Frugal Scripts

I’ve been slowly making my way through The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People at the pace of a few pages every week or so. It’s dense, potent stuff that I’m only in the mood to absorb occasionally. I’m only just starting Habit 3, but one concept I really, really like in the book is the idea of having “scripts”.

Script is a fancy term for a habit (in normal parlance, not the eponymous Habits). They’re how we act, how we talk; most importantly, how we respond to situations when on auto-pilot. The conventional wisdom about habits is that they’re hard to change. That’s true, and replacing ‘habit’ with ‘script’ doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. But, at least for me, I think it does. A script is something you can write. You’ve inherited a lot of programming via genetics, upbringing, environment, social influences, etc. But YOU can pull up the script and tweak it. Edit it. Reprogram yourself.

Being pretty sick on and off for the last two weeks has had me reflecting on how my scripts have changed. As little as 6 months ago, if I was as sick as I’ve been, I would have forgotten about baking bread and resorted to tasteless, spongy store bread. Now, even when I was on the cusp of vomiting, the idea of resorting to store bread horrified me. It was NOT an option. There was one day last week I was laid up in bed most of the day, except getting out of bed to handle the next step of the baking process.

Yesterday and today I haven’t been feeling nearly so awful, but not exactly great. I’ve enjoyed making a batch of granola, a pumpkin pie with puree that’s been thawed for quite some time and I would hate to spoil, more bread, and started a couple experimental batches of extracts. These have become activities I not only like to do, but they’re so programmed into me that I can functionally perform even when ill.

Frugal scripts like this can have various motivations. One popular motivation is saving money. We have, in MMM parlance, “hair on fire” debt – non-mortgage debt in excess of $30K, and our mortgage’s rate is pretty fiery as well. But as laudable as money-saving matters like this are in our situation, it’s sub-optimal in the grand scheme of things if an external factor is your true motivation. My mind has been clear enough to reflect that pinching pennies isn’t my primary motivation. My motivation flows from a core, internal principle of desired self-sufficiency.

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9 Comments on “Frugal Scripts”

  1. Moonwaves says:

    Hope you’re feeling better how. I also sometimes catch myself realising that some habit (or script, I suppose) has now become so ingrained that the thought of doing it the old way, or what for most people is the “normal” way, just seems really odd. Like not using shampoo, making my own jam, always wondering how something is made and if I can cook it myself rather than just buy it readymade. It’s really interesting to me as well how some things become the new normal so quickly and definitely, while I still struggle with others.

    • David says:

      Speaking of jam, I’m down to my last jar of strawberry and the rest of my strawberry lemon preserves are earmarked as gifts. Sadness!

      I could make jam from store berries, but this time of year, only frozen ones are economical, and I have no idea if that would be worth the time and effort. The strawberries which went into the jam were perfect. PERFECT. Like, when I made a fruit salad with extra berries from our picking, my dad said that “wow, THIS is what strawberries taste like”.

      • Mom says:

        Frozen strawberries aren’t going to be as good as fresh-picked ones, but they’re going to be better than store-bought berries (the flash-freeze process keeps more flavor/nutrients than just plain storage). We’ve used frozen berries on multiple occasions and it’s turned out well.

      • David says:

        Good to know! I can get frozen berries for $1.50/lb, which is a touch cheaper than our favorite u-pick place. At that price I can make my preferred reduction/no-pectin method for ~$2.50 a pint, which handily beats equivalent store stuff. OR I can do a Pomona’s batch for 1/2 that price because of the higher yield.

        I’m assuming you thaw them before cooking, or do you thaw them in the pan?

        I am suddenly excited to can again!

      • Mom says:

        We thaw them before cooking when we do seedless strawberry jam – need to press the seeds out, and hard to do when frozen 🙂 When we do “normal” jam, you can thaw before or thaw in pan. We’ve done it with strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. If you thaw beforehand, make sure you save all of the liquid/juice that comes of the berries.

  2. I loved that book! I had to race through it for a report. I think the communication chapter made the biggest impression on me. I think 7 Habits and Complaint-Free World both helped make me a way less annoying, more pleasant person to be around.

  3. Mom says:

    I, too, recently read the 7 Habits, and living with my mom has made me realize how many scripts I and my family have. We’re all feeling chaffed by not being able to do them. We actually went out and bought another dough rising container because we were missing our home made bread so much!

  4. […] rather good at it. I can’t claim success until we reach FI, but lifestyle design and rescripting is an incredibly engaging field of interest. Saving absolutely every penny isn’t the point. […]


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