I’ve been trying to spend more money, but I haven’t done a very good job of it.
I haven’t abandoned our 15 principles of Radical Frugality, as outlined here. But I know that if simple living is just about saving money, it isn’t that different from poverty. Simple living is also about enjoying authentic experiences, spending time with friends, spiritual growth, acting on our beliefs, investing in home and garden, and living in community.
I realized that I might be happier if I wasn’t so cheap. I needed to loosen up a bit. But this isn’t as easy as it sounds. I don’t enjoy shopping, rarely travel or go to restaurants, and don’t want to increase my carbon footprint.
So last September I started making a list of 20 ways that Betsy and I could make our lives more fulfilling by spending more money. It’s sort of the opposite of cutting back. But I’m sorry to say that we’ve acted on only six of these resolutions.
We did start buying locally produced eggs. I got new glasses. After we realized how inexpensive flat-screen TVs are and how little energy they use, we bought one (though we still don’t have cable and don’t watch more than we used to).
We had two dying red maple trees taken down, increasing the sunlight in our side yard and providing me with lots of wood to split and stack. We bought some plants for the side yard. And we increased our donations to our churches and charities, and plan to lend money to an organization building a community solar facility.
But we passed on a trip to see family and friends in England, putting it off until next year. Instead, we decided to stretch our travel legs with overnight trips around New England. But have we actually done that? Noooo.
We wanted to start buying more organic food, but didn’t get much beyond peanut butter. Low price vs. organic remains a tension in our food-buying habits. Although we rarely go out by ourselves, we thought we’d lighten up a bit by scheduling monthly restaurant meals with friends. But we haven’t done so.
I suggested that Betsy visit her massage therapist monthly instead of every other month, but she hasn’t done that. We’ve been talking for years about replacing our old living room couch with a fold-out sofa/sleeper, but haven’t been able to agree on the relative merits of comfort, adaptability, price and quality.
I thought we might subscribe to Netflix, but what’s the point when we already have enough to watch? I wanted to replace our 2007 Prius with a newer plug-in model, but we concluded that we don’t drive enough to make the initial cost worthwhile at this time.
Betsy wants to do some house projects, such as creating a new driveway, replacing a window, adding insulation to reduce noise between our living space and that of our tenants, and resurfacing our back porch. She hasn’t done so yet, though I expect she’ll get around to some of these projects later this year.
It’s true: simple living is complicated!