“Our brass kerosene lamp gives off a warm glow, enough to provide the additional needed light for our dinner of hot cornmeal biscuits and refrigerator stew made of leftover bean soup and random freezer finds. The children, ruddy from outdoor play, consume without question.” This is a quote from Amy Dacyczyn’s The Tightwad Gazette. I am re reading The Tightwad Gazette to get some ideas that I might have forgotten about. The title of this article is How To Avoid Feeling Deprived and it struck me if people do feel deprived when they are going through hard times. The Dacyczyn children seemed to consume their meal without question of what was in it, they were used to eating leftovers disguised as something else.
I was in line at the checkout in our local Dollar General after work yesterday and the lady in front of me had a bunch of junk food and two movies that she was purchasing. I couldn’t help but notice that she paid with an access card for her groceries and then paid cash for her movies. Maybe she was feeling that her glass was half empty? I am not judging anyone here, but I am wondering if to a certain degree she did feel that way and needed a little pick me up?
For all of our marriage I have been a frugal person. I am not sure if I come by it naturally or if it is because we have had goals that we wanted to meet. We have built our home ourselves, and with the help of professionals of course for the plumbing and electrical items. We had decided that I was going to be an at home mom with our children. All of the years that I was home, I scoured books on ways to save money. Coupons, yep I use those. Make our meals from scratch? Yep, I do that. We rarely ate meals out because it was so expensive. Have a garden? Yep, we have had a garden since the kids were little. Shop at thrift shops for clothes? Yep, I still do that to this day. I have a hard time paying retail for anything. If I am in the market for something, I will wait until it goes on sale or buy used. Is this too extreme? Not for me, or my family. Do we feel that our glass is half empty? Heck no. We have a nice home, no credit card debt and are content with what we have.
Eating leftovers, hanging my laundry up instead of putting them in the dryer, washing out baggies, and packing my lunch for work has become a habit, not a burden. These little things that save us money enable us to have the home that we have wanted. I like to dress nice for work, but I also like to shop thrift shops or clearance racks. I don’t feel deprived of nice clothes because I can get nice things for much, much less than anyone needs to know. Being frugal doesn’t have to mean feeling deprived. If you want to save money on your groceries so that you can go to the movies, then by all means do that. You won’t feel deprived if you are doing something that you like. If you do something that costs you money, and you don’t get much enjoyment out of it, then stop doing it and that money is saved for another area of your life.
Our economy hasn’t been great for that last several years. I am sure that there are a lot of people that are struggling from day to day and do feel a little deprived. They struggle with paying their heat bill, groceries, and mortgage and most likely don’t have any money left over to buy even a candy bar let alone a new pair of shoes. But those that are happy with what they have around them, are the ones that feel like their glass is half full. They are the ones that are content with their lives, content with eating the leftovers and wearing thrift shop clothes. They are content with sitting down to the table and seeing their loved ones faces smiling back while eating basic, wholesome food.
Real deprivation is having to have that second job that you hate to go to. Or maybe the huge debt that was created on your credit card. Try making goals to get out of that deprivation. Small baby steps will make your glass half full. Paying off debts, one small one at a time will increase your contentment with what you have. Dave Ramsey has an excellent program to start with baby steps to get out of debt.
Never compare yourself and what you have to what others have. Remember, sometimes your neighbors might have a big beautiful home with all of the furnishings, but do they have the love from their family? And they probably are in debt up to their eyeballs. True contentment, and the feeling of the glass being full comes from within yourself. No matter where you live, you can make your house a home with little belongings. It is made a home with love and contentment with your surroundings. If you can come to terms with the little things in life then your glass will always be half full.