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Voluntary Simplicity – Is It The Answer?

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Wouldn’t you like to work less and retire earlier? Have you ever thought of a way to make that happen? Most of us (myself included, back in the day) just go through life getting up in the morning, putting in our 8-10 hours a day (or more) and coming home to watch television for 4 hours. Repeating this for 40+ years is supposed to allow you to retire and live the comfortable life you see retirees living on that TV you watch all night. But what if you don’t want to wait 40 years?

Although you might have a hard time convincing your friends and family about your plans, there is a way to make your life a little less stressful while you work towards your goal….by using a system of Voluntary Simplicity. The first thing that probably comes to your mind is the idea that you would have to “go without” to live this kind of life, but that is far from the truth. The idea is only to “go without” those things that you don’t need but have been forced or coerced into thinking that you do. How many things in the past 5 years have you bought that you did not actually need? Take a minute and really think about it…I am talking about anything that you only “wanted” but did not need. Was it $250 worth of stuff? $1,000? $5,000? How much money do you spend on non-essential things to make your life comfortable and meaningful?

I am not talking about going to live in a hut made of tree branches in the middle of the forest. I am not talking about giving up your car, your city, your weekly night out for dinner with your spouse. I am talking about living more simply…really thinking about what you spend your money on, and how much time you spend away from your family/friends/hobbies just to help you pay for them!

Naysayers will always say “Well, I might die tomorrow so might as well live it up!” but I say bullsh*t. Sure, any of us could go tomorrow, or next week, or whenever. But what if you don’t? Do you want to be the guy working at the company at 85 years old because he still carries a mortgage and has no health insurance or savings? Or would you rather be the woman playing golf at 2 pm on a Wednesday…at 59 years old.

Voluntary Simplicity is the act of living simply, not simply living. The two are often confused. There is absolutely no reason that you cannot live a simple but fulfilling life while at the same time maintain a good standard of living and comfort, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. For me, I would rather save my money now, spend it now and then on the important things, but have the ability later in life to say “You know what? I don’t need to work anymore. See ya.” Imagining this somewhere down the line keeps me away from the BMW’s, the new i-Phones, the 52 inch plasma TV’s and the $600,000 mortgages. I live comfortably now…but because of what I choose to do with my money and time, I plan on living even better when I am a little older! 🙂


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Comments (14)

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  1. Laura says:

    I loved that first line in the last paragraph! People don’t understand that you are looking for a higher quality of life with living simply. You’re just removing the clutter that so many people mistake as necessary.

  2. Mrs. Micah says:

    I find the VS movement very appealing. Right now we kind of have to live pretty simply. But eventually we’ll have more of a choice. I hope that we’ll be able to maintain this lifestyle and save/give the rest!

  3. david says:

    I have little to no gadgets and the only thing I invest right now are books at the moment that educate me along the way.

  4. Brip Blap says:

    That’s dead on – trying to identify the things that really matter and refraining from spending money on anything else is really key. I’m not nearly as close to that goal as I would like to be – or plan to be – but being aware of it is 99% of the battle, I think. Good summary!

  5. david says:

    It might even be more than 99%!

  6. Matt says:

    Living a quality life now does not mean you need to have all the gadgets; you’re dead on the money. I stopped buying gadgets, gizmos and new cars years ago. I look around me at people getting the latest phones and toys and I just smirk.

    Cars I look at and think to myself it would be nice to own that but I really don’t need it. Then again the difference there is the cars I look at and wonder are also cars that cost as much as a house in half the country.

    Simplicity definitely works – sometimes its hard to get there.

  7. Bo says:

    Dude, your post was right on the money (haha).

    My wife and I try to be frugal and we still have more than we could imagine we would have. I mean seriously, if you make more than $45,000 per year, you are in the top 8% (earning wise) in the world. How incredibly blessed are we as Americans?

    In agreement to your last statement, I just can’t convince myself to go out an buy that expensive iPhone.

  8. I agree it’s about simplicity and also about balance. Living your life today is also important as is saving for a rainy day or for that elusive retirement. You cannot sacrifice one over the other.

  9. […] Voluntary Simplicity – Is It The Answer?: And in the same line of thinking, a good take on voluntary simplicity. I subscribe to this – I basically took a halfway baby step from corporate wage serfdom to consulting. I’m not totally independent – I still need corporate clients – but it’s closer. I’m more in control of my life than I was 3 years ago. (@ My Two Dollars) 7 Essential Points How Deep Breathing Can Have A Positive Impact On Your Life: Slightly Unrelated to everything else here, a good post on a simple lifehack. I actually just did this as I wrote this comment and I feel significantly better. Don’t laugh – try it. Now. (@ Diethack) […]

  10. […] Voluntary Simplicity – Is It The Answer?: And in the same line of thinking, a good take on voluntary simplicity. I subscribe to this – I basically took a halfway baby step from corporate wage serfdom to consulting. I’m not totally independent – I still need corporate clients – but it’s closer. I’m more in control of my life than I was 3 years ago. (@ My Two Dollars) 7 Essential Points How Deep Breathing Can Have A Positive Impact On Your Life: Slightly Unrelated to everything else here, a good post on a simple lifehack. I actually just did this as I wrote this comment and I feel significantly better. Don’t laugh – try it. Now. (@ Diethack) […]

  11. […] Voluntary Simplicity – Is It The Answer? at My Two Dollars.  You already know that I’m fascinated with simple living.  […]

  12. Ryan Healy says:

    Good post. Want to know one way to retire earlier? Ditch your TV. Don’t cut back. Just get rid of it. It sounds like you’ve done this based on your comment “Back in the day…”.

    I like how Jim Rohn puts it: “Rich people have big libraries. Poor people have big TVs.”

  13. david says:

    That’ll work too Ryan….

  14. […] Choice: Voluntary Simplicity – Is It The Answer? posted at My Two Dollars. Simplifying our lives and *choosing* to live simple lives can do so much […]

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