Traditional Yankee thrift isn’t obsessed with money. It’s not frugal for the sake of frugal or only buying things on sale. It values mindfulness of priorities, adeptness at record-keeping and investing, yes, but doesn’t make spending or not spending the only focus of one’s existence. It’s not frugal in all things which is why one can be affluent yet still enjoy this fine art of living that involves creativity, intelligence and self-confidence. Only those who worry about status will spend money in an effort to “keep up” and impress in ways that go beyond taking a healthy pride in one’s appearance. It’s why online “influencers” are so good at encouraging people to spend money on image management and status brands come out ahead when they can put a price on transitory self-esteem. New Englanders value independence, so what better way to live than to spend money that doesn’t involve checking in with any prescribed aesthetic or current trend?
There were times I had to be frugal with everything because I didn’t have any other options. There were times when I spent too much because I was making a decent income and believed that I needed to have certain props to prove that I could afford such things. Now I have just enough, enjoy some luxuries in conjunction with a low budget simple lifestyle to save as much as I can for retirement. By taking pleasure in nature, traditional New England practices, working from home and being a homemaker our lifestyle expenses are greatly reduced while our daily enjoyment isn’t.
When we aren’t eating out, which in the summer and fall could be twice a week but the rest of the year just a few times a month I prepare dinner mostly from scratch with organic staples. We don’t really do takeout because I enjoy cooking and often prefer it to what’s made by someone else in a commercial kitchen. A benefit is that we do save money that way, even when I use expensive ingredients.
So when Wayne said that for Valentine’s Day to pick anyplace I wanted to eat, the truth is that I wasn’t in the mood for $100 dining. Also, it was very cold yesterday evening; I liked the idea of staying in. My dream Valentine dinner was hot wings from the local pub and vegetables and rice from the cheap Chinese take out! On the way home from work Wayne stopped at both places and I plated them up. It was wonderful and exactly what I wanted!
Yankee thrift doesn’t mean we don’t ever buy extravagant or impractical things, but only if it truly brings us joy, is within our budget and we’re putting money aside for a healthy savings and retirement fund. It’s about what really matters to us and not our neighbors