Frugality vs. Voluntary Simplicity


Posted on : 6:22 PM | By : Anonymous | In :

I would like to clarify a couple more catchphrases (I tend to do that sometimes) that float around. When you Google 'voluntary simplicity', you will find lots and lots of websites about frugality.  It's as if voluntary simplicity has become synonymous with being frugal.  On some websites it's the same as being cheap.  Yes, one facet of voluntary simplicity is being out of debt, but I think it is only effect of the mindset.

What Voluntary Simplicity is Not:
It is not using cheap tricks, such as stretching milk with water and peeling your 2-ply apart into 1-ply.
It is not denying yourself small luxuries so that you don't have to work.
It is not being a lazy bum.
It is not the life you see in Real Simple magazine (although it is a fun magazine to read).
It is not living like a ascetic in an effort to prove yourself better than others.

What it really is:
It is not being a slave to your stuff.  Most people go to work at a job they don't like, so they can pay for stuff that they bought on credit, which they have to keep working for in order to stay afloat.

Voluntary simplicity usually means buying less, but getting more because quality becomes a major concern.  When you live on less, you have the freedom to be picky where and when you work.  In fact, this can make you even more valuable to an employer, if you spend your spare time developing yourself. When everyone else ends up shopping and at the movies for fun, voluntary simplicity people play Charades and board games and go hiking.

When you start out this in this, it usually means starting to declutter your house.  It gradually grows to decluttering your life, your finances, your work, your diet, your family and even your beliefs.  The Keep it Simple Stupid saying definitely applies - whatever simplifies your life, and is a voluntary choice that most people wouldn't choose, falls under the category voluntary simplicity.

I suppose I am saying that buying something the makes your life simpler and gives you more time to spend with your family is not something to feel guilty about. :)  Which may not be the most frugal choice, but is the best one.

Comments (5)

Thanks for posting this. Voluntary Simplicity is what I'm trying to do with my blog; I link to a post similar to this one on every page (

I agree. Great post!


..."Alot of people go to work to pay for stuff that they bought on credit which they have to keep working for in order to stay afloat?"
So, if a person that works simply stops buying stuff, than they no longer have a reason to work? Really? I have to tell you, as a Human Resources professional, I tend to shy away from applicants that bounce from job to job (or as you say:"having the freedom to be picky where and when you work) because what makes me think that they will not do that to me after I hire them? After we spend money training this individual, providing a benefits package they are going to up an leave to go find themselves? I like to see a consistent work history. Are you saying I should only hire people that play charades or board games because they spent the time developing themselves? Should I fire the people that go to the movies or shopping that are not spending time developing themselves? I have a few employees with Doctorate degrees that are huge movie buffs, hate Charades, and buy useless crap that might have a problem with some of your research. Oh and they love coming to work, not just to stay "afloat" but they love to help people. They long could have been retired, yet still show up everyday.

I agree with you but I think for many people frugality is a road that leads to voluntary simplicity which is why the topics are so often intermingled.


I'm not saying people should go work 'jobs' and bounce around all over if they get dissatisfied. I'm saying that people should only work at a career that they love, and if that means brief unemployment or freelancing, then so be it because if your cost of living is low and you have savings, you have that freedom. I had hoped I had made it clear in my post that voluntary simplicity can mean the freedom to work at a career that brings true satisfaction rather than working at a job simply for the paycheck.
This is what we've done, and we have had unemployment but we've been ok, and I believe that being picky about what we are willing to work at has paid financially in the end.
Teenagers start out life thinking they have to go work fast food first, which is false. Neither of us have, and I believe our careers have developed faster and paid better.
I wouldn't bounce from job to job - that's wrong... I wouldn't take the job in the first place.