A few months ago I wrote a post about increasing fuel and food costs, and signs that our local real estate market bubble was heading for a burst. And I said “Bring it On”. Well here we are 6 months later and things are far more serious than anybody thought they’d be. For one thing, the “global financial crisis” has sent economies into turmoil and experts are telling us that we haven’t even begun to see the worst of it yet. My local media has been gleefully reporting on the sagging local real estate market, sales have slowed to a snail’s pace, listings are languishing on the market, and prices are dropping. I have been watching several local rural properties that could be the Right One for us; and watching happily as listing prices are reduced each month. Not by much mind you, but it’s still early in the game.
Some people are afraid. I’m not. I feel prepared. My business caters to lawyers, who seem to prosper in both good times and bad (tough financial times seem to make people even more litigious) and while Husband’s profession can fall to bad times, he has built up enough of a CV that he should have little trouble finding work, even if it means taking a job out of town for a spell. To top it off, RE prices are predicted to fall about 25% next year, and with that kind of market we should be able to pick up what we want for a fairly small mortgage payment, which adds to the feeling of stability.
I also know how to run a frugal household. I am aware that I can make my own soap, line dry my laundry (rain or shine, indoors or out), harvest rainwater and greywater, grow a plentiful amount of food in our yard, and bake my own bread. I have cultivated a lifestyle that does not consider shopping a hobby, and when I do shop I consider not just what will happen to a product when I’m done with it, but what resources went into making it. While I can justify the need for a computer (which fails on both counts) I certainly don’t need a $1.99 plastic battery-powered alarm clock from Ikea. I don’t need a digital toothbrush, paper towels, or tampons either. Next time you want a reminder of how ridiculous our love-affair is with cheap, disposable, and otherwise useless items just stand next to a checkout counter at WalMart and look at what’s in people’s shopping carts. Folks have so much excess fat they can trim from their lives and their budgets, but they don’t know it and so they fear the coming recession.
The truth is, I embarked on a journey down the path of Voluntary Simplicity long before the alarm bells started ringing. Now that the mainstream media is bombarding us with stories of global recessions and doomed financial markets, it seems that me and my fellow Simple Living advocates were rather prescient in our urgings. The lesson we’ve already learned: being frugal can be a deeply rewarding and satisfying way of life; and not just a lifesaver.