Sunday, May 28, 2006

Why simplify?

I have asked myself this question a few times. I am a college art + design professor and J is an MD (resident). We are professionals and could choose to live much more extravagently if we wanted to. I know alot of people with a lot less than us who live much more extravagently than we do.

We started to live meagerly when we were first married and were in school. I was in graduate school and J was in medical school. I was also a divorced mom of 3 with a "financial past". We lived meagerly and saved and paid off every ounce of debt. I learned then that we did not have to live like everyone else. I was happier than I had been and did not have as much stuff as I had had.

Once we moved for residency and became a family of two (!) incomes, it became more difficult for me to think about living simply. Yes, we could afford many things that we wanted. Wanted was the key word. J was still living simply as his frugal nature kicks in. In March (?) of 2006 I heard about something called "The Compact" The compact started as a group of people who were sick of the push to purchase. They made a vow not to purchase anything new for a year. They could borrow or purchase used, but nothing new. I looked further into it and gained great insight about the compact. I started to look at my own graphic design field and think about what it is that we try to sell to people. Do I really need what is being sold? No. I started to analyze what was truly necessary.

Will I make a difference? That is a good question. I have been asked that and had this answer - I may not make a big change as an individual, however, if one person (or family) in each state made a change, then we would start to see a greater impact. Let's save our environment, let's teach our children to eat good homemade foods, let's show them the difference between need and wants. Let's recycle and reuse as much as possible. Individually we may not make a huge change, but we may be able to affect others around us. Living simply is a much happier way to live.

Now, I have to explain that I am not against purchasing items. I just want to make sure that (1) they are needed (as a designer I NEED a good computer and software) and (2) that they are of good quality. For example, friends purchased a dining room set a few years ago and told us how wonderful it was. The set was about $1000 for the table and 4 chairs. We took a look at it at hte store and determined that it was shabily made. We opted to purchase a dining room set that we would be able to pass down to our grandchildren. Ours cost well over $2000. As it turns out, a few years later our friends need to purchase a new set. Ours is still solid. We purchase the best quality that we can afford. I WILL also purchase energy efficient items or items such as solar power. It is worth it. Decide what is truly important in your life.

There is a difference between purchasing items for the sheer want of having them and purchasing good quality items that will last a lifetime.

More about purchasing: we did recently purchase two vehicles; a 1979 Mercedes TurboDiesel and a used moped. We are fixing up the Mercedes to run off of wither biodiesel or veggie oil. The moped was purchased for my husband. We looked at his subaru and wondered why he needed to drive a 3000 lb piece of metal and park it all day. With gas prices as they are now, he was spending almost $2 a day to drive to work! Not worth it. The moped gets 125 miles per gallon. He doesn't drive anyone else to work, so it makes more sense. The Mecedes will be for longer trips - he hopes to moonlight next year at some area hospitals. If he can do that, he will be driving an hour or more each time. Biodiesal/veggie oil seemed like the most viable alternative for now. The subaru is for sale. We are keeping the Volvo (seats 7). Again, let's think about our transportation and what is really necessary. Do we need two cars? Do we need a truck? Can we borrow when needed? We have a trailer for the times taht we need to haul more than we can fit into the car.

Living simply is liberating.

1 comment:

stardeo said...

I decided that I need new siding and windows. I'm the last house in the association to replace siding. I was going to go with lowest quality windows; what I could "afford." But then, I realized I cannot afford to buy the lowest quality windows and sliding glass door. My windows are leaking like crazy right now, and I pay as much for gas/electric as a lot of people with a single-family home. So, everything is going to be Energy Star approved, which will also qualify for a tax credit!