Happy People Don’t Compare

Happy People Don’t Compare.

This is the title of a great column in the BITE section of the NZ Herald this morning. It was written by Life Coach, Louise Thompson . I’m a bit of a critical thinker, and I often DON’T agree with everything a columnist writes, but on this occasion I am 100% with Louise, as I think this relates very closely to the Cheapskates theme!

Being a Cheapskate, is, after all, a mind game. I’ve been finding I’m quite enjoying finding ways to be cheap, and if I find something particularly cheap, or have a particularly happy time “on the cheap”, it gives me a buzz!

Charles Dickens, in his book “David Copperfield” famously says,

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

It’s not about how much you’ve got, it’s about not spending money we haven’t got.

Having less than others, or less than you used to have, isn’t the issue, it’s having enough for what you need that matters.

Many of us on benefits, do not have enough for what we need. I’m seeing that, even if you’re as Cheapskate as you can possibly be, that you get one big bill for something unexpected,  that it totally screws up your budget. I don’t have an answer to that, except for paying things off a little at a time.  At the moment, my answer lies in selling things, but I guess there will come a point when you don’t have stuff left to sell.

However stressful that can be, I don’t think we should let it stop us being happy.

Write a list of the things that make you happiest.

First on my list, and I bet on most people’s lists, is your family/significant other/friends.

Spending time with the people we care about is absolutely the most feelgood thing.  I know the ones we love aren’t always near, but we can spend time with them on Skype. Even if you can’t afford the internet, you can always go to the library and write (and read) messages from your free web mail account. Make sure you choose things to do with your nearest and dearest that aren’t expensive. Share food, rather than eating out. Play silly games. Make music. Talk. I guarantee you’ll come away feeling richer for the experience, and with a deep sense of satisfaction.

Second on my list, is my spiritual well-being. 

Whatever your spiritual beliefs, spend time working on them. Whatever belief system you have, get more involved with it. Become a greater part of your spiritual community. Your spiritual well-being is not affected by a lack of money.  If you have a demanding group that is wanting a lot of your money, I suggest you change the group, because spiritual well-being is not finance dependent. You’ll find that your whole life is enhanced by living more in the spirit, and developing relationships with other people who share your belief system.

Third on my list, is my physical well-being.

Physical activity makes you feel good. There is no arguing this. It makes you feel good emotionally, it makes you feel good physically. It gets you out of the house and into the community. You meet other people doing the same things. You don’t have to spend money on it. Try a Green Prescription from the doctor – this gives you access to activities at a reduced price, and there may be low-priced exercise classes where you can meet others in the same boat.

Fourth on my list, is being close to nature. 

In Auckland, it is very easy to get close to nature. We are blessed with easy access to beaches and the bush. If you don’t have those nearby, there are always parks. Gardening is an activity many find a great deal of pleasure in. I’m not really one of those, but even I have a vegetable garden as that helps the food budget so much! Even if you don’t have a garden to plant things in, you can grow things in pots, or seek a community garden near you. Community gardens are great places for getting to know people who live in your area. Having your hands in the dirt is very grounding. Wear bare feet on the grass and the beach to ground you.

Fifth on my list, is eating! 

In fact, primitive beings that we are, eating is the one of the biggest priorities we have! Keeping the engine fuelled with healthy food to keep us going, is absolutely crucial. I’m finding as a Cheapskate, that this takes more time and energy to research and plan ways to keep the costs down than I really want to spend. However, being a foodie is an interest of many, which is I guess why TV programmes such as Masterchef and MKR have been so successful. Enjoy finding new dishes that are economical and tasty.

So, in Summary – don’t compare. Seek out the things that make your heart sing, and focus on those. Don’t waste time envying those who have more – money doesn’t buy happiness. Seek your happiness in small things around you. I guarantee those small things will lead to big happiness.


Fast Food Cheaper? Update

I was delighted to read Nikki Bezzants column in the Herald on Sunday this morning, where she too debunked the idea that Fast Food is cheaper than home cooked food. I think it also showed that the newspaper had picked out a statement which actually didn’t mean that people thought it was more affordable to use as their headline. She at least had the full data which we didn’t get in the article, and was able to put this in perspective.

She also focussed on the health aspects which are important. Thanks Niki!



Food writer, healthy cook, editor-in-chief of Healthy Food Guide magazine, columnist NZ Herald

Niki Bezzant Niki Bezzant