Something that has been on my mind for a while is how far is too far for a government to go before its citizens must make a stand. When does a government’s actions go beyond what’s reasonable and become untenable? When must people rise up and protest if necessary? I’ll post more on this later but you’re thoughts on when one should act would be most appreciated.

One of the fun things about living the simple life is the joy of discovery, namely discovering sweet bargains or getting cool stuff for nada.

Here’s a wee collection of our recent and past unearthed gems…

School Desks

old school desks: Jo found these on side of road. they are perfect for a small house, and gives the room that lovely school room feel.

New World Tea Box

Maybe you can share your own discoveries?

I’m sure there’s a song about it ain’t being easy trying to do something new … so here’s a few of my recent failures.

1. I knew Jo wanted a hair straightener so whilst watching tv in the morning ( since I don’t have a job to rush off to every morning) I saw the InStyler on sale for only $14.95!

So I rang up and ordered one. However when the wonderful new product arrived in the mail, I realised it was in fact $250, which I would need to pay off in five installments of $50 over five months. My intial payment was simply to cover the postage. Thankfully this item can be returned. But the first lesson of the simple life is : do not let your spare time be monopolised by telecomercials.

2. Some friends of mine told me about all the amazing things they have found on the curbs around the streets of London. And so feeling industrious I decided to drive around the streets of Epsom and Mt Eden and see if I too could find a breadmaker, sewing machine or funky coffee table, rather than buying one. One fruitless hour later, which included a quick rummage through a big skip resulted in my finding only one daggy couch, which I left on the grass verge. Maybe Londoners are more generous with their ‘junk’.

3. Living simply also means eating simply. But on this one particular day I thought I would just sneak into McDonalds to grab a small fries. Nek minute… I came out with a Bacon Cheeseburger Combo and a terrible guilty feeling for destroying my body, and also contributing to this awful multi-nationals’ profits. Woe is me, my primal urges are too great sometimes!

4. Trying to sell a car. Well we put our sleek, cheap to run Pulsar on trade me hoping for a quick deal. But after an hour of calls from car dealers wanting to buy it, I realised that our sedan was probably too good to give up, and we withdrew the sale and put our other 7 seater on trade me instead.However we’ve had no bites as yet so I’m not sure what the lesson is here but perhaps being a bit more decisive would help.

Those are just a few of my stumbling attempts and failures at trying to do things a bit more ‘simply’. I’m sure there’s plenty more to come.

My friend Mark raised a good question about whether living simply means not buying a house.

This is a tough issue to make a call on, as there are lots of good reasons to own a house and lots of reasons against it too. And everyone has their own context with which to decide in.

For us right now we have decided owning property isn’t a priority.

We prioritised an overseas trip, which we took over January and February. The reason was that we felt the experiences we could have travelling was more valuable than committing to a mortgage.

But what about your retirement you might ask? The government won’t be paying pensions out forever, so how will you support yourself?

That’s a pertinent question and my answer is simply that life is in session and we have to be present, as the alternative could be straining for a future that may never eventuate.

When I was a reporter for a community newspaper I interviewed countless couples who had the same story, of working hard all their adult lives and reaching their 60s only to be struck down with a terminal disease or to have their investments ruined by a variety of things out of their control.

So by living in the present we hopefully will have less regrets in the future.

The second reason is that a mortgage requires a commitment to an area, a job, and a lifestyle for at least 15 to 20 years.

Choosing the area is the easy part, but deciding on a career for such a long period of time is not something I’m prepared to do at this stage. One of my thoughts since moving to Mangere is that I’d like the place I’m living in to choose what I should do, rather than I choose what I think it needs me to do. And if that means trying out some different things, to see where I can fit and what needs there are that I can fill then so be it.

Thirdly, there is a lot of anectdotal evidence out there ( which is obviously not enough to form a thesis on but still somewhat relevant) that being tied into a hefty mortgage is detrimental; to a healthy marriage, to recreation and to being able to contribute to community projects as the priority is in paying off this monumental debt. But I’d like to add we have also seen many couples who are able to organise their mortgage in such a way that isn’t so taxing.

Fourthly, I’d like to think there are other ways to save for retirement, eg the stock market and in your own skills. So another part of the plan is to be skilled in a variety of areas. Instead of locking myself into one career path, I think using my 20s and 30s to gain experience in a number of areas will mean I’m useful in a variety of ways which should prolong my employ-ability in an age where medical science is able to prolong our work lives. I guess I also don’t intend to hang up my work clothes at 60 and play golf for the rest of my days, as I’d like to think I can still contribute to society into my 70s and possibly longer.

So while i’m aiming to be present in the now, I also plan to be just as present in whatever endeavour I take up in the future, and if the need arises to buy a house then we will do it, but not as a necessity to ensure our retirement is comfortable but to serve our needs at that time if that is the requirement.

Welcome to Good Skimpin’.

This year I’m making a bit of a lifestyle change and to document this new direction I’ve decided to launch back into the blogosphere.

The aim is to live more simply.

I will be reducing from full-time work down to part-time and my wife is going to be a student.

We’re hoping to have more time to volunteer in the community, build deeper relationships and forge out a way of living which is more connected to the environment and those around us.

It may all end in tears, leaving my wife and I on the bread line or it may throw up some new ideas about how to do life in a way which is light on the planet, the pocket and ourselves.

And maybe some of the ideas that I throw may also be helpful to others on their own journeys.

So how did I arrive at this point?

Is it just a bourgeoisie luxury or a way to re-define my uselessness?

Last year I changed jobs halfway through the year, from one which had a traditional 9-5 Mon-Fri working week to one which required some weekend shifts but also allowed me to have days off during the week.

With my more flexible working week I was able to coach a couple of local sports teams and do a paper at university. These were both very enjoyable experiences and so this year I have decided to create a bit more space in my week to try some out some other things in our area and still have time to hang out with my wife and friends.

The second factor on my mind is I’m also keen to try debunk the idea that I need to work a 40 hour week to get ahead in this life.

I think having more time in my life will leave space for reading books,  learn a new language, develop more meaningful relationships and have the spare time and energy to live  in a more planet conscious way.

To whoever may come upon these humble ramblings, I hope you feel free to comment, argue, and challenge me further.