The Art of Frugal Hedonism: a guide to spending less while enjoying everything more
Authors: Annie Raser-Rowland with Adam Grubb
Themes: ethics of consumption, home economics/accounting, quality of life, simplicity, attitude change
I read this book a few years go, and I still find myself reflecting on what was, for me, the key message: experience your life.
This book is a series of short chapters (51 in 217 pages, plus further resources lists) sharing tips and hints, as well as vignettes of the authors’ lives.
Upfront, I an unlikely to dumpster dive or decide to take a midnight stroll to the furthest train station from my home with the goal of arriving just in time to catch the first train home.
However, the underlying message of experiencing your life in every moment is a powerful one. Why can’t you enjoy washing the dishes? Especially when you can do so while watching the magpies scamper across the lawn in search of bugs.
Why not take a walk to meet friends for coffee and pay attention to what’s growing in the gardens along the way or the colour of everyone’s front doors?
Why not save some dollars on things you personally don’t care about so you can spend them on things that you do?
There’s value in almost all of the advice in this book, as it does make you evaluate your daily choices to ensure they’re mindful ones, providing meaning for your life.
Here’s a small example from my life. During a recent house move, one of the things that didn’t make the packing cut was my old can opener. It was a basic one and in shopping for some other items, a new, nicer looking can opener made it into my shopping basket.
Before I’d even used the new one even once, the old one went in the donation box and out the door. The thing is, the new can opener DOESN’T BLOODY WORK. I’m not sure what sort of metal a can would need to be made of to allow this thing to open it but it’s not your stock-standard can of tomatoes. No amount of jiggling or repositioning convinces it to open a can on the first go. The fifth or tenth maybe.
So, asking the question “have I lived quite nicely without this item” would not only have saved me dollars (twice over now), but also quite a lot of frustration. I can’t even donate this new one because it doesn’t work.
Hate waste indeed.
Did I buy this book? No. I borrowed this one from my local library.
Would I buy this book? Not at this point. For me, it was enough to read it. I got one strong key message that’s made me pause many times during mundane activities and just appreciate the light, the air, the flowers on the footpath. Enough.