Posted by Tim Stobbs on September 22, 2008
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you are likely familiar with one of my themes: finding happiness now and in retirement. After all having an extra 20 years in retirement is nice, but I would like to enjoy those years as well right now. Yet somehow people equal happiness with spending money so I’m always on the look out for a book that deals with frugal and happiness. So I was fairly thrilled with when I found Frugal Luxuries by Tracey McBride at my library.
The book doesn’t deal with early retirement at all, actually most of the book is like a guide to home economics with practical advice on saving money all over the house. Yet the first section is on the philosophy of frugal luxuries is what really caught my eye. If you even wanted to see into my head on enjoying what you have and finding happiness every day this section is the closest thing you will find to it on paper.
Here is a great quote that I feel summarizes the book:
Many people confuse luxury with opulence. To understand luxury you must look at the true sense of the word. The American Heritage Dictionary defines luxury as “something…conductive to pleasure and comfort,” so to indulge in luxury, you need only focus on what brings you pleasure and comfort. Does luxury have to mean diamonds and servants? Or can it be a plump down comforter on a cold night or a bowl of wild blueberries picked at the peak of that fruit’s brief season?
So strangely enough we have all be living in luxury and someone forgot to tell us or remind us what that really means. Happiness doesn’t have to come from new things, but rather enjoy what you already have. Why not sleep on your good sheets every night, why not use your china for yourself once in a while and why not celebrate the life you already have rather than always wanting more stuff?
Now some people may say wanting more is useful to provide motivation in life. I disagree. Motivation doesn’t have to come from wanting more stuff. Wanting more things can be a poison to your life. A hole that can never be filled. Rather than seek out stuff seek out wanting more life. Laughter, good conversations, hugs and all those things that can’t be placed in a box. Those are the keys to happiness.
It’s not to say you can’t enjoy your stuff, I do encourage that. By all means keep a copy of your favorite book that your reread every few years or spend your money on something you find beautiful that you will look at every day. Spending money to improve you life is a good idea, but remember to make sure you are doing mindful spending, not mindless consumption.
So overall I did enjoy the book. I do admit I skipped some sections as they didn’t provide my insight into my own life, but overall it is worth borrowing the book from the library to read the first section on philosophy. Then the rest of the book has little bits of wisdom tucked into all sorts of places which may be useful to you.