Voluntary simplicity is a lifestyle choice to drastically reduce consumption in order to live more simply for reasons such as environmental and economic. Many proponents of voluntary simplicity question the materialism of modern life. They say it leads to overspending, overwork (people have to work harder and longer to pay their debts and satisfy a consumer lifestyle), more stress, and damage to the environment as resources are used to create unnecessary material goods that often wind up in landfills.
These people are committed to cutting their expenses to the bone so they can have enough financial independence to say goodbye to full time work decades before the conventional retirement age.
Voluntary Simplicity: How Does It Work?
People use a variety of approaches to save money. These include dropping unnecessary expenses such as pay TV and expensive cell phone plans, shopping at thrift stores and garage sales, growing some of their own food, and getting creative about managing housing costs. Some have:
- Chosen homes that cost far less than what they can afford
- Shared a house with another family
- Managed apartment complexes for free rent
- Lived in boats or RV’s
If you are looking for ideas on how to trim your expenses there are loads of free online resources brimming with suggestions. A couple of sites that give good budget trimming ideas are Dollar Stretcher and The Simple Dollar.
I am a major tightwad and I didn’t think that I could find any new money saving ideas that I haven’t yet considered, but there are a few useful tips on these sites and they may be new to you. Another good site is Financial Integrity which gives you a 9 step downloadable guide to financial independence as well as testimonials, tips, tools and calculators. There are pages and pages of resources about budgeting, paying off debt, investing and reducing your spending.
Voluntary simplicity clearly isn’t for everyone. Most of us will choose a lifestyle with more comforts, even if you have to work longer to pay for them. But knowing what’s possible can help you challenge some of your beliefs about what is really a must-have in your life.