I've been reading WiseBread (Living Large on a Small Budget!), the frugal living blog, and so far today there have been TWO posts that have interested me a lot. The first mulls over the things to which we attach value, and how in the end, material purchases don't say very much about who you are--they're just about what you have. I especially like this bit:
There are many reasons to [be] frugal--it's light on your wallet and light on the planet--but the most important is that it maximizes your freedom.The second post discusses how to tell the difference between what you want and what you need, and this is something I'm just starting to take to heart.
One way it does that is by giving you more career options: The more frugal you are, the less pressed you are to choose the most remunerative career (and the less pressed you are to stick with a poor choice simply because change would be risky--the frugal person can bear risks that others can't)...What I've come to realize just recently, though, is that another advantage of a frugal lifestyle is that frugal people are free to spend the money they haven't sunk into stuff on experiences instead.
I've never been particularly self-indulgent or ridiculous with my purchases or possessions. I'm not a big spender, so most purchases haven't cost enough to engender any guilt or regret. But I've definitely done retail therapy--who hasn't? I particularly remember an evening in 2004 when I had a small breakdown and went from breakdown to the mall to buying a SUIT which is no longer ready for this jelly because my body is too bootylicious for it. Plus, I am definitely guilty of buying things just because they are good deals, though I do that less than I used to.
Anyway, there are a couple of practices I'm focused on adopting as life-long habits, and they're related to each other. The first is to decide what I truly need and get rid of a lot of the rest of my stuff, and try a quality and ethics-based approach to future purchasing, even if that means spending more on single purchases than I have in the past. This is going to involve some more ebaying, some goodwill trips, some consignment selling, and general cleaning. It might be awhile before I get to that part of the process. The more immediate steps: applying a new logic to my purchasing, i.e., "Am I going to use/wear this all the time and love it tenderly?" By that logic, the earrings the Brit gave me for Christmas would have been a solid purchase even if I'd made it myself. They are handmade, they are perfect for my style and aesthetic, and I can really see myself wearing them almost every day.
The second and probably more daily-life kind of practice is to eat only food for which I am actually hungry. Let's be clear about this. I don't have a weight problem, I don't have a particularly complicated relationship with food, and I am on the whole a healthy person. But over the past few months I've developed a creeping bad habit of eating food because it's there, or eating more than I need to as a default. I've also eaten a lot of crap, and I've complained about it a lot, which bores me and you and everyone we know.
I'm not interested in dieting, because it's not supportable in the long run. I want to reshape my habits, and trust that my body is going to get into better balance as a result. It's only been about 10 days of thinking this way, but I am definitely experiencing detox symptoms which I will spare you here. (Some of them are snot-related, and then there are others.)
An adjacent issue: I've never been a caffeine addict, but I've been off coffee since the laryngitis episode. I've often noted that when I am laid low by a cold, my body clearly doesn't want sugar or dairy or alcohol or caffeine, and none of that stuff even looks good to me. So far I have heard this message but pretty much chosen to file it away rather than, you know, adopt it for realsies. It's obvious that I need to eschew some foods in order to return to a state of health, but what about just existing in a state of health in the first place and conscientiously maintaining that? I bet lots of things would feel better.
I'm also tracking my daily spending this month. Surprisingly enough, it's an exercise I've never done.
One attractive thing about me is that I am reliably good at making lifestyle changes.