Frugality and the Philippines{4}

frigpackaging Widgets

Frugal living, voluntary simplicity, living within your means, or whatever you’d like to call it. I like to think of it as, “common sense”. There was a movement here in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s where many people were tired of “more is not enough”, and the move to a simpler life was appealing. With the current state of the economy there will likely be renewed interest in this effort.

A simpler life can mean many things, and to a great extent depends upon where you start from. In essence it involves buying only what you can afford, making economical choices/choosing alternatives, and getting rid of what you don’t need. Does this theme sound familiar?

One of the reasons often stated for wanting to retire/move to the Philippines is the simpler life offered there. This is generally referenced in terms of the leaving the “rat race” and not so much in terms of living frugal. But for me, much of the comfort level I have with the Philippines is this natural simplicity that is born in many cases of necessity.

Anki Bisaya Phrasebook Flashcards

I can’t help but think back to this and previous Christmases, where no matter how much you’ve gotten for the kids you always feel it’s not enough. Their friends get iPod Touches, but they only got Nanos. The Wii is nice, but so and so got a PS3. I’m not giving you my kids’ real life reaction, it’s the general feeling that is inherent in the discussion and advertising here. Advertising has gotten so guilt related that it’s hard for me to handle anymore. No, I didn’t get my wife a Lexus for Christmas, but I think we might be able survive without it. It’ll be tough, though ;-)

I counter this with the joy and happiness I saw in the children in the province this last spring. They didn’t seem to know or care that they didn’t have the latest gadget. They had family that cared for them, they had cousins (lots of cousins) to play with, and most of all they weren’t stressed. What a great time they had with the cardboard and styrofoam packaging from our failed attempt to help her family with the purchase of a refrigerator. Had I known better, I’d have purchased the packaging and not the frig. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are still finding ways to enjoy that styrofoam.

I know this simple life of the Philippines isn’t true for everyone, and for many is certainly a hardship. But it is one of the connections I feel with the area and the people. It is inline with my intentions. By the standards here, I already live a simple life. By the standards there, not so much. I don’t intend for us to live in a nipa hut, but I’ve no doubt that I can live without much of what is currently considered “necessary” here. It may not be what I have to do, it’s what I want to do.