Friday, March 7, 2008

Frugal Luxuries and other relevant thoughts

After seeing the book Frugal Luxuries by Tracey McBride recommended on several blogs, I requested it for Christmas and recently finished reading it. Though I enjoyed reading about another family's frugal journey and commitment to beauty and simplicity, I will not add this title to my list of favorites. I felt much of the information was somewhat outdated (granted the book is ten years old) and not especially creative. (On the subject of frugal luxuries, my favorite resource is Like Merchant Ships, which I feel offers both inspiration as well as practical direction. In fact, I thought of Meredith when reading in the book that "a well-set table and an artful presentation of foods is a strong indicator of resourcefulness and ingenuity.")

I did appreciate some of the material, though, and found several noteworthy quotes:

The goal of a "frugalite," McBride writes, is to "seek to enjoy the maximum comforts and freedoms that the wise use of money may bring."

"True simplicity is eliminating both material and intangible excess, and conserving time, energy, money and thoughts. It is using the resources you possess in a way that will take you toward your dreams, your goals--your desired future."

These words cause me to reflect on our current situation. The house we live in is owned by the college where my husband works, so searching for a new home is a first for us--and a big goal looming in the near future. Though we are blessed to have no other debt as we begin the home buying process, the magnitude of such a purchase can be quite daunting. When Eric and I sat down recently to re-consider our budget in light of a mortgage payment, we decided to scale back in several areas and to implement those changes now. It has been empowering to see that not only have we been able to live within the new budget, we've come in under those new numbers so far. (On a sidenote to keep you posted, we did put in an offer on the house I mentioned to you a few weeks ago, and it was rejected without even a counter. At this point, we are not sure how we will proceed.)

Another quote from the book made me think of our recent discussion of hospitality: "The house needn't be perfectly decorated or remodeled, the china need not match, and the foods do not have to be grand or expensive. All that is necessary to pleasantly enjoy the company of family and friends is to care. This affection will be made visible in thoughtfully prepared foods, presented in a warm and inviting setting."

Though I did not love the book, I certainly appreciate the subject and highlighted several thoughts and ideas for future reference. If you have read Frugal Luxuries, I would be interested to hear your opinion about it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book ~ great quotes shared! Good for you for living within your revised budget! Love you, Mom

The Stepford Wife said...

I see another person who's like me and trying to work on a budget. It's really hard!! We're trying to switch to cash-only, and after years of buying on plastic (debit card), it's difficult to get used to carrying money again.

I liked your quote at the end from the book about home decorating. That's something I'm struggling with now. I'm not happy with how the house looks, but it's not worth going into debt to change. So now, the goal isn't to change it all, but to repurpose it all. A hard task, when you don't even really like what you're repurposing. LOL!!

Amy said...

I really enjoy your book reviews, Carrie! You always give me some food for thought. I thought of Meredith too when you quoted the book. She is such an excellent example of a someone who can entertain on a shoestring, yet do it quite elegantly!

Liisa said...

Thanks you for sharing your thoughts on this book. I too love Like Merchant Ships and learn so much from Meredith!


Jen said...

I love Meredith's ideas, also!! She inspires me to make things pretty even when I just make soup for supper:~)

Just Jenny said...

Like you our family is working to keep on a bodget. I love visiting Meredeths blog for furgal ideas. I have not read the book. Enjoyed your review of the book. Think I will pass on this book and not read it.

Ewokgirl said...

I've read several reviews of this book similar to yours. Because of this, I've never ordered the book, even though my library doesn't carry it.

I'm glad the new budget is working out for you! Sorry about your house offer being rejected. I'm wondering if the owners can't afford to sell it for less than their asking price. I have a feeling a lot of home sales aren't going to happen because the owners are asking unrealistic prices due to their excessive debt load.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I enjoyed the book very much but it is dated. I gave my copy to my daughter for her "homemaking library" but I purchased another for $1.00 at a library sale last year.

I have read it over again every couple of years and I'm always surprised to find something new in it.

Meredith said...

I'm sorry you were disappointed in the book.

I always hesitate to recommend a title in case people spend their hard earned money and then dislike it. Thank goodness for libraries!

I included Frugal Luxuries because at the time I read it, it was a relatively new concept in the frugal world. You had the extreme Tightwad Gazette on one hand, and then the tip-based books like Cheapskate Monthly on the other hand. McBride's book, and its sequal, Frugal Luxuries For the Seasons, really helped shape my newlywed view of homelife and money.

We are lucky today that there are so many wonderful free resources online that give us fresh information in the spirit of Frugal Luxuries.

Niki RuralWritings said...

I liked this book and found it inspiring. I love Meredith's blog also. Good job on the budgeting!
Have a wonderful weekend.

Jamie said...

I completely agree with your book review..I read this sometime this past year and felt much the same as you!