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  1. What could you live without? I started thinking about this awhile ago. Partly through necessity, but then I became interested in following the idea to see how far it could go. I was inspired by the whole “tiny homes” movement - not that I actually want to live in a trailer home - but I was interested in their ideas. Basically they said: why does it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and decades of your life (if you’re lucky) to own your own home? Is it because we have an idea of what kind of house is an acceptable home? Spare bedroom for guests, a shed for the tools, a big backyard… but how often do most people use those things? Once a month? Once a year? Wouldn’t it be cheaper, instead of paying the tens or hundreds of thousands extra to buy the three-bedroom house with swimming pool & 2-door garage, to just buy a one bedroom cottage and then rent tools when you need ‘em, sleep on the floor when you have guests, maybe use a share-car service and spend more time in the local park or gym rather than needing a private workout room or pool. Whatever the activity, there’s probably a way you could manage to do it in a smaller space, or in a public space (yes, all entendres intended - but that’s probably a separate discussion). Most people seem to cringe at the idea - what would you do with all your stuff? Well the tiny-home solution is to just not have much stuff, to borrow or rent tools & things as needed, then get rid of them again. Personally, I think that’s taking it too far - I’m a hoarder, and I like my tools & reference books & out-of-season clothes to be there when I need them. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to count on buying/borrowing/renting whatever they need, whenever they need it. And from what I gather a lot of the tiny-homes folks also keep storage lockers anyway. But I thought the point was an interesting one - how much money are you paying for a house big enough to keep all that crap in? If you could own your own house for a quarter the standard price, if only you discarded 80 or 90% of your crap, would you go for it? Or do you really need that spare bedroom to store all your backup toasters & fondue sets? So that’s how it started originally, thinking about housing & how I could ever possibly afford to build my own house on the income from my part-time unskilled award-wage shitkickin job (so please excuse all the personal digressions in this post, I’ve just left them in as examples) … and then I started expanding the idea - instead of just wondering “can I live without lots of stuff & a big house to make things cheaper?”, I started thinking, “if I can live without a fridge/freezer, I won’t need a big reliable solar system for my electricity, which might knock a good $20K off the cost”, and “hey, I don’t even want an indoor bathroom”, and “if I can learn to make my own X, then I won’t have to buy it” (where X is well, almost anything - bread, fuel, fenceposts, string, entertainment…) And then other things - could I live without a car in a rural area? You’d say no (& I do recognise the safety issues) but I’ve known plenty of folks who do. Because that’d be about half of my income gone right there, just maintaining & running a vehicle good enough to handle those roads. And half the reason for having a reliable vehicle in the first place is so you can get to work… to make enough money to run the car… and round it goes. Or maybe instead I can just ride to work with my boss, and then do a days work on my neighbours fences whenever I need to borrow his spare ute, and save myself the expense of keeping my own. As an added bonus, this would make me really think about whether I needed to go into town, rather than just making recreational shopping trips out of boredom, which would save plenty more money. When you have to make conversation with your racist neighbour & then drive for two hours to buy that wine & cheese, you start wondering if you can make do with some home-brew & raiding the vege garden instead. And then if food is one of your major expenses, well I’ve already had times when my food bill couldn’t have been much more than $1000/year, and that was with full-time work/study and without a real vege garden. How much could I knock off the bill if I put in a few good days work in the garden each month, instead of spending that time working for someone else so I can buy food from the supermarket? Sure it might take some time to harvest & prepare & preserve all that food yourself, but if you don’t have to work a full-time job to pay for it all, then you’ll have a lot more time on your hands! And which would you rather do, spend your time working your current job, or spend your days digging potatoes & making kimchi? I guess we sort of started this discussion in the penny-pinching thread awhile back, talking about tips & tricks for saving money on things. But now I’m trying to think bigger, about lifestyle changes which would mean needing and buying less things overall. I just feel like we float through, or are pushed through our lives without often sitting down to think about these things from a cost-benefit standpoint. How much does it cost us to have all this stuff, all those possessions, this much privacy & personal space, this many “conveniences”, our “job security”? How much do we pay in time & stress & RSI & lifelong back problems? Is it really fucking worth it? For what? He who dies with the most toys wins? Unless you’re a pharaoh you ain’t taking it with you, so what’s the point? Perhaps we could be striving for happiness in each day, rather than waiting on some nebulous future paradise (like “heaven” or “retirement”). So what do you think? What could you live without if it meant you could work 1 or 2 days a week instead of five? Or for those already living on a pension or casual employment or some other sub-poverty-line income, have you thought about accepting Jesus Christ as your personal saviour? Or um, a tiny home. Or some other life simplification. Whichever floats your boat (hey, houseboats! fuck yeah). Or Jesus Christ in a tiny home. I think I’m tangentalising here. I blame the reckless drug abuse. But that’s kinda my point (yeah, nice save). How much of our time and money is spent just distracting ourselves from the fact that we don’t actually like our lives, because we spend half of them working to pay for the distractions from our crappy lives! It’s that same fucken circle I was talking about with the car. Circle of life my arse, it’s a circle of crap & I want out. Living in a tent and eating nettles really does not sound so bad, if that’s the way to escape then I think I can live with that. I guess I’ll find out. I’m sure I’ll miss all the beer & skittles, hookers & blow, bread & circuses like my own left arm, but after the last year I believe that you don’t need all your limbs to be whole anyway. I figure shit is always bound to hit sooner or later, but maybe if I’ve opted for a bit of voluntary simplicity in the meantime, then the involuntary sort of deprivations won’t hurt so much when they arrive. Prepping for the soul, I guess. Or maybe just a midlife crisis, who bloody knows? I really can’t tell anymore if this kind of thinking is soundest rationality or antisocial insanity, but happily I no longer feel like I have to care. Maybe I've just read too much Fight Club. I get that I’m in an easier position than most to make these choices, as I have some land, no dependents, enjoy working out how to do stuff for myself, and am already a recluse with a childish “fuck yourself” attitude towards society in general, so living out bush & growing my own beans doesn’t seem like a big leap from where I’m standing now. But I know that a lot of you folk share at least some of these traits, and I’m curious to know what you think about all this. What might you live without? Electricity? Steady work? Human company? Stable accommodation? Do you like making things for yourself? You mightn’t think that your gardening & carpentry & baking & brewing & so on skills are good enough to make a living from, mine certainly aren’t - but as they say there's a difference between making a living & making a life, and I wonder.. maybe they’d be good enough to just make a life from.
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