Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Money making? Money saving? Or saving within the spending?

Women, no matter what their work schedule looks like, can feel overwhelmed and even guilt-ridden over how we save or make money. We talk about mommy guilt. Oh, the mommy guilt.  I think there's so many ways this can manifest for women.  One way though that is not as obvious as breast vs. bottle or home vs. day care is wrapped up in the choices about how we make or save money.  I want to detangle it from the rest. It's a guilt that is clouding up our big picture.

I don't thrift shop. My sister-in-law, Jessica, does and she's dang good at it.  She would be my go-to guide if and when I needed to dip into that resource. Not only is she good at it, but it brings her joy. That's the trick. Enjoying the way we provide or finding enjoyment in the ways we provide.  We chatted about that this past weekend when we spent an extended weekend in Alabama meeting brand new baby Grace & catching up with family.

The truth is I hate shopping.  I always have.  The only time I really found enjoyment in shopping was about a year ago when I would, after a week of watching my boys as well as my nephews (and especially weeks when Paul was also traveling), go to the mall on Friday night for a couple hours to walk around and feel like a grown-up again. That was fun, but it is definitely not my norm.  The soul suck is strong when I cross paths with a rack of clothes.

Those glorious day care days! :)
My norm is going without.  I've had the same coat for 7 years. I wore my shoes down so badly in college, my parents asked me to throw them away. Every year I tell myself I'm going to buy a pair of boots... and I don't.  There's a beautiful sense of savoring in that for me. I don't want things all at once in a mad rush. I don't even necessarily want them when I can afford them. I still want to wait. There's probably a curious subset of the population just like me--the waiters.

But it's not like I'm some amazing money saver just because I wait for a lot of things. There's other things I just buy outright. All I'm saying is that I know my strength.  I also know my weakness as well as my parameters.  That's me personally, but then there's something even bigger -- our family dynamic.

Paul and I are better at making money than saving money. And I actually here mean "the saving within the spending" kind of saving. Actually saving the money is not the problem. Actually making the money is not the problem. It's the "saving within the spending" that is not our strength.  We do okay.  We make a lot of homemade food.  We know when to catch good sales. We know you can stack savings.  We know sales loop around continuously. Our negotiating skills are okay. But it is actually not worth our time to toil hours and hours over how we purchase things.  We take on work better than we cut out coupons.

I feel like there's scandal in that--to say that our family identity is more closely aligned in making money than in the saving within the spending of the money. It shouldn't be that way though.  There's honor in all forms of stewardship.

I'm so grateful that our generation is getting back to the roots. There are calls for less materialism and consumerism. There's a call to return home (read Homeward Bound!).  There's a call to do meaningful work. That's all good. But I feel we've thrown the baby out with the bath water.  We can't be all things.  Build up a home of DIY from A to Z and build a stocky career.  Or at least not the mom AND the dad.  This equation of do all the things just doesn't work.  You can't work 50 hours and brew your beer and mow your lawn and shop at 3 different stores to get the best deals on groceries and wash your diapers and clean your house and make that organic well-balanced meal.  You can't. So stop.

Stop telling yourself that if you finally get it together you are going to do all the things. You were not made to do all the things.  Your eyes are open and my eyes are open and we can see all the things because they are all over this screen. What your friend did for her kid's birthday. That Halloween costume another mom made. The food your friend keeps posting on Instagram.  Good for her. Not for you. Right? Can I get an Amen?

I'm not advocating being lazy or wasteful.  I'm not advocating sloughing off responsibility. I think there's so much reward in homemade pizza or dirt turned over by our own hands.  What I am saying is that each person can't be it all nor should they try.  They have to say no to a great many things to say yes to the either money making or money saving methods that help their family thrive.

Essentialism.  Honing in on that one thing. What's your one thing? Don't let all the other details drag you down.  If you find time for them--awesome. But if you don't? You're totally fine because you are doing your thing!

As women lean into supporting one another I hope we can respect those differences.  I hope we can see there is no shame in a woman working to make money just as there is no shame in a women sorting through hand-me-downs or baking bread.  We are all providing for our families. We are all, by our work that can look drastically different from our neighbors, friends and even mothers, clocking in so we can clock out for time with loved ones (today and/or maybe a tomorrow we are storing up for...)

We all have beautiful gifts that come alive and light up when we strike those things that both meet our purpose and give us delight too.  It might be in homeschooling or in working part-time or in being an independent seller or being a freaking hawk of a buyer at the grocery store or in slipping into those slacks each day and driving into work.

I'm going to be thinking more on this too. I'm going to think about what I do that helps make or save money for my family. I'm going to think about opportunities that I need to explore and be open-minded t
o. But I'm also going to choose peace that my family and the way we run our finances and make the numbers work for us is just as unique as the next family. There is no better. Just good stewardship in different forms. Saying no to some things. Saying a big yes to others. But living with a focus on providing in the way we've set out to do.

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How do you save or make money?  What is your personal strength? Where would you like to grow in how you spend, save, or make money? Chat with me in the com box down below! 


  1. I love the essential theme of finding what works for you as a family. As you point out there are many ways of being thrifty. I am not nearly as thrifty as my sister, but more so than my SIL. They are a dual income family and have less time to think about frugality - and less of a need to do so. I am frugal in places and extravagant in others - but I am mindful about it and work within our family budgets to make it all happen. I will say that when we got married we carried a shocking amount of student load debt (3 masters degrees and 1 PhD between the two of us!), but the habit we set as a family was one of intentional spending and frugality without always going without. I think it still serves us well 15 years later!

    1. I like that you point out that we choose where we are frugal or thrift and where we spend more and that it's okay because everything has a place in the budget. I've done a budget several different ways since getting married 7 years ago, and I've learned that a budget is a must. Even an okay budget is a million times better than no budget because it gives us peace about what we *choose* to spend the money on.

      "The habit we set as a family was one of intentional spending..." -- that's everything! Thank you for sharing!

  2. We do a little bit of both - we choose to be a dual income family (because it's still worth it budget wise to do - we bring in what we need on top of pay for good childcare). It allows us some wiggle room in our budget, but also more room to give and save. We don't live extravagantly - we save and purchase things with cash, buy things to last (like the boots I wore out last winter after 4 winters wearing them almost every day and replaced on sale after the holidays). We love our local consignment shop (recently got my husband $400+ worth of replacement shoes for $80 because we know how to work that system well). We focus on living on less that we need so we can be more mindful of how we spend our money, etc.

    1. I love buying things that last too! I think there's something to be said for hassle, time, gas, stress, etc for a lot of little okay purchases vs. one good purchase.

      "Living on less than we need" -- Yes! Have you read Rich Dad, Poor Dad? It's not great writing but there were a few things in that book that are just branded in my mind. One is that my husband and I are always striving to "free up the pie", to spend a lot less than we make a month and to overall feel that freedom between "what we COULD afford" and what "we CHOOSE to spend". That gap there. I think that's what you are talking about too. I feel like everybody should have that space for contentment, peace, and security. I know it isn't always possible, but I feel like it's a good thing to strive for.

  3. This is a fabulous article. I also don't like spending lots of time finding ways to save money. I'm better at making money and yes, sometimes I DO feel bad about that. God does give us all different gifts and it's okay that we enjoy those gifts and use them. It's also okay that our gifts are different.

    1. Sterling, you know what I'm talking about, don't you? Don't you think there's more honor attributed to "making do" than "making dough"? I think that's absolute crap, but I do see this shift in our culture, even an animosity for people who make good money. I could go on about that for a while, but I'll stop myself. ;)

      Yes, I do truly want to focus on my gifts and give others the freedom to do the same. Thank goodness there's such a diversity!

  4. Great observations Ash. We're much better at NOT spending than we are at making money. If I didn't HAVE to, I wouldn't choose to shop at three different grocery stores and buy 95% of what we have second hand. But it's necessary and it helps us get by, so it's worth it.

    1. I thought a lot about this stuff since writing this post. I think if I started going the second hand route I would actually have to have someone mentor me--physically go with me places to give me tips. I think shopping second hand is a skill just like anything else and it is one that has not just taken a back seat in my life --it has no seat in the car. :) Our family NEEDS time with Paul way more than any other thing, so even though I feel a little bit guilty for passing up cost savings trips, I am doing what's right for our family right now. However, I want to keep open-minded--if/when our family culture & needs shift (especially as the boys grow & aren't so physically demanding), I want to explore other ways to provide for our family.