My Frugal Life: The Best Things in Life Are Free - or Nearly

When I look at some of the great pleasures of my life, I find that most of them are free - or very nearly so.

Go For Walks: The frugal life is an aid to health and happiness if you try and walk as much as you are able. Every day, I try to walk for an hour. Living as I do in rural England, I am lucky that everywhere I go there are hills, fields, and woods in all directions. The same route is never monotonous because every day brings different weather, light and atmosphere. If I need to take the bus I walk across the fields to a further bus-stop and by the time I get there, I've already sorted the day out in my mind.

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I used to live in London and I walked everywhere there too. Charles Dickens used to walk every afternoon around the darkest and most dangerous regions of the city for inspiration. In my experience, the very act of walking lifts the spirits, calms and organizes the mind and warms the heart.

Read A Poem Every Day: I would heartily recommend the website Panhala which will email you a poem every morning. Their choices are brilliant. Sign up entirely for free and enjoy a poetic pick-me-up to set up the day.

Keep Plants: Wherever you live, you can have something growing in your home. A row of herbs on the windowsill is one of the great pleasures of the kitchen, or try a tiny cyclamen in a pot or a tub of geraniums by your front door - it will be a pleasure year after year. You can use anything for pots - even a row of shiny tin cans look lovely with tiny pansies or herbs in if you wash the labels off and pierce some holes in the bottom.

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Get Rid Of Things You Don't Need: Keep your eyes out for things in your home that you don't need and give them to someone else. I take things to thrift shops and my sister and I often exchange clothes that we don't wear often (and then usually want to take them back again because they look so good on someone else!). I also use the website Freecycle to offer unwanted or unneeded things to other people in the area. There is a great and simple pleasure to be had in unburdening one's home of unwanted things and finding out there someone who really wants and needs them.

Be Prepared For Company: Keep a few things in the kitchen ready for unexpected visitors. Spontaneous hospitality need not be expensive and is a joy. I always have a packet of biscuits on hand for anyone who drops in for coffee.

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Enjoy An Evening In: Rent a DVD from the library and make an evening in seem like an evening out. We make a special meal to eat on our knees, arrange the chairs round the screen and make it a real treat.

Stay Inspired: Keep a cork-board in the kitchen on which the family can pin inspiring or thought-provoking pictures. We have one that is covered by postcards and pictures cut from magazines or newspapers. Every now and again, we clear it and start again. It concentrates the mind and is a way of keeping hold of a thought or an idea.

Learn To Do Your Own Household Maintenance: My ignorance of even the most basic skills (changing a plug?) is an embarrassment. Others on Thrifty Fun would be amazed and appalled. But I have begun to learn and I recently changed the washer on my tap - one of the great achievements of my lifetime! The Internet is a great help here - with information and videos. I learned to bone a chicken from a video on YouTube! This way you take back control of your life in small but significant things.

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Make Things Last: Look after things, keep them polished and cared for and oiled and they will repay you with long service. Beat your rugs, hang up your clothes at night, keep your kettle free of limescale, your furniture nourished with beeswax and your shoes well polished. The pleasure of taking care of things is a surprisingly rich one.

By Lucy from Oxford, UK

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November 30, 20110 found this helpful

Another excellent post from Lucy! Thank you.

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December 5, 20110 found this helpful

I so enjoyed your post, Lucy, although it made me a little homesick for the English countryside - there is nothing quite like it. Enjoy!

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June 4, 20130 found this helpful

Well said! One thing is true...caring for our "things". We are such a Disposable Society, people forget how to do simple tasks to lengthen the life of articles such as polishing ones shoes, even to wipe off the leaves of plants to remove the dust...a great way to get back in touch with the simple joy of Touch.

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Enjoyed your notes. Cheers from Oshawa, Ontario Canada

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January 10, 20160 found this helpful

Thank you, Lucy, I loved your thoughts and advice. Definitely right about YouTube how to do it!

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