This is a season of frugality. I smell it on the crisp fall wind. We have had to tighten our belts due to zero savings and a smaller paycheck. It is much harder to rebuild a saving from scratch than to build one that is already plump.
I’ve had to rethink money and reorganize the budget. But I’ve not wanted to get into poverty consciousness (this is a real thing) so I focus on beauty and simple luxuries. This entails decluttering junk, torn and stained items, broken things, and what does not make one feel good when looking at it or surrounded by it.
Luxuries can be found right in your cupboards and pantries. Use the china, light those scented candles, wear that nice sweater, cover the bed with that lovely bedspread your great-grandmother made. Stop saving things for “that special time”. Make today that special time. Cut some lovely flowers from your yard.
Other luxuries are good coffee or tea, good food that is nutritious and flavorful. It can be potato dishes, burritos with homemade tortillas, pinto beans made from dried beans, and fresh tomatoes from your garden or a container you have on the patio. Even homemade Amish bread with peanut butter and jelly.
My home is decorated with charm and a bit shabby chic. Most of my furnishings are hand me downs, free things others were throwing away, and thrift store finds. All it takes to make it cozy and inviting is a good cleaning and simmering a little clove and cinnamon in a pan on the stove. The cleaning is free and only requires a mix of dish soap, vinegar, water, and old rags.
The groceries have been the budgeting challenge. We went from $1,000 to $500. This includes toiletries and pet food. I may even get it down to a smaller amount after the holidays. I am going back to vegan/vegetarian and beginning to cook simple dishes. This saves on the paycheck and health.
It’s a game and if you have fun with it, the times when you feel broke become a challenge instead of a bummer. You get creative and start to win at the game and with every little win, you feel victory. Every time you find candles for .25 cents or an L.L. Bean jacket for $3 or you get your grocery budget under $350 for the month…you feel exhilarated instead of wilted at the confinement of a small paycheck.
Some of my best days have been when we lived off very little. Those were the days I learned to bake bread and spent my days reading in the yard because that didn’t cost a thing. I loved those days.