An Experiment in Luxury

It is amazing how quickly things can work out when you create an intention. Shortly after challenging myself to reverse the Diderot Effect in my personal life a friend came over to visit. Her granddaughter was moving in with her; did I happen to have any old children’s movies that I would consider selling on the cheap?

I pulled out my binders to examine my DVD collection. My Katie had been quite fond of Barbie movies and the like; I had built up quite the collection over her childhood. She selected several of them along with an assortment of other movies that she thought she would enjoy personally and we sat down to negotiate.

She left with a tidy stack of movies fifty dollars later.

I was fifty dollars richer; what should I do with the money? I thought about investing it but then remembered my challenge. I’d just written about how I would like to find some way to treat myself that wouldn’t hurt my budget; in a stroke of sheer luck, I now had fifty dollars that hadn’t been accounted for.

What could I buy for fifty dollars that I would never allow myself to normally purchase? Was there something that I wanted that wasn’t functionally necessary but that I dreamed of owning just the same?

I drew a blank. I’d become so conditioned to living cheap that I could not think of a single thing so I took the question to my daughter.

“What about that guestbook you’ve been admiring at Biancke’s for years?” she suggested. “Every time we go in there you flip through the pages and drool over it; I can’t count how many times I’ve heard you say that it would make the perfect journal.”

An image of the book immediately popped in my head. A large, well-bound book, it features numbered, lined pages that I had admired for decades. The restaurant had encouraged guests to sign in on every visit since I was a teenager and they had used the exact same style for as long as I could remember.

I had even asked where they bought their replacements once. I’d priced it and immediately choked at the cost.

It was far too much to spend on the luxury of journaling.

But now? Now I wanted something completely decadent. I wanted to allow myself a luxury so outrageous that it bordered on ridiculous.

And I wanted to do it on a fifty dollar budget.

Convinced that I’d never be able to afford it, I allowed the kid to persuade me to walk down to the restaurant for a closer examination. I was certain that it was out of my league but what would it hurt to look? If anything, I would find that book above my station and treat myself to a Moleskine.

I’ve never allowed myself to indulge in a Moleskine.

We braved the curious looks from the workers as we examined the heavy tome. Armed with the brand and model, we headed home to price one.

Ouch! Just as I anticipated, the book was almost $100.

“Maybe I should buy a cheap washer instead,” I suggested as I went to close out the tab.

“You’re always doing that!” Katie snapped. “You’ve wanted that thing for years–don’t tell me you haven’t! Buy something nice for yourself for a change! You’ve bitched about how thin the paper was in composition notebooks for ages. You’ve bitched about how you dislike journaling on the computer and now you’ve got fifty bucks that you can use to fix the problem. Let’s see what we can find!”

She shoved me out of the chair and hijacked the computer. Flipping over to the purchasing options, she discovered that Amazon had some for sale minus their original packaging.

The price was $53 after tax.

I allowed myself to buy that book. I can’t believe I did it, to be honest. I allowed myself to purchase something completely decadent and amazingly expensive, simply because I wanted it.

But oh my, it is absolutely beautiful.

It is beautiful. It is decadent. It is a completely selfish luxury. It is 512 pages of journaling bliss and I can’t believe the fact that it is actually mine.

It is the first real extravagance I’ve allowed myself for longer than I can remember.

I’ll have to conserve the pages. It cost too much to treat it lightly but in exchange, every time I use it I will be reminded of the fact that it’s okay to have nice things if you can afford them. It’s okay to treat myself on occasion.

It’s okay to want to improve my life.

Have you ever treated yourself to a completely ridiculous luxury? Please share your stories in the comments below. I need to christen this journal before I lose my nerve and send it back.

14 thoughts on “An Experiment in Luxury”

  1. Your daughter was right. And think of it this way – You’ve never seen a UHaul following a hearse. You can’t take it with you, you might as well enjoy some luxury now….with in reason.

    The way I see it you have hit your life’s goal. Raising your children to be self sufficient adults while staying home with them for the most part. You should be proud. Now that your last chick is leaving the nest it is time to focus on your next adventure and after years of sacrifice you can indulge yourself a little on occasion.

    Congratulations and Enjoy it.

    1. *** I also would not be to worried about retirement / old age / and the future if I were you. You have a skill (writing) that you already know will make you enough to live on that you can continue to do well into old age. And you have an equally valuable resource that you know how to live on nearly nothing if the situation requires it. And that is a big IF.

      You inspire us all.

      1. Aww, thank you, Kelly! Once I get my head on straight I intend to re-examine everything, but you are absolutely correct–I’m doing better than I thought I was. Sometimes we need to just stop and breathe a bit in order to realize just how fortunate we are.

      2. Hi Kelly….just a quick after thought….
        Old age and retirement can creep up on folks before they realize that they can no longer hold full time employment anymore. The extreme sacrifices that younger “cheapskates” can make do not go down so smoothly for the elderly. Does anyone really want to see a senior citizen not being able to afford proper meds or good fresh food? Have you ever seen an older person struggle to pay their bills?

        Preparing for retirement is the logical and reasonable thing to do for all. I have never heard a senior citizen say “Oh shucks…i wish I had saved less for this time of life. ” It is not considered worrying either….it is simple preparation. The peace that comes from knowing you are well prepared makes for peaceful sleep. kind regards,C.

        1. Very true, Carla. That’s why I’ve not completely stopped planning for the future–I’ve just got to get my bearings and figure out the best way to move forward. I know I can’t do it all at once. I want to make lasting changes and avoid burnout. There is no point in saving money for the sake of saving money, to the point where one works themselves into an early grave.

          I intend to be alive and writing for a long time to come, and after these past two decades, I want to work out a balance so that I can enjoy my Now a bit while I prepare for the future. I’ve got to get my head on straight for that, however.

    2. Thank you, Kelly. While I’ll have to live on a tighter budget as I adapt to things, the occasional treat will hurt nothing I’ve realized. In fact, it may benefit as it encourages me to move forward.

  2. Congrats Annie…how wonderful it is to step up and treat yourself well.
    I was thinking the other day about that “minimalistic rat race” and how it can feel “superior”

    But one of the things that kinda sucks about the whole “less is more” philosophy….that when one lives it to the extreme…..the less turns quite literally into nothing. Something less than less is……nothing.

    God is something. What an incredible earth and universe we have access to….not even mentioning all the cool kooky brilliant humans we share this universe with. I look forward to the new glimpses of joy that shine through when Annie starts saying yes to more of the beauty and grace all around her..

    Another thing…is this….we respect your privacy.Transitions can be messy… As much as we love to live vicariously through your hijinks….we know that you will share with us only what is “already baked” , done and ready for presentation.

    Peace sister,

    1. Thank you, Carla. I really appreciate your support during this awkward phase of my life.

      And you are right. You are exactly right. If you race to the bottom with money, possessions–you really aren’t left with much, if anything except some pointless pride at owning or spending the least. That said, I’ve got an odd sense of pride that I managed to live on as little as I did for so long. It showed me what I was capable of in that direction and has made me curious about how far I’d be able to travel in the opposite direction. I suspect that, once I adapt to the changes, that I’ll be able to arrange a rather comfortable life in the end.

      As it is, things are hitting me all at once here. The hard part is digesting all of it and working out which pieces are relevant to share. The only word I can think of to describe life around this house currently is “chaotic.” Falling back on my old LoA reading, it reminds me of the words of one author about how, when you finally give yourself permission to want something, that the Universe just throws things into chaos for a bit because of the power of finally allowing the intention. Once I figure out the proper way to describe what is happening, I’ll definitely have to post about that. I haven’t thought much about the LoA in recent years but this is striking enough to take note.

  3. Hi Annie – I’ve followed you for years. I’m so proud of you for making this indulgence. My mother passed recently. She was tidy, frugal, minimal, & reserved. She barely made it through her first year of retirement. Much of my grief since her passing has centered around sadness over never witnessing her live–and, I mean like in a laughing-out-loud-dance-across-the-kitchen-to-that-one-favorite-song kind of living. She left me a tidy inheritance, but I would gladly trade every single penny of it not just to see her again, but to see her in that way. I’m frugal too, but experiencing this tragedy has made me realize that it’s not just our bank balances that count – it’s our life balances, too. If you were to count not just pennies earned, but smiles earned at the end of the day, would you find that you came out ahead? What about the times you laughed? Or, simply took delight? I know I’ve been spending a lot of time asking myself these hard questions. I hope current and future Annie takes these questions into consideration as well. Not only do I hope you use this journal, I hope you delight in using every square millimeter of it. And, I hope that filling it fills you. There’s an Annie about to blossom. I can’t wait to see that Annie’s story!

    1. Dear Bubbles,

      I am so sorry to hear about your mother’s passing. The pain of losing a parent is horribly intense. I have no words to ease the grief that you are suffering. I refuse to disrespect you by offering meaningless platitudes for the sake of politeness. I know from experience that they won’t help you one bit.

      Remember your mother. Cherish your memory of her. Hold her close in your heart and find some way to honor her, to keep her active in your life. AS long as we remember, they are never truly gone. In this age, we are all forgotten far too soon.

      Love, laughter, passion–all of those things are the hallmark of a life well-lived. Money is important in that we do require it in order to live a comfortable life but you are correct–it should not be the reason for our existence.

      I count myself very fortunate to have discovered that I was heading down that path, that path of making money the most important thing in my life before it changed me permanently. I am thankful that I still have the ability to laugh, not just at myself but at the beauty and humor I see in the world around me. Most importantly, I am so very thankful that I am still able to change and grow as I move forward.

      In time the sharpness will fade. The pain will ease and you’ll be able to breathe again. It won’t make your loss any easier to bear right now, but I take comfort in this for your sake.

      Please, find some way to honor your mother’s memory. Do something for you. Look at her life, learn from the differences, and use them to make yourself stronger. Love yourself, and know that I love you as well. I will be praying for you.

      If you ever need to share, please feel free to email me at annie(at) I may not be able to take away the pain but I can be there to help you work through it.

      Sending love and prayers, Annie.

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