From Holistic Living Magazine
These statistics may leave you shaking in the shoes you just charged on your credit card. Over 1 million Americans filed for bankruptcy in 1996. Consumers now owe a record 19 percent of their disposable incomes, not including mortgage or home equity loans. . . . Americans are among the wealthiest in the world, yet save only 4.8 percent of our incomes, the lowest percentage of any industrialized nation and less than half our average rate during the period from 1950 to 1980.
However, there is a movement afoot that has enabled people not only to pay off their debt and begin saving, but that has also helped them start living lives they had only dreamed about before. Known as voluntary simplicity, the movement takes its name from the title of a book by Duane Elgin first published in 1981, though the term was coined by Richard Gregg, an admirer of Ghandi who defined it in a 1936 article as "singleness of purpose, sincerity, and honesty within" as well as the avoidance of "possessions irrelevant to the chief purpose of life." These twin principles of integrity and frugality form the basis of the movement, and across the country individuals are coming together in "simplicity circles" and "money groups" to discover what they truly value in life and to examine how they can streamline their lives in service of what they really care about.
Tyler Watson, who is starting a simplicity circle in Cherry Hill, New Jersey,
first read an article on the voluntary simplicity movement in a Wilmington,
Delaware newspaper and started subscribing to Simple Living Journal, a quarterly
newsletter Janet Luhrs started publishing five years ago in Seattle, Washington
as a compendium of the movement that features stories of "real people
making real changes that are really working." Like Mayer, Watson had always
felt a sense of responsibility toward the environment. "Reading the article
was enough," he said. "The movement and its ideas were already in the
flow of where I was. . . . Concepts such as 'less is more' are ones I had been
contemplating for years. I grew up on a farm . . . so I have been familiar with
simplicity most of my life."