Is “Simple Living” Just Another Term for “Giving Up?”

Bench in Valley Gardens Photo by Petr Kratochvil

While browsing the WiseBread Forums today, I came across an interesting thread in which a member asks: Is “Simple Living” Just Another Term for “Giving Up”?

Several members responded with various opinions:

  • There is a difference between simple living and forced poverty.
  • Not everyone enjoys the rat race.
  • It’s a choice.
  • It’s a form of retirement.
  • Some live the frugal life because they have no other choice.
  • Frugal does not mean “easy,” but instead takes work and ambition.
  • It’s the means to an end.

I thought I’d add my own opinion to this and go more into why we live the way we do – sort of a continuation/elaboration on Our Family Financial History which tells how we came to be where we are today. The answer to this question, as evidenced above, is different for everyone depending on your station in life – age, personal goals and lifestyle preferences.

For us, the last answer, “It’s the means to an end,” is closest to our view of “simple living” or “frugal living.” For me, simple living is not just another terms for “giving up.” I like to think of it as “saving up” and making it possible to “live it up” in future years.

Though, I think this has much to do with where we are agewise in our lives. Madoline and I are in our late twenties and we have many years ahead of us. But for someone at midlife, retirement or late-life, it would probably be different.

Our Reasons for Frugal Living are:

  • To pay off our house as soon as possible
  • To save up to attend graduate school
  • To save up for a replacement car when the time comes
  • To make sure we and our pets have enough (or more) to live on in later life
  • To be able to live as comfortably and healthily as possible in later life
  • To be able to help extended family who may need assistance
  • To be able to travel and see the all the places we’ve been wanting to see
  • To own a small farm on which to keep horses, sheep and dogs
  • To be free of debt and worry
  • To be able to have the things we want be they large or small
  • To be able to pay our taxes – sad, but true

Frugal Living as a Choice

At this time in our lives, we cannot really afford to not live frugally. Our business is still in its development stages, and we are still considering other career paths. Because we prefer to avoid debt and our business is small, we have been using our cash to invest in sewing machines and materials for the business.

So for us, frugal or simple living is a choice because our present lifestyle is also a choice. At this time, we’d like to have a shot at making our business work because we prefer to work for ourselves and be able to work from home so we can be with our dogs who are our closest family. This is the reason we bought our house where the closest city is 40 miles away. We could move to a large city and get full-time jobs if we really wanted or needed to, but for now, we want to try to make our business work.

Frugal Living as a Means to an End

One of the ways in which we hope to make our fortunes is by investing. This also requires some capital other than regular savings and and emergency fund. So that is another reason we live frugally – to save as much money as possible to invest.

How about you? Do you live frugally? If yes, what are your reasons? And if no, why not?

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7 thoughts on “Is “Simple Living” Just Another Term for “Giving Up?””

  1. Plain and simple, I’ve never been happier than since I started living the frugal life. Purchases are so much more enjoyable if they’re rare and thought out – for me, anyways. If you’re always getting new gadgets or clothes, how much do you really enjoy any individual piece of that? Also, the peace of mind that, yes, I really CAN afford something when I do buy it… that can’t be beat!

  2. Enjoyed reading your blog especially your history. Can just picture you in the moving van for the first time. Simple living came easy to us after my partners untimely illness that lasted 5 years. It gave us an appreciation for the important things in life:-)

  3. I certainly see the value in simple living, and try to do the same myself. However, I think it is important to be careful about having too many statements that end in “….later in life” and refer to enjoying things “…in the future.” I think it is also important to make sure you are enjoying life *in the moment* because, well, who really knows how long we will be around. I advocate saving and living frugally, but I am also careful to have balance in my life, by taking some of that hard-earned cash and using it to enjoy traveling (as well doing other things I enjoy) now…

  4. We have friends that live frugally out of necessity and out of the desire to spend less. Most of our friends are in the young family stage and have to pinch every nickel and dime for diapers, milk, and food for the family. Others have given up on cable tv and eating out because they think it’s a waste of resources. They do however enjoy the occasional meal out, and that is truly savored and a treat for them.

  5. i love to live in a big city but i also love to do things myself: i love to repair and tune my bike, cook my meals the way i want to and build robots, sew, knit, crochet- these make me happy. i also try to consume as less as possible to pollute less

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