Saturday, October 11, 2008

Living Simply Saturday: Outside boxes

I've noticed in the past week or so, that a lot of "simple living" is just a box. Mind you, I'm used to boxes, and there's several I try to fit into:
  • Conservative, Christian Family
  • Loving wife
  • Future Missionary
  • God controlling our family size
  • Homeschooling Family

Along with these, other boxes are generally meshed in. Stay-at-home Mom, for example. That, I'm not. I work 20 hours a week at a really good job. We're more in the stay-at-home Dad box. But not the ultra-hippy, super-environmentalist or the weak fatherhood boxes that sometimes implies.

And we pretend to fit into the "frugal" box - indeed we have always lived pretty cheaply. But we don't live anything like a lot of frugal people. We consider my half-of-poverty-level income plenty of money, but we are careful with it. We have everything (and much more) that we really want, but we don't want all that much. Sometimes we splurge to the order of several hundred dollars (see my sewing machine story from yesterday). But not on things that won't last a very long time, and not without knowing that we can definitely afford it (I bought the sewing machines with extra overtime pay).

And we don't budget, or even really track our expenses. (Paul, quit laughing). But we live within our income, and we are working toward starting a budget. (We've never budgeted to this point, because we've never made enough money to pay our normal expenses. God has just always provided. It makes budgeting weird. Now I get paid pretty well, so we're trying it again).

Now, as we embark on more simple living, I'm realizing that we'll never fit really well into that box either. Our food is generally free, so it's hard to be all that choosy in taking it. But we'll probably never be given grass-fed beef that the grocery store just happened to be throwing away that day. We do eat a lot of fruit and veggies (the ones that the grocery stores can't sell anymore), and even quite a few of them are organic.

The same things apply to time, possessions (most of ours were also free, but we have too many), and a whole list. But I guess, when I think about it - the underlying principals are what matter. Make choices carefully. Live by you priorities, etc. In practice, living simply is different for everyone. (Just like pretty much every aspect of practical life). I'm grateful to be on this journey with you all, and so enjoy reading about how others choose to live!

See more of Living Simply Saturday at Keeper of the Home.

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  1. O.K. And I was laughing :p

    We go on and off budgets too, and for a similar reason. After moving to AR I have no idea how we did it. That's because we didn't. But there was always enough.

    It's interesting to compare our family cultures, mine and Hannah's. Her family never budgeted (but her dad always knows now much in the checking account, to the penny). My parents were very anal about budgeting, but dad told me a few years back he never worried too much about balancing the checkbook perfectly. Didn't think it could be done.

    We meet in the middle I think, and hope. We're not as careful as we could or should be at times, but I think we're doing OK when other people wonder how we can pay cash to have a new electrical panel put in or the AC fixed.

    Even if those kinds of expenses make us sweat a little.

  2. I so agree that living simply looks differently for everyone. There's certainly no one-size-fits-all when it comes to what simplicity should be. I think the idea is that simplicity is whatever makes your lives less cluttered up by unnecessary stuff, and more free to live as you feel led, embracing what is most important and valuable. Which it sounds like you're seeking to do! I'm learning more and more to ignore the boxes we're "supposed" to fit into, and just follow God one step at a time. :)

    Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home