Frugal Living: Could we be Doing More?

Reader Contribution by Carrie Williams Howe
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Note: The author was provided with a complementary copy of The Art of Frugal Hedonism by Chelsea Green Publishing in order to write a review on her blog.  This is an accompanying article.

As homesteaders, frugal living is often a way of life.  After all, living in a self-sufficient way is synonymous with living frugally.  But could you be doing more?  And are there other ways to look at what it means to be “frugal?”

In July, 2018 The Happy Hive Homestead hosted a book group with homesteaders from across the United States and beyond.  Out of five books to choose from, the group select The Art of Frugal Hedonism by Annie Raser Rowland and Adam Grubb.  We were immediately taken with the book, in particular for the creative way that the authors frame frugal living not just as the act of being cheap or living with less, but as a way to enjoy life even more by reframing what we see as normal (click here to read our review of the book). 

This book got me thinking – what more could homesteaders do beyond our already simplified lifestyle to live more frugally and enjoy life more?  In other words what does Raser-Rowland and Grubb’s book offer to a group that is already “the choir” when it comes to preaching frugal living?

I came to the conclusion that homesteaders can gain at least three things from reading this book and from thinking about frugal living differently:

A way to quantify what we are gaining financially by living an “alternative” lifestyle instead of what we are losing. So often, we think about the choices we make as homesteaders in a negative sense – in particular, we think about not having an external job or only working part-time as a financial gap that we have to struggle to fill (at least, I have felt that way).  Raser-Rowland and Grubb invite us to create a “new normal” in which working full-time and more is not actually necessary to live the life we’d like to lead.  They walk you through not only a rationale for why and how we can work less, but even help you to see how much you are saving yourself by not working.  They flip the equation, so to speak, to ask if external employment is actually a good or necessary solution to financial security.

A confirmation of the value of social connections as part of frugal living. I’ve written before about how self-sufficiency is not a sufficient term for homesteading.  This book helped to confirm my belief that being more self-sufficient is actually more possible when you are part of a community with similar values.  Raser-Rowland and Grubb articulate the social fabric that is and can be grown by living frugally – how simple gatherings with friends at home can create stronger bonds than gatherings that entail a lot of spending; or how trading tools back and forth with neighbors helps you get to know neighbors more and create social connections you might not have otherwise had. 

More ideas to expand your frugal lifestyle. While its true that a homesteader reading this book might say to themselves “hey, I already do that” I can almost guarantee you that Raser-Rowland and Grubb are going to present a few suggestions you hadn’t yet considered.  The book is divided into chapters that are themed around areas in your life where you could live more frugally.  The trick is to try a few new things out while you’re reading the book and see if you think they could “stick”.   And the truth is, Raser-Rowland and Grubb aren’t homesteaders and often their suggestions seem to come from a more urban lens, but maybe that’s the real value for our community – to listen and learn to those who live just a little bit differently and see what they have to offer.  Otherwise, we’re still preaching to the choir.

Note: you can join The Happy Hive’s Homesteaders’ Book Club by visiting our Facebook Group Page.  We’ll be reading books a few times a year, and participants vote on what to read.  We’d love to have you join us!

Carrie Williams Howe is a blogger at The Happy Hive HomesteadShe is the Executive Director of an educational nonprofit by day, and parent and aspiring homesteader by night and on weekends. She lives in Williston, Vermont, with her husband, two young children, and a rambunctious border collie. Carrie has a PhD in educational leadership and is passionate about learning collaboratively. Connect with Carrie on The Happy Hive Facebook page. Read all of Carrie’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.  

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