Friday, January 16, 2009

The Simple Living Guide

I'd had The Simple Living Guide by Janet Luhr on my reading list for a long time, and I think the sheer size of the book (it's quite thick) kept pushing it to the bottom of my pile. Ironically, one of the first points in the book that resonated with me was "Stop trying to read everything." I took that to heart and instead of reading every page, I just skimmed the sections that only minimally interested me, so I'd have more time and energy to focus on the topics I found more compelling. My favorite parts of the book were the testimonials that concluded each chapter because I really enjoy reading about how others live simply.

Some random notes I took from the book:

*The two main rules for living on less are to "pay retail as little as possible and plan ahead." Love this, as I'm a big fan of bargain and secondhand shopping. I do think planning ahead results in saving if it's done properly. My clothing inventory has helped me with managing kid clothes, but I still need to work on a system for keeping my pantry stocked.

* I liked these ideas for teaching kids about money:

Set up a savings account for your children.
Discuss the difference between wants and needs.
Have your child learn to pay for extras.
Involve children in real-life budgeting.
Allow some mistakes to teach kids about money.

*My favorite chapter discussed dealing with clutter. Luhr writes, "The simple living lesson on clutter is this: if you don't like to clean, sort and fool with stuff, have less of it." Makes sense to me!

*I also liked this three-pile rule for sorting through your stuff:

1. love and use--things you feel good about and use often
2. ambivalence--things you both like and don't like, all at the same time (rarely used but held on to because of guilt or pack-rat rationalizations)
3. discard--things you never use and are willing to part with

(Variations for kids: I love it, I don't know, Out) I definitely identify with the ambivalence pile!

I'm glad I read the book, though I don't think it's one I'd reference again, even though I found it inspirational to simple living. Has anyone else read it--what did you think?


Michelle said...

Yes, I like The Simple Living Guide. I especially like her chapters on eating, exercising, and health. I have referenced it a few times since reading it for the first time a few years ago. :)

Mom said...

It's been awhile since I've read it -- maybe it's time to read it again! Like you, I always enjoy reading how others are successfully living simply. Thanks for sharing -- Love, Mom

Ewokgirl said...

I absolutely LOVE this book. I guess it's the inspiration factor, but it makes a simplified life seem so much more appealing. I live in Dallas, TX, which is very much all about shopping and having stuff. Plus, we go to church in a very wealthy area, so sometimes it's hard to lose focus and perspective. This book always kicks me back into the realization of how futile the consumeristic lifestyle is.

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

Great stuff here, Carrie. I'm interested in reading that book now...despite the thickness!

I think planning ahead is wise--definitely something I could do better.

Love the kids ideas. We try to make our kids pay for "extras" and I'm pretty sure they know the difference between needs and wants, but I'm not very good about allowing them to make mistakes. I feel like it's always so important for them to make the "right" decision that I coach them a bit too much.

Thanks for sharing.

Amy A. said...

I think I need to take a look at this book. I love the three rule concept. I am a keeper because of guilt. I spent money on it, so I can't get rid of it... I need a change of thinking, for sure.