I am not “wealthy.” In fact I’m not sure what the income brackets are but I’m sure we’re in one of the lower ones, and for that I am thankful. Now you may be wondering if perhaps I should go and get my head checked. Thankful for being poor? Who doesn’t want to have/make more money? We all do I suppose. But let me take a moment to explain my secret to “financial bliss.” are you ready for this? This could change your life today. Live within your means. So what pray tell does that mean exactly?
Ms. Lydia Marie Child, of the early 19th century wrote a book called “The American Frugal Housewife” (which I highly recommend to anyone who keeps house! It may be from 1833, but a lot of the wisdom in there is timeless.)
In the beginning of the book Child shares a conversation she had with three gentleman that went something like this; The first gentleman laments that he is bringing in over $1500 a month and his family is struggling to make ends meet, the second gentleman nods sympathetically and agrees, he’s only bringing in $800 a month and can barely feed his family! Ms. Child and the last gentleman nod, and as the first two gentleman leave, the third turns to Ms. Child and says “well I didn’t want to embarrass them, but I’m only making $600 a month and we have everything we need!” which Ms. Child points out is an excellent example of living within your means.
I read that book for the first time about four years ago, and that story has always stuck with me. I do my best to apply the moral of the story to my life as well. Now Rob and I do not make a lot of money, but we have always had the things we needed and then some, and money in the bank! I have spent the last few years, learning (and continue to learn!) how to get the most out of every dollar. I thrift shop obsessively, compare prices at the grocery store, plan meals once a month so I’m not running to the store every week! I save as much as possible and when I can make more than the minimum payment on our debt. I budget monthly. ( I use http://www.mint.com now to do it, it’s super easy and quick, and FREE!) But the biggest thing we are learning is when to say ‘no, actually I don’t need that.’
Now yes some of these things do take time, “But I don’t have time for that!” you may cry. But if it’s important enough to you, try switching out 15 minutes of facebooking for menu planning or budgeting? We always seem to have time for facebook….
I’m not going to lie, there’s a part of me that gets a thrill out of being thrifty. I love figuring out, or learning about new ways to re-use something. Ways to make it last longer or stretch farther. I also love when there’s something new we need/want and there’s money set aside to do it! Car repairs and Doctors visits are not stressful because I know we can pay for them, without using credit.
Thriftiness aside, one of the reasons we are as secure as we are, with as little as we have, is because we are blessed. We are blessed with family who helps us out with things. My parents did a good job teaching me to be financially responsible, that it’s ok to say “I can afford that right now.” and if it’s something you need the money will figure itself out.
we have been blessed over and over again in finding work and income and affordable places to live. I know, that no matter what happens we will always have what we need. We will always have enough food, and a place to live, and the rest is just a bonus.
We will never be “wealthy” but we have enough, because we live within our means. (well, we try pretty damn hard to.) Our life may be a little quieter and simpler than some peoples, but it is a happy one.
These are the words that Aibileen (in The Help, by Kathryn Stockett) says to the little girl she looks after, every day. A friend of mine and I were having a chat about diets and eating healthy and exercising more etc etc, and she relates to me that a woman (who had a beautiful niece) told my friend that she (my friend) has the ideal body type for a woman. After which it occurs to my friend, what if I stop worrying about what I eat or don’t eat, and start just being happy and accepting my body just the way it is. She is in her mid 20’s, and on the one hand it’s great that she had this realization now rather than 20 years from now, but on the other, what if she never learned she was supposed to be worried about her body?
I have never been a skinny person, hell I’ve never been relatively slender. All my siblings are/were skinny, my parents both when they were my age were “slender.” me…somehow I missed that boat. But I am in many ways thankful for that. Thankful that I never had to experience the horror of watching my waistline expand. I simply was the way I was. Growing up my friends and peers never said anything to me about my weight, it was a non-issue. Occasionally it would come up in conversations with my sister, my mom would approach it matter-of-factly when we went clothes shopping. But I was never told that I should lose weight, that I shouldn’t eat this or that, that I should exercise more, so for the longest time it never really occurred to me that perhaps I should be concerned about my body. Now of course puberty happens, when we all become more aware of our bodies due to the crazy things it starts doing. All through high school I would wonder sometimes what it would be like to be a “pretty” girl. I would wish perhaps that my hips weren’t so wide, my stomach would go away, my thighs would shrink and so-on and so forth. But in case you haven’t realized, that is exhausting! I am content with the way I am. I take myself as I am. I know that I am smart, I am beautiful, and sexy, I am funny and freaking adorable (as my husband just told me) and I am loved, just the way that I am. I wish so desperately that more women, more girls could be at peace with themselves and their bodies. I have to give my mom a lot of credit for the way I think about my body. She never obsessed about hers, never told us there was anything wrong with ours, and when we went clothes shopping she always made sure we found clothes that both fit and flattered us and never made a big deal about having to grab the next size up, and she taught us (or at least me) to do the same. I am so thankful for her, for teaching us to be this way, she has saved us much unnecessary agony in front of the mirror, and future daughters and little girls in my life.
Now I’m not saying that I simply sit around all day and don’t make any effort to improve my health. Because I do try to be aware of what I am eating, and try not to be a total couch potato. But I’m not going to kill myself or make myself miserable or guilty over the food that I eat or the exercise I do, or don’t do. Life simply wasn’t meant to be lived like that? What’s the point of being “pretty” if you’re not happy?
besides, I was friends with a “pretty” girl once…do you know how much time they spend making themselves pretty???!!! I am lucky if I brush my hair in the morning. Usually it just ends up back in it’s half-bun pony-tail thing, with perhaps a quick brush to tame the bedhead….and makeup? maybe once a month, MAYBE. Deodorant is the only thing I apply frequently and obsessively and well that’s just a matter of hygiene.