Different for each family: 4 everyday life choices, simplified

In one of the appendices of my book that will be released this fall, I discuss simple, everyday life choices we commonly face when we simplify our lives.  When you approach simple living, sometimes the decision is clear-cut.  Sometimes it’s not.

Since simple living looks differently for each family, there’s really not one right, absolute answer to any of these things. It’s a matter of deciding what’s best for your family, and then not worrying about what others think.

Here are four of the nine everyday choices I present in the book, along with some questions meant to spark your brain.

1. Should I take the time to clip coupons?

Photo by Cameron Russell

Pros to clipping coupons:

  • It can provide substantial savings on items you’d buy anyway.
  • Stockpiling is easier, because you can buy large amounts to save for later when you have a specific coupon.
  • It helps you be more selective while shopping.
  • Involving your children teaches them the basics of home economics, saving, and money management.

Cons to clipping coupons:

  • It’s time consuming.
  • It might tempt you to buy more than you need.
  • Without an organized system, it can add to the clutter at home.

My thoughts:

Coupon clipping can be a major contribution to the family budget, especially if you have the time to do it well. There is a method of coupon clipping effectively, however, so it’s important to do so strategically and wisely (my friend Crystal at Money Saving Mom explains how to do so really well). If you clip everything in sight, you’ll add to the clutter, require more organization, and tempt you to buy items you wouldn’t normally purchase.

2. Should I line-dry my laundry or use my clothes dryer?

Photo by Madzia Bryll

Pros to line drying:

  • It’s cost effective, saving you money on your electric bill.
  • It uses natural power (sun and wind), making it very eco-friendly.
  • Clothes last longer when they’re line-dried.
  • It often eliminates the need for a commercial stain remover, because sunlight is a great natural stain remover.
  • Involving your children teaches them the value of taking care of your family’s possessions, a community effort, the natural world and its benefits, and a strong work ethic.

Pros to using your clothes dryer:

  • Clothes will dry faster in the colder months.
  • It’s less time-consuming.
  • It requires less space, particularly if you don’t have a backyard or large balcony.
  • Sometimes line-drying isn’t allowed in certain neighborhoods, making a dryer your only choice.

My thoughts:

Our family does both. In the late spring and summer months, we almost exclusively line dry. Clothes dry surprisingly fast, and we enjoy spending time together and talking as we hang the laundry. It also offsets some of the cost of air conditioning during the summer months. We use our dryer more often during the wet winter months, though we still line dry cloth diapers and a few quick-to-dry items. I typically hang a load of laundry to dry indoors overnight – it’s ready by the morning.

3. Should we have a landline phone in addition to cell phones, or cell phones only?

Photo by Nonie

Pros to having a landline:

  • People without a cell phone will have access to a phone at your home.
  • No need to worry about getting good reception inside your house.
  • It makes it possible to have dial-up Internet access.

Pros to having only a cell phone:

  • It’s cheaper – there’s no landline phone bill. With the right cell phone plan, you won’t pay extra for minutes or services.
  • Depending on your cell phone plan, you have free (or much cheaper) long-distance services.
  • Depending on your cell phone plan, calling can be free within your household.
  • More and more people are relying solely on cell phones, anyway. Your landline might not be used often enough to justify its use.

My thoughts:

When we live in the States, we use only cell phones. We don’t miss our landline a bit, and since we share a family plan, calls between my husband and me are free. Much of our extended family also uses the same cell phone provider, so we enjoy free long-distance with them. When our kids are older (and therefore aren’t around us quite as much), we may consider getting a landline phone. But we can also just as easily put them on our family’s cell phone plan.

4. Should we become a one car only family?

Photo by Tanti Ruwani

Pros to having only one car:

  • You can use the money you’d spend on a car purchase on something else.
  • You’ll have less ongoing costs, such as gasoline, repairs, maintenance, licenses, and taxes.
  • You’ll spend more time as a family, because it’s more difficult to go your separate ways.
  • You’ll be more intentional in your time management, since you’ll have to coordinate using the car as a family.
  • You’ll contribute less pollution and fossil fuel consumption to the environment.
  • You may get more exercise, since you might rely more on a bicycle or your own two feet.

Cons to having only one car:

  • You’re not as free and independent to travel.
  • It might limit your choices of employment, entertainment, and community involvement.

My thoughts:

In most cultures around the world, families only have one car, if they have one at all. Having two or more vehicles in one household is truly an American phenomenon, but it’s what we consider normal.  Currently we have only one car, and for several years when we lived overseas, we relied solely on public transportation. I admit that having a vehicle is a much-appreciated luxury with small children, but we certainly don’t have a need for more than one.

What are the decisions your family has made with these particular choices?  Do these decisions simplify your life?

top photo source
Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

Encouragement for living simpler, right in your inbox.

We share our stories as we simplify our lives - no guilt-trips, just love.

(no spam, promise. we hate it, too.)


  1. Interesting post! It’s true that when making choices about living simply, the answers are often not as clear as you’d think.

    Clipping coupons: In Canada we don’t really have this option. Coupons are few and far between. Sometimes a grocery flyer will have one or two, but they’re usually for luxury items or disposable diapers, so I rarely use them.

    Drying clothes: I’d love to hang my clothes to dry, but it’s not allowed in our neighbourhood, so I use the dryer all the time, except when I hang a few things to dry inside–I can’t hang a full load inside because I don’t have enough room.

    Phone: We ONLY have a landline. We’ve never owned a cell phone in our family, and I don’t suppose we ever will. To me, it’s just something extra to cart around and worry about losing. In fact we only have one phone in our house connected to the landline (it’s one of those ancient ones with a coiled cord!). We’ve never felt that there is any drawback to this.

    Car: We only own one car, and one that is an old clunker at that. While I believe we will ever only own one CAR, we might get a pick-up truck in the future as well, which my husband needs for his woodworking business. But I’m not sure if that counts because it wouldn’t be for family use. 🙂
    .-= Laura´s last blog ..A useful little shelf. =-.

  2. These are really good points! I would love to use coupons for groceries, but I hardly ever find any for the things we buy. We shop at Trader Joes and a local health food shop, and those products just usually don’t offer coupons. However, several department stores do and I use them quite often when getting clothes or gifts.

    We have 2 cars, 2 phones, and I rarely line-dry. But I promise I’ll try to more often 🙂
    .-= Angela @ Homegrown Mom´s last blog ..To Those of You Who’ve Asked =-.

  3. When my husband and I got married we decided to keep his car (much older and clunkier, but paid off) and sell my car (MUCH nicer, but still had $6K in loans to pay off) so that we could focus our debt payments on student loans and not car loans. We did surprisingly well with just one car. Then again, we lived within a few miles of campus, so I would often just drop him off on my way to work. Or if I worked from home, he took the car. If I needed the car, I could drive him to campus in a matter of minutes.

    Then he graduated, we moved and he got a real job 20 minutes away. We still had one car and it still worked. Now he just drove me to work on his way to work. A bit further out of his way, but doable. Or I’d work from home sometimes. Which worked out well. Or I’d carpool to work. Great.

    Then we had a baby and I quit my job. No big deal. I stayed home all day anyway, why did I need a car? It was a bit more complicated because when I needed the car for doctor visits and such, I had to drive him to work, then pick him up again. Suddenly we were spending more in gas. Now that I was cooking during the day, it became more common for me to make quick trips to the grocery store, or even to want to do my main grocery shopping trip during the day so that I could actually spend time with my husband when he got home from work. The quick trips I could use the stroller and walk to the grocery store on nice days. But the main trips? No way.

    I soon found I was spending LESS time with my husband, because when he got home in the evenings and I finally got the car, I was out running all of our errands.

    And THEN our old clunker of a car started needing repairs. Not essential, but annoying repairs. Like our A/C. $300 wasn’t worth it to me for that old car. So we dipped into our savings (we have an account set up specifically for a car) and bought a new-to-us car for cash. I use it for my day-to-day stuff and when we do stuff as a family and my husband uses the old clunker for work.

    We may be spending a bit more money on car-related stuff now (gas, insurance, etc.) but we’re sure spending a lot more time together and eating dinner at a normal hour. Turns out for me, one car is definitely doable, but two cars actually simplifies my life and gives us more family time.

  4. I love visiting your website and find so much useful information. I just wanted to add one more pro to having a landline at home…911 service. Yes, you can call 911 from your cell phone but your home address doesn’t come up on the operators screen. Only the addres of the cell tower that your phone is using. In a life threatening emergency when seconds count and can save a life, it can be difficult to get help in a timely manner if for whatever reason a person is unable to provide their address (sometimes children calling for a parent that is unconscious or someone involved in a burglary and is afraid to talk).

  5. I’m interested in how families with just cell phones and children old enough to use the phone, but not old enough to have their own cell phones manage their children’s telephone usage. I take my cell phone with me when I leave the kids with my husband and he takes his when he leaves me with the kids. Do their friends call Mom’s cell phone? Do the kids give out both parents phone numbers and their friends call each number in turn? My own children are too young for this to be a problem, but my niece is 8 and she’s allowed to have 5-10 min phone calls with her friends and her friend’s call to arrange playdates. They call the land line. How do other families handle this?

  6. Sarah H says:

    I have a lot of friends that have gotten rid of their landline and rely only on cell phones. Their kids are all 5 yrs old or younger. We thought about it, too, but my main concern was that my kids (even though they’re only 2 and 4) needed to be able to use the phone in an emergency, and the landline is the most accessible and easily usable option. I hope that 911 never has to be called from my house, but just in case… I liked the question about which cell phone number (Mom or Dad’s?) do young kids give to their friends. Perhaps when mine are old enough for it to matter, they’ll be chatting online anyway and won’t have a need for our cell phones!

  7. As a previous commenter mentioned, a landline is important for 911 calls because your address comes up automatically. Calls also might be routed to a different 911 call center than your town’s local call center.

    Consider as well that, in an emergency, cell towers are going to be the first to go down. If you don’t have a fully charged phone and the power goes out, you’ll quickly be out of communication. Landlines will likely still be able to pull enough power to make and receive calls, and the lines won’t be jammed. Of course, that assumes you have a completely electricity-independent phone. We have a corded, no power required, rotary phone.

    If you contact your phone company, you can find very affordable plans for emergency only landlines.

  8. My husband and I are VERY interested in becoming a one-car family! But, to do this, we would like to live within biking distance of our business (so he can bike to work) and (ideally) within walking distance of shopping. Sigh. I agree that there are way more pros than cons, but it is certainly difficult when living smack dab in the middle of suburban USA.

    One thing we currently do to simplfy our lives is living without cable! (We love the occasional movie) I am finding that I am learning more, challenging myself to try new things and living life more fully!

    Thanks so much Tsh! I always love reading your thoughts!

  9. Great thoughts!! We’ve made these decisions, based on a family with two preschool-age kids and my husband and I being very active at our church and in the community. I am not a coupon clipper. I do not want to take the time and I absolutely don’t have space to store things I’m not using. I try to avoid processed foods, and that seems to be what most coupons are for. I’m having a good week if I can make a menu and shop for what I need–I just shop for the lowest prices, based on my list! We’re on a tight budget so I don’t care how cheap toothpaste is, I need to spend my money on the tiems we’re actually using tha week!
    We also only do cell phones. We pay for high speed Internet, no cable, no land line phone. I do sometimes misplace my phone or can’t fnd my charger and worry about an emergency….we’ll have to revisit that one!
    Our HOA prohibits us from drying clothes in the back yard but I have a drying rack in the garage I use. In Arizona, items dry almost instantly! 🙂 I line dry most larger items, plus towels and linens, then fluff them for a few minutes in the dryer. We use off-peak hours to run appliances, too.
    We had one car for a while and it was stressful for us, so we do have two now, because we often come and go to church at different times, and when I take off for my folks’ house across town, my husband can go out and do something he wants to do in his car.
    We’ve done most of our simplifying because of budget issues, but I also work hard to keep our utility bills low.
    Can’t wait for your book! 🙂
    .-= Tab´s last blog ..Happy 1st Birthday, Ethan! =-.

  10. I love reading your blog and this post particularly is very interesting.

    I am low-income, have been all my life, and have never had a dishwasher or clothes drier. Sometimes I think it would be nice, but the reality is I’ve never had them and managed just fine without them.

    My washing dries on the line outside, and in winter on the clothesmaid in front of the window and with the heater which we have on anyway to keep us warm.

    Dish washing by hand takes a lot less time, power and water than a machine.

    Coupons are a double-edged sword. If the saving is a particularly good one I will use it, but other times I found I bought things for the saving when I would not otherwise need to buy that item – so not really a saving. So I stopped using them for the most part.

    We just have one car. We make it work.

    I’m in the throes now of deciding whether to get rid of my landline. It’s a hard one. My elderly parents only have landlines and to call a cell phone from a landline is more expensive here. And it is peace of mind knowing that if the power goes out, the landline still works.

  11. We’ve addressed all of these things for the time being, but there are always new decisions to be made I think – we don’t clip coupons because there aren’t really many out there for things we actually buy, so it’s not worth the time searching. We use our dryer because we’re in one of those neighborhoods 🙁 I do occasionally hang delicate items out on the chairs or so, but mostly it’s not a choice for us. My husband has to have a cell phone if I want to talk with him when he’s on a truck (ems) so it’s simpler to ditch the landline and use 2 cells. This one may evolve as our daughter grows. We also have two cars for the same reason – the trucks of course are scattered around the city so he could be 2 hours away for as long as 24 hours (before their schedule change, 48 hrs). I need a car on hand usually and waking our daughter at 5:30am for a four hour round trip, twice, just isn’t something we care for (not to mention, comes out worse on the environment than having the separate cars!). When he’s in the office instead of on the truck, he varingly uses his car for the 45 minute drive, or takes the train if it meets his schedule. The train has a very limited schedule though, so currently he can’t rely on it full time. We’d love if the train was simpler!
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Adventures in Park, Adventures in Palate =-.

  12. Coupons. They don’t work for me. I want to buy ingredients to make things, not buy premade snacks…

    Line drying. I’d love to have a clothes line! I settle for a rack in my apartment for about half of my clothes and the dryer for the tshirts and unmentionables.

    Cell phone all the way! I do have a land line for my office, but it drives me nuts to have two phones. Good points about 911 from the other comments. I hadn’t thought of that.

    One car. Hmm. I do that on my own! That counts, right? Kidding! I think this would be difficult for me because I’m used to having that freedom. Maybe that will change once I’m married?

  13. We have 2 cars, paid for. My husband drives 20+ miles to work, so it’s a bit out of the way for me to take him and pick him up, especially since both cars are gas guzzlers. Since they’re both paid for, however, it doesn’t make sense to get something else with a payment just to save on gas. I homeschool our kids, and we have numerous activities that we attend that would be impossible with one car.

    We have 2 cell phones (work pays for his) and a landline, specifically because of the emergency reasons listed in previous posts.

    I do not use a lot of coupons, mostly because they are not often offered on the the things I buy. I try to steer clear of processed food for the most part. I do use coupons for toiletries and such.

    We just moved to a new house (rental) and I’m not sure what the rules are for clotheslines, but if they are allowed I will be using one.

    We are on the road to simplifying, but it is a process that I feel is not a destination, but a journey. Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us and inspiring us!

  14. This is a great post- you reminded me to get out my drying rack before our weather turns wet again. I’m featuring this is my Friday favorites. Have a wonderful weekend!
    .-= Rae´s last blog ..this moment/friday favorites =-.

  15. Michele says:

    Another ditto to the 911 service as a reason to have a land line. It’s nearly the only reason we have a land line, that and if and when cell service isn’t available (think after a major emergency) we have another option. Plus, a cordless and fully charged phone is super nice for long phone convos.

    About coupons not being for whole foods – Whole Foods has them in store often.

  16. Deanne Robertson says:

    So many of these decisions are affected by where you live and it never hit me until I read this. We don’t feel making the same decisions you chose, mostly because of where we live, yet I understand your reasoning and it makes sense for YOUR family. I’m so thankful for that freedom.

    Here are some examples….

    My closet neighbors are over a mile away, so no one cares two flips about me hanging out my laundry, lol. I can drape it all over the porch chairs if I want to, the railings of the deck, the folding rack on the porch, the clothesline…not that I’ve ever done that…ahem…

    When I’m living in the states ( we currently live in Hong Kong), our cell phone coverage is just not dependable enough to get rid of the landlines. We are so rural, that the coverage can be poor. I’ve been spoiled by that here in Hong Kong, lol. The 911 issue is also a big one for me, as well as “what number do you give”…..

    Another issue for us is having two vehicles because you are so far from things. We’ve done it before, but having four young, homeschooled children just seemed to be unwise. We would be unable to participate in field trips, co ops, get to the library….any of those things, unless we all got up early and took Daddy to work. We do try to plan trips efficiently and minimize the use of the second car. There is no public tranport option where we live (another things that spoils me here in HKG….it’s easy to get along without a car) so you are really housebound.

  17. Our friends who just had their adoption homestudy must install a landline before they will be cleared! I thought that was an interesting requirement.
    .-= MemeGRL´s last blog ..MPM–Back to Reality =-.

  18. This is all very interesting, as are most of your posts. That’s why I love following your blog and encourage my friends to do so. Let’s see…where do we weigh in on some of these subjects…

    Coupons-we only clip coupons when we live somewhere that we enjoy getting the Sunday paper, when we live in the States anyway.

    We currently live in Spain and don’t have air conditioning on the main floor where the dryer is. I’ve done some line drying on drying racks, as is very popular here, but I too, envision more line drying as the weather warms up, if for no other reason than to keep it a little bit cooler. We’ll see if I’m a total convert.

    We are also currently a one car family. The beater car we got when we arrived in Spain has crapped out and while we were deciding if it was worth it to get it fixed or buy a new one, we found out we could get by pretty much without one. One of the nice results is that I’ve lost over 16 lbs…

    • I, too, have lost weight since I started walking everywhere. I wasn’t overweight before but now I look like I work out on a regular basis! I’m not sure that we’ll ever be a 2 car family, perhaps when we move back to the states where it’s more difficult to walk everywhere and public transport is lacking.
      .-= Satakieli´s last blog ..Cocoa-Oatmeal Brownies =-.

      • I also walk to a lot of my daily activities. We bought a house downtown, even though its not as nice as in the suburbs, because its so much closer to everything. Plus, then I don’t have to make time to work out- it just happens! 🙂

        • I LOVE that!! We also live walking distance (less than a mile) to most of the stuff we need. No workouts necessary, just live life. Kind of like how it used to be . . .
          .-= Danielle´s last blog ..This Moment =-.

  19. Great!

    I do not clip coupons because the types of food I buy rarely have coupons, I buy a lot of fresh produce and staple basics because I like to make everything from scratch, I’ve even been making my own yogurt! Honestly I don’t want to get into the “oh we can buy this because it has a coupon” mindset either, but I can see how using coupons could be very beneficial, my mother in law swears by it!

    We cannot line dry our clothes because we live in a small second floor apartment, I’m slightly jealous of those who can though, I’d love to! We’re not permitted to hang laundry in the windows and I don’t even really have anywhere to put an indoor drying rack except the basement where the laundry room is, I don’t really want to dry our clothes in the musty basement though!

    We only have a landline because our internet/tv package was 20 euros cheaper if we got the internet/tv/landline package. Plus we get free calls to the states where Hubby’s family are and cheap calls to the UK where my family are! Otherwise we wouldn’t have bothered, I don’t use my cellphone a whole lot either. It’s a prepaid one for emergencies. My husband needs a cellphone for work though, I curse that thing on a regular basis!

    We have one car, a mini. We live in a town where I can walk everywhere, so I do! Hubby takes the car to work. We bought the mini because we only have one child and so didn’t need a bigger car, although its the larger version (the mini clubman) and the thing is like a tardis… you’d be surprised at how much we can fit in there. Hubby drives his bands instruments around in it, full sized drumkit, guitars, amps, everything!
    .-= Satakieli´s last blog ..Cocoa-Oatmeal Brownies =-.

  20. P.S. I love reading everyone’s different choices in the comments!
    .-= Satakieli´s last blog ..Cocoa-Oatmeal Brownies =-.

  21. Until this past summer we didn’t have a landline in our house here. It wasn’t too big a deal. I was the only adult and had the cell phone. Not great reception when you live under the garage, but doable. We got a landline this summer to get internet service. That was the reason for having a landline in Kuwait too. We rarely used that phone. Mostly our son used it to call us if he needed anything. It was just there to get the internet service.

    When we move home, we’ll have to look at our internet service and cost. We have a Magic Jack that should provide 911 info. We’ll check into that though. But there’s a chance we’ll just use internet for our landline and cellphones.

    I always prefer to line dry. I had to here until we moved our dryer from Kuwait. But it doesn’t work when we’re on generator so I can’t depend upon it. I only use it for bedding year round since I don’t have a clothesline and the sheets are too big to drape over the drying racks. I used to hang them over the railing on my terrace but had to clean it first. In the winter it’s handy for towels and underwear. Then I can save the racks for clothes.

    When we move home, DH has to put up a new clothesline for me. Ours is kaput.
    .-= Thursday’s Child´s last blog ..My poor babies =-.

  22. This is a great post!

    We do not coupon clip because we only shop at one store and the generic prices are generally cheaper for us (or close enough that we can place more value on the time involved).

    We use a clothes dryer, even though I’d like to hang them to dry, because we haven’t been able to get used to the stiffer feeling of line dried clothes.

    We have a landline because we do not have reliable cell service in the boonies.

    And we’re about to add a second car to our family after two years as a one-car family, because our main car is getting old (with poor mileage and more issues) and has limited storage, so it’s not a great fit for us anymore. But it’s 4WD, so we’re keeping it around as a backup.

    Can’t wait to read your book!
    .-= Mandi @ Organizing Your Way´s last blog ..Question of the Day: Do You Eat Breakfast? =-.

  23. Miss Clair says:

    Interesting post, enjoy your blog:)
    1. coupons – just started using them about 2 months ago, amazed at the savings, I use southernsavers, moneysavingmom, and iheartpublix – these are so helpful and I only clip/print the coupons that I plan to use, saving time and money!
    2. Line dry v. dryer – I live in Florida and work outside the home – so between the humidity, rain and time restraints, the dryer wins. Also living in the Florida climate (90 degrees and humid) means that most clothes have to be washed after one wearing, exception: pj’s, which equals a lot of laundry.
    3. Land line v. cell phone – we have both currently – because we live in a neighborhood well out of town, cell reception is not consistent and my children are old enough to be home alone. When they were younger and needed a baby sitter, I always wanted a working phone line available. I wouldn’t want to leave my cell phone with a babysitter at home. Therefore, when our children move out or we have better cell reception, we may consider getting rid of the land line, but for now it is for safety:)
    4. One car v. two – We are a two car family – I work outside the home and drive 30-60min to work one way depending on which job I am going to. This is mostly on rural back roads in counties without public transportation. My husband drives 30 minutes in a different direction. He leaves before 7:30am and returns after 6:00pm. Up until this year, my children’s school did not have a bus, so the only way to get them to school (8-10miles) was for me to take them. Our county does not have public transportation and the closest store is 6miles away which in 90 degree weather is quite the trek.

  24. Coupons: I have tried to like doing this, but have never been sure the savings justified the time. Our Sunday paper doesn’t have coupons, so if I want them I have to pay for them through a coupon clipping service. Then, there often just aren’t enough coupons for the items we purchase (I make my own cleaning products, make most foods from scratch, etc). I tried to do it hardcore for several months and think the most I ever saved was still less than $10.

    Clothes dryer: We do both. It’s time to get our line down and set it up (we have one of the ‘umbrella’ style lines). Wintertime…just not going to work to dry outside in 5 degree weather and I don’t have space to dry everything inside.

    Cars: We have 2 and I don’t think we could ever make the switch to one. I need it to take the boys to school and pick them up; we don’t have bus service and school is almost 2 miles away. We could bike when it is nice, but again, not so much when it is -20 windchill with 3 feet of snow on the ground. DH works on the opposite side of town, housing within walking distance is out of our range. AND, public transit system is not great unless you are centrally located. Logistically it would drive us insane to be a one car family. We’ve done it a few days over the past few weeks as one or the other car was in the shop, no way would it work long term.
    .-= Loretta´s last blog ..Mommy-Bot, v. 1.0 =-.

  25. I go in spurts on the couponing. When I do it, I don’t save much money, but I bring home more. Line drying I do when it’s warm enough, but I still use the dryer in the colder months and on wet days.

    As for the phone and the car, we live in a rural area (very small town about half an hour from anything), so that affects both. The couponing too, actually, because it’s not always worth the trip into town unless there are enough good deals. There’s not much cell phone reception out here, so we actually went to just a land line when we moved here. We did get a cell phone later, but it’s on a family plan with my mom, sister, grandma, etc., so we don’t pay much. Right now, since I’m home most the time anyway, it’s better and cheaper to have a landline than two cell phones.

    As for the car, we have been a one car family most of the time we’ve lived here. It forced me to consolidate trips into town, because I’d have to take my husband to work and go pick him up after. Now, however, he’s working every other week in another state, so he needs a car to get to work and back, and I need one if I’m going to go anywhere while he’s gone. I usually only go into town once while he’s gone, but it’s nice to know I can get places, especially if we had an emergency.

  26. Cell Phone vs Land Line – If you live in an area that is prone to hurricanes and tornadoes, it is wise to have a land line along with at least one non-wireless phone so if/when cell phone towers go down, you can still call out without power to the house. We also now have a ‘master’ list of phone numbers hanging on our fridge. During Katrina, people didn’t realize how much they depending on their cell phones to *know* the phone numbers of loved ones until batteries went dead and there was no way to charge their cell phone.

    1 Car vs 2 Cars – Our two cars are completely paid for but when one ‘dies’ we’re already talking about the possibility of going to one car. I work 100% from home so I would be able to easily take my husband to and from his work. I get more vacation then he does though so we would have to rent a second car when I want to visit family and friends and he isn’t able to take off.

  27. One thing you didn’t mention about having a land line…
    I think it’s good to have a land line number for emergency reasons. If we needed (or the kids needed) to call 911, I wouldn’t want to have to search for my cell, I would want easy access to a phone. For me, having a land line is an issue of safety.

  28. We added a digital phone (not sure if that works for 911 like a landline?) when my son was old enough to stay home a lone for short periods of time, as my cell phone would go with me. It’s cheap, added on to our internet, and has unlimited long distance calling, which allowed me to lower the minutes on our cell plan.

    My husband works an hour from home, and while we HAVE gone nearly a year 3 different times with only 1 car, it makes life VERY difficult, and ends up costing a TON when I have to drop him off and pick him in order to have the car. He did car-pool for a part of the time, but those circumstances always ran out, and resulted in him being gone much longer hours than necessary.
    .-= Spring´s last blog .. =-.

  29. Kathryn says:

    Great article. In America, especially, I think we just assume we’ll do certain things (e.g., use a dryer, have two cars) because that’s what everyone else does–it’s good to challenge those assumptions to make sure we’re really doing what works best for our families.
    I’d love to hear others’ ideas for two dilemmas we have:
    1. Everyone in my household has seasonal allergies, and two of us have allergic asthma. So drying clothes outside during pollen season (around here, March-October) is out of the question. I don’t have a proper laundry room where I can hang an indoor clothesline. Any ideas for how I can dry my clothes without the dryer (aside from filling up my den with collapsible drying racks)?
    2. I would love, love, love to be a one-car family, but my husband travels frequently, and his employer requires him to take his own car on some of those trips. Since public transit in our area is abysmal, I would essentially be without transportation for about one week a month if we were to get rid of one car. Any creative ideas for that? I’ve checked into car-sharing (e.g., Zipcar)–it’s not available for my part of town.

    • Mmom finds that a quick cold-air tumble in the dryer will get rid of much of the pollen from line-drying, so you might try that depending on the severity of the allergy / asthma.

  30. I’m interested that no one has raised the issue of radiation related to cell phone use.
    The jury is still out on the effects on people who have lots of long conversations on cell phones – especially young people. Our land-line is here to stay.

    Here in Melbourne, Australia it is quite common for people to rely on line drying and airing racks only – many people do not have dryers. Of course we do not get snow here, and our summers have mainly dry heat, so the climate is conducive (we do have wet winters though). I am amazed that line drying is actually discouraged/banned in some areas in the States – almost every single house in the Australian suburbs with a yard has a line, and many blocks of flats (apartments) have communal clothes lines on the property.

    We don’t really have coupons in Oz – I think it is an American phenomenon.

    We have one car (which stays at home with me/kids) and my husband catches 2 trains to work – our public transport is pretty good, but we are probably unusual – many families have 2 cars.
    .-= Claire – Matching Pegs´s last blog ..Learning New Techniques =-.

  31. I would love to live in a foreign country for awhile without a car. What an adventure. We are a two car family, and I don’t know how we would live with just one. My husband and I both work and he travels freqently
    .-= Renee´s last blog ..The Miscarriage – Part 6: It Stings a Little =-.

  32. Tsh,
    The only point I think you’ve forgotten is that, at present, cell phones do NOT provide an address if you call 911; my understanding is that it gives gps coordinates or the like, which are clearly accurate, but maybe not as accurate as a physical address. That is the sole reason we’ve kept our landline. Do you have other info that I don’t?

  33. This is a bit confusing to me…. I don’t own a car, a dryer or even a cell phone. I have a landline and dry my clothes at a rack in the living room in winter months. I do not see why I need the above mentioned stuff in any way.

    But then, I am European, so maybe it’s hard for me to imagine life in the US.

  34. We line dry our clothes from the time it stops snowing in the spring to when it starts again in the fall. I still try to hand dry indoors some clothes over the winter, though it does take more time to fine space to do so.
    .-= Kim @ Forever Daisies´s last blog ..Over the last while, I have… =-.

  35. We just had one car for many years, but now we effectively have 3. My husband uses an office car. He works 30 minutes from home now. My oldest daughter is 18, just graduating from high school and will be living at home going to community college. With 3 other kids to haul around, there’s no way I can drive everyone everywhere in order to get by with just 2 cars instead of 3. Doing just 1 car now is not an option.

    Things change as kids grow. I think it’s the same with cell phones. I don’t want my youngest 2 kids having cell phones, so we have a land line and pay as you go phones for daughter and myself.
    .-= Tiffany´s last blog ..Simple French Toast =-.

  36. Am I the only one wondering why you titled this post “5 Everyday Life Choices” but you only provided 4 choices?

    • It’s a simple explanation — Pregnant Brain. I was going to do five of the nine I write about in the book, but at the last minute, I decided to cut it to four. And I forgot to change the title. 🙂

      Thanks for the heads up. I never noticed. Which is also Pregnant Brain.

  37. I love learning all the ways you and others live more simply here at Simple Mom. I don’t think I’m the typical mom reader here, however. I often have a slightly unusual circumstance that causes me to have to modify the ideas that I read about here. Thanks for “permission” to do so. Freedom! I LOVE America!

    The ages of our five kiddos span 14 years, we homeschool, and live in a sprawling medium sized city.

    Coupons- I haven’t really made time for this. I use them when they present themselves to me. I often find them on the packaging of items I purchase. Like Angela @ Homegrown Mom, I use them frequently at department stores.

    Drying Clothes- -Always in the dryer, with the exception of hang dry items. I love, love, love the idea of line drying because I’m old fashioned. We have a large backyard, but our two oversized “puppies” would have a hayday with laundry teasing them from a line. Also, with seven people, five of which now wear adult sized clothing…well, I’m not sure how that would work. I guess my great grandmother managed it.

    Cars– Three! My husband leaves early for work in his. My oldest son, now in college, has one to get to and fro work, workouts, and summer classes. I have the mom van, also known as the “team van”. I haul kiddos to piano practice, ballet, basketball practice and, since we homeschool (no school bus), to all basketball games, most of which are in nearby towns.

    Phones– Both. We’re away from home a lot and on the road with the “team bus”, so I love my cell phone. However, I like knowing that I have left my teenagers and younger kids with a land line if I’m away from the house without them. We don’t allow cell phones for teens until age 16, but even then, cell phones can get misplaced (with a dead battery)…then what? Landline!

    There you have it. By mere appearances, one might conclude that our family isn’t the least bit into simple living. But the truth is, we firmly believe that simplifying life leaves more time, money, space and energy for the things that really matter.

    Thanks for a post that draws attention to our differences and encourages grace toward one another.
    .-= Carrie´s last blog ..Giving In: The Trend Toward Healthy Eating =-.

  38. Dee in BC says:

    Just 1 more consideration about using a dryer vs a clothesline- 1 of my sons & I have allergies & asthma. Pollen triggers these- We always use our (energy efficient) dryer to avoid bringing more pollen inside-especially on bedding-As we live in coastal BC using a line in cooler months (when there is less pollen) would result in permanently wet clothes -it rains A LOT here from Oct-May-Dee

  39. Our family had one car for years. It seemed silly to have two and make two car payments and two insurance payments when, most of the time, our family was either out together or one parent was home while the other was out. People couldn’t understand how we lived like that, but it didn’t cause us any trouble at all. We have two cars now because my husband works out of state during the week and I live in a rural area; however, I’d consider going back to one car in a heartbeat if our situation changes.

    I don’t do coupons because I buy mostly whole foods (fresh veggies, flour, etc.)at a warehouse store and rarely buy convenience foods. But we did give up our landline, and we do hang-dry our clothing whenever the weather permits.

    I love how you do the pro-con analysis. I do the same thing for everything in our household. I don’t just do something because the rest of America does it that way; instead, I try to do things the best way they work for us.
    .-= Michele – The Professional Family Manager´s last blog ..Avoid Garage Sale Hassles: Earn Money by Donating =-.

  40. I love your pros and cons.
    I really missed the independence of having my own car when we sold everything to move a few years ago, but it is really made our lives simpler – I just don’t consider options that I had before. We all go shopping together and divide and conquer, and meet again at a time and place. I can’t rush about and do too much. Somehow life has taken on a new pace.

  41. Jennifer B says:

    Another great topic would love to know what the fifth choice is. We live in sunny Florida with one car, no landline, no cable, no dishwasher. I don’t line dry, but certain items I worry will shrink.
    Funny thing about cell phones for emergencies, we have not had a landline for 10 years, and 6 years ago our area was affected by FOUR hurricanes in just a few months, each time the landlines were down but my handy cell never lost a signal for a moment! Different strokes…
    We also clip coupons when it is something like diapers or

  42. Okay, everyone. Enough of you have mentioned the 911 thing. Please read the comments. 🙂

    No, it’s okay if you want to bring it up again, but realize that you’re ALL bringing it up, and for many of you, it’s a valid reason to want a landline. Many of us don’t see that as enough of a reason, since cells call 911. I know they don’t track addresses. But truly, we’ve been fine with just cells for awhile now.

    After living overseas for awhile now, I think it also points to the very American worldview of safety being the trump card over everything, as though all circumstances are safety proof-able. Yes, safety is important. I don’t plan on needlessly endangering my family in any way. But cell phones work for us, just fine, and I feel okay with them in an emergency. 🙂

    I need to look into it more, but from what I understand, cell phone technology has also come quite a long way, and many major cities trace cell phone 911 calls now. I know that doesn’t cover everybody, but it’s a step in the right direction.

    • Interesting observation about Americans prioritizing safety. I can’t say why exactly this struck me, but it’s caused me to ponder a bit. I think it’s true and I wonder how this worldview will affect future generations. Something to think seriously about I think. Thanks for popping this into my brain! =)

  43. coupons: I don’t have a good system (And I am way too easily tempted to buy things we certainly don’t need!), and we mostly shop at Costco where they don’t accept coupons anyway.

    drying clothes: We actually tore down the clothes-lines we had before I was environmentally conscious. At this point (with 4 kids 4 and under, and expecting) we aren’t even thinking about putting up more…

    phone line: We don’t see any need for more than our 2 cell phones.

    car: It would be insane for us to have only one car! I’m definitely not waiting for my hubby to get home to do all my errands – I need to have that time with him. I do go out sparingly, however, and try to consolidate my trips.

    So, the one thing out of these choices that we purposely do to simplify is the phones. Most of the time it is good -except for the times my phone acts up because it is old. Mostly, my husband is very frugal!

  44. Coupons-I have tried to use coupons, but I rarely find what I buy in coupons since we try to buy less prepared foods. I am not willing to buy something just because it has a coupon.

    Cell Phones-we gave up our landline about three years ago and have NEVER missed it!

    Line Drying-my neighbor line dries all of her clothes, I do it to a limited extent, but I have too much volume to do it for all my laundry. Plus I do not like the texture of line dried towels or jeans.

    One Car-we own one car and it’s paid for in full. We are fortunate that my husband has a work vehicle that he drives and it is owned by his employer.
    .-= Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith´s last blog ..Friday Night at Salon Richard “rish-ARD” =-.

  45. Michelle says:

    Another thought about cell phones: you mentioned saving money by dropping your landline, but we found that it was cheaper for us to keep our landline and use prepaid cell service. It’s an option that most people in the U.S. don’t even consider, but I pay only $100 per year for 1000 cell minutes, which is all I need. We have the convenience and safety benefits of both landline and cell for less than the $50-60+ that many people pay each month for cell phone alone (and remember that when they quote you $39.99 per month, taxes generally add $10-15 to that).

  46. Great post – I just found your site and love it. Thanks.
    .-= Liz´s last blog ..Talking, Breathing, and Reaching Out to Others =-.

  47. Coupons – not a chance. No time, and I just don’t want to buy the products that are usually in the coupons. Too many convenience/processed foods, not enough real/whole food.

    Landline – we are a cell only family as well, though I imagine that will change as the boy grows. The one thing I miss about having a landline is getting to talk, casually, to some of my husband’s people before passing off the phone. Now they just call his cell and I never hear their voices.

    Line-drying – Of course. This is the one that drives me just a touch crazy. We lived in Japan for two years and dryers are virtually non-existent. We washed and line dryed our clothes year-round, warm and cold, wet and dry. During the rainy season, clothes had to get dried indoors. Being Japan, our indoors was small, 400-square-feet. No space is too small for line-drying indoors, you just need to be creative. Now, back in the states, we still have no dryer and line-dry most everything. We use the shower rod to hang up shirts and pants (we have to move them when we bathe) and collapsible racks in the corner of our bedroom for the rest. We do a load or so a day to keep up and all is well.

    Cars – I think it’s funny that you weigh the pros/cons of being a one-car family with no mention of being a no-car family. We live in a large city in America with decent public transport. We have chosen to live in a smaller place, closer to the things we need than in a larger space further away. We live car-free with our babe, 14-months. It can be challenging, but usually it is a great thing. It slows us down, only allowing an errand a day. It keeps our spending in check, simply by reducing opportunities to visit stores and having a limited carrying capacity afterwards. It lets us notice things around us, be aware of our natural, urban world. It let’s us stop, on the way to the grocery, for a brief visit to the park. We hope to be car-free far into the future. Many people speak of the independence that having a car provides, I feel it is the contrary. We have much more independence and free time without one.
    .-= Danielle´s last blog ..This Moment =-.

  48. As far as cell phones only – NEVER! We’re in Florida and when we had several hurricanes in ’04-’05 we were without power for quite a while, but the landline still worked!
    I would love to line dry clothes – but keep in mind LOTS of people live in HOA communities with restrictions. We don’t all live on farms with lots of acres!

    • Jennifer B says:

      In the state of Florida HOA’ s are NOT aloud to forbid line drying outside, it is a state law that gives you the right to do this. We are one of only a handful of states with such laws.

  49. Interesting how you’ve discussed seemingly simple choices that everyone must make but in their own unique manner. For us, two cars is a necessity since my husband works shifts and I have to ferry my toddler all over besides running errands. However, we do line dry our clothes. Here in India, the weather is usually perfect for line-drying. I don’t clip coupons, simply because there isn’t a big coupon culture here. But yes, I do make use of bulk discounts and budget buys.
    There is no one way to do these things and I look forward to reading your book for more of such fresh insights and ideas.
    Blessings and best wishes
    .-= prerna´s last blog ..Five Easy and Fun Ways to Stay Organized with a Toddler =-.

  50. My husband’s car was stolen about a year ago, and we never replaced it. He’s been riding his bike to work which is thankfully only 2 miles from home. He discovered he loves riding bikes and that has now become an activity we enjoy together. Had you suggested we give up one car before, I would have said there was NO WAY it was possible. We made some adjustments to make this work for us, and it has been really great. Who knew?! I still can’t believe it’s been so easy and painless.
    .-= Anna´s last blog ..Happy Easter! =-.

  51. One thing regarding coupons….I coupon, and we eat organic and a whole foods based diet. Couponing can result in overage which helps pay for the items you can’t buy with coupons such as produce, and the items bought with the coupons (cereal, for instance) are donated to the food bank. It saves our family tons of money, and allows us to be generous with others. I spend 45 minutes a week couponing at the very, very maximum. So if you think “we’ll never eat those boxes of crackers!” that’s fine, but maybe it can help someone in need, and still lower your grocery bill.
    Just a thought!
    .-= Anna´s last blog ..Happy Easter! =-.

  52. Couponing: I am just getting into this so I can help support the food bank [and bathroom stuff for women shelter] and get the money back to use on produce and other items we eat.
    Line drying: I am puchasing my first line for drying this year- very excited. We never lived where it was okay to line dry before.
    Landline phone: we went back and forth on this and decided to have both the landline and cell phone- it would be handy for us to use the landline for all our “business calls” instead of using the minutes. For our children, we have rechargable walkie talkies for them to take out when playing in the neighborhood to contact the main house so no reason to borrow a cellphone if no landline at a friend’s house or using their own cell phone.
    One car: we used to be an one car family and even a no car family once in a while but now we have moved to the outskirts of town, we don’t have the public transportation to make it work anymore so we have two cars but only one car payment.

  53. Fantastic post! I really appreciated how you covered the topic of simplifying via manageable options.

    I totally relate to living without owning a car while overseas. We managed to get along here in the U.S. using one car for several years–with 3 kids I might add. But one year ago we made that fateful plunge into double car ownership. We own both vehicles outright, however, and my husband commutes by bike during the week. I dream of the day when we can return to being a single car or car free family!

    Line drying is wonderful. Like you, I do it seasonally now. Cell phones only? Check. As for coupons, I’m also a big fan, but you are right, it can spiral out of control. Right now I’m going out to shop and save with my coupon wallet. And trying to keep all things in balance.
    .-= Julia´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: Backyard Fun Without a Swing Set =-.

  54. We are currently living in a big city in the U.S. and have one car (paid off), though it doesn’t get used all that often. It comes in handy for trips to Costco, which I find cost-reducing and life-simplifying in general. But most of our daily trips are made on foot or using public transportation, which is lovely.

    We are pondering a move, though, which may mean that we’d have to buy another car, and I’m dreading it, somewhat.

    It’s true, what others have said, that the answers to these questions are dictate, in a lot of ways, by where one lives. The good news is that I think we could more easily line-dry and generally have a simpler life in our potential new locale. Life seems to be full of trade-offs.
    .-= FreeRange Pamela´s last blog ..Making Mild, Creamy Yogurt at Home =-.

  55. We were a one car family for over 10 years and I loved it. It forced us to walk more and plan out our days instead of 2 of us running all over town in 2 cars. It became the biggest challenge once our kids both started after school activities and we bit the bullet and got a second car. The funny part is I still tend to drive our 13 yr old car and the new used one gets a lot less action.

    In regards to line drying, we had never given it much thought until we had temporary neighbors move in from Leiden who did everything on the line. She encouraged us to at least do our linens outside and now I welcome the smell of nature and sunshine when heading to bed!
    .-= Holland Saltsman´s last blog ..Pappa Don’t Preach! =-.

  56. Loving this post and the comments! Thanks everyone for sharing how your family works!

    I do not coupon clip. I tried. They just don’t have coupons for the things I purchase.

    We do line dry most of our clothes in the spring and summer. I do throw most of my oldest son’s clothes in the dryer though because his seasonal allergies are too bad. In the winter I hang things on my drying rack in the hallway and I am always amazed at how fast they dry! It’s a great humidifier…sometimes we put the rack in our kids’ rooms if they have a touch of a cold.

    We only have a land line. My husband has a cell phone supplied to him by his work, but honestly, I just don’t want one more added thing to deal with and to pay for. People have been annoyed that they can’t reach me when I’m out, but I rather like the freedom of not being “reachable” at all times!

    Oh, the car subject…we’ve been a one car family for quite a bit of our married life, but now we have 2 vehicles that are paid off. We used to live in large cities where we could walk to work and to the grocery. We live in a very rural area now and have to drive over an hour for any real shopping, so our four kiddos and I would be stuck at home all of the time without a vehicle. My husband can walk to work most days, but the winter here is brutal and sometimes he just plain needs his vehicle for work. I’m hoping to be a one vehicle family again some day…I thought it was greatly simplifying.

  57. I can’t believe that some neighbourhoods in the US don’t allow line-drying! And America is supposed to be “the land of the free”.

    If you can’t live the way you want in your own home (as long as you’re not doing something that society as a whole deems to be seriously morally wrong), are you really free? I have never heard of anyone not being allowed to line-dry their clothes (or grow a wild flower meadow in their garden, as I heard someone else on another site saying) in the UK. You do get restrictive convenants tied to your home sometimes, but these are usually more significant things like not radically altering the building, not whether you can hang your laundry out!

  58. We live about a mile and a half from where the kids go to school. Rather than drive them (as many parents do) we either walk or ride bikes, rain or shine. It’s great to leave the car at home, and we all benefit from the exercise.

Add Your Thoughts