By Danelle Carvell
The subject of frugality has been on my mind lately. So when I came across a book titled, Frugal Luxuries: Simple Pleasures to Enhance Your Life and Comfort Your Soul, I knew it was meant for me. I couldn't find the book on Amazon, perhaps because it was published in 1997, but I want to share some of its wisdom because this is the kind of book that could change your life if you take it seriously and try to do what the author suggests.
Tracey McBride says she wrote the book to build and reinforce the attitude that life is brimming with simple comforts, and we don't need a lot of money to bring these luxuries into our lives and savor them on a daily basis. McBride defines frugality as the careful use of materials and resources and the unwillingness to squander goods or spend money unnecessarily. She says that without frugality we may be tossed upon the waves of circumstance, at the mercy of our unorganized whims.
Frugal people shouldn't be confused with miserly people who deprive themselves of all but the barest of essentials for the sole purpose of hoarding money. "To be frugal is to set higher standards for your thoughts, behavior, activities, surroundings and possessions," says McBride. "A frugalite ( a word of her own making) is one who enjoys comfortable, attractive surroundings and endeavors to transform the simplest foods into a feast."
Each person who practices frugality shares a respect for the art says the author: "They view frugality as an exciting activity and seek out bargains in an almost sporting manner, finding joy in discovering a good buy and being responsible with their hard-earned dollars." This is the part I love about frugality. It can be a thrilling treasure hunt, and the money I save can be used to enhance my life even more or to enhance the lives of others. It just makes sense to be discerning about handing over money that I worked so hard for. The time it takes me to earn forty dollars as a writer is more than you'd expect. So I ask myself if an item is really worth six hours of mental toil. Most of the time, the answer is No.
But there's more to frugality than spending wisely. We can actually elevate the quality of our lives without stressing our finances. We don't have to confine ourselves to material things in our quest for a satisfying, comfortable lifestyle. Some of the finest things we can enjoy in life are things that can't be perceived by the five senses. Intangible things like love, health, joy, learning, and kindness are even more satisfying than the things money can buy. "Many people neglect to appreciate the gentle kindnesses and tender mercies that touch their lives on a daily basis," says McBride.
I'm trying to be more tuned in to the simple joys that come my way each day. Before I go out I try to remember to look for anything that might make me feel blessed. When I'm tuned in to these things, I experience more of them. Friendly people at check out counters start up conversations without any prompting from me. I discover little treasures throughout the day that lift my spirits. Because I'm tuned in to my surroundings, I find joy in all kinds of things. I'll overhear a conversation between a mother and her child and it makes me smile. I'll stop to smell the roses in the grocery store instead of just walking past them. I try to anticipate moments of joy and I look for opportunities to experience joy in the people, things, and circumstances that I come across.
By allowing ourselves to delight in ordinary things and occurrences we can bring more pleasure, comfort and luxury into our lives. "Make a conscious decision at this moment to appreciate what your own life has to offer in the way of frugal luxuries," McBride says. Some examples of frugal luxuries? Smelling the herbs growing in the garden, the laughter of a baby, and traveling to another place and time with a hard-to-put-down book. For me those luxuries would include the sweet taste of a fresh summer strawberry, a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallow, a good glass of wine or a warm cup of tea, and snuggling on the sofa with soft blankets, my family, a great movie, and a bowl of kettle popcorn. Did every one of those include food?
"It has been my observation that too may people forget to enjoy these simple pleasures on a regular basis. They seem to wait for the Shangri-la of someday rather than adjust their attitudes and sample the small indulgences found in ordinary events...There are so many outstanding experiences that are lost because people do not take the time to recognize and savor them," says Mc Bride. "By ignoring the opportunities to experience these riches, you may be missing out on the finest moments of life."
How do we elevate the ordinary and make it valuable? Through the art of appreciation. By consistently letting people know that we value them, we cultivate the art of appreciation. We can appreciate our friends, display love to family, and say thank you to those who serve us like waitresses, grocery baggers, and bank tellers. When was the last time you said, "Thanks, I appreciate your help"? Greeting people by name is another way to appreciate them. "If we appreciate simple things, such as the people we encounter in our lives, our work, intangibles, and ourselves, we appreciate life," says McBride.
I'll write more about this on Monday, but I want to mention that the book I displayed on this page, One Thousand Gifts, is one I believe is similar to the book I'm writing about now, Frugal Luxuries. I just ordered it from Amazon. One Thousand Gifts is a brand new release and it's one of those things that kept popping up everywhere I turned. When something keeps appearing before my eyes, I take it as a sign that it's something I should look into.
I'll close for today by saying I've concluded that blogging every day is not a realistic goal for me. So I won't be posting any lengthy type on Thursday and my only weekend posts will be written by guest writers. So if you like my blog, become a follower or a subscriber so you'll receive notification of new posts. I don't always post new entries on facebook as I once did. See you Monday. Do something luxuriously frugal this weekend.