Frugal Boot Camp: Frugal Luxuries by Tracey McBride
I first purchased this book when it was published in 1997. I cannot imagine not having space on my bookshelf for this lovely book.
And there's good reason why I chose to end my boot camp with this book.
Tracey McBride elevates frugality. It's not about being cheap or miserly. It is about living well, savoring the good things, learning to make the very best out of the lesser things and moving gently through life to a rhythm that is different from that of the world at large. It is because of Tracey that I began to keep a gratitude journal after I left my last job and money was so very, very tight. Every night I wrote out five things I was grateful for and I found that often enough, the things that had meant the most during the day had little to do with cash flow and a great deal more to do with appreciation. It amuses me no end that at times I wrote out the menu for the day. Amazingly the ones most appreciated and which tasted the best were also the most economical ones, but they were seasonal and delicious.
While I understood the rudiments of a frugal life (which Tracey beautifully explains with quotes from well loved authors and clearly written explanations), I had not gained the 'better life' ideals. I learned these from Tracey. Not only how to better manage our income but how to graciously ask for help (calling debtors and creditors if we were unable to make a payment), how to enhance what we had (using herbs and wine or fruit juice and vinegar to create the subtle quality of wine in a dish), and how to expand a wardrobe (purchase only items that will go with at least five other pieces in your current wardrobe) among many other tips and helps. The final chapters under Shelter are probably the most lovely chapters of the book. It is through these chapters I learned to scout thrift and yard sales to look for beautiful pieces to bless our home and enhance our lives.
Beauty in frugality is a rare thing. It's a delicate balance of not only stretching the dollar but making sure that the stretching of it is both gracious and life enhancing. I know this from experience now, but I learned of it first from Tracey.
I get hard focused sometimes on 'making do' but ultimately I want to live well, in a genteel way, if you will. While I might well be focusing on 26 ways to stretch my grocery dollar, I want above all for the people who sit down to my table to never guess that the meal was merely a means to stretch a dollar. I want them to gain a wonderful memory of a meal eaten with good people, in a home filled with peace and joy and lovely things.
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