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-   -   How simply do you live? (https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=163801)

Roody 01-28-11 06:02 PM


Originally Posted by hnsq (Post 12134927)
I want to start out by saying I am asking this sincerely. I am not trying to troll in any way. I am honestly just trying to understand.

What is the big deal with 'living simply'? If you live within your means, save money smartly, don't overextend yourself, why is it necessarily a good and noble thing to have less 'stuff'? I want to be debt free, I don't want my stuff to be the most important thing in my life, but given that, why is it a worthwhile thing to try to live with less?

It's a matter of doing what I really want to do, instead of doing what people are always telling me to do.

hnsq 01-31-11 08:55 AM


Originally Posted by Roody (Post 12147696)
It's a matter of doing what I really want to do, instead of doing what people are always telling me to do.

Can you expand on that? Isn't 'living simply' for the sake of it just as bad as buying a 5,000sqft house just because you are supposed to?

Isn't doing what you really want to do something that is independent of any given philosophy about life? (if you really wanted to buy something expensive, would you do it, or choose not to because you are trying to 'live simply'?)

Newspaperguy 01-31-11 01:01 PM

Living simply allows me to use more of my resources where I want to use them rather than for the upkeep of a lifestyle. Here are a few examples:

I drive very little, so instead of filling the tank on average once every two weeks, I'm filling once every two months. At around $50 a fill, that will save me around $150 every two months, or around $75 a month. That's money I can use on anything else.

I don't have cable (and I don't even own a television.) The most basic cable package is $36.95 and a slightly more comprehensive package is $62.95. That money doesn't go to the cable company; it's mine to enjoy.

There are similar savings I enjoy with telephone service packages. I've found some savings by watching my electrical and natural gas consumption. In those areas, the result is not nearly as impressive as my gasoline savings, but again, it's more money in my pocket.

Buying quality goods that last rather than lower priced goods that must be replaced often will save me in the long term. A $100 purchase that lasts five years is a much better bargain than a $40 purchase that lasts 15 months.

Some of the money I save goes into long-range savings or investments, which will help me in the future. And at the same time, I have money available now if I want to use it.

Simple living isn't just about doing without for the sake of doing without. It's about determining how to use money most effectively.

iron.wren 01-31-11 01:51 PM


Originally Posted by Newspaperguy (Post 12159444)
Buying quality goods that last rather than lower priced goods that must be replaced often will save me in the long term. A $100 purchase that lasts five years is a much better bargain than a $40 purchase that lasts 15 months.

+1
I took a class last semester at my college called Spiritual Growth and Development. In it we went through a book called Celebration of the Disciplines by Richard Foster, who is a quaker. In it there was a section over simplicity. During one of our discussions my professor mentioned a story about how he was at a friends house after they had gotten off of work. My professor noticed how nice his black dress shoes were. For some reason he was back in his friends bedroom while he was changing shoes and his friend took them off and polished them put the cedar wood blocks into them and put them neatly back into a box. My prof commented on how nice they were. His friend asked him to guess how old they were and they were close to 10 yrs old and they looked brand new. Simplicity is not necessarily cutting corners and getting to extreme bare necessities, that is minimalism. You buy to use and use thoroughly.

Dan The Man 01-31-11 02:00 PM

The only things that I hoard are tools and bicycle/climbing/outdoors equipment. I have been steadily accumulating all of these. I've out grown my single tool box so that I now have a around the house tool box and a bicycle tool box. I have 2 bicycles inside and a beater locked up outside. A bike pump and random parts. I have 2 tents, 2 sleeping bags, camping stove, random camping equipment, snow shoes, trekking poles, 2 backpacks, climbing gear, ice axes, 2 pairs of mountaineering boots, ropes, crampons, helmets. I also have a handful of books and magazines that I really enjoy. After these things, I consider everything else I own to be just "stuff" that I could easily get rid of if needed.

I feel like the things that I want to keep are the things that I invested the most effort in acquiring. For example, with bikes and gear, I would scour craigslist, kijiji, web forums, read every review, check every deal and internet store, and get exactly what I want at the lowest price possible. I think I sometimes go a bit overboard in this respect, but I get a lot of enjoyment from the process in the end, maybe even more than from cycling or whatever activity it's for.

If I just go to the dollar store and pick up some glasses or plates, I would have no trouble sending them to the thrift store at the drop of a hat.

Smallwheels 01-31-11 06:36 PM


Originally Posted by Dan The Man (Post 12159802)
...I get a lot of enjoyment from the process in the end, maybe even more than from cycling or whatever activity it's for.

I too enjoy the hunt for the perfect thing. The process is what makes it fun. Even the process of simplifying is fun, though really slow for me.

Roody 02-01-11 05:51 PM


Originally Posted by hnsq (Post 12158095)
Can you expand on that? Isn't 'living simply' for the sake of it just as bad as buying a 5,000sqft house just because you are supposed to?

Isn't doing what you really want to do something that is independent of any given philosophy about life? (if you really wanted to buy something expensive, would you do it, or choose not to because you are trying to 'live simply'?)

Why are you asking all these questions? Before I invest time in answering, I'd like to know your motivation. It sounds suspiciously like you have all the answers, and are just hoping to start an argument. If that's incorrect, I'll be glad to give you more information.

hnsq 02-03-11 11:21 AM


Originally Posted by Roody (Post 12166253)
Why are you asking all these questions? Before I invest time in answering, I'd like to know your motivation. It sounds suspiciously like you have all the answers, and are just hoping to start an argument. If that's incorrect, I'll be glad to give you more information.

I know how my questions sound, but I am honestly not trying to start an argument.

To be candid, I am asking because after reading through this thread, I got the impression that many people live the 'simple life' out of ego. "Look at me, I am living with so much less than the rest of those suckers who don't get it".

That was my first impression after reading this thread in its entirety, and I am simply trying to understand the viewpoints more, to see what the reasons behind these attitudes are. I am essentially trying to see if it is actually ego, or if my first impression was cynical and incorrect.

Again - I apologize for how this post comes across. I don't want to be offensive, however that is what is going through my head.

Smallwheels 02-03-11 11:42 AM


Originally Posted by hnsq (Post 12174023)
I know how my questions sound, but I am honestly not trying to start an argument.

To be candid, I am asking because after reading through this thread, I got the impression that many people live the 'simple life' out of ego. "Look at me, I am living with so much less than the rest of those suckers who don't get it".

That was my first impression after reading this thread in its entirety, and I am simply trying to understand the viewpoints more, to see what the reasons behind these attitudes are. I am essentially trying to see if it is actually ego, or if my first impression was cynical and incorrect.

Perhaps you've never heard of this living simply attitude before. Surely all of us have heard of religious people who take vows of poverty or some type of restrictions on personal pleasure. Living simply doesn't go that far for most of the people writing in this thread. I'm envious of the people who live with very little.

Tomorrow I could just dump everything I don't want into the dumpster and be living a simpler less cluttered life. I could dump everything and live with even less. My mental block on doing that is I'm a penny pincher and would hate to not get some money from all of those items. I could use the few thousand dollars that these items will bring.

Roody 02-03-11 06:08 PM


Originally Posted by hnsq (Post 12174023)
I know how my questions sound, but I am honestly not trying to start an argument.

To be candid, I am asking because after reading through this thread, I got the impression that many people live the 'simple life' out of ego. "Look at me, I am living with so much less than the rest of those suckers who don't get it".

That was my first impression after reading this thread in its entirety, and I am simply trying to understand the viewpoints more, to see what the reasons behind these attitudes are. I am essentially trying to see if it is actually ego, or if my first impression was cynical and incorrect.

Again - I apologize for how this post comes across. I don't want to be offensive, however that is what is going through my head.

Well never mind then. Thanks anyway.

schwinnbikelove 02-04-11 12:03 AM

The simplification process...
 
Just a quick question for those who have been down this path... perhaps from more "mainstream", to the "less is more" approach.

Have you ever regretted purging your belongings?

I am referring moreso to the emotional aspect than financial.

Are there "right" reasons, and "wrong" reasons, in your experience?

For a variety of reasons, I feel as though my life is lending itself to the "let the STUFF go" mentality. I am referring to an amount of belongings akin to http://mnmlist.com/50-things/ ... not COMPLETELY devoid of any creature comfort.

Whatever I decide, will have to be decided in the next week or two. I almost feel as though I am teetering on the edge and afraid to take the plunge, or that I've hit some sort of equivalent to writer's block. I also try to understand that I am my ideas and my actions, not my possessions. Yet still, there is ~30 years of my history there.

?

Smallwheels 02-04-11 11:11 AM

Emotions And Things
 
Years ago I had a realization about things. It was a big one for me. It might not apply to others as strongly as it did for me. I realized that part of my attachment to things I really liked was due to believing I might not ever have another thing like it, or be able to get another thing like it.

What is your attachment to a piece of tissue paper? It probably isn't very strong. What is your attachment to your very favorite thing? Much stronger I bet.

I've sold cherished guitars, numerous other musical instruments, World War II memorabilia, and recently several inherited jewelry items. How could I do such a thing?

There are an unlimited amount of things yet to be created that will probably be better than the things I've sold and cherished. If I believe that I'll be able to have such things in the future (if I want them) then there is no need to feel so bad about letting go of older things. There will be things in the future that I will be able to cherish just as much.

Enjoy the things you have now and let them go when you don't really need them. Keep the things you want to keep. Things only become a burden when they hold you down.

Has anybody ever seen videos of hoarders? There are some people who can't let go of anything and their houses are full to the ceilings with junk. Their lives aren't very simple. Their minds are stuck on keeping everything in its place and constantly worrying about their stuff. To me simple living is the opposite of that. Less stuff equals less worry. It allows my mind to focus outward instead of inward.

Artkansas 02-04-11 12:49 PM


Originally Posted by Smallwheels (Post 12178571)
Enjoy the things you have now and let them go when you don't really need them. Keep the things you want to keep. Things only become a burden when they hold you down.

That's always the hard decision. What do you need? What might you need in the future.

Some things are hard to replace, like a sketchbook of my Great Grandfather's. Or, a copy of "Roots" that I sold on eBay for "$50.00. A while ago, I saw it for sale for $8,000: same exact book. I won't be able to afford to replace it anytime soon. ;)

Some other things you just don't know if you'll need. I have a cable router that I got several years ago when a company I worked for was closing its doors. Then last month, after being laid off, and my ISP going dark, I made the leap to broadband and time had finally come for the cable router which I wouldn't be able to afford now. If I had applied the 6 month rule, I'd be SOL.

Platy 02-04-11 03:10 PM

Every possession has consequential costs of ownership. The classic example is a free puppy. There's no initial cost, but you have to feed it, take it to the vet, and make arrangements to care for it when you are away.

Every possession has to be stored, maintained, possibly transported, and ultimately disposed properly. Some possessions may be taxed. If you buy something on credit, you'll have to pay back the loan, with interest. (Worse, getting rid of the possession won't necessarily make the loan go away.)

Obviously, you don't want to acquire things that have consequential costs you're unwilling to pay.

If you want to tour on a bike and travel on a whim, you want all your possessions to be lightweight and fit in your saddlebags.

If you want to homestead an acreage and be somewhat self sufficient, you want gardens, livestock, storage sheds and plenty of useful tools, but you have to be okay with caring for all the plants & animals daily and rarely being able to leave the place for more than a day at a time.

If you want to sojourn a while in the realm of mind or spirit, you might want no possessions at all as they may distract from your meditations. Some classic examples are the philosopher Diogenes and the mathematician Paul Erdős.

My point is that the required simplicity is different from one person to another. But in all cases, simple living requires that the person make a mindful decision about which possessions are worth owning.

One big complication is that people occasionally change their minds about what kind of lives they want to lead. I think this is not at all unusual. In the past I've discarded things when transitioning from one kind of life to another, then years later I'd wish I had them back. I don't really know the wisest way to handle that problem.

Artkansas 02-04-11 03:40 PM


Originally Posted by Platy (Post 12179688)
Every possession has consequential costs of ownership. The classic example is a free puppy. There's no initial cost, but you have to feed it, take it to the vet, and make arrangements to care for it when you are away.

Free puppy, what's that? My ex and I got a pup from one of her friends. Within 6 weeks it got meningitis which required $1,600 to cure. :eek: Fortunately, it went on to lead a long and healthy life.

Platy 02-04-11 04:15 PM


Originally Posted by Artkansas (Post 12179805)
Free puppy, what's that? My ex and I got a pup from one of her friends. Within 6 weeks it got meningitis which required $1,600 to cure. :eek: Fortunately, it went on to lead a long and healthy life.

I'd imagine a pet could be part of a simple life. It's just that a person has to mindfully consider the benefits and consequences. I've seen scruffy street guys sitting on curbs sharing sandwiches with their dogs. I've also seen family dogs kinda forgotten and left to their own devices in the back yards of big suburban houses. Which dog would you rather be?

Roody 02-04-11 07:27 PM


Originally Posted by Platy (Post 12179922)
I'd imagine a pet could be part of a simple life. It's just that a person has to mindfully consider the benefits and consequences. I've seen scruffy street guys sitting on curbs sharing sandwiches with their dogs. I've also seen family dogs kinda forgotten and left to their own devices in the back yards of big suburban houses. Which dog would you rather be?

For that matter, which human would you rather be?

Smallwheels 02-05-11 12:51 PM

Memories Aren't Physical
 
The question of what might you need in the future is one that gets me to dump things quicker. There are many things I haven't used in a long time and don't anticipate using any time soon. Some of those things I won't ever use again. For instance I have motorcycle saddle bags and no motorcycle. I found them useful for carrying my dog on bicycle rides. I don't do that now.

Those are easy choices. When I sold my parents jewelry and some of mine (class rings, an expensive gold pendant) there were plenty of memories attached to those items. There was no lack of sentimentality there. Those items were purchased and honestly they weren't very unique. They were just sitting around in a jewelry box. I might look at them once every couple of years.

Personally created items, things made by relatives, unique artwork, and such might be difficult to give up. Unless you absolutely need the space or can't carry them in your new lifestyle of living out of a bicycle trailer, why get rid of them?

If you keep things as investments then they should be kept until it is time to cash in.

Everything has a dollar value. With personal or sentimental items you might find the dollars are more useful to you than the sentimentality.

With today's great technology we can photograph and make digital videos of everything. That can help you maintain your memories without the actual item being in your hands. An external hard drive or even an online storage site can hold thousands of your images and movies for a tiny bit of money. Your feelings and memories come from within you. The physical things just help trigger them. Photographs and videos would probably be just as good at triggering them.

I've sold items for less than they would be worth if the right buyer came along. I didn't want to wait around for an indeterminable time for the right buyer so the items were sold. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Johnny Law 02-05-11 03:08 PM

very simply. I have my bike. A house with 3 other roommates. A Macbook Pro, and my Bible.

Newspaperguy 02-05-11 05:50 PM

If we're talking about keeping things for the memories, then a number of notebooks and my computer hard drive and backup drive are priceless right now. These are items with little monetary value, but the information in them extremely important to me. Pictures are fine too, but for me, the journals and the stories will give a much more complete account than pictures alone.

wahoonc 02-06-11 06:22 AM

I think too that what you have and want will change as you move through life. At one point I lived in a pickup camper in the woods, very simply, with in 3 years I was married and living in an apartment, 7 years later had a house and bunch of stuff. Downsized after the divorce, now live on a 40 acre farm that you couldn't move everything even if you had a couple of boxcars... I could probably walk away from just about all of it if I had to.

Aaron :)

schwinnbikelove 02-07-11 05:10 AM

Wow.
 
You guys have all made REALLY good points, and presented new perspectives that are taking and will continue to take time to process. In reality this is a lifelong process, and while I've been following this thread since its' inception, I feel now as though "my time has come." (not to sound too corny)

Some interesting things I've thought about on my own and with your help, but all just opinion, of course:

-Years back, when I first started "getting rid of stuff", I used to photograph those things first... now I almost feel as though that is no longer needed

-Photographs themselves (digital travels better obviously) are priceless- to document memories and whatnot

-Actually, the whole digital revolution makes it easier to make your stuff, how should I say this, less tangible?

-As far as family heirlooms, things from those who have passed, etc.... all I can come up with on this is that I would hope that those people would've wanted me to be happy, and if that entails remembering someone WITHOUT holding onto their former possessions, than so be it

-Yes, handmade items. Also VERY difficult, for me anyway. I went to college for art, so between what I've created, and my peers... I will have to keep some of these items, somehow, at least for now. Definitely irreplaceable, to say the least

-At some point you have to realize that if you keep every little thing that means something to you, and start timesing that by 10, 20, 50 years, etc... well, you get the idea

-It's interesting to think: Does a certain lifestyle dictate how many "things" one has? Or vice versa? Chicken vs. Egg?

-How many decisions do people make based on how much stuff they have?

I know that I've been stuck and miserable with bad neighbors, but it would've been more of a hassle to move my whole place FULL of my belongings, so I stayed and dealt.

I almost suspect that if I DO do a mega-purge, that I'll want to celebrate some day, some how, by doing something that is alot easier to do when you own very few things. ...moving, traveling, exploring, ?

All I can hope for at this point is no regrets I guess.

hnsq 02-07-11 07:33 AM


Originally Posted by Roody (Post 12175822)
Well never mind then. Thanks anyway.

Since I am actually taking the time to try and learn something, could you explain it to me?

I understand the philosophy of simplicity, however observing the difference between being financially responsible and voluntarily choosing to have nothing when you can responsibly afford to have a few 'things' is something I do not understand. To me, that distinction seems like a cry for attention, a way to stand out. I am asking the question because I am trying to learn from a perspective very differently from my own. Can you help me out?


To schwinnbikelove, Smallwheels and Platy, your posts were very helpful. I enjoyed them and thank you.

Dan The Man 02-07-11 09:09 AM

I think the thing about stuff is that we tend to invest our identity in material possessions. Some people will say that this is caused by modern consumer culture, but I think it is part of human nature, which consumerism exploits.

Think what defines you? What makes you who you are? Most people think that there is something inside themselves that is their core persona. But start taking away the things around them and they will most certainly become different people. At least some part of your identity is your environment. And your environment includes all the things that you own.

When you have a choice of what car to own or what clothes to wear or what appliances to buy (or not buy), you are impressing yourself on the world around you by making that choice. You weigh the pros and cons, think about what YOU personally want out of an item, think about how much it will cost you, and then you make a unique decision which uniquely represents your situation and your thoughts.

That item is now essentially you. Changing that item or getting rid of it means that your situations and thoughts are no longer the same which means that you are no longer the same. If there is one thing that all conscious entities desire, it is to remain alive and continue to exist in the future. So changing your identity is kind of like killing the old you and making a new you. Sometimes the new is more exciting than the old, but transitions are always difficult.

Smallwheels 02-07-11 12:00 PM

Dan The Man I really like your point of view on possessions.

For some things one might ask, "If there were no other people on Earth would I get this item?" It's a test of whether you want it to impress someone else or not. This question wouldn't be asked for most purchases but it might be asked regarding expensive things, certain types of clothing, houses, cars, and the like.

Four years ago I bought an expensive pair of mittens. They are filled with down and have Gortex and leather covering. Though they are very fashionable they really do what I needed them to do. That purchase was a necessity and it didn't matter what others might have though about them. I like warm hands.


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