Living cheap and feeling cheap

Last weekend I was in Helsinki, at the beginning of a rather tiring work trip – during the last two days I gave two high pressure, high level talks in two different countries. The first one was to be in Helsinki and since I have a very good friend (and colleague) there I decided to spend the weekend.

We had a lovely Sunday: we went to see Helene Schjerfebeck’s paintings (stunning), had lunch in a wonderful restaurant and went to the cinema. All things that I may do on a Sunday despite the fact that I have not done them for a long time!

What was rather exceptional was that I bought myself a scarf – a hand painted silk and linen, purple and lovely scarf that set me back by £36 ($58). I know, I know that this is not too much by some people’s standards. But I have never spent that much on something as trivial as a scarf – even if it is really a piece of art and a great example of Finish style and design.

This made me think.

For couple of years now I have been living cheap! There are no posh restaurants whenever we think about it although we still go out; in fact not forgetting to have fun and do the things that bring us joy is all that out ‘I’m so worth it’ account is about. I have stopped wanting things – I started craving experience and happenings. We don’t have extravagant holidays – we started using our apartment(s) in Bulgaria much more. I have never lusted after labels but I have not bought stylish clothes for well over two years.

Do I feel deprived? Not really. Thinking about it, I realised that whilst I have been living cheap I have never felt cheap; I always kept some luxury in my life.

Here are my three luxuries.

My perfume

I love Bulgari; and it has nothing to do with the obvious link between the name and my country of origin. But the gentle, sweet (or citrus) smell makes me feel good. Not cheap but really worth it.

My haircut

Even when most worried about money I didn’t consider changing my hairdresser. He is not cheap but we have a long standing relationship – and the relationship with one’s hairdresser, I believe, is very intimate. More importantly, because we know each other so well I don’t have to go into long explanations about what I want – I just say ‘I want to look stunning when I leave your saloon’; and I always do!

My personal trainer

I have worked with a trainer for six-seven years now – the same one. Just like with my hairdresser we have a relationship and there is no need for many words – on either side. When I told him that by the end of October ‘I want run like a cheetah and look like Venus’ he just nodded and send me a programme. It is working!

What are the things that make allow you to live cheap without feeling cheap?

16 thoughts on “Living cheap and feeling cheap”

  1. I never feel deprived!  I buy whatever I want as long as I can see value in the purchase.  We travel to Europe every other year and enjoy two+ weeks either on a c ruise or in country.

  2. Knowing that I can pay my bills and overpay my mortgage ever month makes me feel superabundant – and during the “lean times” I created a stash or gorgeous luxury fabrics bought at knock down prices to make a fabulous capsule wardrobe.

    My perfume too lifts me up as I wear it – and books bring richness to my life ………………. but the thing I have most of now is time with the family (as I work from home) and that is priceless.

  3. I work from a home office also, which allows me to avoid many workplace and commuting expenses. Like you, I enjoy going out, but I’d rather have the local “good food” option than the high-priced meal. We also support community theater, which is uber-inexpensive and incredibly fun. Third, we have board game nights at home with friends. A $60 board game provides many, many nights of great times with close friends.

  4. I love your analysis and agree completely.  We are the only ones who can define value for us. Others’ opinions don’t count.  Those who are bothered by those same opinions of others need to work on their self-confidence.
    Hmmm Venus and cheetahs…..Maybe we need video.

  5. It’s important to balance this fine line between saving and treating yourself. I spend most of the year saving and investing like a maniac. But my girlfriend and I always make sure we take at least one nice trip away each year and we don’t skimp on gifts. We are the same when it comes to preferring experiences over possessions. I flew a plane last week! 🙂 I’m glad you’ve made it work for you and you’ve felt like you haevn’t had to make too many sacrifices. I’m 2 weeks away from my last day at work so I guess I’m about to learn what living cheap really means!

    • @Ash: Do me a favour and when you meet John next week don’t mention flying a plane much – this is something that he wants to do with passion (and will one day soon). As to leaving work and living cheap – who knows…I have the feeling that you will do just fine.

  6. Even I’m wearing or using cheap things, I don’t feel cheap at all. Some cheap things are really great and of good quality. However, I’m also keeping or owning some expensive things like our 42″ LED TV. Right now, I don’t care if it is cheap as long as it will provide comfort and convenience to me.


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