I just broke one of my cardinal rules as a columnist—“Never read un-moderated comments”—to check out the reaction to my latest MSN offering, “Living on $18,000 a year—by choice.”
A lot of people got it. And some really, really didn’t. Voluntary simplicity not only baffles these folks—it pisses them off. They insist it can’t be done where they live, or in their life situation, or because they have kids. (One of these “the children make me spend!” folks posted right after another parent wrote that he or she was raising two kids on $10,000 a year.)
In reality, there are people practicing voluntary simplicity in every life situation, in every state and city. They may not live on quite as little as the three I interviewed, but they’re certainly living on less than the mainstream—and happily so.
It’s the happiness that always blows me away. I’ve been interviewing adherents of this movement since the mid-1990s, and I always walk away with a huge smile on my face because their enthusiasm is so infectious.
When you “get it,” voluntary simplicity doesn’t piss you off. You don’t have to be a full-blown practitioner (I’m not) to understand that life is all about choice, and making the right choices with your money can make you happy.
You can read more of their stories in the book Carol Holst edited, “Get Satisfied,” in the seminal book on the topic, “Your Money or Your Life,” or in Jeff Yeager’s wonderful new book, “The Cheapskate Next Door.”