One of my new year aspirations was to buy clothing only at resale shops, except for bathing suits, shoes, and underwear. So far so good, except for one “slip,” a well-reasoned one. I bought a shirt, a sort of hippie thing that looks like it time-traveled from the 60s and is ready for BlissFest, for $5.
I’ve been talking up the “get rid of stuff” thing pretty well evidently, because my cousin Scott, who really does manage to live a good life on next to nothing, dropped off a book called Possum Living, published in 1978 by Dolly Freed. She was an 18-year-old 7th-grade dropout living with her dad north of Philadelphia on next to nothing. The book’s subtitle is How to Live Well Without a Job and With (Almost) No Money. This she did for five years, after which she got her GED, went to college, and became a NASA engineer. Then she decided she’d chosen a life she didn’t really find rewarding, so she became an environmental educator.
Now the book is very 70s, back-to-the-land, and has some crazy ideas Dolly has since repudiated. It also has some wonderful ideas, and philosophical underpinnings that seem so familiar to me that I wonder whether maybe I read the book back then. Probably not — that was the year Jason was born, and I believe I had to give up reading for a few years. Don’t think I read it in law school, either.
So here’s what I’m wondering: could I live a great “retired” life on next to nothing? How much would I really need? Dolly was and is a homebody, grows or catches much of her own food, doesn’t really need a car because she doesn’t go anywhere she couldn’t get by bicycle or on foot. Her husband and children live a very frugal life, but it isn’t my life.
So that’s going to be my challenge. Figure out what exactly I need to be able to do to enjoy myself, and then figure out the very cheapest way to do it. What do you think, Boomers?