Everyday economics

The story of what happened when one family decided to live simply so that others could simply live.

The rising cost of living is forcing hard questions upon plenty of Australians: can we afford our lives? More to the point: is our way of life sustainable – for us and the planet?  

Jonathan and Kim Cornford and their two daughters are an Australian family leading a fairly ordinary, middle-class existence in the suburbs of Bendigo, Victoria. But through a series of small changes over the past 20 years, this family of four has reined in their spending – and earning – in order to live more simply.  

These days, Jonathan and Kim both work part-time, they volunteer and donate to good causes, and they have the time to be around their kids. They also only send one bag of rubbish to landfill each week and use less than half the electricity consumed by the average Australian family. They may live on ‘less’ but according to Jonathan, they’ve gained so much ‘more’ in the process.  

The Cornfords live by a vision of ‘everyday economics’ – one informed by their Christian faith. Jonathan points out that the words ‘economy’ and ‘ecology’ both stem from oikos, the Greek word for ‘house’ – which helps us to recognise the multiple and interrelated ‘households’ we inhabit. 

This Life & Faith, we’re training our gaze on the household economy, and why it makes good spiritual and material sense to live within limits.   


Jonathan’s book Coming Home: Discipleship, Ecology, and Everyday Economics 

Manna Gum, the non-profit organisation Jonathan runs. 

Justine’s article on all the economies, published in Eureka St