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The Joyful Frugalista by Serina Bird


Serina Bird has made an art form out of being careful with money. She calls this frugality. Others may call it tight, cheap, or parsimonious. For many, the topic of budgeting will induce zzzzzzzzzzzzs. I am not one of these people.


Like Bird, I have made a happy lifetime (if occasionally seat of the pants) from what I refer to as ‘something from nothing’. Like Bird I have been a single mother - times four for me, as opposed to times two for Bird. Reflecting on this solitary life caring for four hungry teens on a single income might induce some hairy moments you may not want to consider. Before you stop reading, let me encourage you to consider living on a shoe-string as a classical art form by giving frugality a sexy European twist.


The Italians call this ability to live on little ‘l’ arte de arrangiarsi’ – which means the ability to turn a few foods in to a feast, and a few friends into a party. All those years I was trying to create something from nothing I had no idea I was living la dolce vita.


Unlike Bird I was fairly satisfied with my life. Growing up in the hippie era I was not overly attached to money or prosperity. I considered enough to be enough. And when things became a bit sticky, I was lucky enough to have great friends and a happy disposition. I knew that half the world would like to have my first world problems and middle class concerns.


But now I face retirement on a shoe-string and life at the whim of a landlady I wish that I had encountered Bird a little earlier on. She speaks to people just like me, and possibly you, who have been married once or twice, who have been single parents, or who are too old to have benefited a great deal from Kiwi Saver. It’s also an ideal guide for those who are mortgaged to the hilt – and who is not these days?


Bird does not go without. Yes, she offers tips on how to make do and she also offers ways to avoid shelling out for fripperies and paying less for essentials. For the record, she considers dining out, online dating, buying property, enjoying a bountiful old age and celebrations of life – like weddings - as part of our every lives in this contemporary world.


This is a wonderful book which will bring joy to your budget in ways you could not previously have imagined.


Reviewer: Peta Stavelli

Murdoch Book $32.99

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