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The definition of “extravagance” changes during a recession. Suddenly, Starbucks seems extravagant. Buying an extra gallon of milk. Topping the tank off. Things we once did routinely are now thought through carefully, as if every dollar depended on it – because it does.

But being miserly is miserable, and Ms. Jones is getting tired of it. I sure am. Aren’t you?

How can you help her feel extravagant, without blowing the bank? What nonmonetary, ain’t-gonna-cost-you-a-dime gift can you give Ms. Jones that will make her feel as if she’s opening a box from Tiffany’s?

What about extravagant kindness? Attention that’s over the top? Generous smiles? Opening her car door, hanging her coat, offering her a bottle of water? Giving her child a coloring sheet. These small gestures have big meaning.

OK, you might have to spend a few shiny dimes on these, but how about: A package of product information and care tips? A handwritten thank you note – even if she didn’t make a purchase? An email with a link to the product she looked at? A free light bulb for her new lamp? A dust cloth with her new dining room table? These things cost a little on the front end but they’re sure cheaper than a markdown.

The Latin roots words for “extravagant” mean “extra wandering” and are the same as the root for “vagrant,” or wanderer. Make Ms. Jones wander your way with some unexpected extravagance.

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