Living life in voluntary simplicity made simple

Published January 1, 1999

The excesses of Christmas and a new year coming – even a new millennium – make this book a timely read.

Voluntary simplicity is a term gaining wider recognition and practice among Canadians who yearn for a simpler, spiritually richer, way of living. Choosing a simpler lifestyle can help us make daily decisions which reflect our concern for the huge disparities between “the haves” (us), and “the have nots” (those who struggle daily around our planet just to survive). Sensitivity to the environment is also part of this equation. Simply put, living a simpler life – intentionally – embodies Christian values.

The author walks us through the rather complex modern minefield of how to first, adjust our thinking and philosophical approach, and second, develop the financial structure and savvy to carry it off.

Betty Jane Wylie is a person who knows of what she speaks. A journalist, playwright and author, she raised four children on her own after her husband’s death. She now lives in a small cottage converted to a year-round home, where she writes.

Ms. Wylie describes her journey towards simplicity. Sometimes painful, often wrenching, her transitions brought practical wisdom laced with humour. She also discusses the ethical and philosophical underpinnings of moving to voluntary simplicity. Applying extensive research and good common sense, she makes a convincing case.

Finally, she deals with the financial “how to,” including budgeting, investments for income and conscience, children’s education, housing, cars, the high cost of dying, bartering and community currency, and tips on being frugal. The chapter on Christmas and gift giving offers alternatives worth noting. “The gift of time and self is a precious one ? It saves money while it enriches a relationship.”

The book ends with practical ideas about getting organized (addressing the common dilemma of the dreaded paper chase and how to catch it before it catches you). Two appendices, endnotes, a bibliography and an index take interested readers deeper into the subject.

How do we begin this quest? “Quietly, voluntarily, simply.” Janet Macmaster is the editorial assistant for the Anglican Journal.


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