Bubbly on Your Budget: Live Luxuriously with What You Have is a delightful book about how women of any age and circumstance can live fabulously even if they feel they have to economize in some way.
Originally written in the 1930s to women affected by the Depression and mostly in New York City, many of the ideas in this book are still applicable in our time and for other locales. In fact, many of the tips fit quite well with more modern prescriptions for how to think about money and lifestyle, and the suggestions to think hard about what really makes you happy in terms of expenditures, and to cut your housing costs rather than your “latte factor” type expenses sound quite a lot like the good ideas described in All the Money in the World.
Furthermore, the tone of the book is witty and breezy and delightful to read, even when dealing with touchy subjects. I think we should bring the adjective “hard-boiled” back into current parlance, don’t you?
One of the most helpful points in this book, in my opinion, is the determination that you should be upbeat even if you are economizing and try not to let anyone see you cutting corners and that you should never cut the enjoyment of life out of your budget. That is easier said than done but well worth it if you can manage it, speaking from personal experience.
I appreciated the book’s perhaps unconventional advice that a budget is not about living in austerity but about making sure that the money you have covers what you actually want, not things you don’t really care about. We’ve lived on budgets where the amount of income actually only covered necessities, and that was rough, but for the most part people have some wiggle room, especially when they think creatively and are willing to part with societal notions of must-haves (Laura Vanderkam expands well on that idea in her book).
The book also offers quite sound advice about how to build and maintain a fabulous wardrobe no matter what your budget. Really, everyone can use advice about how to buy classic foundation pieces and use accessories to advantage, and reminders not to continue thinking that what was becoming ten years ago still looks good are always helpful.
Another great section was on entertaining. I enjoy entertaining and always wish I could do more of it, but am generally put off by a perceived lack of discretionary income. However, the book gave so many helpful suggestions for how to throw fantastic parties on a shoe-string that I came away quite inspired. After all, as the author writes, “At the best parties, the chief ingredients are originality (which doesn’t mean whimsy or – heaven forbid – paper favors) and a lot of enthusiasm.”
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