Rhonda Hetzel was once like many of us.
She was successful at a good job and didn't question splashing out on frivolous things like another pretty top.
But then she became burnt out; tired of working in journalism and sick of her consumerist lifestyle.
Where Hetzel differs from many of us is in her willpower to leave the rat-race behind.
In her mid-50s, this Queenslander turned her attention to living more sustainably.
She writes about her journey on a blog that now receives 5,000 hits a day and has just released a book titled Down to Earth: A Guide to Simple Living.
Hetzel talks about how all of us can slow down and live better.
Hetzel, who lives in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, says making a lifestyle change is easier if you can change your attitude to what you think success is.
"When I was working I thought success was earning enough money so I could buy whatever I wanted to buy. I did that and it didn't make me happy, in fact it made me very unhappy.
"When I changed my own attitude, success then was making a good loaf of bread, having a great day out with my family, holding my grandsons in my arms, things like that."
Her successes became much more personal, she says, and weren't based on other people's expectations.
The first step to getting your finances under control is making a budget.
Hetzel used to view a budget as a restriction but when she finally decided to create one she realised that wasn't the case. It simply told her how much money was coming in and how much she could spend.
"Be very realistic and be honest with yourself and if you're doing your budget with your partner then make sure there are no recriminations," she says.
"Whatever's happened in the past is in the past and what you're trying to do is come up with a plan for both of you and your family to move forward."
MAKING A HOME
In her book, Hetzel writes "you don't create a home by creating the perfect showpiece". She says buying a simple home that is within your budget and can be modified to suit you and your family is the best investment.
As an example she cites her sister, who a couple of years ago moved from a six-bedroom mansion with a library into a small two-bedroom cottage built in the 1930s. Although she took some of her possessions from her old life, she mostly furnished the cottage with recycled belongings.
"When you walk into this place it is like you're coming home it's so comfortable," says Hetzel.
She suggests recycling old clothing by turning pieces into cushion covers, tote bags or tea cosies. When they really start falling apart you can use them as rags or if they are made out of natural fibres such as cotton, linen and wool they can go into a worm farm or compost heap.
HOMEMADE GREEN CLEANERS
Plain vinegar is a green cleaning product that is effective on just about everything, says Hetzel.
Vinegar doesn't kill bacteria as poison does, but changes the pH of the surface you're cleaning and bacteria moves on.
Put cheap vinegar in a jar with orange and lemon peelings, leave it to infuse, then transfer the liquid into an atomiser and use it like a spray and wipe.
You can also mix equal portions of laundry liquid and bicarb, create a paste and use it to clean sinks, showers and the stove.
Chickens are easy to look after because all they need is a safe place to sleep and nest, fresh water every day and food.
Letting them free range on lawn will also reduce your feed bill and result in eggs containing Omega-3.
Dogs and feral cats will pose problems for chickens, and vegie patches will have to be fenced off.
There are numerous breeds you can buy but Hetzel stresses the importance of pure-bred chickens.
"The poultry industry's taken over and they've got these chickens that are bred just to lay eggs but chickens are a whole lot more than that," she says.
The reason chickens become broody, apart from reproducing, she says, is so their bodies can rest and replenish calcium.
Ordinary red birds, such as ISA Browns, usually don't get broody but lay continuously until they die suddenly around eight years old.
"If the backyard people don't take this to heart and try and keep these (pure-bred) chooks going they'll be gone and it will be our fault."
* Down to Earth: A Guide to Simple Living by Rhonda Hetzel is published by Viking (rrp $39.95). Her blog is at down---to---earth.blogspot.com.au