By Dolores Kong
The Boston Globe

A personal finance and philosophical movement known as
voluntary simplicity has gone online, using the latest
technology to spread its message of living simply and
saving money and other resources.

Popularized by the bestselling book "Your Money or
Your Life," voluntary simplicity has gained hundreds
of thousands of followers around the country, with
study groups meeting regularly in Massachusetts and

Although the technology may seem contrary to a simple
life, now there are Web sites for people who have
already begun living substantially below their means
for either personal finance or philosophical reasons,
and for those who are interested in learning about the
lifestyle trend.

There's a site by the foundation that first published
"Your Money or Your Life," as well as sites by authors
of other books on the subject. There is a site run by
a nonprofit trying to redefine the American dream
toward "more fun, less stuff," and one by an
organization called the Simple Living Network.

In addition to personal finance and money-saving tips,
some of the Web sites emphasize such issues as
protecting the environment. While many of the
adherents of voluntary simplicity start for personal
finance reasons, they often end up using their
newfound freedom from having to work just for a
paycheck for such causes as the environment or social

For Marc Eisenson, co-author of the book "Invest in
Yourself: Six Secrets to a Rich Life" and a proponent
of voluntary simplicity for about 15 years, the
lifestyle choice is all about being able to spend time
the way you want. He and his co-authors share some of
their secrets at the Web site

"Not to have to constantly be buying, buying, buying
has allowed me to live debt free," said Eisenson. "I
feel that work is something you do for money that you
wouldn't be doing otherwise. That's what people do,
they need money, they go to work.

"I've never had to work," said Eisenson. "I've always
been able to do what I've wanted to do," working in
his garden when he feels like it, spending time with
family, or giving money-saving advice through books
and a newsletter.

While the lifestyle isn't for everyone, here are
summaries of some of the voluntary simplicity Web
sites for those who are interested in finding out

- Here, you can find out
that prepaying your mortgage with as little as $25 a
month extra can save you tens of thousands of dollars
in interest over 30 years. You'll also get tips on how
to save more of the $2 million a typical American
family earns over a lifetime of working, by spending
less than you earn, avoiding debt, and taking other
money-saving steps. And you'll learn how much a new
car can cost you after you factor in interest and
other costs. The site also promotes the book of the
same name by Eisenson, Gerri Detweiler, and Nancy
Castleman, as well as a newsletter called the Pocket
Change Investor.

- At this Web site by the
foundation that first published "Your Money or Your
Life," you can learn more about the nine steps
outlined in the book, which is subtitled "Transforming
Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial
Independence." You can also link to a "time value
calculator" on Microsoft's MoneyCentral site, to
figure out how much it really takes out of your life
to work that 40-hour work week, in terms of commuting
time, dry cleaning expenses, and other costs, whether
you earn $50 an hour or $100,000 a year. One of the
aims of "Your Money or Your Life" is to help people
place a value on the time they spend working solely
for a paycheck, taking them away from family and other
activities they really care about. The site also sells
the book and an accompanying workbook.

- Also started by the New Road
Map Foundation, this site provides further details
about achieving what "Your Money or Your Life" calls
FI, which stands for "financial intelligence,"
"financial integrity," and "financial independence."
There is information here about finding relatively
inexpensive health insurance if you don't want to keep
working at a job just for the health coverage. And
there are answers to frequently asked questions about
the nine steps outlined in the book.

- This is the home
page for the Massachusetts study groups following the
"Your Money or Your Life" program of watching your
budget, reducing your expenses, and otherwise living
your life the way you want. Here you get a list of the
upcoming meetings and potluck dinners, as well as
minutes from previous gatherings.

- This is a Web site by Duane
Elgin, author of "Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way
of Life that Is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich,"
published in 1981, and "Promise Ahead: A Vision of
Hope and Action for Humanity's Future," published this
year. Elgin, who popularized the phrase voluntary
simplicity and describes himself as an "MBA gone bad,"
comes to a simple life more from an environmental and
philosophical perspective than from a personal finance
angle. But his Web site features links to other
voluntary simplicity sites with such information.

- The Center for a New American
Dream, a Maryland nonprofit working to shift Americans
away from what it calls a culture of consumption,
emphasizes environmental protection and a better
quality of life as its aims. The site's money and
personal finance page is a bit thin on content and has
some outdated links, but there are still some useful
references for anyone interested in learning more
about reducing spending.