Well, last night’s counseling session was interesting

We both walked in hoping it wouldn’t be as ouchie as the previous one (which was one of the most painful we’ve yet had, by far), but knowing we were probably going to get grilled in some way. The therapist, who to my knowledge has never taken DR but has done a lot of work helping married couples with financial disputes, sort of laid it on the line last night and told DH that he can’t manage “his” money by himself anymore, and he can’t hoard financial information anymore, because it’s not “his” anymore. It’s “ours”. Our joint responsibility and our joint management and our joint ability to vote on where the money goes. I can’t be shut out of those decisions and those management tasks. Could have come right out of the FPU or TMMR books, first chapter. She also told him he can’t pay the mtg out of savings anymore; if we’re ever going to have a balanced budget, that bill MUST come out of our checking just like everything else, and then we budget around it. I was hard pressed to keep from cheering.

But I have my homework assignments too. The farm has GOT to start making more money, and more consistently. We’ve had lumpy sales scattered through the year, and those sales amounts are each going up. But they’re not enough to offset all the costs yet. And bringing those costs down another notch is on the list again too. I went through a major cost-cutting exercise late last year and early this year, but I’ve sort of been coasting since then. One of DH’s main stressors apparently has been this notion that he’s still carrying the farm’s finances, and was simply expected to do so into the distant future. Um, no, that was never the expectation, but it’s time to back up that sentiment with action. So this morning I’m going back to the drawing board to see either how to cut costs, bring in more income, or (preferably) both. My rather steep goal is to find a way to generate several hundred $$$ of new income, every WEEK, by the end of this month. Yea, that’ll be a challenge, but it’s a challenge with a lot of nice benefits. So we’ll see what I can come up with.

We’re also going to start having him do the budget, as of this month. In the past, I’d do the budget based on my actual numbers and his estimated numbers. That’s been one of the bottlenecks, that he would never give me his actual spending amounts. One of the things he said last night was that he had a gut feeling that the farm was costing us more than we realized, and that his spending was “fine”. To which I replied that I had actual numbers for how much the farm costs, and earns, every month, vs his “gut feeling”. And the therapist agreed that in this instance, she was more interested in the actual numbers than in “gut feelings”. So now he can’t hide behind all those excuses anymore. He needs to come up with actual numbers for his own spending, balance that against the actual numbers for my portion of the ledger, and make it work. And then run it by me and I get to vote on this-or-that adjustment. Another task for today is prepping my own spending numbers to send to him so that he has all that information in time for our budget meeting this weekend. Love it love it love it.

But we clearly still have old habits to change. One of my tasks has been to pay the mtg each month. I would pay for the upcoming mtg payment online each month, but it would always come out of his accounts. Per his instructions he’d give me which account number to use, and for awhile now it was his savings account. Lately I’ve insisted that he pay the mortgage, so that I’m not the only one who knows how to do that. He’s resisted that too, but last night he sat down at the keyboard and I walked him through (again) how to take care of that task. When it got to the point of which account to pay from, he stubbornly refused to take it out of anything other than his savings. Again. I told him we could delay the payment a few days without penalty (up until the 5th) to give him time to have his paycheck come in. We could even wait another week, in case his paycheck came in next week rather than this week, but no. That was simply unacceptable. So he took it out of savings again. To which I said “ok, as soon as that paycheck comes in (and I have no idea whether it comes in this week or next), we put at least half the payment amount BACK into savings”. He grumbled about that, but I didn’t have to tell him that I’d take it to the therapist if he refused. He knows I will. So I think he’s very much a creature of habit and doesn’t like learning new tricks, but we’re on our way. One grudging, resisting, “I shouldn’t have to and I don’t want to” step after another.

Off to go dream up how to make $500 more every week, starting ASAP. I think once I tackle that, I’m going to tackle some slightly less demanding goal, say, conquer illiteracy or world hunger or cold fusion or something similar. You know, something easy.

Coming out of lurkdom for this, it’s a great thread!

I love what Mark said in her paragraph about downsizing her house. My idea of simplicity is, at bottom, a search for contentedness. I want to identify the things I *NEED*, and then remove everything else, keeping in mind that “need” covers all areas of existence, not just physical things. (So I feel like I “need” my home library, because reading is how I re-energize myself from stress.)

I like ideas that remove conflict. We were continually not getting dishes washed because they’d all stack up so fast and then we’d feel overwhelmed. So instead of us yelling at each other every day to get it done, I removed all the extra dishes, so that each family member had one plate, bowl, cup, and silverware set, and saved out two large microwaveable plates, a large pot, and a large frying pan, and two microwavable casserole dishes. That’s pretty much it. So even if we don’t get the dishes done this meal, there’s not much there, and it’s fast and easy to do.

We had a summer wherein it was exorbitantly expensive, and we’d used the electric oven a lot. So higher cost on running the oven, and higher cost on the AC working overtime to cover the heat that got into the house. So we simplified for a month to see how it worked: we only used the microwave and the toaster oven (that my folks bought us for Christmas). That was three years ago, I think, and it worked so well that we’ve only used the oven twice since then, and I think it was for large trays of Christmas cookies.

For me, simplicity also involves time. I want to know that we as a family have plenty of time to comfortably be together just hanging around the house. Keeping track of a dozen schedules and running here and there, even if we’re all together in the car, is NOT simple for me. Being dedicated to the weirdness of not spending money helps, of course, because it reduces the number of shopping “errands” that seem necessary.

I have my degree in early childhood development, and the part that interested me the most was the amazing power behind environment design. Those classes explored how carefully thinking out the positioning of each item (typically furniture or a category of learning toys) would create a room that allowed the children to explore and learn independently with the least amount of struggle. I have a disability that means a lot of normal home activities are a struggle for me, so I applied what I learned about environment design to my home, and it simplified enormously the steps that I have to take to accomplish things. Basically, it’s taking the idea of ‘don’t arrange a sofa directly in front of a door’ just a bit further than interior design.

So. Simplicity to me is ease of living, and what it takes for me to be contented in my life. Accessed through careful management of time, environment, money, and taking the time to be self-reflective and recognize what it is that you, as an individual, and your family, really needs.

I’ve actually been mulling this question/topic a tad more

After I posted my first topic, I realized there are many different facets of “live simply”. Ours is one, but it’s definitely not the only one. I strongly concur that a lot of kids are programmed into perfect little consumer machines, and then spend the rest of their lives living out that programming. And I definitely concur that folks don’t need to be involved with, or interested in, homesteading or farming in order to simplify their lives. I think where I was going with that comment last night was more along the lines of acknowledging that any adoption of ideals, will bring with it some trade-offs. For us, we had to work our butts off physically so that we could build (literally) the life we wanted. We didn’t realize that was part of the trade-off, until we were actually IN the lifestyle. For other households we’re familiar with, who aren’t farming but who have adopted a “simpler” lifestyle, their lives actually got more complicated. They have to work at it to figure out alternatives to the smoothly-packaged, aggressively-marketed choices and options all around them. For instance, what to tell their kids when all their kids’ friends not only have iPhones but FB accounts, and entire conversations occur on FB and/or via iPhone that they can’t share in? How does a kid without an iPhone and/or FB account, participate in that social life? In that quest for “simple”, that’s a complicated issue ExtLoans Co. – long term installment loans online. So, Are there ways to live beyond the merry-go-round of consumerism gone berzerk? Yes, I firmly believe so. But is it “simple”?? No, I think it gets harder every day. For me, living simply means having the closest connection possible between me and the products I need to live. And that has created an entire web of “gotta-do’s”. For others, whose idea of “simple” maybe means less electronic garbage in the house, or less TV, or less junk food, that’s awesome. But the choices and options they’ll have to make to acquire that “simpler life”????? Definitely more complicated than merely drinking the Koolaide and going along with the crowds. I think perhaps that’s why so few people buck the trend. It’s “simpler” to just go along with it all.

No one needs a smartphone

But, Bill G. is NOT a proponent of a simple lifestyle. He is a proponent of living within your means. His personal means are valued around 55 million. He does not live a simple lifestyle.
His message is take care of what you have. Once you’ve gone through the baby steps, do what you want with your money.
There are quite a few people on this board that make a lot of money and are able to give their children “things”.
I love the simple lifestyle, but my DH doesn’t. I could live a lavish lifestyle too, but I’m just as happy living simply.
There is nothing inherently wrong with buying kids stuff. Teaching your kids good money skills is. That’s why we are all on this board.