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Simple isn't always frugal

Sometimes, money does buy happiness.

Had I uttered these words a few years ago, it would have felt like blasphemy. Living simply played a huge role in getting us out of debt. I was frugal to the core.

And yet, I wasn’t.

I thought the experience would make me frugal forever – always looking for the greatest deal, buying used and doing without if it was too expensive.

Instead, I’ve realized it made me much more intentional about my purchases. And I became aware of how I can use money to live more congruently with my values. How we choose to spend our money speaks volumes about what we hold dear.

Now, when I make purchases I typically have a few things in mind:

  • How long will this last?
  • What enjoyment will this bring?
  • Is this item/experiences/store in line with my values?

So I’m much more likely to spend a little more on a coffee mug that I’ll use every day, multiple times so I can sit and sip and ponder, whether I’m alone or with someone I love.

It’s also why I don’t really care about having a nice TV (ours is tiny and every kid who visits comments on how small it is), fancy car or big house.

There are certain purchases I don’t make and places I refuse to shop at because they just don’t line up with what’s most important in my life.

But purchases and places that line up with my values of connection, simplicity and gathering around the table? Hell yes. I’ll gladly hand over my debit card for things like:

  • Fresh flowers on my table
  • High quality, delicious coffee with a friend
  • Dishes I love that make meals more delightful
  • A down comforter with a gorgeous duvet (that will last for a long time) for those cold nights with my lover – yes, I mean my husband

As I was strolling through Portland with my best friend recently (on the way to have said coffee and purchase dishes and bedding), I thought back on our previous day together.

After driving roughly 90 miles to see her, we’d gone for a walk down NW 23rd st., one of my favorite places in Portland. We stopped for gourmet chocolates, coffee (of course) and then decided on happy hour at an elegant restaurant. Later, we went out to dinner, took Salsa lessons and hit happy hour at a nearby pub until two in the morning.

It wasn’t frugal. In fact, some would consider it quite frivolous. But the simplicity of it is what makes our time together so wonderful.

We walk. A lot. And have great discussions. Sometimes we window shop (usually for stationery) but rarely buy. But the things we do spend money on – usually delicious food and drinks – contribute to the joy of our simple gatherings.

We use our money to enhance our experience, rather than weigh it down with meaningless clutter.

Spend intentionally. And enjoy the experience.

p.s. Think you need a big life change? Try this first.