Interview with Rhonda Hetzel

Rhonda is a real kindred spirit and has a wonderful blog about simple living.

1) What was the one thing about living a simple life that you found the hardest to change?
The hardest thing was to stop buying what I wanted when I wanted it. Needs versus wants, it’s a tough thing to get used to. But I wanted to live without being surrounded by “stuff” and to cut back on everything we bought. I could only change that when I was absolutely sure that for us, it was the way forward. I made these decisions 16 years ago when recreational shopping was a good way to spend a Saturday and no one I knew wanted to save, mend or recycle.

2) What was the easiest?
The easiest was what I thought would be the hardest – housework and making our home a warm, comfortable, safe haven.

3) In such a consumer driven society, what was it that made you go down the road of simple living?
For me it was a practical decision. I decided at 55 years of age that I wanted to close my business and live a different kind of life. I wanted my success to be judged by how happy I felt rather than how much I earned and owned. What I needed to do was to live a more simple life but in a modern context. I hadn’t heard of simple living then so when I stopped working for a living I realised that I had to save money, spend much less and do more for myself. Luckily I’d already lived such a life growing up in the 50s and 60s when life was much simpler. I started thinking about how my grandma and mum used to cook, shop and clean, I knew that way of life suited me and would allow me to cut back and get back to basics.

4) What do you think is the biggest benefit of simple living?
There are so many benefits! You can take control of your life and stop following what everyone else is doing. One of your goals is to be debt free so you work towards paying off whatever debt you have and while that is difficult, it’s also empowering. You spend less money and those savings can either go towards paying off debt or buying something that really means something to you. You cut down on food additives and preservatives so generally you’ll be healthier. I guess in a nutshell, you feel you have control of your own life and you feel comfortable knowing you’ve pulled back from “normal” life to live exactly how you want to live.

5) When you decided to go down this path, what were some of the difficulties you encountered?
My husband didn’t agree we could do what I wanted to do – to both give up work and live a much more simple life. He had already retired but had bought a little shop and was working again. I had to re-skill myself to cook from scratch, bake, make preserves etc. I was working more in my home and while I enjoyed doing that, a lot of my friends thought I was mad. I suppose I dealt with some of those difficulties by writing about them in my blog. Slowly I built up a community of people who understood what I was doing and that made it easier. 6)What would be the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanted to start the simple life journey?
Think about what you’re having trouble with and start with that. So if you’re in debt and struggling, start by making a budget and making a plan for your future. Then work towards cutting down on your cost of living. If you’re not as healthy as you want to be, start by rethinking how you cook. Gather a few recipes that you can cook from scratch and start cutting additives from the food you eat. Go a bit further and start making your own cleaning and laundry products. They’re much healthier without the additives in the commercial products and you’ll save money every time you go shopping. There are so many things you could do but really, you just have to dive in and start.
I’ve found that talking to others who are also moving towards a simpler life make things look easier. So look for simple life blogs or books or join a local group so you can discuss the difficulties you see ahead.

To learn more about Rhonda and her journey of simpler living, head to her blog or pick up one of her three amazing books that are available for purchase at Green Living Australia in our showroom and on our website and is available in most bookstores and online retailers.

Rhonda’s books

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