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Saving Up

Something about a palm tree says luxury to me.

I had a little getaway last weekend, with a friend, to South Padre Island. Palm trees, sand, ocean, and sun in the middle of winter. To me that is something quite luxurious, even though it was really a modest trip. But how did I manage to do it? I have never been great at saving money, budgeting (ugh), or planning in advance. I don’t even like thinking about money, banking, bookkeeping, any of that stuff.

Several years ago, I found in a magazine the idea of saving your $5 bills throughout the year towards a flight to someplace warm in winter. Well, of course I began right away. It’s fun! It is a painless way of saving a little money. I count up those fives every now and then, marveling. And it beats throwing away $5 on Powerball, in the hope of becoming a millionaire overnight and then being miserable for the rest of my life. I do not need millions of dollars clogging up my brain and I do not crave a $2000/night resort stay or a $100,000 trip on that gigantic new cruise ship. How could one ever feel that these things were actually worth it?

So I had saved $600 in a little handmade box an artist friend gave me many years ago. This money paid for my hotel, meals, etc., since the flight was already covered by my credit card points. La!

Sunrise on our last morning

So that painless saving netted me an Artist Retreat with a friend, in a warm place, on an island, with palm trees, sand, ocean, gorgeous sunsets and sunrises, and truly fabulous seafood that didn’t cost an arm OR a leg. A modest little getaway, but just right.

Now I’m saving up those moments on the sand, watching the sea roll in and out, those beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and all the rest of it in my brain for a cold, dreary day like today, when I can look at my photos or into my memory and have it all again. The platter of raw oysters, the modest little table at the edge of a patio with the sun going down over the ocean, the warm sun on my shoulders–all of these things can be called up again and again whenever I need them.

Saving up a little bit of money and loads of memories.

“Kate never had any money, but she loved to save it. When she was ninety-three her youngest daughter took her to a dollar store where she found an elevated tray filled with tiny aluminum percolators, one-cuppers. The frank and ethical enterprise attached a notice informing its customers that these percolators did not work. They were only 5 cents, so Kate bought two of them anyway.”― Donald Hall, A Carnival Of Losses

“Saving money is often associated with sacrifice. However, you can associate it with freedom rather than limitation if you realize one simple truth: living below your current means increases your future means.”― James Clear, Atomic Habits

“Wealth consists not in having great possessions but in having few wants.” – Epictetus

“He who buys what he does not need steals from himself.”- Swedish Proverb

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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