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Is the simple life possible in America?

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A blog reader named Forest just posted a comment to this blog.  I’d like to know if anyone has an answer for him.  He said, “I have read your article, and although there is not much to disagree with, there is on the other hand, not much substance to it either. I have been searching on the we…
By Seth Barnes
A blog reader named Forest just posted a comment to this blog.  I’d like to know if anyone has an answer for him.  He said,
“I have read your article, and although there is not much to disagree
with, there is on the other hand, not much substance to it either. I
have been searching on the web for years on how to really live a simple
life without a lot of money, and I am convinced that it can not be
done. Any family that has attempted to live a “simple life” has the
resources to do so, i.e. lots of money. So my conclusion is that a
simple life is nothing more than a paradox.”
It’s a fair and provocative question:  Is the simple life possible in America? Certainly there is much that makes it difficult.  There’s our consumer culture and the way we max out our credit cards, living beyond our means.  Everyone seems to do it.  What do you think – can one swim upstream against the current?
The simplest lifestyle Karen and I ever lived was right after we were married.  We moved to Indonesia and our total budget was less than $300/month.  And after a year we moved to the Dominican Republic where our rent was $220/month and we got around on a motor scooter.  Having kids did begin to make life complicated, though the first, Talia, was born in the D.R. where medical care was cheap, and Leah, the last one, was born when we were so poor we had to go on Medicare.
In 1985, when we moved to Falls Church, VA, we got the cheapest rent we could find for a two bedroom apartment . We had $175 left over each month to pay insurance and food, laundry and gas for the rest of the month.  It was amazing how we did it!  Karen would wash Talia’s cloth diapers by hand in the bathtub and drape them around the apartment to dry.  I asked her about those tight times and she said, “You know, I really don’t remember it being that awful. I do know we never had orange juice or chips!  Or soda!  Just basics. I could do it again.”
In any case, some people are living simply by choice.  Look at the Simple Way.  And many of AIM’s missionaries manage to get by on very little.  A lot of it depends on where and how you live.  Some web sites to help,  here and here.   I believe the coming economic earthquake that I write about in the blog after this one will force it on most of us.
So, does anyone have an answer for Forest?

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