Intelligence is best described as the ability to learn. While it can be measured to some extent there are no tests which can measure intelligence fully. Common sense, for instance, is a form of intelligence and can be far more valuable than 'book learning'. Common sense allows one to draw on knowledge that is not necessarily learned but instinctive. Experience is a great way to increase knowledge and intelligence. Experience allows you to expand knowledge by practically applying what has been learned through book learning and intuitive experiences. Inspiration is the inevitable conclusion of intelligence + application of knowledge + experience.
I was about to toss a zippered blanket bag in the trash the other day when I recalled that Katie, in her new sewing days, repurposed all my comforter bags. She'd fuse fabric to the clear plastic to make a waterproof tote bag. Quite honestly, it was a bit of frugal genius on her part and a very clever repurposing of items on hand.
As I stood there with the bag in my hand, I was wondering where on earth she got the idea...but then where do any of our ideas come from? We do certain things and then one day there is the next step before us, the thing that moves us to a higher level of experience. We didn't begin with these ideas, we grew into them!
Katie had already been taught that what others saw as trash could become something pretty and useful or fun. She'd spent many an hour transforming bath tissue tubes and empty bottles and boxes. So when she began to sew, she started with an old piece of fabric to learn to make straight stitches...and then she cut up her bed sheet to make a tote bag! I was a bit put out about that. Soon she began to sell tote bags to her classmates and she moved on to making the plastic coated totes. Her knowledge began, really, back in the days of making a castle from cardboard tubes and boxes and ended up being a small enterprise that utilized what she had ready at hand. Not that different from what she began with in creating her Etsy shop inventory. She studied calligraphy all summer long, had a pile of old pallets that she then purposed into being handmade signs. Now considering how often we recycled things to craft with it's not at all surprising she'd go that next step and the next.
That bit of thinking led me to think back to the beginnings of my frugal learning days. I began, as most of us do, by learning from Mama and Granny and Grandmama. They all had their own set of frugal skills and often they taught me by example more than by word. I took their knowledge and expanded it as a suddenly unemployed newlywed. I learned through necessity, which is a mighty good teacher. Each thing I learned led to the next thing.
I've now been at this matter of living frugal for some 40 years. I often frustrate myself by reading blog posts and hints and ideas from the very newly frugal, looking for that next idea that will generate savings and give us just a little more leeway in our budget. The problem isn't that the newly frugal don't have sound ways to save. They do. I know because I've used nearly all of those hints and I know they are good ideas. No, the problem is that they are starting out and I've moved further along. I don't see a whole lot of writings from someone with my experience. I think I've subscribed to every one of the few who are just about even and a little beyond my level, but we all do pretty much the same things.
I realized this past week as I was digging away through post after post after post that I'm now at the point where it's not a matter of finding the next tip, it's finding the next thing I can add to my skill set in order to save. Now is the time to begin to learn to crochet, to brush up on my old embroidery skills, to return to canning and preserving and to learn herbal remedies and practice these skills in earnest if I want to keep moving ahead. OR I can accept that I am at the peak of my frugal intelligence. My that sounds lofty doesn't it? But I am sure that those of you who have been practicing frugality for years understand it's not meant to sound lofty. It's just fact. Unless I add to my skill set, I have gone as far as I can go.
Fortunately I have a list of things I can learn or re-learn to expand my knowledge and there are plenty of blogs, videos and books from which to learn. So off I go to find the 'next thing' to improve our lives.
What is your frugal intelligence? Have you reached the stage where you're happy to continue as you are? Are you ready to learn something new to further expand your knowledge and experience? What one thing do you want to learn right now? When will you start?