When we use terms like Culture Simple, voluntary simplicity, to simplify, etc.. What we are really talking about is voluntarily reducing our living standards towards poverty. For some people it means reducing to exactly the standards of poverty. There is a key difference though, and that is A; you are doing it on a voluntary basis and not through reasons beyond your control, and B; you can decide just how far down the path of poverty you are willing to go. Hint: Though there is a point of diminishing returns, by and large, the further you go the more life options open up. What people call poverty today (growing your own food etc..) was regarded as comfortable living 60 years ago.
One of the first opportunities to open up, is that you no longer require as much income to maintain your chosen lifestyle. Thereby allowing either a reduction in necessary work hours, or other types of work, that doesn’t pay as well, but may be more satisfactory. Another way of looking at it, is that you could continue doing what you do now, but are now able to retire earlier, or take longer breaks from working throughout the year. It also means that when unexpected financial shocks happen, you are in a better position and have already developed better skills to weather them.
Above all, going down this path of voluntary poverty, gives one freedom. More and more, over the last thirty years or so, as living standards in the industrial world have increased, credit has become both cheaper and more available, which has resulted in a massive influx of debt-serfdom. In other words, people have sold their freedom for a few trinkets today, which they are bound to paying off at an inflated rate, often in perpetuity.
“Finally paid off the car, time to buy a new one on credit.” “A 1,000 square foot house could be paid off in a reasonable amount of time, and would have been big enough, but we wanted a 2,500 or 4,000 square foot house.” “we need 684 channels of cable television, but we are saving because we gave up the 964 channel plan”
There is a financial cost to following the path of life on credit, but the real cost is your freedom; freedom to decide to quit and look for something more satisfying to do, or to start a business of your own.
In most cases there is a big difference between needs and wants. There is nothing wrong with wants, and pursuing them. Just be sure that the benefit outweighs the cost, for you.