I've been waiting for a post where I could use this Mad Men icon (avatar?) That's me, Mad Men style. I haven't really worn blue eye shadow since the 7th grade, but it seemed appropriate to the occasion. You can "MadMen yourself" by clicking here. Thanks to Katy at The Non Consumer Advocate for that delightful diversion.
I'm "livin' the high life" at the moment because I'm enjoying a two day getaway at my parents' condominium in north county San Diego. They're at their vacation cabin in Idaho, so they offered it to my husband and I. Unfortunately, he's out of town on a family visit, so I decided to come on my own. I'm across the street from the beach and the condo complex has a pool that no one ever uses, perfect for a dose of R & R.
So right now, for a short time, I'm literally "livin' the high life," but I've been thinking lately about how much my so-called frugal life feels more like the high life to me. Far from being about deprivation, our simple lifestyle is full of abundance.
For one thing, it helps to have super-generous friends when you commit to Buy Nothing New for a year. Our best friends are always giving us their hand-me-downs: a couch, serving dishes, cloth napkins, clothes, you name it. We're "the country cousins" and I don't mind! We will happily take what they no longer need off their hands. They've got great taste. They also invite us to enjoy their delicious homecooked meals so frequently that today I joked that I should be bringing my own soup bowl. I highly recommend acquiring friends like ours if you attempt The Compact or a frugal lifestyle. Luckily, we've known them for years, so there's no danger that they'll think we're using them for their castoffs.
I'm only partly joking, because a lot of what makes me feel so "rich" is the people I'm around. I feel rich in friendships and experiences, plus there's the "stuff" we share with each other. Last week I had lunch with a fellow Compacter and she brought me a jar of homemade apricot chutney and another of peach marmalade, and I gave her half a watermelon from our CSA box. Does that sound like a deprived lifestyle to you?
A lot of this depends on the fact that my husband and I are in our 40s, and though we've never been big spenders, we have reached a stage where we've acquired plenty of "things" (and that was without a fancy wedding and registering, etc.). I heard somewhere that "the first 40 years of life are about acquiring things, and the next 40 are about getting rid of them." So I'm just going along with the natural flow if that's the case.
My friends and I also share tips and information about the millions of things to do here in Los Angeles, many of them low-cost or even free. Here are just a few examples of "livin' the high life," Compact-style:
1. A steady diet of delicious organic fruits and vegetables.
2. Membership at two of my favorite area museums, which means free admission year-round for my husband and I. This was thanks to gifts from the above-mentioned super-generous friends and my parents, when I mentioned recently that we didn't really need any more STUFF. The membership also includes invitations to special events like concerts and openings.
3. A wardrobe supplemented by my stylish friends at our yearly clothing swap.
4. An evening at The Magic Castle, a members-only club for magicians, as guests of friends who are members. Swanky.
5. As a member of our brilliant public radio station KCRW, I am constantly getting bargains like half price tickets at one of our favorite outdoor theaters. I have also won free concert tickets several times from this station.
6. I paid full price to see Jackson Browne at the Greek Theater (pitter patter, there goes my heart again), because I can afford to splurge on things that really mean something to me when I save so much money being a non-consumer.
7. I look just like my Mad Max icon when I'm enjoying a martini with my husband at our new-to-us Craigslist stainless steel table in our partially remodeled kitchen. And if that isn't the high life, I don't know what is.
What are YOUR examples of "livin' the high life?" Got any tips for how to enjoy a nice lifestyle on less money? Please leave your thoughts in the Comments section.