This 2016 book by Annie Raser-Rowland and Adam Grubb (authors of The Weed Forager’s Handbook) contains 51 short sweet chapters about how to enjoy life without spending money. A book after my own heart.

From ‘Create your own normal’ to ‘Sup at the cultural buffet’, Annie and Adam guide you through the meandering journey of joy without dollars. Drawing on everything from neurochemistry to peasant culture, they explore wonderful ways to live without spending money thoughtlessly: ‘…let this book be your primer for a life less dependent on the comforts of consumption, and more focused on extracting maximum pleasure from the most essential parts of being human.’ I like the idea of spending less money out of a sense of abundance rather than lack.

My imagination was really set on fire when I reached chapter 2: Relish, in which Annie describes her childhood pleasure of plunging her arm into each dry bean bin at the bulk food store. She’s not suggesting that adults go out and try this, but it got me thinking about what actually feels good that goes unnoticed in my life because it’s free. How finely can I tune my sense?

Three free sensory things I’ve enjoyed this month: when I drove through the rain in Perth, and I went under a bridge on the freeway, the drum of rain on the roof paused for a second until I came out the other side. I don’t know why I liked this but I did.

Second, walking barefoot on the shoreline and noticing the way the damp sand turns pale under the pressure of my foot, just for a few seconds. Watching each foot press the sand around it drier in a halo, left, right, left, right, like a pulse as I walk.

Third, I was snuggled up with my son in a soft blanket. I don’t even have a dog, but there were a couple of animal hairs on it, and they had become charged with static electricity. He thought the hair was magnetically attracted to the blanket, by the speed of it falling. He spent some time gleefully holding a single dog hair near the blanket and letting it go, and watching it zip sideways. Playing with recharging it by rubbing, holding it at different angles, different heights, using different hairs. No batteries, no plastic, no movie merchandising, no shopping, not even a dog! Just a hair on a blanket.


October is Buy Nothing New Month in Australia, so this book arrived at the perfect time for me. Share it with your friends and gather a tribe around you to set a new social norm of wild thrifty pleasures!

Thanks Annie and Adam, for giving me the licence to see the fun in a hairy blanket. My son didn’t need encouragement to play with the world, but us adults sometimes need a bit of prompting. What does your frugal hedonist want to play with today?

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  • […] Ideas are bouncing off us like fireworks, morphing before our eyes, and then appearing in reality before I can draw breath. I’m a planner, and like to get it all down on paper and nut out every possibility before I take action. He’s a doer, holding his plans in his head and working it out as he goes along. I’ve never had free reign over a property before. Every idea I suggest is met with a yes. We both live outside the rules, and it’s a constant delight to share that space with someone. A space of possibility and abundance. […]

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts on The Art of Frugal Hedonism. I had recently seen the book mentioned in another article but hadn’t considered reading it. I hadn’t realised it was written by Annie and Adam – I’m a big fan of their weed foraging book, as well as Greening the Apocalypse on 3RRR. So now I am much more educated on the book and will definitely check it out.

    • Glad you found it helpful!

  • Thanks Julie! I definitely recommend this book. Also, look up Permaculture Albany on Facebook once you’re in town if you want to make new contacts. I did my PDC at Fair Harvest too, in 2013. They are fantastic. Cheers, Rachel

  • Thank you so much for this. I am returning to WA from Tasmania early December and after doing a Permie course at Fair Harvest are inspired to live the life. Really want a copy of this book when I get back. Time to plan to have NO plan and live a healthy frugal lifestyle hopefully down Albany way. Really liked your blog on trying to find accommodation as well. Got me back into thinking outside the box again. Thank you so much

  • Rach. I find your writing So Fucking Inspiring!! Thank you again. Today we are on the south coast of Portugal. Super geared to tourists. Heaps to spend money on, even without buying anything other thsn food and sleep. But today I finally had a swim (free), and had a gorgeous long chat with a woman making some jewellery in the street, followed by a warm hug. Thanks for reminding me of how important these things are to me. Chris On 18/10/2016 2:31 PM, “Shoestring Sustainability” wrote:

    > rachelpontin posted: ” This 2016 book by Annie Raser-Rowland and Adam > Grubb (authors of The Weed Forager’s Handbook) contains 51 short sweet > chapters about how to enjoy life without spending money. A book after my > own heart. From ‘Create your own normal’ to ‘Sup at the cultura” >

    • Aw thanks Chris! When I was overwhelmed in the markets in Bali, I saw some women stallholders making palm leaf baskets for offerings. I told them I had just learnt how to make those, and they gave me some strands and walked me through it again. It was really grounding and connecting to sit on the ground with them and make handcrafts with women. It relaxed me more than anything I could have bought. They cheered me on and laughed with me. I left feeling calm and smiling, with my little basket.
      I really like this book for encouraging us to value creativity, pleasure, connection, humour, playfulness, learning and freedom over money. Saving your money for the things you really want to spend it on.
      It sounds like you are enjoying lots of freedom and connection!

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