Book Reviews · laraswanderings

Book Review: Orchids on your Budget


Orchids on your Budget was a lifestyle book first published in 1936. I found this book so fascinating for my quest to enjoy my life because it was about just that with similar conclusions that I have discovered.

This book targets people of all levels of wealth with no apology even though it comes on the heels of the Great Depression. The writer talks about people with multiple cars and servants in the same breath as those who live in a “girl’s club” (dormitory) with a tiny wage. The point of the book in not to pretend to be rich but to make the most of what you have to enjoy each day to the fullest.

She talks about that your house and utilities should only cost you 20% of your income if possible (if you are very poor it will have to be higher), that food should only be 30% of your income (though I think food is cheaper today than it was then), and then you have taxes, charity, and savings, but your goal is to get your fun money to be as high as possible so that you can entertain friends and enjoy life.

In a time when a person did not expect to collect unemployment, NEVER had a credit card, and did not expect social security, a person was forced to live within their means or would have to miss meals and bills. The writer of this book still had the expectation that a person could look great with what we today call a capsule wardrobe, entertain friends at their house creatively, keep up a beautiful home decor with a little ingenuity, and feel content in whatever place in life they happened to be. As she very well puts it, “Even quite dull people can live smartly if they have plenty of money, and the money often makes them duller. A slight financial pressure sharpens the wits, though it needn’t sharpen the disposition. But it takes an interesting person to have an attractive menage on a shoe-string and run it gaiety and charm.”



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