Sunday, May 12, 2013

Self Reliancy = Not Buying All That Material Stuff!

One of the mantras I hear from lots of people who moved to Hawaii is "simplify, simplify, simplify". They were running away from the confused, congested, material lifestyle. I know exactly how they feel because that was one of the things that I did too by moving here. Hubby and I actually gave away or sold over 90% of our "stuff" when preparing to move. So we moved with what could be fit into a two-horse trailer. That was mainly tools, books, favorite items and mementos, some clothes, and a few other things.

I wish I could announce that we successfully made the transition, but alas when we set up here we lapsed back to the habit of buying, of accumulating "stuff". Changing our lifestyle in one giant step just didn't work for us. It took awhile to kill the material habit and stop cluttering up our lives and spending away our money. And after ten years, we still have a way to go. But happily we have made a lot of progress.

Each month I try to pick out items or habits to eliminate from the budget. Sometimes I just quit buying it. Other times I learn to make my own a lot cheaper. Sometimes I just change my habits.

Some examples of things we've eliminated....
...foods: We changed our diet overall. More veggies and local fruits. Less meat. We now grow most of our own or trade for it. And almost no prepared foods- we make our own. So that means no chips, pretzels, beer, soda, canned goods, packaged foods, etc. (the list goes on forever, it seems) We are not 100% self reliant in the food department yet but we are at the point that we could be and not feel too deprived. I'm gradually reducing store bought items from the budget. Store bought goodies are now reserved just for special treats now and then.
...household paper goods: Yikes, not the toilet paper!!! No, I still buy that. But I no longer use paper towels, paper napkins, paper plates, that sort of thing. I'm not ready to give up on toilet paper.
...commercial laundry soap: making my own is far cheaper, but I found that I need to use warm water for it to work well. As long as I don't have to pay to heat the wash machine water, then it fits into my self reliancy scheme. Right now the sun heats the water running through the hose to the washer.
...many household cleaners: wherever it works fine, I use vinegar or baking soda, or whatever. It depends on the job. But I've cut our use of commercial products way, way back. dresser: I trim hubby's hair myself. My own hair is now natural color and allowed to grow naturally, held back in a pony tail for daily use. No more dying, perming, and styling.
...throw away items: I've said no to moist towelettes, bleach wipes, plastic wrap, plastic tableware,  and the myriad of use-once-toss-it items. I think I now use only one roll of paper towels a year!!!
...large wardrobe of nice clothes: We both feel comfortable with used clothing purchased at the local thrift shop. "everything": once upon a time I was adverse to using someone else's castoffs. No more. I now buy things I need at swap meets, flea markets, garage sales, church rummage sales.
...TV : life is now too busy to waste time in front of a TV. We do enjoy the occasional DVD movie on the computer, but it's a special event not a daily evening occurance. Plus we seldom ever go to the movie theatre anymore.

It's difficult to recall all the changes over the years, of what has been eliminated from the budget. Our spending has become rather practical oriented. This means that we will be able to survive on a lot less cash than we ever have before.

Gone is the habit of buying morning coffee and donut on the way to work. No more dinner at a restaurant five days a week, or lunch from the sandwich shop. No more buying those pretty shoes then having to buy a complete outfit to go with them. No more drawers full of cosmetics. No more microwave foods. No "gotta have" home decorations. No fancy landscaping. No flashy cars. No compulsive purchases of whimsical items. And you know, I really don't miss them anymore, although at first I did. We are gradually settling into a more basic, simplified life.

We still do dinner out once a week, lunch out twice a week, and breakfast out on Saturday morning. We're not ready to give them up just yet. It's a time when we socialize with good friends.

So here I sit with enough "stuff" to fit our needs, plus a bit extra. I try to keep the bit extra down to a minimum. I no way wish to go back to the cluttered life, now that I've broken most of the habit.


  1. What an excellent post. It's true many folks want to simplify, but the bottom line is just cutting it off at the knees, so to speak. All those little things truly add up to make a big difference. Well done.

    1. Thank you Leigh for the nice comment. I found that it was really difficult breaking the almost compulsive buying habit. I credit the elimination of our TV for helping. I was no longer being bombarded with ads coaxing me to buy. But being a lifelong chronic buyer of "stuff" and clutter, I still have to be on guard. It's all too easy to drop a few extra items into the shopping cart. I find that I'm a real sucker for holiday decorations. I finally got this habit killed but it took years.