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Frugality Is Next to Simplicity

I met Wanda and Frank when they came to interview me for a new PBS series they put together called "Simple Living With Wanda Urbanska." The series offers commonsense tips on how to budget your time and money. Urbanska and Levering's book is a companion volume to the series.

If you feel overwhelmed with stuff, either on your day planner or in your home, you need to read the book and watch this series. (In the Washington area, WETA will run it starting 8 a.m. Oct. 2.)

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In their book, Urbanska and Levering write: "Lifestyle simplification invariably cycles back to stewardship of your time, your money and the environment. It involves making thoughtful choices about what you buy and consume and how you relate to others."

In eight bite-sized chapters, Urbanska and Levering make a strong case that we all can make a difference by taking small steps to achieve a simpler life.

For example, if you drink coffee every day, don't use disposable coffee cups. Get yourself a travel mug instead.

No doubt you've heard much of the basic advice dispensed in this book, but hardheadedness is a condition that is hard to cure.

"Somehow, something happened on the way to the American dream," the couple writes. "We lost sight of elementary truths that have always made good financial sense. Somehow, we lost our perspective on how much is enough."

If you want to live simply, one of the first things you need to do is embrace frugality.

"It's okay to be frugal," Urbanska and Levering write. "Being frugal is not to be confused with being cheap -- with being ungenerous, miserly, Scrooge-like. To be frugal means to be a thoughtful -- not wasteful -- consumer, to be smart about your purchases, and to get good value not only for yourself and your family but for the health of our planet."

Actually, the couple has a quick and simple way to reduce consumption: Turn off your television.

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