I got a comment recently from a reader who said she felt I
was “out of touch with the common

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 people.” That seemed so strange to me, since
I am one of the common people. True, now
that William and I are in our 50s and our children are grown, we are doing well
financially. That “doing well,” however, means that William puts in long hours
six days a week; and I’m constantly looking for ways to stay afloat as
journalism languishes and making a living as a writer and speaker becomes
increasingly challenging. Even so, I know how lucky we are; but I can only
fantasize what it would be like to be as privileged as I may sometimes appear. 

Here’s part of what I think is going on: Back in the 80s
when I was a single mom and really poor, I learned from wonderful mentors and
teachers how to live well on not much (you can read about this “living richly”
in my “Victoria’s Victorious Bailout Plan” post from February 2, 2009). These
people taught me how to put forth an aura of abundance. I still use those
principles, and evidently I have more of an “aura of abundance” than I thought.

The other aspect is this: I blog about what I do, not what I
don’t do. You guys know that I buy heirloom tomatoes at the farmers’ market and
organic arugula at my favorite local health food store, but there’s a lot that
I don’t buy—meat, cheese, coffee, packaged foods, convenience foods. Leaving
those off the grocery list saves a lot of money that I get to use in the
produce department. 


Like many New Yorkers, William and I get around without an
automobile; we’re blessed with excellent public transportation and a love of
walking. Other than for my bio-identical hormones, we’re not spending anything
on prescription (or non-prescription) drugs. (We do pay for health insurance,
however, since we lost ours when William was laid off in 2004.) We live (and
have our two offices, now that we’re both self-employed) in a two-bedroom
apartment in one of Manhattan’s least expensive neighborhoods. It’s lovely, but
not lavish. Neither one of us shops much (every time I do, it’s

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 enough of an adventure
that I tell you about it), and aside from our mortgage, we don’t owe anybody a
cent: no revolving credit, no debt, no interest.

It is true: a very nice slice of the American Dream is
happening in my life and my family’s. But we have to make choices like
everybody else. So tell me: what do you do to feel prosperous the way things
are right now, and what do you do to make frugality as classy as it can be?


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