made quite a difference. I had a pay-as-you-go meter installed in my home. It's a 6"x4" box that is installed on the wall. It must be "charged" with a card, similar to a credit card, which in turn is loaded up at the grocery store down the road. You can load it up with a dollar, or a thousand dollars or more. That is the inconvenient aspect of the device. The positive side is that it has a read-out on it that you may cycle through to get all kinds of information. It tells you:

1. How much credit is left

2. How much you are spending per minute at that exact moment

3. What the cost for electricity per kw is at that exact moment

4. How much you have spent since midnight

5. How much you spent in the 24 hrs of yesterday

6. How much you spent since the first of the month

7. How much you spent last month

And a few other things. But basically it gives an up to the minute running total at all times.

I find myself checking it a few times a day. It puts things in perspective. It keeps me remembering to turn off the TV or lights when I leave a room. It reminds me to run the dishwasher or dryer during the cheapest hours of the night. By comparison, it reminds me how much I can save by turning the A/C a couple degrees warmer or the heater a couple degrees cooler at various times of the day. It reminds me if I start to slack off with my power usage. All in all it's far more effective than simply looking at your electric bill once a month and wondering why it's so high. The instant feedback is very in your face. I find myself almost in a competition to see if I can spend less than I did yesterday, or last month, without getting ridiculously austere. You can adjust your habits accordingly. Plus, you don't have to deal with a monthly bill. I recommend it to anyone, if it's available in your area.

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#19
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Re: A Simpler, Fuller Life

07/04/2011 1:34 PM

It sounds good..................................but something about that scenario scares me. I'm not even attempting to say that it's justified...................just scary.

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