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.