THOSE WHO LIVE ON LESS develop strategies for dealing with the low-rent life. Here are some of the ones mentioned by people interviewed for this story, organized by subject:
BUYING THINGS: Avoid when possible. This is obvious but ignored, especially in the light of the '80s' tendency to confuse luxuries with necessities. "People don't realize, but we just don't spend money," says Lawrence Kloze, whose family of seven gets by on $15,000 a year or less. "We don't buy any big-ticket items in life at all." No new cars, no personal computers, no microwaves, no Reebok pumps, no $40 haircuts. "You can spend as much money as you make easily in spending therapy," warns artist Steve Estes, adding, "If I'm that way I go to Value Village and for $5 pick up some really great stuff."
CHILDREN: Larry and Vicki Kloze have five, Brendan Walsh and Willa Bickham have one, but the other people interviewed for this story said they'd have to give up their present low-rent lifestyle and earn more if they were to have any. The Klozes' kids all earn their own money to buy those things kids can't live without.
DEBT: Some of those interviewed for this story say they don't have any: It's too expensive. Waiter Charles Powers, for example, says he holds no credit cards.
CLOTHES: Buy them in thrift stores or make them yourself. One person recommended the sale rack at the Gap.
FOOD: "I don't go out to eat," says Steve Estes. "I learned to cook. I know how to make beans and rice 18 different ways. That's very important, cooking for yourself, you save a lot of money that way." The Klozes make their own spaghetti sauce and their own pizza, and they grow all their own vegetables in a 20-by-30-foot garden. They avoid buying junk food, name brands and processed foods. Several other people said they were vegetarians and noted that it was a cheaper way to eat.
FURNITURE: Buy secondhand. One person recommended scouring alleyways for other people's throwaways.
HEAT: The Klozes have heated their home for the past 10 years PTC with wood and maintain a 10-by-10-by-35-foot woodpile. People in their neighborhood call them when they want a tree cut down, so heat costs them nothing. They then use the wood ash to fertilize the garden.
LUXURIES: Remember that your luxuries are time, freedom and doing what you want to do. If you indulge in the other kind, you will lose these.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: Several of those interviewed said they had none; others said they wouldn't think of going without. The Klozes don't have any and Mr. Kloze says, "Before we go to the doctor's and spend $60 and find out there's nothing they can do, we live through it as much as we can."
PARTYING: "I've cut that out, in part because of the bad physical side effects but also because it's expensive," says Charles Powers.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND STATE COLLEGES: Much cheaper than the alternatives.
PUBLIC ASSISTANCE: None of the people interviewed for this story take it, although some, like the Klozes, qualify for it.
SELF-RELIANCE: "Be able to take care of your own things, fix your own car and fix the washing machine and do some basic carpentry and some electrical work around the house," Larry Kloze says. If you can't, "then you have to dedicate yourself to generating income to taking care of that. Money is work credits, and you can use them any way you want. You can use them to pay other people to work for you, or use them not to work and do it yourself." Mr. Kloze maintains several shelves of books on how to fix things. They were bought second-hand.