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Voluntary simplicity - Has AP helped you downsize your life?

post #1 of 52
Thread Starter 
By the time my baby was six weeks old, both me and my husband knew there was no way in God's creation that I would hand my precious baby off to a stranger and head back to my job, and so we had to make major changes in our life. We sold our house and moved into something much smaller. We did not renew either of our car leases, and instead purchased a second hand fuel efficient family car that my husband drives to work. If I need to go somewhere, I take the bus or walk. We never eat out. We shop at thrift shops and all our entertainment comes from the public library, and from each other.

And I have never been so happy. I don't regret choosing my baby over material luxuries for one single second. But that doesn't mean it isn't hard, sometimes, to come to grips with what it means to go from a very comfortable existence (two college profs earning full time salaries) to a much more humble existence (just one salary now).

Are there others here who have voluntarily downsized their lives because of their AP beliefs? Is there any interest in discussing what we've gained and what we've given up?
post #2 of 52
DH and I don't have kids yet, but we definately chose to downsize our life in preparation for any future children.

About a year ago we really started looking at what is important to us - health, family, culture. From there we structure all our activities around those things. We work less so we have more time for the things we love, but since the things we love are not based in consumerism we save more money.
post #3 of 52
Hi Beanzer,

I'm with you, I made the same decision after my son was born.

I cut my hours from 32 to 20 and now i'm down to 12 hours a week at work. My husband watches my son for those 12 hours and the rest of the week i get to enjoy my little guy. My husband is a self employed independent contractor so he gets to work from home. Thank goodness! We get to spend a lot of time together as a family.
We sold our house as well and now are renting a townhouse. Like your family we own only one car, so ds and i take a lot of walks to places. All of ds clothes are hand me downs or from the thrift store which works great because he grows out of them sooo fast.
I breastfeed(save on costs of formula), make my own baby food, co-sleep(saves on buying a crib) and make my own diaper wipes. Every little bit does help!

And for entertainment we visit parks and family. We have no cable, and threw out our 27 inch tv for a 13 inch that's never on. .

At first i thought we would not have enough money and would struggle buy cutting back, but it really has not been that difficult. Like they say, when you don't have the money you won't spend it. It actually has been very refreshing to downsize our life. Our minds are less bogged down with trying to keep up with the Jones' and by not watching tv, IMO my dh and i are not brainwashing ourselves in thinking we "need" to buy worthless junk in order to be happy.

It really feels more natural living a simple life. I feel alive instead of a zombie running the rat race.

When i was a baby my mom worked 2 jobs and was never home. Of course i had all the material things i could ask for but i was a very unhappy child. Now after 30 years my mom confided in me that that she regretted never being able to be home with me.
I don't want to say that to my son 30 years from now.

Thanks for the post...as you can see by my rambling i feel very passionate about the subject :LOL
post #4 of 52

Me too!

Simplicity is its own reward!

post #5 of 52
The simplicity thing has always felt right to me, since I was raised in it--large family, on a farm, not much $$...certain things I do just "make sense." I never gave how I'd parent a whole lot of thought until I was about 4-5 months pregnant, and then AP fell into the "feels right" category. So for me it just all comes together.
post #6 of 52
I, too, grew up this way- on a farm. Then we got everything at garage sales, grew it, sewed it, canned it. In the suburbs I can't go that far. We have no bus here (routes were cancelled in budget cuts), so we need two cars. It is a compromise- not as simple as I might like it, but we have a quality life.
post #7 of 52
Sometimes I find myself envying my neighbors (we both have 8 week old little girls) because they always seem to have $$$$$. But, she has just gone back to work and he has 2 jobs. I can not imagine going back to my job (although I love it) with such a small baby. Plus, since I am not working or going out I have no need to buy new clothing (my one true addiction) or gas for my car etc. Sure, we have only enough money to cover the mortgage and the bills, but I am home everyday with my precious little ones, and dh gets to see them in the evenings and weekends all he wants! And the baby really doesnt cost anything since we breastfeed and use cloth diapers! I just have to remember that raising my baby my way is so much more important than going to dinner, gym memberships, having a savings account that has more than 87 cents in it, and all the other things I do find myself jealous of my neighbors over!
post #8 of 52
It is hard to downsize in suburbia. You really do need 2 cars when public transporation and walking are not viable options!

Being in suburbia does have its merits for those of us who wish to live more simply. For example, lI have become a garage sale and ebay queen! VHS tapes are so cheap- many people have moved on to DVD's only and so I can buy a tape for 50 cents! Of course, there are inexpensive toys and clothing for sale, too.
Ebay has been a joy. I tell DH that I am recycling! I have resold many of my baby items as well as piles of "stuff" that just seem to accumulate! Even when I get a low price for something I feel good about knowing that someone who wants and ne ds my items will get to use them. I am buying things on ebay, too, because sometimes you do need something specific that you just cannot find at the neighborhood sales.
So, I am still a big shopper, but I am more mindful about what I buy. I enjoys selling as much as buying! I don't feel like I am sacrificing anything any more.
post #9 of 52
I am about to give birth to my second child, any day now. We have a 16 year old son now and are thrilled at the imminent birth of our daughter. We too have chosen to downsize so I can be home with our new baby. I was fortunate at the time of my son's birth to be able to be home with him the first couple years and then I taught preschool and he was with me there until he started kindergarten. I do believe it has made a huge difference in who he is now. He's the most confident, honest, trustworthy teenager I've ever known; and I hear the same about him from other's as well. I believe it is so important to set that foundation early.

As far as material possessions go, nothing is as important as my children. We don't need the dinners out or the fancy cars. As long as my kids are happy and healthy, we've got everything we need.

post #10 of 52
I've been working towards simplicity for a couple of years. I was all "into" having more and better, and then realized there was no end to that grasping. At what point is "enough"? There has to be a point where you have "enough". It's really hard to recognize. I came to that point and said, "NO MORE". I'm gradually working off the "excess" aka credit cards. In the meantime, I'm becoming satisfied with and wanting what I have, not what I don't have.

So now I'm 6 months pregnant. I'll be downsizing again after the babe is born in July. I am pretty sure I'll be leaving my corporate job to work for myself doing a variety of things ~ providing actual NEEDED services and some goods instead of participating in creating a product that I do not believe in, which is currently how I spend 60+ hours a week right now. I don't want my kid raised in daycare. I don't want him/her to look back on his/her childhood and wonder where I was!

To me, voluntary simplicity (or at least recognizing where my "enough" point it and valuing the things I DO have) goes hand in hand with AP, spiritual fulfillment, right livelihood and holistic politics. It's all about living your values - but first you have to recognize what you truly value AND be willing to re-order your life to reflect that insight! But it'll be worth it. It already is and the babe isn't even here yet!
post #11 of 52
Yes! Our boys are 4 and 1, and I just took ALL our strollers to a consignment shop. We never use them anymore--we love our slings! We bought a bike trailer that doubles as a huge double stroller if needed. I intend to bike all over with them, incorporating them in shopping and exercise. They love it so far, and we got rid of all kinds of baby stuff because we're living with an AP frame of mind. We're getting rod of one of our beds as well, because we co-sleep. Why have the extra bed? (Other than, well, um, ya know... )

I lost my job last August but the timing was great, because with the new baby it was too hard even to telecommute, as I was doing, for our family. We're moving now (put the house on the market TODAY!) from a house with 2100 sf and 1600 sf of storage (attic and basement) to an 1100 sf apartment (no storage). We're getting rid of so much stuff, and it feels SO GOOD (in fact, dh took the kids and I'm supposed to be decluttering right now ).

We've simplified in other ways too--using the library for 90% of our books/movies, whole foods (though this can e LESS simple sometimes, cooking from scratch), and so on.

One tenet of simplicity that I've found interesting: sometimes spending MORE money is truly simpler. I am frugal by nature and sometimes spend way too much TIME to save some MONEY. My dh has been pointing out to me that my time is as valuable, if not moreso, than our $. Spending 20 hours online to save $50 on a plane ticket may net us $50, but I've just lost 20 hours... So I've learned to loosen up a bit and not view simplicity solely in terms of spending less.
post #12 of 52
After the birth of our first daughter, I left my job at the library to stay home and raise her as well as develop our organic farm. It has been the best decision. Sometimes we get twinges of wanting more - our house is very small - only two bedrooms and one room which is living room/kitchen/family room etc. Rather tight now that we have two children. We have talked about building on a big addition but decided that the money/time etc. would not be worth it. I want time to enjoy life with the kids and I want my dh to be able to spend time with us - not always be working out of the home or on it.

We feel really good about our decision. I have also found ways to help out while being home with the children. I wrote my book and write articles for newspaper and magazines - this also keeps me happy so I don't feel like I had to give up my writing. We plan to homeschool too.

Also, library, thrift stores, buying in bulk, cooking from scratch, raising our own veggies, fruit, and chickens for eggs helps a lot. I can, freeze, and jam our stuff to help it last thru winter. It's a good life.
post #13 of 52
Yes! We did the same thing! I'm so glad to hear other mama's stories. We live in Southern California (one of the top three most expensive places in the US) but we have still managed to simplify. After DD was born 2 years ago, I decided there was no way I could go back to work. We had to rearrange our entire lives, including selling our new house and moving into a small condo. DH has been able to work part-time and return to school to finish his MFA, and I have been able to be home with our DD.

Lately, I've been feeling jealous of others I know who have more money or who are moving into new houses and reading your posts have helped remind me of why we decided to make these changes 2 years ago. We are now in a state of flux as DH is finishing school and looking for a job teaching art at an university. Jobs are being cut left and right and it doesn't look like he'll get a job this year. If he does, we'll have to move right around the time baby #2 is due to arrive in August. But I know that if he doesn't get a job that we have gotten ourselves into a place where we can do with less--money, space, stuff and could very well survive on a part-time/freelance salary.

Thanks for sharing your stories!

Mommy yo Aine 3/5/01, ^i^Phoenix 11/8/02 and Baby Bee due 8/20/03
post #14 of 52
Thread Starter 

About feeling jealous ....

I totally know what you mean, ecomommy, about feelings of jealousy. None of our friends has made the choice to simplify, although a couple are working half-time and flex schedules, and I have to admit that I feel pangs of jealousy when I go visit them in their nice houses filled with lovely things - I can really appreciate a beautiful environment, kwim? Even though I know that one day, I'll be able to put out the jade rice bowl collection I bought in Shanghai and all my other nice things, that time is no where in the near future. My house looks like a Montessori preschool, and my white couch (what the *&%$ was I thinking?) is some kind of nasty shade somehwere between brown and grey:

And what about ironing shirts? Who knew what a pain in the butt that was? I long for dry cleaning again ..... sigh ...

Then I look at all my friends' kids and just feel so sorry for them ... the constant runny noses and ear infections from daycare, the frantic pace, the constant surveillance that is needed to keep the kids from destroying all the nice things - I know that I would be so unhappy and so unfufilled if I were living that kind of life.

I hate having to explain my choices, too. Why does anyone care? I hate being treated as if I am somehow depriving my children because they don't wear Nike sneakers (well, actually, now she does wear Nikes because I got a pair at the thrift shop for $1.00 ). But honestly. It's fine to deprive my child of my love and guidance and care by going off to work for ten hours a day, but I should feel guilty about her not having Disney pajamas? Whatever ...

Sorry, this is turning into a vent. Friends have planned a weekend away and invited us and are now furious that we just can't afford to go away right now ..... we used to be so much fun, apparently ....
post #15 of 52
We've done it too, and yes, we feel the jealousy every once in a while. Especially when we go visit DH's bro and sis-in law who have a huge house in an affluent area and just went out to buy WICKED expensive furniture despite the economy and their three and five year old kids.
But simpler is better for us on so many levels, and our DD is flourishing. Any advice for handling parents who keep pushing the conspicuous consumption? Like, giving me Wedgewood when I can't afford a new muffler?:
Peace to all.
post #16 of 52

Yes, me too

I wanted to go back to work when my baby turned three months old. I just laugh at that idea now! Luckily, my husband was very supportive of my decision not to return to work as a lawyer and to become a SAHM instead. We now share one car and have made numerous financial sacrifices to make this happen. We haven't moved yet, but it's on our list. I've gone through almost all of my savings. I still crave material things all the time, especially little Biscotti and Gymboree Easter outfits and expensive portraits.

The same thing happened with my sister... she planned to return to work when her daughter turned three months old. But she couldn't. She was way too in love with her little girl. She and her husband sold their home and moved to a tiny, cheap little 900 square foot house with two bedrooms and one bathroom. They cut out every possible bit of discretionary spending, and she does free lance journalism from home while her daughter naps.

My sister has left her daughter with a baby sitter one time for less than two hours. My daughter has never been left with a baby sitter, our longest separation has been two hours (and she was with her dada). I think AP really does make the mommies more attached.

post #17 of 52
I need some advice from experienced moms on how to save money.

I'm about 5 months along (first babe) but my husband and I have to move from SC to OR when I'm eight months! I have cut down on as much as I can think of, but seem to have hit a brick wall. I've been very picky about buying organic foods for obvious reasons, but it seems that our food bills are drowning us. We will definitely sell our second car before the move, and will be scaling down on a lot of belongings to save money on the move. If anyone has read any good ideas or knows of good books or websites on how to save money on food or moving (and all else!) I would appreciate any suggestions.

I'm already beginning to feel like I won't be able to go back to work full time after s/he's born, so I'm looking at cloth diapers and oiling up my sewing machine to make some wipes and clothes. I'm lucky enough to have older siblings and in-laws who will send me maternity clothes and later baby clothes, so I shouldn't have to buy much in that regard. I'm hoping that once we get to Oregon I will have time to start a garden and have my own organic supply!
post #18 of 52
Hi ksc, and welcome to MDC!
I think it's great that you're downsizing. I'm trying too, myself. Exclusively breastfeeding saves lots of money, and so does Elimination Communication. EC is an alternative to cloth diapers (which can get pretty expensive, especially if you spend much time in the Diapering forum ). If you'd like to learn more about EC, head over to our subforum under Diapering .

Thanks, everyone, for this thread. It's really inspiring!
post #19 of 52
In reply to KSC, I use my sewing machine a lot to help save money. Although I didn't make my own diapers - which I understand you can - I did get some white towels at a garage sale and cut it up to make wipes and diaper pads. I just get them and zig zaged around the edges to keep them from fraying. those little diaper pad inserts are really expensive so I saved a lot of money. I also make my own menstrual pads that way.

Sewing machine is also handy for altering thrift shop clothes - we especially like to get silky nightgowns and shorten them for dress up play. Look for pattern sales at stores - often can get them for $1.00 when normally they are over $10.00 now. I get fabric at yard sales, thrift shops etc.

Also, buying in bulk is great. I buy 25 lb. bags of organic brown rice and organic rolled oats. We have our own chickens so we always have eggs and we trade or sell the extra. ALso, with our veggie garden, I sell or trade extra stuff that I can't preserve.
post #20 of 52
Thread Starter 

The organic sacrifice ...

ksc, I hear ya about drowning with the food bills. I used to buy everything organic, and luckily, here in Canada, the prices have really, really come down. But a lot of it is still too high for our budget.

So I learned how to can - it's really quite easy, but it is absolutely essential to have another set of hands to hold the baby, because there is a lot of boiling water involved, and things have to be done within certain time frames. I figure my canned vegs and fruits cost less than one quarter of what I'd pay for store bought canned, so there is a lot of money to be saved in do it yourself canning. Jars can often be bought at thrift shops, garage sales and especially estate sales.

I had to sacrifice a bit because we just couldn't afford bushels of organic produce. But a good compromise for us has be to buy from small farmers at local farmers markets. There is some pesticide and herbicide use on small farms, but it is usually just what the crops require, and no more, and some of it can be washed off. It's not great, but better than factory farmed crops. Also, organic dairy is out because it is just too crazy expensive ($7.00 for a pound of butter or cheese), except for eggs, which are quite reasonable. Same goes for organic meats - we are almost 100% vegetarian because of the cost. Organic cereals, beans and rice are almost on par with factory farmed stuff, so I get lots of this. I'm slowly starting to adapt recipes and get used to things made with beans and oats .... it's a slow process though. But I'm happy giving up chicken nuggets and steak, considering what I'm getting in return.

I wish I could have my own garden .... that would be awesome, but our little townhouse complex opens onto common space that we are not free to garden as we see fit. We have nice flowers that everyone pays for collectively, but no tomatoes or cucumbers ....

My inlaws keep giving me really expensive crap I don't need either - they'll buy a $600 set of Tommy Hilfiger sheets, shams and bed skirt (our bed is on the floor - hello!), but they will not pay $50 for a set of cloth diapers or some nice wooden toys And of course I have to hear about how undesirable my neighbourhood is every freakin' time they come to visit ....

But I get a whole life with my little bean in return, and she is blossoming into the happiest, sweetest little person I have ever had the good fortune to meet ..... I'm the luckiest mama in the world

except for all you mamas, of course!
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