In researching the first TFF e-book, Dress for Less, I came across one of the best little books I’ve ever read: Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris, by Jennifer L. Scott. Why did I love this book so much? The book reminded me of how to take frugal living to a higher and more elegant level. This book is full of gems about living frugally in the most lovely way possible. (Warning: this book is not for those who prefer to watch TLC shows such as Extreme Cheapskates!)
Admittedly, I am a Francophil. I spent time there, loved it, and wanted to move to Paris (or anywhere in France) when I was single. It truly is one of my favorite spots on earth. Scott lived with a French family for six months while she was there as a foreign exchange student. The family she lived with, and the others she met along the way, opened her eyes to how very different Americans live. That is: Americans don’t live the highest quality life because we are always buying, buying, buying (and eating) cheap things and don’t truly take the time to truly appreciate what we already have.
So why do the French seem to have such a high quality lifestyle? They buy/eat quality items/food and absolutely appreciate what they have…oh, and they take care of their things. Simple as that!
This is really what living a frugal life is all about: appreciating the quality of things you already have, and when you do need to buy something, taking care to buy one better quality item rather than five cheap things that will fall apart on you or make your health fall apart after eating.
The problem is that people confuse frugal with cheap. It’s the age-old argument that frugal people hear (ie: “Why are you so cheap?” The correct question to ask a frugal person is this: “Why are you so careful with how you spend your money?”)
I encourage you to read Lessons from Madame Chic. There are some gems in there that any frugal person will appreciate. Here are a few reminders and ideas (in my own words) that I remember from the book:
- don’t eat standing up–enjoy your meal for heaven’s sake!
- use your good quality dishes and serving items, don’t let them gather dust while waiting to use them once a year
- buy a few high quality basics for your wardrobe and rotate, rotate, rotate (more of that in Dress for Less)
- write a list before going to the store, bring only coupons you absolutely need, and stick to the darn list (you will save money this way–I’ve written on this blog about what happens when you bring all your coupons to the store–quell disaster …forgive my French…)
- you do NOT need to go out and buy something blingy for the house just because company is coming over for dinner–just dust off what you already own and use it. Whatever it is you purchase will be cheap because you are rushed to buy and anxious to impress, anyhow, so why not use the quality items you already own in your home?
- don’t put a tv in the living room — use the living room for conversation and reading (we don’t have a tv in the living room anymore–I couldn’t stand walking into the house and hearing a blaring tv first thing)
- get rid of clutter in the living room even if you have little kids (ie: use storage ottomans, use play rooms)
There are so many other gems in this book. I also encourage you to visit the author’s website: The Daily Connoisseur where she has posted videos (of her capsule wardrobe…) and other tutorials about how to live frugally–like a Parisian!
- Dress for Less: Two Frugal Fairfielders’ First eBook – Coming Shortly! (twofrugalfairfielders.com)