Musings of art, truths and subsistence living
A few years ago, I spent an entire week spring cleaning my home. When you move stuff around in and particularly, out of, a room, it changes the energy just by the creation of new or different spaces. That’s the easy part to understand. You are no longer tripping over stuff, or feeling down or ashamed because the place looks messy and you are embarrassed for folks to visit, or you can finally find things easily that always seemed to be missing or hard to get at. Clearing clutter and organizing things has a very practical, tangible aspect of making a space easier to move in, cleaner and more pleasant to look at, and hence less stressful to be in.’
But what we do not often realize is how much energy certain objects seem to “hold” within themselves. It’s the energy of their history, and of our attachment to them, the stories attached to objects, like where we got something, how much we paid for it or what it is “worth”. These stories seem to have a tangible chord that ties us to the objects. Sentiment, emotion, family history, perceived value, trying not to offend the giver of an item… all these things come into play in keeping us attached to things we no longer use, nor love. All that said, I am not one of these people who hold on to something because of their sentimental value. If it works, keep it. If it doesn’t and is taking up too much space, rid it. There is nothing better than a clutter free home. What I will not throw out however, are those items that have some connection to our sense of self, our identity. That’s what makes character in a home. There is something quite therapeutic about spring cleaning your home. The need to be focused, but gentle, and watch how a seemingly mundane process can create new magic in your home, and ultimately in your life.
From that point, the process of eliminating all that is unnecessary from my life became an ongoing quest for me. When I started out on this quest, the first question I asked myself of course was; what does necessary mean? and necessary for what? What is the true aim? My answer was “necessary for a simple, happy life.” Years later, and I continue to review my progress. I’ve tweaked this a bit and found the key to this whole exercise is; do you really need something to be happy? Which takes this to a higher learning. On the whole, I’ve cut out a lot already and I’m very happy with the simplicity I’ve created so far.
My husband and I have chosen to live a frugal lifestyle, and you’ll be amazed by what is possible. There are lots of ways to be frugal and the efficient use of resources by all makes economic sense and is good for the planet at the same time. If you really want to stop pollution and start changing the world, the number one thing to change straight away is to ring your electricity retailer and change to solar power. Some of you may not be in the position to do that, so below are some tips that I hope you may be able to use yourself, to achieve a simple lifestyle.
No.1 Frugal living tip – Make your own cleaning products.
One of the big questions we face is “Why does every item need it’s own special cleaning product?”. Have you ever noticed when scanning the shelves in the local supermarket how there is a cleaner especially designed to clean one item, the oven, the sink, the bathroom etc. and how expensive they all are? With a little experimentation I soon discovered that there was no need for all these different products. They are simply a ploy by the big manufacturers to get their hands on our money. All you need are a few simple ingredients and you can make your own cleaning products at a fraction of the cost and without polluting your home with harmful chemicals.
The basic ingredients are:
White Vinegar – excellent for killing germs, bacteria and mould.
Bicarb Soda – A great deodoriser and scourer. Can be used to clean almost anything.
Lemon Juice – the acid provides antibacterial and antiseptic properties as well as providing a wonderful fresh smell to your home.
Olive Oil – Good for polishing wood surfaces and adding shine to stainless steel.
Salt – A multi purpose cleaner and deodoriser, great for frugal cleaning as it is so cheap to buy.
No.2 Frugal living tip – Recycle or reuse.
How many times have you picked something up from your living room or wardrobe and thought, time to change – this one’s going to the Salvo’s. There are many everyday items that can be used for other things other than their intended use. So why not help save the planet and save yourself a few dollars at the same time. I am a firm believer of the saying, what was once one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure. I have bought most of my clothes from second hand stores and I’ve found some kitchen pots and jars from there too. Keep an eye out for Council Clean ups – we’ve picked up lots of useful items from Council Clean ups as well. Bits of corrugated iron, metals, screws, tables etc. All these things are useful for DIY projects.
Once you can get over the snobby factor that society instils in us, you can enjoy a wealth of cheap, very usable and attractive second hand items around your home.
It’s dirty – So clean it! anything that is dirty can be cleaned again and be brought back to life.
It looks ugly – If you’re going through a box of miscellaneous items, sure there’s going to be some unattractive items, but I’ve found some beautiful items, all it takes is a little time and a keen eye.
Even if you find something that looks a little worse for wear, just give it a coat of paint, a polish or patch to make it as good as new again. It’s amazing how many people will throw something away because it has a small scratch or dent, whereas all it needs to be made beautiful again is a little TLC.
No.3 Frugal living tip – Don’t get caught up in the hype.
One of the biggest expenditure we have are on items that are unnecessary – clothing for fashion which is not necessary for our survival so why waste money on them? Ah, but the new fashion trend this month is ‘blue’. Don’t be a sucker for this kind of hype, you’ll only look like everybody else, and loose your individuality along the process. Become a minimalist, and be practical. Pick a style, have few key clothing pieces and stick to it. You’ll learn to be content with ‘less’ and also discover that there’s more to life than fashion and competition during the process of elimination. Having less in your wardrobe also brings in a ‘clutter free’ feeling and makes your choice of what to wear much easier.
No.4 Frugal living tip – Buy in bulk
Most money saving articles will tell you to shop for home brand items in the supermarket. I say yes, but not with everything. As an ethical consumer, there’s still a fine line for the consumer to cross with ‘own brand’ products. The supermarkets create their own brands as competition for third party companies. But often their own brands are still manufactured in the same factories on the same machinery as the third party’s product. Often just not up to the same quality standards. But if consumers always choose the cheaper own brand product, then the third party cannot sell their own and become dependent on the supermarket for their income. When the supermarket wipes out the competition the prices will, surely, rise. I know that’s a gloomy outlook but it is one to consider. Instead, buy in bulk, especially when items are on special. Then, learn to cook in bulk and freeze meals. If you’re tempted to reach for the packaged cookies, learn to bake them yourself. You’ll be amazed at how much cheaper it is to bake your own cookies or banana bread than to buy the processed/packaged version. Even better, grow your own food and learn to preserve and can them.
There are so many ideas on how to live simply, and save money at the same time. By bringing lunch to work, walking to work, making your own body lotions and shampoos, cutting out pay tv, or even better – tv altogether and read instead, cancel magazine subscriptions, the list goes on. To me, living frugal is not just about saving money, it’s about learning to be content with what we do have and knocking back the urge to ‘want’ things. We learn that we can be happy with few material possessions and that we really can live in a more simplistic way. What are some of your tips?