Illustration by R.Moyer
As a celebrity chef and a master of the fine dining-meets-the-farm-to-table food movement, Alice Waters has spent her lifetime serving as an advocate for fresh, sustainable and locally sourced food in America. Now, after launching a new kitchen-and-clothing line with Buffalo Wild Wings, Waters has put her time, energy and spirit into helping Americans to live better by changing their ideas of what it means to be frugal.
Her advice? Get out of debt with the following three tips.
Forget about “shoulds” and “musts”
To be frugal, Waters says you need to stop thinking of “shoulds” and “musts” — things like, what you should buy, when you should eat out, or when you should cut down on your cable TV package — and instead focus on living in the present moment.
“We all make decisions we think are wise and wise, and then we stick to them,” Waters says. “But sometimes we’re faced with a crisis, and we have a moment of panic. We may say, ‘I can’t do this.’ And usually, in my experience, what we do is commit to change.”
Habits, not people
Waters believes that changing your mindset can be as simple as changing the people around you. Consider how the people around you influence your thoughts.
“People show me around my home, and I’m not seeing someone,” Waters says. “I’m seeing the people that I’m with. And I’m seeing my cup of coffee. I’m seeing what I’m wearing and what my hair looks like, the appliances. I’m visualizing my kitchen. I have to be able to look at my appliances and say, ‘These are just appliances.’”
You can take her home and kitchen advice to heart when it comes to your home — from eliminating unnecessary appliances and clothes and clothing lines to putting to work the old renter’s tricks of getting a small apartment with one suitcase, one stove, one refrigerator and one washer.
Take the time to pick up and move
As much as you may want to forget what it’s like to have to actually live day to day with your bills, it’s not easy to do. Everyone has doubts about moving. But Waters says that focusing on rerouting yourself out of debt will help you face those doubts and move forward.
“If you want to get out of debt, you need to map out how to get out of debt,” Waters says. “First you have to clear the site, but then, if you’re going to meet your basic living expenses, you’ve got to cut up the pieces.”
If you can successfully retrain your mind to overcome any doubts, living debt-free isn’t only good for your finances. Waters says that it will allow you to finally wake up to the fact that money is not a source of happiness.