Simple Living: How to Save Money and Smile More

Are you drawn to the idea of simple living, but not sure where to start? Three families share the changes they’ve made that have allowed them to live with less cash income but greater security and life satisfaction.

| February/March 2013

Imagine a more satisfying way to live, with time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. A quiet evening walk in the woods. Relaxed family meals of flavorful, homegrown food and with conversation, no TV in sight. Curling up with a good book in front of a crackling fire after a day of hard work in your garden ...

You can enjoy these rewards of simple living — the key is to recognize the full value of becoming a skilled, productive homemaker/homesteader. In today’s world, most of us pay other people to provide the things we need, which means we need a job or two outside the home to bring in cash. But if you learn how to be more self-sufficient, you’ll also learn how to save money, live on less income, and also enjoy greater personal freedom and satisfaction from your daily labor.

Centuries ago, homemaking and homesteading involved a great deal of hard physical labor. Today, we have machines and scientific knowledge that make most tasks much easier, faster and safer. Modern homesteading taps the best of contemporary technology to help us master traditional skills and become more self-sufficient and secure.

Expensive designer clothes, factory-made convenience foods, long commutes to work — these parts of consumer culture don’t have a place in the modern homesteader’s value system. Instead, homemakers take pride in producing an entire year’s supply of organically grown food, including cheese, meat, and perhaps even wine and beer. Some spin and weave their own clothing or make their family’s soap and personal care products. Homesteaders also limit fuel costs by spending more time at home and simply not driving as much, cutting firewood to heat their homes, and often installing renewable energy systems. Even building a log or straw bale home is not out of reach.

We talked with three families who have carefully weighed the pros and cons of what many consider the “American Dream” and have decided the numbers just didn’t add up. They explain how they’ve avoided “affluenza” by choosing to pursue a different bottom line, and how this has resulted in total household expenditures that are far less than the U.S. average (see the chart in Simple Living: How Much Do You Save?). Instead of measuring their wealth by job status and how much they own, these families have embraced simple living, healthful foods, strong relationships and, in turn, deep life satisfaction.

Simple Living: Growing Greener Pastures

Hannah and Eric Noel; Highgate, Vt. 

7/16/2016 2:35:15 AM

One of the secrets is never buy new if you can get it secondhand. Secondhand starts at 60% of new price at any time after purchase and drops quickly from there. Be prepared to clean it up cause the fools that bought it new won't have bothered to keep it clean either .

Heidi Hunt
3/28/2013 5:45:24 PM

This article inspires me to try harder to live with less.

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