Monday, January 22, 2007


A post unrelated to birth...

I recently came across this blog about downsizing and simplifying, called Changing Rhythm. I liked their pledge, especially the rules about buying things (or rather, trying not to unless really necessary!). I sat down with my husband last night and talked about adopting some of these into our own life.

Here are some lifestyle & financial guidelines we wrote down. Some are shamelessly borrowed from the blog. Now, many of these things we already do to some extent, but I wanted to articulate them so we can be more consistent.
  • Buy everything (barring food, medication, and health related products such as soap, toothpaste, etc.) used if at all possible.
  • Only buy a product that replaces something we already own that has worn out.
  • Anything that does not meet the previous two criteria, will require both our approval and a mandatory 2-week waiting period (to ensure need versus want).
  • Purge our home of all unused, unwanted, or extraneous clutter.
  • Cook one meal per week using items from food storage (we have a 1 year's supply of food stored in our basement).
  • Spend under $200/month on groceries.
  • Only grocery shop from a list.
  • Invest money regularly for retirement.
  • Each of us receives $10/month of “mad money” for frivolous expenditures (snacks, clothes, etc). These do not need approval from the other person.
  • Keep a list of necessary upcoming expenditures.
  • Eat out no more than once every month.
Last spring we converted our VW diesel Golf to run on used vegetable oil, which we get free from our local Chinese restaurant. We bought the conversion kit from Greasecar. The Golf already gets around 50 mpg, and now it's carbon-neutral, since plants use more CO2 to grow than is released when their oil is burned. We love our Greasemobile!

We live in a small town of 5,000 people, so we only drive to go to church (20 miles away) or big shopping trips. My husband works at a liberal arts college that is 4 blocks from our house. Our library, post office, grocery store, hardware store, thrift store, bike path, community hospital, etc are all within easy walking distance. (Okay, I admit that I drive to the grocery store when it's cold out.) Sometimes our town is a bit too sedate, but it's a good place for daily life.


  1. We almost, kinda follow those rules at my house. Well, just the first two words of the first rule actually: Buy everything.

    Andrew (To Love, Honor, and Dismay)

  2. I read a book exactly like that, it's called...

    Simplify your life. by elaine st. james, she also wrote another one called Simplify your work life.

    Good books

  3. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I wonder if these ideas are starting to seep into the general consciousness?

  4. Maybe. And I would hope so. But on the other hand, consumerism is on a constant rise. Each generation expects to have a higher standard of living than the previous. For example, average house sizes have gotten much bigger over the past several decades. Today's starter home is often bigger than last generation's final, biggest house! Crazy...

    Of course I live in a huge old house right now, but we bought it to run as a B&B. I could easily have 6-8 kids in this house and hardly notice. We're still finishing up some renovations and getting ready for the health code inspection. And with the new baby, I'm a little hesitant to start right now. Excuses, excuses, right?

  5. Beautiful! I'd love to comment in detail... except you reminded me to check my local freecycle and craigslist so I can get used babycrap to replace our old babycrap that got moldy during storage in our basement...

  6. We do simple living too, but we could always be doing more. I"m so jealous that you have all that stuff within walking distance of your house. I have to risk my life to go anywhere by foot (or heck, even public transportation- the bus stop is literally on the side of a highway.)

  7. okay, I'm back. I scored a $5 wooden high chair.
    Anyways, the blog mentions a preschool coop. What state are they in? We were in a coop that was KILLED by state regulations requiring licensing, certified teachers, insurance, etc. It's nice to know others succeed!

  8. I don't know what state they're in. Too bad about your preschool.

    I love the idea of a 2-week waiting period on purchases. I hate shopping, so I do this a lot by default, but still. It really helps you evaluate whether you really need to buy something. If you absolutely can't wait 2 weeks, it's probably a need. Like when our dryer broke only a few weeks after she was born. Not good when you're using cloth diapers in the middle of the winter!

    Thanks for the book recommendations Candice.

  9. Those are great goals, I am following a similiar pact from Compact Lifestyle. ( I would love to read the things you do to reach your goals.

  10. Here's a neat idea: I've just set up a soup exchange with a friend/neighbor: every other week we make up a large batch of delicious soup and share with them; the other week is their turn to do the same. It's fun!!!


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