We like living frugally. It's a conscious choice we make as a family. A choice to grow a lot of our own vegetables and to be as close to the source of our food as possible. A choice to have a limited range of clothing and to wear clothes that last more than a season. A choice to always prefer at least second-hand, if not third or forth-hand. A choice not to have a TV so as to bypass a childhood infused with advertising. A choice to cultivate a simple life with simple needs.
It gives an ounce of balance to what often seems like to me as ostentatious over-consumption . It imbues my daily life with a meaning that is lost when I live disconnected from the source of what I consume.
And yet what is constantly astounding is just how rich we feel.
We are rich in all the things we need because money is only one of the streams of "income" we have. We manage our lives at this point with four major different currencies.
The Gift Economy is in good health in our community. A large majority of the possessions we have and almost every item of clothing my children have ever worn has been given to us. Simply and plainly given by a warm heart. Often this opportunity comes about through waiting before deciding to make any purchase. With this waiting often comes a realisation that life is just fine without whatever we thought we needed. At other times, the item is being given away and we are there at the right moment to give it a new home. We also give away often, feeding this wonderful cycling and recycling of goods.
Gifts from nature are ever present. We forage, especially fruit, in late Summer and always share produce, seedlings and fruit as it is harvested.
Another strand in our income is our local Timebank. Timebank is a way a community trades skills, paying in time rather than money. Timebank is a crazy, wonderful way of building community, as skills are shared within that community and friendships blossom. Both Ruby and Sky are members too. Just this week I have been able to get a tricky darning job done on a old, favourite jersey, I have had a baby quilt mended and I have had use of a piano to practise on in another part of town. I didn't spend one dollar.
The latest addition to our currency manifesto is being part of a savings pool. A group of us have been thinking about it for a while. Essentially, members deposit a monthly amount that they can manage, the group's funds accumulate, then at different times, members have access to these funds. They continue to pay into the pool, repaying the amount that they borrowed as well as saving the equal amount for themselves. So far it's freeing to have an alternative to an interest-bearing loan, it's powerful to be in a group which is transparent about money and it feels good to save, even just $15 a week.
The last strand is that Gunter works a 40 hour week for which he is paid.
The money is a strand, it is not the whole picture, and that feels good.
What excites me the most is the story we are co-writing as a family around wealth and well-being.
The girls are growing up and into this story. The story's main character isn't money but more like relationships.
Wealth isn't a place we reach but a way of seeing our lives and the often overlooked abundance that is already present.