Simple Living: Lessons From Grandma’s House ~ Jill Mueller


It was refreshing to come across this article. I found it to be so inspirational that I decided to share it with you. While reading it, my thoughts quickly drifted back to the precious times I spent with my own grandmother. Things were simpler back then. After she made her transition, family gatherings were never the same. She seemed to have a special glue that held things together. Now … I know that glue is called LOVE. With the passage of time, I miss her more and more each day.

Hopefully, you’ll enjoy the article as much as I did.


As a twenty-something embarking on life, the current state of the economy often gives me pause in my choices. If things continue on the current trend, and people’s pocketbooks get tighter, will there be a market for that job? Is it worth it to buy a car now when new fuel efficiency standards or even new fuels must be on the horizon? How can I best be prepared for hard times?

These questions are difficult to answer. And like many in my generation, I have no experience to draw upon for solutions. We’ve been incredibly fortunate in the economic prosperity we have seen for much of our lives. We don’t think twice about eating out at trendy restaurants, taking exotic vacations, keeping up with the latest fashions.

But it seems like we are facing the backlash of our fortunate lifestyles. We’ve borrowed too much, strained our natural resources, lost jobs overseas, put the crunch on the small business owner. The price of oil soared, its effects rippling through almost every sector of our economy. The mortgage crisis followed close on its heels.

And many of us, with our iPhones and our flat-screen televisions, have no idea what it’s like to live frugally.

But it was different for our grandparents. When I look at the world around me and the problems that we face, I find myself drawing upon the wisdom I’ve gained from countless afternoons and evenings spent simply shooting the bull with Grandma and Grandpa. While I have never been exposed to real economic hardships, they grew up during the Depression. Their worldview and lifestyle have been shaped by those hard times, and they have much to teach us.

My grandparents and I have always been close, and though I’m now an adult and no longer live in my hometown, I always make a point of visiting with them whenever I return to my childhood home. My grandpa thinks I do it for the free meals, and while they are quite nice, in reality I do it to simply sit with them and drink in their hard-earned wisdom. And of course, for the dollar bill rubber-banded to a candy bar that my grandma still insists on giving the grandchildren, even though my brother is now a parent himself. Neither one of them had education beyond the high school level, not formally, but their minds are still sharp and their insights great. It’s the kind of wisdom they can’t teach you in school.

Every time I sit down with them, I am transported to another place. Time slows down, and we catch up on life. I share my current thoughts, ambitions, and amusing anecdotes from my life, and they weigh in with their views and stories of their own.

And so we sit in their outdated kitchen, with its lime green walls and puce yellow stove and refrigerator, or in their living room with worn brown shag carpet and slightly slumping couches. In nice weather, we’ll sit in rickety lawn chairs on their carport, looking out at the backyard and perhaps being visited by my grandma’s group of well-trained (and well-fed) squirrels. Other members of my family urge them to use money saved from years of simple living to modernize their house and wardrobe, but they don’t really see the need. Their things are well-loved, and they are happy.

It is this attitude that is so very different from the predominant one in my generation. We have been barraged with messages for most of our lives urging us to buy novel contraptions and the newest versions of items we already have. We’ve been told that this is how you attain happiness. And as we’ve relentlessly pursued these items, we’ve depleted our resources, racked up debt, and lost touch with the things in life that are truly rewarding.

I think its time to start listening to and learning from our grandparents — to remember their wisdom … living simply.

  • Preparing home cooked meals with local ingredients and enjoying them with those we love
  • Driving less, walking and biking more
  • Hanging up your laundry outside
  • Decreasing our consumer wants so we don’t need to work ourselves to the bone for the next fancy trend
  • Appreciating what you have

We used to do it, once upon a time. Many of our grandparents still do.

I think we’ll find such changes will not only ease the strain on our pocketbooks but will also add numerous small joys to life that have long been neglected in our pursuit of materialistic goods.

Need advice on where to start? Call up your grandparents.


Jill Mueller is a conservation biologist, avid cyclist, and freelance writer. She has combined forces with a good friend and dietitian to start The Barefoot Badger, a blog promoting healthy, sustainable living.

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