Tell Us Tuesday: How Much is Too Much?

by Kelly · 12 comments

in Tell Us Tuesday

There are three movements, societal and cultural, that seem to overlap: frugal living, simple living and green living. And a common question that often pops up in discussions in each movement is the idea of ‘How Much is Too Much?’. Of course each group will have a slightly different bent on the idea. Environmentalists may talk about the impact on the planet, proponents of simplicity might talk about the inherant value that comes in living as fuss-free as possible, while frugal folks will talk about judging the impact of your money and spending only on what you judge to be worthy…

It’s all a bit the same thing though, isn’t it?

I try to have as light a footprint as possible on this earth and I believe that living simply is living well. My perspective on frugality comes from a lack of money and a suplus of financial stress. For me, feeling out of control lead to the feeling that it was all too much, and by it and all I meant our stuff and the rat race and trying to make ends meet. Living frugally is thus, for me at least, an attempt to live with just enough, and not too much.

How much is too much for you?


1 Leigh Ann Kopans April 20, 2010

My husband and I are of the same mind (thank goodness) that any stuff we don’t use is too much stuff. We recently bought our first home, and almost everyone who came to visit seemed really disturbed that there was no basement. “What will you do for storage?” they wondered. If we have more stuff than we can fit in an uncluttered home, we get rid of it. This happens to have the gorgeous effect of thinking three times as hard before we buy anything – right after the questions “Can we afford it?” and “Do we really need it?” comes, “But where would we *put* it?”

We’re also glad to be teaching our kids, with this attitude that how much stuff you have has no bearing on their self-worth. If I had a dime for every time I said to my kid, “But you already *have* three elephant toys at home….” I’d be a rich lady.

2 Simple in France April 20, 2010

I tend not to push myself to hard in terms of being frugal, green or whatever. But I do always see if I can’t be just a little bit better than before. That way, I don’t have to measure up to some impossible standard, start stressing out or worry about ‘frugal fatigue.’ That said, to me there is no such thing as going too far, there is just going outside your comfort zone–which is only sustainable if you let yourself recover as well.
.-= Simple in France´s last blog ..Risks you’d take to live your dream =-.

3 Jenna Ann April 20, 2010

I guess I'm somewhere in the middle with it all. Living simply is an environmental, emotional, spiritual, frugal and simple thing for me. Part of it is financial but I just FEEL better without having all the clutter around. I feel better not wasting so much stuff and knowing the true cost that isn't always reflected in the price. I feel better living simple and taking care of needs without worrying about the whirl of things that are societal demands and expectations. Simple pleasures are just so much better for me.

(says the woman who wants to downsize some more but hasn't figured out the best place to cut back yet.)
.-= Jenna Ann´s last blog ..Sunday's Journal Entry =-.

4 Tracy @ Sew what... April 20, 2010

For me, any and all of these things can only be accomplished and maintained if it is something you can truly do without feeling resentful. If you HAVE to drive, and the thought of cycling, or walking, peeves you to no end. Then drive. Or in a situation like mine, there is no public transit and our town is fairly spread out, add a 16 month old, and you have a hard time walking OR cycling. Our town does not support that sort of community. (Sad really!) And really, it's all about maintaining something better than the status quo. And that isn't about how great you can do for 1 week, but how much you can do for your lifetime, whether it is living frugally, greener, or simply.
.-= Tracy @ Sew what…´s last blog ..Triple "R" Tuesdays… =-.

5 Sarah April 20, 2010

What a great question! I've never really thought about it before though. It is definitely something I am going to ponder over though. I have a fear of not doing enough in all three areas, which then leads to guilt. I need to find a healthy balance!
.-= Sarah´s last blog ..101 Goals in 1001 days =-.

6 Nancy April 20, 2010

I do agree that these 3 are all tangled together somehow. For me, it's about living modest yet full life in a simple manner. I'm doing what works best for me and my family, not what someone else thinks I should be doing.
.-= Nancy´s last blog plan | the cheating version =-.

7 Ted April 20, 2010

My father in law will pick off mold from food and then eat it.

I wont go that far. Ever.

I love eating out. But limit myself to just once in a while or while travelling on business.
.-= Ted´s last blog ..Seeking Peace =-.

8 JanB April 20, 2010

As time goes by, I am getting more green, more frugal and yes, even cheaper. Two years ago, the thought of using cloth instead of paper towels was foreign to me. Now I recycle just about everything, compost and use a LOT less paper and make a lot less trash.

I also shop almost exclusively at thrift stores for clothing and many other items around the house. Really, you only get to wear clothing new once, and the cost is just too high for me.

There are some things that you have to pay full price for, but as I go along, I find ways to cut back on my spending and at the same time I am making major dents in my existing debt. I am not debt free and I have a lot of debt still left, but I am making a lot of progress.
.-= JanB´s last blog ..Stop Procrastinating. =-.

9 Lauren April 21, 2010

This is a great question! I agree that these three things overlap.. pursuing frugality can lead to being Greener and a more Simple life, and vice versa for all.

To me frugality and simple living have a lot to do with properly defining needs and wants. I sometimes hear people say things like "I need a new bottle of nail polish" or "I need to have seat warmers in my Subaru." Let's give people the benefit of the doubt as much as possible, but it seems to me that everywhere I look is a confusion of wants and needs. Of course if you Need something, you're going to buy it, right?

Adding environmental consciousness to the mix does interesting things. If you're worried about where things come from and how you're going to dispose if them later, you might be less likely to buy certain things. "Greenness" also means thinking about repurposing, recycling, and making things by yourself or growing your own food, so you can spend less money and do something meaningful in the process. At the same time, a lot of eco friendly products are more expensive than regular products. If that's how you use your dollar, you're exercising your power as a consumer.

I guess to combine all three – frugality, environmental consciousness, and simple living – to me it means being conscious of the decisions I make and feeling powerful because I don't need all that stuff.

10 Jenn April 21, 2010

I'm a middle of the road person. I TRY not to over do it in all areas of my life: finances, green living, simple living, sweets, alcohol, etc. But it's all intermingled.

I save money by switching to CFL bulbs and turning down my thermostat but I also help the environment by consuming less energy. I like to buy fresh produce and meat which is cheaper because it tastes better but I have to shop the sales if I want to have the extra $$$ for my sweet tooth addiction. Gotta keep the sweet tooth in check if I want to have the physical fitness to take the kids on a bike ride to the post office…saving on the $$$ of gas for the car while reducing my carbon footprint and having tons of fun with the kids!!!

See? It's all intermingled. The key is balance. I'm not going to push myself to be one thing over the other. I'd go crazy and it's all about keeping my sanity. When I get nervous and I feel things are getting a bit out of control, then I know it's time to re-evaluate and scale back.

That's just my perspective!

11 Erin April 21, 2010

I think the answer to that deceptively simple questions could be a weeks long conversation. For our family, we've decided that we will never attempt to get down to 100 items, but that we had "too much" for quite some time. Over the past three years, I've been purging like crazy and am down to dealing the stuff that causes me to pause because of emotional attachments. Each time I make the decision to get rid of something, I feel less encumbered and it is a good feeling. No one size fits all answer, but the value is in the journey, in my opinion.

12 Steve April 29, 2010

I think I’m more in the wavelength of simple living. I enjoy life as much as I can, but don’t overdo it. And then I also let go of things that I don’t really need, but of course own more than the barest essentials. What is to be frugal, really? I just try to keep everything in balance. And be environment-conscious, too.
.-= Steve´s last blog ..Top of the Pops: Top 10 Sweet Business Ideas =-.

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