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.
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.
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.
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.
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?