this was the same day that I picked up a new book from the library called the tightwad gazette. basically, it's a manual on how to save loads of money from groceries to utilities to clothing. i absolutely love this book. and its sparked a fire under my butt to be way more accountable about how we're using these resources we've been entrusted with.
i've always been pretty practical about "stuff". well, except when i look back in my check register from college (yes, i kept it for posterity's sake) and see that i got my nails done every two weeks religiously and spent all my earnings at the gap. that was my one impractical phase, quickly fading away into the reality of being newly married and a parent. then came the years where marcus and i cummulatively made $16,000 a year, lived in a one bedroom apartment (the three of us) and ate lots of pasta. only to be beat out by the monmouth years, when we lived 3 hours from family in section 8 housing (didn't know that at the time), had one car and hand-me-down his and hers peach lazy boys in our living room, next to the 70's plaid sofa that came out of my mom's friend at work's basement. one time, my mom and sister drove 3 hours there and three hours home to buy us groceries when we had .83 cents in our checking account after payday. i bounced a couple of checks while in monmouth, but janet from the bank, who knew us and fell in love with sam filling his pockets with suckers everytime we saw her, covered our checks with her own money. she knew we were good for it. i'll never forget her and how absolutely selfless that was.
when i look back at those times, it makes me thankful those times are behind us and thankful we had those lean times. buying a votive candle at jack's (like target in monmouth) was a treat. not that things are that drastically different now. i still have to budget and cringe when there's no overtime on marcus' check. but i know there are areas that we can improve in. part of the challenge of this book, is to keep track of every single cent you spend for three months. everything! in order to really cut back in the areas you need to, which might not be that obvious upon first glance.
we may never have tons of money (although we haven't tapped into my earning potential yet!) but i honestly do not care. when the kids are bigger and don't need me as much, i'll head out to do something i love and get paid for it. what that is is yet to be determined. but it doesn't even have to pay much. what i've learned is to live within your means and how good it feels to not stretch to be something you're not. that stretching takes an awful lot of energy. do what you love and there's a season for everything. someday i'll have a wardrobe with something other than t-shirts and jeans. then again, i probably wouldn't buy anything else anyhow.
i think our kids are fairly content. they'd love a video game system (i confiscated the ps2 several years ago) but i don't think they feel deprived. i have two kids whose secondary love language is "gifts". (if you haven't read the love language book, i highly recommend it.) when i've said "no" too many times to those kids, it shows. so, when that happens they get a resounding "yes". the other day olivia and i were in big lots and i let her get a 1.10 lip gloss. she was thrilled and has had a hot pink lower face for days. (by the way, i got two lace valances for the girls room for 2.50 each!)
so, i'm on the war path of fighting full price, making good decisions, asking myself what we really need and spending it where it matters. i bought a huge, and i mean huge, container of oatmeal the other day for just over 3.00 instead of the incredibly expensive instant packets. i bought 8 loaves of wheat sandwich bread that were on sale for 1.00 each . i have made the switch to the dreaded "generic" not just sometimes, but all the time now. okay, with the exception of hellman's mayonnaise. there are just some things i won't give up. i bought an enormous box of tea bags (no more coffee for me) and am set for a summer of sun tea!
we just got back from the mall, where my frugality was challenged big time. but actually, the more i walked around, the more i sensed how ridiculous it all is. do we appreciate how incredibly blessed we are to have malls with all these resources in them? the food courts, the 12 shoes stores in a row, the myriad of perfumes to pick from. i was kind of sickened by it all. do i love a pretty atmosphere and nice things? god created a love of appreciating beauty in us all. it just has to be tempered by moderation and common sense. i think of children who don't have any shoes, and then try to forget that i need a pair of black heeled sandals in addition to brown ones for a proper summer dressy wardrobe.
stores are having to limit the amount of certain types of rice we can purchase due to a food shortage in other areas of the world. a food shortage. as i look at the dinner table waiting to be cleaned with pizza crusts and half a leftover salad, i just have such a hard time with our perspective as consumers. blessed but often times blind. it's living in the tension of being in the world but not of it. the marketing and consumption and discontent of this world is getting so out of hand, the simple life is certainly becoming the more attractive alternative. there's this guy, who lived a bunch of years ago, he wore sandals, ate unleavened bread and whittled wood who promoted this way of life as the only way. almost like he was divinely inspired or something.