The Art of Living Simply
A’ Shopping We Will Go, A’ Shopping We Will Go
So there we were in Costco.
Just shoot me now and put me out of my misery.
That’s what I was thinking as my wife led me through the warehouse store doors.
Please, for the love of God, just shoot me!
As you might be able to guess, I’m not much of a shopper. Crowds drive me crazy. Rude people make me want to forget all about “love they neighbor” and hit someone. Old women with shopping carts should be required to take a driving exam before being allowed in a store full of unsuspecting shoppers.
I’m happy to report I survived the Costco excursion with a minimum of bruises.
The reason I even mention that trip is because while we were there I stopped by the electronic section and looked at the latest in big screen televisions.
I was blown away.
I have never seen such incredible quality in a television picture. Fifty-five inches of screen, and the picture made me feel like I was part of the action. It was so life-like!!!!
And I wasn’t temped at all.
Like any high-priced call girl, it doesn’t cost a thing to look, but once you touch you better have your gold card handy.
I don’t NEED a high-priced call girl, and I sure as hell don’t NEED a 55-inch HD television.
The key word there being NEED!
Let me give you a quick tour of my life.
I work for myself. I am in charge of my own destiny with regards to financial matters. I earn as much as I need with a little extra for a bonus. My wife and I have whittled our credit and debt down to practically nothing. We live in a modest 1,200 square foot home on an eighth of an acre. We raise chickens, quail, and rabbits, and we grow vegetables that last us about nine months.
Bev drives a 2011 Honda Fit that she paid cash for. I drive a 1998 Ford Ranger that I paid cash for. I do much of the regular maintenance on those vehicles.
We barter and trade with neighbors. We barter and trade with some local businesses. We buy organic and never, ever use pesticides. We have developed relationships with our neighbors and we are always available when someone needs a helping hand.
In other words, we are living a simple life.
And we are thriving!
A couple weeks ago I wrote an article about raising chickens, and someone wrote a comment saying that it sounded like a lot of work to him.
To me, working forty hours per week and being buried under a mountain of debt sounds like a lot of work. I guess it’s all about perspective.
How to Begin the Simple Life
It begins, quite frankly, with a commitment to change one’s life. We live in a consumer world, a world that says spending and the accumulation of possessions are good things. Bigger is better…the one with the most toys wins….spend it like there will be no tomorrow….we are surrounded by those ways of thinking, and we are bombarded by advertisements that entice and ensnare us. Work harder, earn more money, spend more money, then get up the next day and do it all again, and again, and again.
No thank you!
I played that game and I never won. It’s like being imprisoned in Las Vegas and having to play by the House’s rules and odds. The cards are stacked against you, so I left the game to the next sucker standing in line to take my place.
I made a commitment to change my way of thinking and by extension my way of living.
I committed to living a simple life.
The next step on this journey is to learn the following mantra by heart: needs vs wants.
Every purchase that I make has to pass that litmus test. Do I need it or do I simply want it? If I need it then I buy it, or trade for it, or barter for it. If I want it then it remains on the shelf, untouched by my simple hands.
Needs vs wants! Say it after me.
And then we begin the journey.
Practical Steps on the Journey
The average American adult has $4,800 in credit card debt.
The average American household has over $127,000 in overall debt.
That, my friends, is the definition of a loser’s game. You can’t win carrying that much debt, and yet day in and day out Americans continue to try.
The grand total of our debt is $43,156, and that is our mortgage. I just did our taxes so I happen to know this one almost to the penny. We owe no credit card debt. In fact, we have no other debts.
That, my friends, is the definition of a winner’s game.
The sooner you get rid of your debt, the sooner you will be on the road to financial freedom.
But what about that meaningless job you are working? We spend what, forty hours per week, every week of our lives, working at some job. Are we enjoying it? Are those hours spent doing something you love, or doing something that merely pays the bills?
The simple life is all about quality of life.
How is the quality of your life?
I will make this short. Why do I think it’s important to simplify your life?
How important is your health?
How important is your peace of mind?
My blood pressure, and remember that I am 66 years old, is 111/70….heart rate of 70.
I am happy when I get up in the morning and happy when I go to bed.
I live without stress.
I am environmentally responsible.
I am creating community.
Need I go on?
The Transformaton Will Happen When It Happens
For me it began eight years ago. I took a good, hard look at my life and realized it wasn’t working. I was stuck on the proverbial treadmill of life, going nowhere and getting there very quickly. Every single day looked the same. My blood pressure was rising, my nerves were shot, and the pressure never ended.
So I changed.
Seven years ago I met a woman who wanted the same things that I wanted, and saw life the same way I saw it.
So we changed together.
And today we have everything that we NEED!
How about you?
Listen, please: I’m not selling a damned thing. I’ve got it made in the shade, and I thought I would share it with you. If you don’t want it then continue on with your current lifestyle. Keep adding to the debt, keep adding your meaningless possessions and keep working your ass off for someone else.
I want no part of that foolishness.
What’s that, you say? I hear someone in the back…what did you say? Oh, I get it. You’re buried in debt, you are working two part-time jobs that will not allow you to change, and you can’t possible do anything about it. You can’t get ahead, you are falling further behind daily, and there is no light at the end of that tunnel.
And to that I say nothing changes if nothing changes.
Begin small and work from there. Slowly pay off one credit card bill. Begin buying according to needs rather than wants today. Keep building upon your successes and stay committed. Sell off everything you don’t need. Learn to live frugally. Look for opportunities around every corner.
I know it can be done because I did it, and I was fifty-eight years old when I made the commitment.
So please don’t tell me it can’t be done.
If you need to get in touch with me to discuss this, you can find me working in our garden. Don’t bother looking for me at Costco. Once was more than enough for this guy.
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)