Money To Live

September 13, 2010

A simple life is … not so simple.

Filed under: home,insurance,simplify — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

I hope this doesn’t come off as too whiny, but here goes: A simple life takes a lot of work!

Since moving into R’s house and merging our lives (belongings, finances, etc.), I have been repeatedly surprised by how much work it is. We aim for simplicity. While we are definitely on the path to a simple and low-maintenance lifestyle, it is a long path, and the going is slow.

Combining Insurance

We got quotes for combining our insurance policies, and sure enough, we could save money by merging our policies to one account. This seems like a simple plan, and over the long-term it does yield greater simplicity. In the short-term? A huge and not very simple headache. It took more than one month from getting quotes to receiving the final paperwork for all of our accounts. I sent/received 41 emails with my agent, sent in several checks, and received two refund checks (they sent out duplicate bills to us and the bank; despite several conversations on the details of these transactions, they didn’t send out the proper bills). After we are married, we are changing the names on a few of our accounts (adding each other to car titles, etc.), which will mean another round of emails and paperwork with the insurance agent, which should lead to more reductions in our premiums.

Removing a hot tub

The previous owners of our house had a hot tub. R had it winterized a few years ago and never opened it up again. We thought a lot about whether or not to keep the hot tub, and, ultimately, we decided to get rid of it because the annual costs (and time for maintenance) exceed the enjoyment we would get from using it. Getting rid of a hot tub is not the easiest thing to do. R posted it on Craigslist for free, and four people came to look at it. All said they would come back to get it, but no one did. This went on for several months, with no serious takers. We recently replaced our deck, and time ran out for the hot tub. To remove the hot tub before starting on the deck, we had to pay someone to haul it away. The simple hot-tub-free lifestyle cost over $300. We are glad to have the hot tub gone, and we (mostly/ sort of, but that’s for another post) like the deck that stands in its place.

As we make changes, I try to remember that we’re working toward a simple lifestyle. With the hot tub gone, we have reduced the maintenance for the house. By combining insurance, we’ve reduced our total number of bills and the amount we pay in bills. It took many hours to take care of these, but they are now done. While we will check insurance rates every few years, at least all of our coverage is consolidated.

I think the biggest downside to uncluttering/organizing/simplifying is simply the time and mental energy needed to pare down my life. There are big dividends, which make it worth the effort. What I consider the biggest benefit is that it reduces future the need for time and energy in the future. All of those conversations about the hot tub? Yes, while we had many, many conversations, they’re over now. We don’t have to talk about the hot tub ever again.



  1. wow, I might have taken the hot tub 😉

    Comment by anita — September 13, 2010 @ 12:01 pm |Reply

  2. Good point. I’ve noticed a few illustrations of this point in my life:

    1. Buying a car. (just bought a honda accord!) I knew I needed this in order to simplify my life. Without it, each day was a web of coordinating travel arrangements by taxi/train/bike/other people’s cars. Now that I have the car, the simplicity and freedom of travel is amazing! I simply go where I want to, when I want to. I didn’t know life could be this good! But there is also another layer of work that I have never had to deal with before: insurance, gas, managing my relationship to the dealer and the service folks….. Simplicity takes effort.

    Side note: I sometimes joke that buying a car was the hardest experience of my life. This is not actually true. But the day I bought it was long, scary, and filled with emotions. And the months leading up to it were jammed packed with the energy output of learning about an industry (automobiles) that I wasn’t familiar with. The overall outcome has been good. I feel like I got a good car, a good deal, and a good dealer.

    I think the emotions came from the fact that this is was the biggest purchase I’ve ever made, so the weight of my decision felt heavier. Have you written any posts about the connection between emotions and purchases?

    2. In the winter of 2004 I did a 2-month long wilderness survival course. We learned primitive survival skills like starting a fire without matches, building our own backpacks out of tarp and string, and building basic shelters. For 2 months, I didn’t use any electronics, go into any buildings, or even see any buildings. Talk about simplicity. My responsibilities were limited to the daily tasks within my 8-person group. No responsibilities from the outside world.

    After I left, I would sometimes romanticize the simplicity. I considered working as a staff member for the program.

    I recently realized that, in order to give the students that experience of simplicity, it takes a massive amount of complicated coordination behind the scenes. Systems of emergency procedures have to be set up and practiced. A truck has to go out to drop off carefully measured food supplies once a week. A budget of staff salaries, clothing, food, vehicles, and other supplies has to be managed. And this is barely scratching the surface. Interesting…… like you say, a simple life is not so simple!

    Comment by Katherine — September 29, 2010 @ 4:10 pm |Reply

  3. Katherine, you’re right! I love the example of camping. While it appears to be a simple activity, tons of planning went into making sure everything runs smoothly.

    A simple life is not about having few possessions and few obligations, but rather having the right possessions/obligations that work for you.

    Comment by moneytolive — October 14, 2010 @ 6:33 pm |Reply

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