Many simplicity gurus urge us to become “tightwads” as the true path to a simple life. Voluntary simplicity and frugality are not really the same thing. To be sure, frugality is a vehicle for achieving simplicity, but the driving force is a vision, a philosophy, a world view.
If life were a poem, simplicity would be the poet, frugality the line and meter.
If life were a painting, simplicity would be the artist, frugality the paint and brushes.
If life were a building, simplicity would be the architect, frugality the hammer and boards.
Voluntary simplicity is about freedom. It’s about owning your own life. Frugality is living with less of what money can buy. Voluntary simplicity is wanting less.
Soon after beginning our partnership more than 25 years ago, we made a revolutionary discovery. It changed our lives then and it continues to make us “different” now. You’ve heard it before: “time is money.” What we discovered is that’s not true – time is better than money!
This revelation has allowed us to be content in our work or to change that work when it no longer satisfies. It has permitted us to spend less time acquiring things and more time acquiring experiences, insights, and relationships. It has encouraged us to lend a helping hand in our community, whenever the need arises, because we can make the time to do it. It has given us freedom and control of our lives.
For some reason, it seems to us that many people have failed to grasp this simple truth. They trudge off to work every morning to put in their time at jobs they despise so they can buy things. Have you noticed? The more a person hates his or her job, the more money he or she spends on toys, time-shares, new cars, the latest trendy clothes, jewelry, etc. And the more one spends, the more one needs to hang on to that job, no matter what.
Is there a way out? We think so. If you’re already addicted to conspicuous consumption, it will take some getting used to. But it IS possible to own your own life if you are determined to do it. How? Simplify!!
You’ll be surprised to discover how much you can do without and still have more than enough to eat, stylish clothes to wear, a reliable car, a comfortable home – and time to do the things you really want to do. When the need for cash is reduced, it’s possible to pursue work that’s rewarding – the work you’ve always dreamed of doing – even though it pays less than the high pressure, low satisfaction job you thought you were locked into.
At the beginning of our own journey down a simpler path, we made a direct link between time and costs. When we asked ourselves, “Is it worth x hours of work to buy this?” it often wasn’t! If we’d rather spend those x hours doing something else, instead of earning funds for the purchase, we didn’t buy it. Because, of course, time is better than money.
Try this simple exercise. Make a list of the ten activities you enjoy most. Then make another list of the ten activities that occupy most of your time. Compare the two lists. This little self test may be all you need to convince you to jump off the merry-go-round.
Stop going around in circles and head straight toward what you really want to do.
It’s the wanting that counts. Doing what you want can make having things you want seem a lot less important. When having fewer things leads to having more time to do what you choose, you just may find you want fewer things!
And you’ll discover that voluntary simplicity makes frugality easy. Because time really is better than money.