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Color of Money

Frugality Is Next to Simplicity

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, September 12, 2004; Page F01

I'm a fraud.

I mistakenly thought I was frugal. I joke that my kids have only two pairs of shoes. (Why do they need more? They have only one pair of feet.) I have trouble telling the difference between the baby pictures of my two daughters because I dressed the younger one in the same outfits as her older sister. (They're five years apart, by the way.) I buy and drive used cars until they need to be pushed off the road.

I thought I was living a simple life -- until I moved.

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The movers had to make two trips in a moving van the size of a tractor-trailer before my house was empty.

Every closet and corner of my house was stuffed with stuff -- some of which I hadn't used in years.

"Please tell me that's it," one of the movers asked near the end of a 10-hour day of packing.

Well, my move reformed me. I realize now I need to work harder at simplifying my life. I need to get rid of stuff. I need to buy less.

If you want to join me in this simplicity movement, then read September's Color of Money Book Club selection: "Nothing's Too Small to Make a Difference," by Wanda Urbanska and Frank Levering (John F. Blair, $21.95), published last month.

In their quest to simplify their lives, Urbanska and Levering left Los Angeles in 1986 and moved to Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains just north of Mount Airy, N.C., to manage Frank's family orchard.

The authors are part of a network of simplicity advocates who are trying to get all of us to slow down and lessen the environmental impact of our consumption-oriented lifestyle.


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