There’s a spurious ideology afoot: that to practice thrift is to miser oneself out of living abundantly. Much writing (and selling) is devoted to the idea of envisioning prosperity. I agree with the basic premise, that we create our reality ( in the vein of Jane Roberts or Eckhart Tolle’s books). But in many of these “philosophies” such as The Secret, or Tony Robbin’s approach,the evidence of abundance is largely material, and (because there is nothing to sell) important components of prosperity are ignored.
Truthfully, the fast track to abundance is not acquisition– but lack of desire, and thrift is a perfect vehicle to plenty. Thrift in Franklinian terms that is, working productively, consuming wisely, saving proportionally and giving generously.*
In the past, thrift was a value. Yep, in the United States of America, thrift was once desirable, and not because half the country was on the verge of foreclosure. Thrift didn’t mean shopping the sales, buying cheaply, to buy more. It was an honored skill; the ability to live comfortably with moderate means, maintain a healthful household, and entertain oneself without staring into a screen. Activities like canning, darning, the ability to fix a leaky faucet or change your own oil, once basics skills—are now, sadly, anachronisms.
How do I practice thrift? I mend things: clothes, colanders, flyswatters. I glue broken dishes, grow food, alchemize smidgens of leftovers into culinary feats, and of course, I make art out of rusted, broken junk I find on the ground. Just a few of my preferred practices of thriftiness.
When I lived in the U.S. I had a loop tape in my head. It went like this: I want, I need– oh, I want one of those, we’re going to need, I’ve GOT to have…insert foods, clothing, and services. Sound familiar? Listen carefully. You may be surprised to find how many times a day you tell yourself there’s something you want or need. I was.
What I was more surprised by, after moving to Mexico, going broke and no longer having the ability to feed the consumption drone’s demands, was that I didn’t need any of it. Once the soundtrack quieted, I realized when I acquired what I thought was indispensable it didn’t quell my desire, but fueled a craving for more.
It took several years of intention and distance to still the shopper within. The space in my mind freed by squelching that dialogue was the room in which I began to write. With an improved memory, greater concentration and diminished anxiety; all benefits of a quiet mind, side effects of thrift, I found there was much to be said, beyond– I want, I need… I have to have…
What are your favorite thrifty practices?
© 2013 Abby Smith, Writer