Frugality and luxury: they are two concepts that many believe are opposites… but are they?
There is a saying, “Give me the luxuries of life and I’ll happily do away with the necessities.” I think luxury is a necessity: not one that needs to be bought, necessarily, but a necessity nonetheless.
This week’s advice may surprise you, considering this is a frugal living page, but it is actually at the heart of frugal living: spoil yourself, liberally, regularly and without guilt. That’s right. I mean it! Life’s for living. Go to town!
Just be clever in how you go about it.
You can have an incredibly luxurious life without the huge bills that go with it. Want some ideas on how to do this? Read on!
Treating yourselves and your families is as necessary to maintaining a frugal life as budgeting, meal planning and all the other frugal tricks you might have up your sleeve. Sure, live lean, but there’s no need to rough it. You will doom yourself to failure if you try. It’ll make you feel grumpy and deprived, it’ll make your kids crabby.
Trying to live without any luxury at all kind of reminds me of those horrible old diet programs from the 80s where people tried to live on lettuce or grapefruits or whatever. It’s unpleasant, it’s not sustainable, and let’s face it: it sets people up for failure. Also, your kids will give you hell. Who needs that?
Mamas, we work hard, do we not? Luxury is not an optional extra in our lives: it’s what makes living worthwhile. It makes us feel special and alive. It feels good. We *need* luxury.
Should we offset life’s pleasures with big bills that we need to work overtime to pay off later? Notsomuch. There’s nothing less luxuriant than bills.
I think many luxuries we are sold actually have a cumulative effect of compromising our lives, rather than enhancing them.
Want to look youthful and vibrant?
Get clever about your spending and learn to luxuriate without getting the credit card out of your wallet.
Debt is very ageing.
Our world is full of lures, promising pleasure and satisfaction. I’m reinventing the wheel by saying this, but it bears repeating: advertisers have a vested interest in making us feel like their products are the pinnacle of pampering pleasure. “You’re worth it,” they say. “You deserve younger looking skin.” We’ve all heard it.
Many want to believe it so much that we part with hundreds of dollars, searching all the time for a miracle that will delay facing up to our inevitable journey towards old age and death. I’m getting deep and meaningful on you, but it’s true. These promises are powerfully persuasive.
Beauty products and treatments promise the world and appeal to our most vulnerable desires and anxieties.
They contain essence of pearl, they contain freeze-dried unicorn hair. They contain some exotic coral that can only be found in the Bermuda Triangle.
This time, they REALLY DO contain the miracle ingredient that will keep you looking dewy and serene forevermore. Let’s face it: they cost a bomb. Some of them cost a day’s wages or more.
Which do you think produces “younger looking skin” over the long term? An expensive cream, or having more time in the day to relax and enjoy whatever has meaning to you? I think we both know the answer to that one.
The truth is that keeping life simple means more time to really, truly look after yourself; to take walks, cook proper meals and enjoy the family.
That is what will truly keep you happy, vibrant and in good nick. These true luxuries might be more attainable than many think, but it might well involve making a few sacrifices. In some households, cutting spending on creams and potions will save a huge amount of money.
In fact, according to this report from the Wall Street Journal, American women spend more on beauty products than new foreign cars or TVs. I’m no expert, but I’d be willing to bet a jar of overpriced cold cream that we’d see a similar story here in Australia.
The thing about credit cards is that they create a psychological barrier that blocks the knowledge that you had to work longer or somehow juggle your debts even more deftly than you already do.
“You’re worth it?” No! You’re worth more than that.
These products might make you look fresh as a daisy, but honestly? You would benefit more by drinking plenty of water and having a day off every now and then.
Countless studies have been done about meaningful ways to reduce ageing and buying the poshest skin cream on the shelf is never listed. Well, it is, but only if a cosmetics company is paying for the study. I hate to be a nag, but isn’t it easy to forget, on a day when we might be feeling a bit thin-skinned and someone comments that we look “tired?”.
Cosmetics companies wouldn’t use our insecurities to con money out of us… would they?
I’m sure many mamas have done it and I can’t blame them, but I’m not a fan of wasting money on things that do little more than give a 10 minute psychological boost, especially when they promise and don’t deliver.
Make no mistake, though: I’m also not a fan of wearing potato sacks and living on gruel, either.
We can have our cake and eat it too. Next time you feel tired and tempted by an expensive quick fix, why don’t you use that money to take a mental health day at work or pay a babysitter and try one of my beautiful pampering treatments?
I guarantee, these will make you feel just as glorious, gorgeous, refreshed and goddess-like. We all deserve to feel like that.
Here is a list of suggestions.
My first one: stop spending your hard earned money on gimmicky creams that don’t do a thing.
Want younger looking skin?
Go and pour yourself a big glass of water with a squeeze of lemon. The more you remember to do it, the better your skin will look. Have you ever noticed how amazing people’s skin looks in summer, when they are drinking more water?
Take a mental health day if you are becoming burnt out. Dark rings under your eyes? Pallid, drawn skin? You need rest, not “miracle” cream.
Wear a hat. There is no cream out there that will slow the ageing process like a good hat. Get your kids in the habit of wearing hats, too. The earlier the habit is ingrained, the better. Broad-brimmed hats are more elegant and they give more sun protection. Be that 1950s starlet with the broad-brimmed hat and mysterious sunglasses. Your skin will thank you for it.
Find things to smile about, and smile. It’s an instant facelift and much cheaper than botox. It’s a tacky cliché, but only because it’s profoundly true.
Find people who make you laugh and spend time with them. You might need to shout them a coffee or cook the odd meal, but they will keep you younger than collagen injections.
Take your kids or your dog for a walk and have some fun. Playing keeps you young!
Want a fit, healthy body?
Strap on some walking shoes and go for a walk. Sunset or early morning walks are nice, as are walking with kids on bikes or heading out in your lunch break to feed the pigeons in the park. Take a brisk walk, smile and make friendly small talk with people as you pass.
Unless you are a genuine gym bunny who truly loves to pump iron and do cardio, you will probably end up being one of the millions who waste money on a gym membership you won’t use. If you are a gym-hater like me, I guarantee going for a walk is much more sustainable than forcing yourself to do some exercises that you hate and paying for the privilege.
Get digging in the garden! It gives your shoulders a workout. It puts muscle on you. The constant bending and squatting keeps you limber. It’s also relaxing, good for your mental health, and pleasantly addictive (I promise!)
Go out and play a game with the kids. Run around in the sun. Have so much fun you don’t notice the exercise.
Jump on YouTube and find a yoga class or a funny aerobics class that you can do while clowning around with the kids.
Want to luxuriate and recharge?
Make yourself a honey and oatmeal mask for less than a dollar. Because you’re worth it.
Go to the library and borrow yourself a big stack of books: coffee table books, craft books, novels, magazines. Whatever appeals to you. I think having a mix is good for mothers: a book for the nightstand, and some books with pictures or magazines that you can flick through when you’re on duty with the kids.
Run a bath. Add any nice extras that you have on hand or just enjoy the warm water. What could be more recharging than a bath?
Factor in a bit of discretionary spending money in your budget. Some people budget so tightly that they do not allow any money at all for fun. This is a bad idea, because who can stick to a budget like that? Very few. And once you’ve blown it, then it is oh-so-easy to keep right on blowing it until your finances are a mess, you write yourself off as a terrible budgeter… and so it goes.
Be realistic with yourself. Even if you can only afford a few dollars a week, do it. Make those dollars count. Better to 1have something to look forward to than to blow a budget through mindless spending. Make yourself a fun budget and enjoy it without guilt.
Chop up a heap of veggies, grab some lentils and make a warm, hearty soup. I find as long as there’s a good stock and plenty of onion, soup pretty much makes itself, no recipe needed. I like to fry my onion in curry powder or mixed spices and add a tin of tomato. Soup is a cuddle for your insides.
Lie in bed and listen to some music.
Have a friend over for a cuppa tea.
Grab a picnic rug and go and lie under a tree.
Have a nap.
Go to bed early, or sleep in.
Make art or craft. Get a friend to teach you how to knit or crochet. Learn something new or do something you love.
Bake a cake for friends and kids to share.
Raid the kids’ texta stash and draw. Do it for fun, like when you were a kid. You don’t need to be good enough to quit your day job. It’s a fantastic stress release to draw, or even colour things in.
Put on your most comfortable clothes. I like my flannelette pyjamas. I feel like they are giving me a cuddle.
Turn off your computer and devices and take the phone off the hook. Take a break from all that mental clutter for a weekend. Reconnect with your screen-free self.
Go the opposite way and saturate yourself in screen time. Watch movies you’ve been meaning to see for ages. Get your kids to show you their favourite funny YouTube clips. Surf the net and read up on things that interest you.
Try a little meditation or creative visualisation. There are some great 10 minute ones on YouTube that are perfect for people wanting to test the waters.
Ring someone dear to you, who you don’t have enough contact with. Have a big, long chat.
Go to the farmer’s market and pick up some succulent goodies.
Go to the art gallery.
Do what you love to do. I could go on all day listing things, but ultimately it is YOU who knows what will lift you up.
What do you really yearn to do more? Make time and do it. This is the ultimate secret to ageing gracefully, I think.
So that’s it for another week, mamas. Hopefully, I’ve inspired you with some ideas that will keep you feeling gorgeous while keeping that cash or that card tucked safely away in your purses. Keep that money for other things!
We don’t need to spend a fortune to lead an elegant, splendidly indulgent life and we don’t need a cream for younger looking skin. We do need to reclaim our money, our time, and ultimately ourselves from the trap of excess spending. A richly rewarding life awaits those who don’t work themselves into the ground. You can do it!
Love and sunshine,
Frugal Frank’s 2 cents
I’m a simple fella, and my idea of luxury is to submerge myself in a deep bath with a good book and a big coffee.
It may sound a little too commonplace, but here’s the secret: making a present for yourself of some allocated relaxing time.
Honestly in today’s hurly burly world it’s all I can do some days to get my eyes off Twittle, Kindlet, Facespace and the hinterweb in general. It’s hard being so popular.. sigh 😉 But – to switch off and say “for the next hour it’s just me time” – now that’s a well-earned treat.
Simple? You got it~! I think Frannie’s done with those tea bags, I feel a cuppa’s on its way, wish me luck!
Till next time ~ Frugal Frank