Recently, I read an online poll that asked, "Do you scrimp in some areas of spending so you can afford luxuries in others?" The possible responses were everything from "Yes," to "No" with "What are luxuries?" and "I save every way I can" somewhere in the middle.

At first, I, like most respondents I'm sure, assumed luxuries meant things like massages and spa services, dinners out at nice restaurants and weekend vacations. I thought of luxuries as self-indulgent activities and material possessions. Who wouldn't enjoy those kinds of things?

Then, my mind shifted and I began to create a new list of luxuries. My list contains things that money cannot buy, but debt can destroy:

The luxury of freedom. I enjoy freedom from debt, freedom from worrying about whether I have enough money to pay the bills and buy the groceries. I remember back in my dark financial past when debt turned me into a slave. MasterCard and Visa owned my soul. Because I'd trusted them to make my life happy, I worked for them to repay my debt. The borrower becomes a slave to the lender. Never forget that. Breaking out of the debt trap has given me the luxury of freedom.

The luxury of space. I love clean, open space in my home and my office. I struggle with that. It's a constant battle not to allow stuff to fill the space. When I succeed, I feel an enormous sense of comfort that gives me room to breathe, relax and enjoy a calm and peaceful environment. It is pure luxury!

The luxury of time. I battle filling my life with too many activities, deadlines and responsibilities. Carving out free time to spend with my husband, children and grandson requires serious commitment. It takes time to develop and maintain relationships. Time is so finite. We get only 24 hours each day. Keeping some of that time for the things that mean most to me is what I call luxury.

I won't try to convince you that I do not like nice things. I love fine bed linens and leather handbags. A fabulous weekend away is not something I would turn down. But when I look at the big picture of my life, they are low on my list of luxuries. I'll take being debt-free any day over a shiny new car. I'll opt for time with the people I love over finding a way to cough up hundreds of dollars for a leather handbag.

I never did complete that poll. I needed an option that said, "None of the above." As frugal as I might be, I have learned to enjoy the most luxurious life I could ever imagine. I don't have to scrimp or feel deprived because, every day, I get to enjoy the luxuries of freedom, space and time. To me, that's living well!  

Originally posted July 12, 2010.

©Copyright 2010 Mary Hunt. Everyday Cheapskate is a Registered Trademark

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Debt-Proof Living was founded in 1992 by Mary Hunt. What began as a newsletter to encourage and empower people to break free from the bondage of consumer debt has grown into a huge community of ordinary people who have achieved remarkable success in their quest to effectively manage their money and stay out of debt. Today, "Debt-Proof Living" is read by close to 100,000 cheapskates.  Click here to subscribe. Also, you can receive Mary's free daily e-mail "Everyday Cheapskate" by signing up at EverydayCheapskate.com