Friday, October 13, 2006

Fri. Spotlight: Simplicity in Kansas Escapes From Oz

Forget Oz! Dorothy would have never fled her Kansas home if she had met Simplicity in Kansas, a thoughtful blogger on a new track. In a push for simplicity, he has swapped his dry clean-only clothes for low-maintenance wash-and-wear gear. He bikes over 300 miles a month and he's almost tossed his mailbox.

This week Simplicity in Kansas checks into the Frugal Spa with a new spin on life.

Constructing a Triangle of Simplicity, Frugal and Personal Finance

Simplicity in Kansas

Simplicity has been an arduous journey filled with personal and professional revelations. By simplicity, I mean removing the noise and non-value-added stuff from my life. For example, I banished the television from my home, which was a hard, hard change. I still read the news online, download podcasts and keep current on a few magazines. But the removal of televised noise - literal and metaphorical - was a step I felt needed to take in my life.

As part of this journey, I've also reduced my paper trail by using electronic mail and online bill paying systems. I have removed junk mail and extraneous people, things and items from my grid network. As a result, I receive very little postal-driven mail. At first, not getting 'things' in my mailbox was strange, but when I think about the lifetime of garbage saved and time given back to me, it has been a great decision.

I find myself exploring the "simplicity continuum" each day and experimenting with my comfort zone. Simplicity, I have discovered, does not necessarily mean giving up all comfort in exchange for an ascetic lifestyle. I seek a balance between frugality, comfort and simplicity.

For example, when I purchase an item - a new bike, computer, paint the house - I make the most informed decision I can and minimize the expense but never the quality. In this aspect, buying "up" to last makes sense to me as I plan to keep my major purchases for a long, long time. Spending twice as much to get the desired quality to last a lifetime when the total cost of ownership is considered is financially prudent.

During my journey towards simplicity and frugality, I have found my ability to say 'No, Thank You' has been met with many strange looks. For example, at a thrift store, I recently purchased my biking clothes for $5. (They were excellent, new clothes.) But when I shared my thrift store purchases at work, I received many uneasy laughs in response to my story. The feedback from my co-workers made me realize a simple yet powerful truth: My friends do not require an explanation about my simplified life and those who are not my friends will never accept any explanation as I change my life.

This core belief has created more of a rugged individualism quality in myself and I have stopped explaining why I do things. Saving money and finding a way to make a homemade cleaner, save $10 a month on a bill, fix my bike or keep a piece of land as a steward of the environment (the farm) all have re-defined my perspectives of what it is to be contributor to the world without seeking the approval of the "Jones".

During this journey, the blogsphere has been essential to my effort to learn more and to implement those learnings into my frugality/simplicity and personal finance activities. Prior to the blogsphere, I would not have purchased thrift store items but now, it is a viable option and part of my plans and actions. I have found an informal education guided by actual experiences I can use in my every day life.

In summary, I believe simplicity, frugality and personal finance are linked in a triangle of self-reinforcing forces which the blogsphere has created. My journey of frugality, simplicity and personal finance of a thousand miles began with a single mouse click and in keeping with Lao-tzu thinking, I believe that being frugal allows one to be generous.

Simplicity in Kansas


Wealthy Geek said...

Excellent article! It always amazes me how some simple planning and common sense can save so much money. Here’s another tip: let the electronics you already own do double or even triple duty. Let your computer also be your radio. Let your DVD player also be your stereo. It all saves money in the end. –Wealthy Geek.

Frugal Duchess: Sharon Harvey Rosenberg said...

Hey Wealthy Geek:

Great tips! Thanks for the feedback!
I also like listening to the radio on my computer.
take care!