The Tightwad Gazette is one of my favorite frugal living books. Before blogs even existed, the Frugal Zealot (author Amy Dacyczyn) had a regular mail newsletter where she included frugal tips.
One of the biggest ones that has stood out to me over time has to do with luxury. I remember my brother thinking it was particularly cruel. The Frugal Zealot talked about getting ice cream for her kids. From time to time, they'd stop at McDonald's for a little ice cream cone. She saw this as an affordable splurge. And if her kids started clamoring for something fancier, like an ice cream sundae? She'd wait longer before getting cones so that they still seemed like a treat and not a given. Her main advice was to pick small luxuries and not get them so often you get used to them.
Well, this weekend reminded me of a similar situation of enjoying what is in your life rather than always wanting more. In our culture, vacations seem to be high-end things where you get to sample the fancy life. Spa treats, luxury hotel rooms, and renting fancy cars are all possible vacation options. But I am reminded that another option might be more effective.
We went to Matt's parents' house for Thanksgiving. Their guest room has a full size bed, which is smaller than our queen. We share a bathroom with more people there. It's not our space. All of these are still appreciated; we don't pay anything, get to spend time with family, and get out of the house. However, coming home is always a treat.
Now, more than I ever, I notice that. Our queen size bed is going to feel so good tonight, especially now that we have Julie and sometimes sleep with her in our bed. Being able to spread out is awesome. Nursing also made me appreciate my nice setup here at home, where I have a large headboard to lean against and a special back pillow on the bed to give me extra support.
This makes me wonder if the US way of doing vacations is smart. After a week of camping or cheap motels, it is always nice to return home (especially if I cleaned the house before I left!). Perhaps the way to manage money well and avoid keeping up with the Joneses is to participate in a little personal austerity. Used to pedicures? Lower the frequency. Not savoring the evening glass of wine? Cut that back to weekend-only wine.
What else do you do that helps you appreciate your small little luxuries in your life?