How to live a dolce vita when you’re worried about this economic crisis? Non esagerare is the philosophy that guided our Italian ancestors, and it can become your guideline for weathering tough times, too. The saying: “non esagerare,” don’t exaggerate, does not refer to telling tall tales, but rather to the tendency to be extravagant. Italians have a healthy disdain for excess and casual spending, even today. Now more than ever we need to reconnect to our ancestral ability to pare down to the basics and live humbly.
Non esagerare for my grandmother meant dividing a paper towel in half and conserving the part she didn’t need for the next time. It meant stashing spare change out of sight for a “rainy day”, and assembling nutritious meals at home instead of dining out and paying for the luxury of being served.
Non esagerare involves simplifying your life, which also reduces stress, saves money, and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Here are some more non esagerare tips that will help you to keep living la dolce vita in the face of uncertainty:
- Use what you have, before you buy more. How many times have you unknowingly purchased duplicate items such as toiletries, or canned goods? From here on in, use up what is left in your cabinets and drawers and only replenish when necessary.
- Let go of luxury. It is time to pull away from an excess mentality. Choose cars and appliances that are energyefficient instead of ostentatious. Choose clothing and shoes from a low cost department store instead of high-priced designer labels, or better yet–recycle and get or donate clothes to second hand shops. . Send birthday e-mails or telephone people instead of three-dollar greeting cards; people appreciate the thought just as much. Drink tap instead of fancy bottled water, which most likely comes from the tap anyway.
- Exercise for free. When your gym membership expires, you can fast-walk, run, swim, dance, and hike –all for free.
- Cut the fat from your bills. Scrutinize your cable and telephone bills and you will see a slew of services you probably don’t use, and didn’t even know you had. Call these companies and ask them to help you drill down to the basics.
- Turn off the lights. Lighting a room when we are not in it, or leaving a TV on when no one is watching is like throwing money down the garbage disposal.
- Don’t hire help for tasks you can do yourself. Gather friends or family together and help each other clean out cellars and attics, organizing closets, and learn how to make minor repairs.
- Perk up last year’s wardrobe with inexpensive accessories. Old clothes can look brand new with a just a few cheap additions—a neck scarf, a new purse from the discount department store. No one will notice you didn’t spend a fortune.
- Eat less/drink less (and yes, even less vino, as no one needs to get sloshed!) You’ll save money on your grocery bill, and look better, too!
This week, I challenge you to remove all “exaggerations” from your life.
Going back to simpler times will help you feel calmer and happier, no matter what is happening on Wall Street.