Since I have brought us back to the subject of being open minded, now seems as good a time as any to write a post about our state of mind when it comes to stuff. I was reading a post this morning, which I will link to on Friday, and one quote really stood out for me…

“Most of us have so much – much more than the majority of the world at least (and more than our primal ancestors ever dreamed of), yet we live with a misplaced sense of deprivation.” ~ MARK SISSON

This statement puts into words something I wonder about often. I think about it from all aspects. There is the “Have” side where, as Mark mentions, people seemingly have much more than they need but are forever wanting more, so feel deprived. And then there is the “Less Privileged” side where people can’t afford all the trappings of life and naturally feel deprived. Then there is the minimalist who chooses and is happy to live a life like the less privileged and doesn’t feel deprived at all. What is different about his state of mind.

It is understandable to feel deprived when one works hard but struggles to provide the necessities in life ~ food, clothing, shelter and medical care. But when one feels deprived when they can afford this an more, then perhaps something else is wrong.  Or perhaps we are simply duped about what it is we should be striving for. When one comes to terms with the idea that what they give and what they have in life is enough, then stuff no longer matters.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter a kitchen item that you have simply because everyone else does. If you don’t find it helpful on a regular basis then it isn’t necessary to you. ~ Examples:- Garlic press, potato peeler, cake pans, blender, turkey baster, meat thermometer, deep fryer…

Eco Tip for the Day

Be conservative about how many dishes you use when cooking and eating. The less there are to wash the less water and electricity is wasted. And in my case ~ my dishwasher is out of service at the moment ~ this tip saves on dishpan hands. I realised, while preparing ingredients for dinner last night, that it would save me on washing up if I just left all the chopped veggies on the cutting board rather than putting them in bowls. I have also discovered that washing plastic bowls, that have had greasy leftovers in, is a real pain. Which for me is another good reason to declutter more plastic.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Simple Way back in the early days of my decluttering mission I wrote a post about keeping it simple. I stand by those words to this day and have pasted them below for you to study again. Here […]
  • Owning your life skill ~ By Doodle One of our long time regular readers Doodle has kindly agreed to help out here at 365 by writing a blog post for me every other Wednesday. Today is her first regular post although not the […]
  • Day 284 The joys of decluttering With fear that lately I have started to sound like some of the nuns I remember from my school days, preaching hell and damnation day in day out, I thought I might write something a little […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Sorry folks I have no idea why my posts are failing to publish on time. Must be some sort of glitch in the system. I will get my tech guy on to it.

  2. HI Colleen, you have articulated very elegantly something I’ve been musing about for sometime. I live in the UK and at the moment we are under “austerity” measures to cope with the economic situation. I overheard somebody say ” yes it’s very hard at the moment, we’re only going to be able to go abroad twice this year” . I think they genuinely thought that was suffering because for them it was a reduction in the lifestyle they were living. They seemed to have forgotten that they were fortunate enough to be able to a ) go on holiday and b) go overseas more than once and that in fact they were not suffering. I remember reading somewhere ( probably Susan Jeffers or Louise Hay) about watching how you think about abundance and scarcity. There was the suggestion that when paying bills you should be grateful that you are in a position to pay and avoid moaning and groaning about the bills. I wonder if the person I overheard ever feels grateful that they can pay for a holiday or maybe they moan about that too!

    • Hi Salley, I think we all cry poor when our lifestyle takes a slide backwards in quality, especially when it is through no fault of our own. Even if it is still a very good lifestyle. I think that is the difference between choose less and having it forced on us. Although I have chosen to live with less stuff I still live a good lifestyle. In fact I live a better lifestyle than I did before because I am not wasting my money on stuff I don’t need and spending it on experiences instead.

  3. I have also heard folks bemoaning only one holiday a year type thing. I think I might have done the same thing myself in the distant past. Now every morning I wake up and think to myself how fortunate I am. I said to my daughter aged nine, the other morning when she was whining about something ‘ honey, if you have a bed to sleep in, then you are more fortunate than two thirds of the world’. She got it, I think. Francesca.

  4. Oh Colleen I believe that those of us in what is referred to as “Western Society” (fast spreading to the rest of the world) have been duped. We are made to feel that are lives are not going to be happy unless we have whatever product or lifestyle that is being sold – and that we are “entitled” to it merely by existing!!! That wonderful link you gave a few Fridays ago called “Century of Self” explained how we have been manipulated – “the strategy of desire” – and if we can’t have everything we want we feel deprived.
    But as to what makes some people choose a simple way of life even if they have the means to live more extravagantly is a very interesting question. Sometimes it is one’s own realisation that stuff is not the answer, sometimes it is a conversation with or observation of a friend or family member’s simplified lifestyle (Deb J, Cindy, Moni and all you other wonderful 365’ers) and sometimes it’s reading a quote in a book, newspaper or on a blog ( 🙂 ) that lights the spark.

    • So true Megan S. Not only is society duped into believing new stuff is constantly necessary in order to feel special, successful and complete but we are also told that buying is essential to a healthy economy. I am sure there is a way to have healthy economies without polluting the world by constantly manufacturing and discarding stuff.

      • Agreed! I am trying very hard to think about how I am completing a task, such as wiping up a spill. Normally, I grab a paper towel, wipe it up, and toss the paper towel. I don’t need to add more to the landfill. Now I remember to grab a cloth that can be used, rinsed out, hang to dry, and if necessary can be used again prior to washing. My husband keeps bugging me to buy paper plates and I keep delibertly not buying them. LOL

        It is difficult not to succumb to advertising ploys and believe that I simply MUST have something to be successful or whathaveyou. You have to be strong and think to yourself, I don’t need that to tell everyone that I’m cool. I’m already cool!!! Just kidding, but you understand what I’m saying there.

        We’re working on becoming debt free, except for the mortgage. Every time I make a payment on the credit card, I am so glad to not see new charges (other than the automatic charges that are less expensive if you have them applied to a cc and I budget for those). And I love closing the checkbook and telling my husband that the bills are paid. Makes me feel good and it makes me thankful that we both have good jobs. Some folks are not so fortunate and that is a sad state of affairs.

        • Hi Michelle, well done you for trying not to use throw away items like paper towel. Yes it is easier but not so good for the environment.

          Good for you trying to pay of your debt. What you are doing in the way of using reusable items such as a microfibre cloth instead of paper towel all helps keep your weekly costs down. Not buying stuff you don’t need or bowing to advertising hype will also help greatly. Keep it up my friend.

  5. I’ve thought about this a lot lately, and I really believe that ‘poor’ has come to have a secondary meaning it shouldn’t have and that its become a bit of an umbrella term for anybody who can’t have everything they want all the time. For example, I know people who spend £50-100 on a single night out drinking, who take taxis to work for short shifts of only a few hours (essentially losing 1/3rd of the pay they are about to earn on that shift), people who upgrade their phone before they’ve even had it a year simply because they’re bored and people who spend hundreds of pounds adding to their craft items ‘stash’ but who have no intention of starting to work on those new items anywhere in the near future – it’s just added to a pile. A lot of these people I know like this describe themselves as poor or not well off.

    I also used to be one of those people. I used to be the kind of person who would spent half a month’s wages in a single day shopping, I would feel the burning urge every day to go shopping – even if it was just the local supermarket so I could buy snacks and fizzy drinks etc. I always felt that I never earnt enough to be satisfied, to buy everything off my mental want list, and then also everything I saw and fancied buying in passing. I was never poor by any means, but oh did I feel it!

    I think ultimately consumerism has warped ideas about what it means to be poor, and that’s sad because there are lots of people out there who don’t have the basics – food, water, shelter, clothing etc. This warping makes it difficult to see who is genuinely poor and those who constantly want more are never satisfied, labelling themselves as poor regardless. I don’t hate those who feel that way though, I think they are just victims of consumerism, capitalism and the drive to always need more, and through things like 365 and minimalism I hope to escape that mentality and be content with knowing I am well off with what I have. (Just out of interest – my wages are now 1/3rd of what they were in the above example and I feel I live very well on that with ample room for a savings fund).

    I think I can surmise the pitfall of capitalism in this: ‘A life lived always in want is a life lived always in poverty.’

    • You make some good points there Jane These are some of the questions that do beg an answer. Like you say there are those who are genuinely poor and those who only think they are because they can’t afford to have it all. There are plenty of people out there who have a whole lot more money than I do who think they don’t have enough and those that don’t have nearly as much as I do who are content with their lives. It is a funny old world.

  6. I recently overheard a mother at the local shopping centre (mall) and she said to her child “is that a luxury or a necessity?” – I applaud her for teaching her child the difference between the two, however, as an adult I was wondering is there a status inbetween the two?

    For the record I do think it is important for kids to only be given those two options – luxury or necessity – but as adults, we do the majority of the purchasing and face the finer naunces of requirement. Can anyone think of any other classifications that could go between the two? I’ve been trying to compile a scale.

    • Optional standard extras. How’s that Moni. These are not to be afforded by credit.

      • Colleen – sounds like a car sales pitch. I’m hoping to come up with one-word levels of requirement, a scale that I can question where a proposed purchase falls. Much like we all understand middle-class, upper-middle-class and upper-class (yes, I realise those are double banger terms).

        It could be an interesting debate – for example I would say that a mop is a necessity, whereas it could be argued that I could get down on my knees and scrub the floor – perhaps I would classify that option as ‘austere’ or unnecessarily-cheap when compared to my middle income lifestyle. But I don’t need the steam heated mop (having said that: some people have good reasons to own a steam mop such as compromised health) for me that a steam mop wouldn’t be up there with luxury per se but a few levels up from necessity.

        It would be interesting to track my monthly purchasing against such a scale.
        Tony@YouOnlyDoThisOnce – this sounds more up your alley – if you’re there, any thoughts?

        • Hi Moni, car sales pitch is what I was thinking of when I wrote it. Perhaps Necessary, Useful & Luxury. Is own transport necessary or a luxury, I would say luxury while some need it in order to get to their work places that aren’t serviced by public transport. Too many variables I would say. Is higher education a luxury, is owning a home computer a luxury. One could say that both these things in our modern society or necessary to success. But what level of success is a necessity and what is going above and beyond. One would think that becoming a doctor is high on the success scale but where would we be without them. Thank God people aspire to that kind of success or our life spans would be shorter.

    • Hi Moni. That is a difficult question. I think we can teach children about things we can’t do without, things we want and can buy, things we want and can’t have. It is like buying them chocolate: they know they don’t need the chocolate, but they can have it once in a while. It is not a luxury because it is not overly expensive nor it is prohibitive to buy, but it is not a need. So, there is a way to go in-between necessity-luxury and teach it to children.

  7. Commercialism is certainly a curse of our society. As we have limited our television viewing and my children are exposed to fewer and fewer commercials, advertisements, and newspaper fliers, their desires for things decrease. They are happier with what we have and don’t need the latest things. We still are exposed to those things from our interactions with other families and the things they have. Some things we choose not to have (and really can’t afford) like cell phones, mp 3 players, hand-held game consoles, etc… We have to remind our children that we are making a choice not to have those things because we choose not to live ‘plugged in.’ Originally, I probably would have chosen to have those things and provide them for my children. It has been a huge blessing that we cannot provide them for them so we can feed them instead. I am not saying those things are bad in and of themselves, but my children have to learn different skills, people skills, communication skills, mediating shared experiences, etc…—things that if they were a more plugged in group, they would not spend their time doing.

    Also, to Moni’s comment above. I think there is definitely a middle. I don’t know what it would be called. But, I used to believe that I had to buy items at the lowest possible price because then I could buy more of necessary things. (The budget was tight and things would stretch farther.) But then I realized that if I purchased a higher quality and spent just a little bit more, I actually saved money because I could purchase less because the quality was better. I had to learn which things I was willing to pay for and which things weren’t worth it. For instance, I make our laundry soap and think it works way better than most things I could buy. But I hate washing diapers and I won’t do it very often, cheap diapers aren’t worth your time because you’ll do more laundry. It is worth the money at our house, to buy brand name diapers but spend pennies on laundry soap. Plus with 9 kiddos…I would be doing a ton of diapers 🙂 So are brand diapers a luxury? or a necessity?

    • Carin – 9 kids – holy moley! The diaper debate is always an interesting and hotly debated, especially as the diaper sitting in the rubbish dump, not breaking down being the obvious one. When my son was a new born we intended to use cloth nappies but lasted three days before Adrian (who is very thrifty and quite analytical) marched down to the supermarket and bought a box of Huggies. He’d worked out that the amount of washing we were doing – nappies and clothes and quite often our clothes too and cot bedding, the amount of laundry powder and Nappy San we were going thru surely that was equally bad for the environment. Plus we lived in a town that had a very high rainfall count, and thats in a country which has a high rainfall count to begin with 🙂 the drier was getting quite a work out too. So from an economic point of view, he felt there wasn’t a lot of difference – especially if we used good diapers not the budget leaky variety – he felt the environment was getting a hard deal both ways – and from a (quote) “gross-ness” perspective, disposable nappies won hands down.

    • Hi Carin and Moni. I had the same thoughts as you have on diapers. I am not, noway, no how, changing the disposable nappies by the cloth ones. But buying cheap was a craving of my husband. I got upset because he was never home to see the results of his “cheap buy”. So I said, buy the good one. We use only 3 a day. I know it still is a lot of garbage and our mothers and our mothers’ mothers did use cloth ones, but is there any way out?

    • Hi Carin, not being about to afford some of the “luxuries” in life can certainly be a good thing. Just being about to say “We can’t afford it.” is a great honest excuse not to buy things that aren’t good for our children. They can hardly argue with that answer.

      You are right, buying better quality can often save money in the long run. Knowing the difference between better quality and just paying for a name is essential to get this right. There are plenty of higher priced brands out there for which you are really only paying for the label not better quality.

      High Karen are you saying that you have nine kids but still use cloth diapers. Good for you if you are. I used cloth diapers for my kids too, although back then disposable ones were a fairly new thing in Australia. I still would have chosen cloth I think because it is better for the environment and cheaper by far. With automatic washing machines diapers are a cinch to launder anyway.

      • I wish I was saying I had enough in me to use cloth. I actually tried them for the first month of my first little one, but after the hassle of not enough cloth diapers (budget) and not getting to the washing often enough (we were students who had to use coin-op laundry and share with the other apartments), I just gave up, bought paper diapers and decided that even though I was harming the environment, paper won hands down. I became an avid Huggies spokeswoman (only to other mothers, nothing professional, who has the time?).

        So for us, brand name paper diapers were not a luxury, but not really a necessity. I think they fell somewhere in between. Maybe I would call it a ‘quality choice’ ?

  8. People struggle to understand why I can in-be content and have enough – especially money! But the mentality is better than feeling deprived.

    On washing up – couldn’t agree more on both points! I wish I didn’t have a plastic bowl food processor – it never seems clean. And I love my Pyrex lunch dishes – they never strain and the grease washes off easily 🙂 sometimes there’s not enough space on my cutting board but when there is, I wouldn’t dream of creating more washing up for myself!

    • Hi SarahN, I see you have changed your comment name. Isn’t it interesting that people struggle with the idea of being happy living with less and buying less stuff. I think they are afraid it is going to catch on and they might be affected. If only they realised what a great thing it is to be infected with.

      I have a lot of glass bowls at home to and they are a set that get used over and over, plus they have lids so I can use them to store things in rather than plastic. While I am washing my hand I will use the glass as much as possible.

  9. Hi Colleen! I think most of our current “needs” are instilled in us by our media (internet, tv, newspapers, magazines…). The more we are “educated” by advertisement, the more we want the “life” they are selling us. Because through advertisement we are being sold that we need to be thinner/have a bigger house/better car/this or that gadget and so on, to be happy. People are not being served by stuff we buy, people serve it. As you put in today’s post and have said again and again, our basic needs are being met. That is really what is important. However, in our consumerist society, basic needs are not all that important. I have been snubbed at because I have bought a cheaper car and payed for it outright. No debt and a cheaper car to maintain. But it is not fancy, it does not make people go “aaaahhhh” on the street, but it goes the same places as the fancy car. I have been a person who coveted a lot before. I am, by no means, a minimalist. And I don’t deprive myself. I say that because depriving would mean that I am in some kind of suffering and I am not. I have enough clothes for 2 people. I eat out whenever I feel like it. I live in a nice house, in a nice neighbourhood. I am just not a buyer anymore. I think 10, 20 times before I buy anything. But the temptation is there. If you ever step into any mall, you have temptation right there. A brand new laptop. A nice blouse. A whole new cell phone, full of apps. A lovely pair of shoes. It is all there, beckoning you. All you have to do is say yes. Or no. And when we say no, either we are in a frame of mind that allows us to know we don’t need that, or all this industry will make us feel that we should have it, because everyone we know have it.

    • I am just glad to say Andréia that I am no longer easily fooled as the manufacturers would like me to be. Even the mall isn’t a temptation, I don’t even enjoy shopping any more. I also have a ordinary car and I love it. Like you I paid cash for it and it gets me from A to B. That is all I bought it for.

      • Colleen, I need to replace those jeans I blew out a while back and I am digging in my heels because I detest clothes shopping! It seems nothing ever fits correctly and lots of poor quality. Ugh.

        My truck just hit 227,000 miles and I love it! And no truck payment is sweet.

        • Hi Michelle, I understand your dislike of clothes shopping I am not enamoured with it either. If I feel I am heading towards needing something I just keep an eye out at the thrift shop where I volunteer. They have such good quality, barely used clothes coming through there all the time. I often find just what I need at just the right time.

          • There is a very nice second-hand store just down the road from my work and I’m going to try that first. I have taken items there for resale, but have not really looked a the clothing. Time to do so! 🙂

  10. your mini mission is great today. I managed to get rid of lots of “peer pressure” gadgets over the last while as I have discovered the joy of being honest about what I really use.
    mini muffin tins, bundt pan, springform pan, potato ricer, garlic press, deep fryer, bread maker, ice-cream maker, specialized containers, countertop model blender (now I use my immersion blender for EVERYTHING), etc, etc.

    • Creative Me – LOL – my immersion stick blender is in my sights to be decluttered. We have an electric egg beater and we have a Magic Bullet blender thingee for the girls making smoothies.

      I also have some baking items that are getting the eagle eye at the moment.

    • Hi Creative me, I find that the good old immersion blender is more useful than most other kitchen gadgets. It sounds, judging from your list, that you were an aspiring cook at one point. I find that a delicious, nutritious meal can be made with the simplest ingredients and the simplest tools.

  11. The thing that keeps me from complaining about what I don’t have is remembering the pictures we get in our church compassionate ministry magazine of people who live on $1 a day and are lucky if they have one real meal a day. I am not deprived. I am blessed abundantly.

    • You are so right, Deb J.

    • Deb J, you made me think of one of my favorite quotes which is “Don’t just count your blessings, share them”.

      • I agree, I agree. I once heard that if you have some form of transportation (any), can heat your home, and don’t eat the same dinner twice in a row, then you are in the wealthiest one percent the world has known. Don’t ask me where that comes from. I have no idea. But I remind myself of those things when I feel like I ‘need’ something new. We have plenty of beds to sleep in and bedding to use, plenty of food to eat, heating the house is never a question, and I still have too much stuff and am overflowing, which is pretty much why I read this blog 🙂 to help me manage my stuff….not to mention the great company 🙂

      • I like that quote Jen.

        Carin, I like what you say here. I just keep reminding myself that I have so much more than so many.

  12. A deep, thoughtful, well written post. I am finding it hard to respond because this is an important matter to reflect upon. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  13. I agree Colleen, I think we have all been duped. Glad we can see the light now.

  14. I have lots of clear space in my home, and it’s clean and tranquil. All my possessions are beautiful (to me). There is nothing I need or even especially want. Isn’t this how rich people live? Honestly, I feel rich, or maybe it is better to say I feel “enriched” by this lifestyle, voluntary simplicity or whatever you want to call it.

  15. Hi Colleen, in regards and addition to your eco tip of the day. I did a Chemistry degree and people never understand the way washing up liquid works. There is a finite amount that will actually be useful and people always use way too much! On average 1 bottle of washing liquid will last me 6 months!

    • Hi Dave and welcome to 365 Less Things. Thank you for that information. People need to know this about shampoo as well. I used to work with a lady who knew she used too much but couldn’t help herself because she couldn’t convince herself that more wasn’t better.

      • Thick shampoo is very wasteful. Half of it slips off your hand and goes straight down the drain, the rest needs too much water to rinse it out of your hair. I fill a squeeze bottle halfway with water, add in about 1/8 bottle of shampoo and mix gently, then fill the rest of the way with water. I pour this straight onto my hair. Spreads easily, rinses out quickly. Less time in the shower. Less waste all round.

        • Another reason to cut my hair off I think Wendy. It would take a litre bottle to penetrate this mop of mine. However I am going to give your suggestion a try. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

  16. I enjoyed the post and all of the comments. Great topic. I don’t think that any of us can say that we are deprived unless we buy into society making us think we are deprived if we do not own certain, “up to date” items. As long as we have our basic necessities met, we have much more than so many people in this world. It is all about being content/satisfied, grateful, and thankful for what we do have. I imagine, as well, that most of us have more than just the basic necessities. Although, as I am ridding my home of many things, I am getting closer everyday to just what I need and not a lot of excess.
    I had a friend who went on a mission trip as a teenager to a country where people had very little. He was affected so much by how little these people had, that when he went home, he got rid of most of his belongings. He felt so bad for months afterward because he had so much and those people had so little. It doesn’t mean that we have to get rid of all of our possessions, but certainly getting rid of things that we do not use, getting rid of the duplicate items, or “just in case” items will not only help us, but it will help others.
    Growing up as a child, I worked from the time I was 8, yes, 8 years old to purchase my school clothing, but on occasion I would receive hand-me-downs from cousins. I was always so excited to get those clothes. I can buy a new outfit now whenever I want, but imagine what it would do for someone who cannot afford such things, to receive something new that has been hanging in my closet, but has never been worn.
    Around the holidays, many children put together shoe boxes for deprived children. They are stuffed full with crayons, small toys, matchbox cars, etc. It makes me sad, because I think about a small child receiving this and it being the first time perhaps that they have ever played with a small car or crayons. My children had 100’s of those little cars growing up. They don’t have any anymore, but they could never have played with them all.
    I don’t mean to be offensive, but sometimes we do feel like we deserve certain things or that we are entitled to them. We are not deprived, we just need to be more grateful.

    • I loved your comments, Jen. So very true. As we all share our stuff, others benefit. I too have been blessed by the hand-me-downs of others. As such, I cannot sell anything I do not need, it has to be given away, sometimes to just to a thrift shop so someone else can find it at a price they can afford.
      Thanks again!

      • You are welcome, Carin. For me, yard sales are more hassle than anything. Although, I have had a few yard sales to try and recoup some of the money I have spent on those pesky dust collectors and what nots. However, when it comes to excess clothing, or other items that I consider necessities, I always donate it at Goodwill or give it away because I know there are people out there who need those things. I say, pay it forward.

    • This is an interesting comment Jen. I am amazed that you had to work from the age of eight to earn money to buy school uniforms. I would love to know what sort of work you did. It is curious how you went from that situation to buying more than what you need as an adult. The same situation may have resulted in a whole other future for another person. A future of frugalness and saving.

      I also found the story about your friend who did mission work interesting. This story raises a lot of questions for me. I know that some societies and cultures have so little, and at times possibly not even enough food, shelter or clothing, while altogether too much disease, natural disasters and war. But how do we judge what is little for them. Do we judge by our own standard of living or what is normal for them. Sometimes I even think that maybe we, of the modern overabundant society, bring with us a certain mentality of deprivation when we infiltrate their existence, which possibly undermines what they accept as normal. And we possibly mollycoddle them to the point where they become used to us stepping in to save the day. I watched a documentary once when a highly educated African woman suggested just that. That we need to step back and stop pouring aid into some of these countries because we are robbing them of the skills to take care of themselves. A lot of that aid also ends up in the hands of the corrupt and now wealthy and not to the people who need it. This in itself causes civil unrest.

      Is this true, I don’t know, is there a solution, I don’t know. All I know is that what we are doing doesn’t seem to be working because we seem to have been trying to solve this problem in the same places for many many decades without success. I am not saying don’t help these people I am just saying perhaps we are going about it the wrong way. I think sometimes that we mess too much with evolution but I am also torn about that.

      I would be happy for others to weigh in on this subject.

      • I did farm work for other people, as well as working on my own family’s farm. Many times as an adult, I am amazed, also, that it did not have the opposite effect on me like you mentioned, being more frugal. One trait that I have is that I am a generous person at heart. I enjoy doing for others, but I have learned over the years that generosity can come in many forms and not just from one’s wallet or in the form of a gift. In some areas, I am frugal, but in other areas, I have been overly generous to myself and others. I know now that as an adult, I have tried to make up for many things that I missed out on as a child. Even necessities at times, as a child, were hard to come by. So, even though I had friends who had many more material possessions than I did as a child, I think that sometimes not always having some necessities readily at hand probably affected me more than I want to admit. That certainly had a greater impact on me than not having the material possessions that my other friends had. It took a long time for me to realize that I was not getting anywhere making up for what I missed out on as a child. Better late than never to finally see the error of my ways.

        I don’t know what the proper solution is when it comes to helping other countries that need help. I do know that there are great organizations out there they help by teaching ways to be self sufficient by farming and other means, like being able to sell crafts and goods. It is hard to know what the right answer is.

        • Hi Jenny, thank you for sharing your story. Going without as a child often has just the effect it has had on you. I imagine that experience makes it hard for you to let go of stuff as well. Having gone without it is easy to believe it might happen again and that strikes a certain amount of fear into many people. In that case one tends to not want to part with things because they might need them one day or they might need to be able to cash them in one day when times are hard.

          You are doing so well Jen, keep up the good work.

  17. What a brilliant quote to discuss, Colleen. Great post!

  18. A comment that came to me via email.

    I grew up in New Orleans and learned to cook well. One thing I observe in the very best cooks and chefs is a lack of gadgetry in both their homes and professional kitchens.

    The best chefs carry a knife roll to work, containing a modest selection of excellent knives. With a few good knives and good technique, you can do so many things that some people think “gadgets” are required for: garlic presses, potato peelers, cheese knives, what have you, can all be replaced with good all-purpose knives.

    If you do not own good knives, do some homework and invest in a set — ask local restaurant chefs what they use, and learn to sharpen your knives properly. Few things are more dangerous in a kitchen than a DULL knife. Dull knives require more pressure to make a cut and increase the chance that the blade will slip off the thing you are cutting and into your other hand.

    If you are not a confident cook, take a class in knife technique at the local culinary school or offer to pay a professional chef to teach you.

    A handful of good knives, properly sharpened and cared for, can last a lifetime and replace a cupboard-full, or at very least a drawer, full of gadgets.

    When you buy new knives, do not forget to donate the old ones, along with the gadgets you discard.


  19. It is not really related to this post, but there is a website I love to go to. The idea of the author was to ask people what they would take with them if their house was on fire.

  20. Imagine what a wonderful world it would be if those of use who have more than we need would give our extra to those who do not have enough. So much suffering would be alleviated.

    • If only it were actually as simple as that. I think the complication of the poverty situation is more complex than just have and have not. However what you suggest is a very good place to start.

  21. Just catching up. I love this post and all the comments!!! So pertinent – I’ve been reading a bit from an ecourse that talks about looking at things from a position of abundance rather than scarcity.
    I often feel quite weird in groups cos I feel (as some might say here in Scotland) ‘pure minted’ cos I don’t really ‘need’ anything. So many people are always bemoaning how ‘skint’ they are – such hard work to listen to and then i feel weird cos i cant/ don’t want to join in and then i feel guilty cos I’m not struggling – hope that makes some sense.
    Am liking the term ‘enriched’. Not buying all the time really does free up your mind and your bank balance as I have gone to a less well paid job and then part time and I don’t really notice the difference too much – maybe I will once the ‘use it up’ missions come to an end though, haha. Less is definitely more when it comes to quality of life.

    • Hi Fruitcake, great comment. I feel the same way, after giving up work I don’t feel any worse off financially because I don’t want for much. Doing without is a state of mind provoking either a feeling of deprivation or freedom. I’ll go for freedom any day.

      Does ‘pure minted’ mean unique?

      • Ah now there are two lovely bits of British slang for you – minted means rich, and we use it all over (I assume it comes from the Royal Mint although don’t quote me!), and pure is used a lot in Scotland (and I think the North of England although again I could be wrong) to mean really. So pure minted means really rich! 🙂