Several years ago, there was nothing better than going out to eat in the evening with my wife. We didn’t have any children, so we’d often go out to a nice restaurant, order a few drinks, have a wonderful meal, and pretend not to think about the outrageous balance of the check.
Doing anything else at mealtime – particularly in the evening – seemed boring. Why would I want to mess up the kitchen to make a pretty poor imitation of a meal? Not only that, why would I want to spend that time cooking when I could be talking about the day’s events with Sarah?
Right now, the story is completely different. When meal time comes around, there’s nothing better than turning on some music in the kitchen, dancing around and laughing with Sarah while we put a meal together, setting the table, calling the children in from the back yard, and enjoying something that we made together.
Sure, sometimes it’s a disaster. I’ve burnt more things than I can count. I’ve ruined a few pounds of tomatoes before. Sarah and I have put together some truly inedible meals here and there.
Other times, it’s amazing. We made some grilled stuffed peppers on the fly the other night and they turned out mouth-wateringly well.
Most of the time, though, it’s just nice. There’s something that can’t be replicated about having the people you love around the table in your home, eating a meal you worked together to prepare. There’s no restaurant that can really capture the fun of singing along to a song in the kitchen with Sarah as we figure out an evening meal.
Quite often, the frugal choice is the better choice, even without considering the money.
I’d far rather read a used book my wife has already read, simply because we can then talk about it as I’m reading it and after I’ve finished it. We do this all the time – it’s almost like our own private book club.
I’d usually rather play an old favorite game so I can either explore deep strategies or play it in a social way without deep thought. I try new games on occasion, but there are a handful that just get played again and again, and that keeps me from buying new ones.
I’d rather have a potluck with friends at home than go out on the town with them. There are plenty of things to do together at one of our houses, but we usually just end up in conversation while playing a board game or two.
I’d rather pull fresh vegetables out of the garden than buying them at the store. The garden provides many hours of family enjoyment throughout the summer, even before harvest. Everyone gets involved with planning, planting, watering, and eventually picking. Plus, vegetables on the table that were in the garden half an hour earlier just taste tremendous.
I didn’t naturally find these things. I discovered all of them through trial and error. I simply try new ways of doing things all the time. Often, I try them because they’ll involve spending less money, but the ones that stick around are the ones that offer more benefit than just saving a few dollars.
Frugality, along with a willingness to try new things, can point each of us toward a better life that matches our own values and interests. You simply have to be willing to let go and try new things with an open mind.