I want to keep this blog focused on how to help other’s hang on to their own money. One thing that is incredibly important in this mission is purpose. If you have no goal you are shooting for, then there is no purpose to saving your money. Why scrap? The idea that you are fattening the pocket of the wealthy may not be a good enough reason for the day-to-day “sacrifices” it takes to live a frugal lifestyle.
First, I must admit that material things have never been important to me, and I was lucky enough to grow up without them, so a frugal lifestyle doesn’t require much sacrifice on my part. When I had kids I felt compelled not to confine them to a frugal life, after-all mass-media and marketing bombard us with images that “having not” equates to being a low life. That is totally not true by the way.
“What you own owns you”, “Time is money”, have become cliches to most, but not for me. “Time is money” is an easy one, you can’t have both. If you want to be a stay-at-home-parent you aren’t going to have money to blow. “What you own owns you” is less pleasant for us to digest. The more stuff you buy the more money you owe, the more money you owe the less money you have to spend on the things you truly want. Timeshares are a great example. Many people (not all)that pay a monthly payment on a timeshare NEVER use it. They could be putting that money towards something they actually want, but that would require a change. Change requires motivation, and motivation requires a goal. Basic human behavior, if we don’t have relevant REASONS to change our behavior we won’t.
When we found ourselves under a pile of debt, due to a series of unfortunate events (such as job loss and relocations) and bad choices (paying for car repair and home-improvements with a credit card), I was eager to pay off whatever I could…AT FIRST. I got my tax check and put the entire thing down on bills, that was easy for me. It was much harder the following month when I had to take it of our pay and put only a few hundred down on debt. Making my kids sacrifice seemed like bad parenting. I felt like I was in the middle of the Atlantic in a paddleless dingy. That’s when motivation became key. Since having money, getting rich, and material acquisitions weren’t EVER going to motivate me, remember I could careless if I have a savings account, or new clothes, I had to validate my new behavior. Prada whats that? Seriously, what is it?
By this point in our marriage, my husband and I had wanted to adopt or foster parent for over 7 years. While we had plenty of love and a great skill set, but we knew we were in no financial position to care for another child. It was a divine moment of clarity for me when I realized I could control my financial position. I had the power to choose where my money went, therefore I had the power to choose to make my family’s dreams come true. That was all it took. Making my family’s dreams come true, now that speaks to me! Every time I made a counter-cultural money-saving decision I felt stupendous. Each penny I saved, was a penny my family could share with a child. What better reason to save money, than to change a life!?
By the way, my kids never had to sacrifice. Funny thing about kids, they really only want your attention and involvement. Last time I checked that’s free! They don’t have many toys, or cable, but we spend a lot of time doing family things like hiking, and watching movies.
We all have our reasons and motivations. Feel free to share yours.