Her written word collides with my thoughts.




This post was prompted by God's dealings with my own heart and these two posts by the lovely and always eloquent, Shannen.

Part One
Part Two

I've been thinking about something lately. Quite a bit, actually.  I've even had a handful of discussions with people about it and I know it's on my heart for a reason, although I'm not sure precisely why now.  Maybe I will never be certain.

It's no mystery that much of our society is tangled in the web of "whatcha got"?  What I mean by that is all around us, whether it's the news, magazines, blog posts or the conversation over coffee....thoughts seem to revolve around material items, finances and how to "expand".

I know the word expand is pretty general but think on it.  We talk about how we want to add on to our house, how we want to get more clothes, how we want to make more money at our jobs, how we want to acquire a new car or how we want to get, get, get.
Sometimes the things we need to buy are just that.  Actual needs.
But often they aren't and I'm seeing that we operate almost with a panic button next to us and we slam our hands down so quickly that we might not even have time to access whether we really need the things we are filling our lives with.

When we sold our house almost two years ago, I remember hearing people say, "It's a good move because you'll need the space, if you have more kids." (I also remember people telling us that this house was a dump, but that was actual fact. Ahem.) I remember people making that comment about us "needing the space" all. the. time and then I remember saying it myself.  Now that I look back on it, I feel a bit ashamed.  I suppose that's what time does.  It's gives us a stretch of moments to look back on our own ignorance and reflect.

Now I can very much regret using those words because we didn't NEED more space.  We WANTED more space.
I don't NEED a Blu-Ray Dvd player, I WANT one.
Sean and I don't NEED to go on a vacation, we want to (desperately).
We don't NEED a new car.
We don't NEED new trees for the backyard.
We don't NEED to put our kids in 19 activities that will cost us an arm and a leg.
We don't NEED.

But we want.

I guess it's a call to change my vernacular because I believe our generation is teetering on the cusp of financial ruin (we are already one foot in the door, in my opinion) because we really have a difficult time separating what is needed and what is a privilege to own.  I hear people say that the house fallout of a few years ago saved us because now people are learning to live within their means but I don't really see that.  Not within the sub culture of Southern California at least.
Sure, we are a bit more cautious about large purchases but I think we are really going culturally bankrupt on the small and insidious spending that we have all grown accustomed.  Spending $15.00 on lunch, twice a week when that money could buy groceries for 2 entire days. Buying our kids so many things that one present on Christmas is unheard of.  Eating out is normal, not luxury.  Twenty five pairs of shoes, rather than two.
That kind of thing.
The kind of thing that I don't even think twice about.
But I'm starting to.

Lately I have been realizing that a budget is a beneficial tool in order to keep track and "on course" (whatever that means), but we get tied up in it and we feel like if we stick to the budget and zero out, we are a success.  But what about not spending up to our limit?  Why isn't that on the radar?  Why isn't that always on my radar?
If I have an additional $20.00 left over at the end of the month, I want to use it to buy my favorite candle but why?  WHY?  Do I NEED the candle?
Do I really need most of what I buy and why all the upgrades everywhere I turn?  My stove works fine and while a kitchen remodel would be exciting, I truly don't need it.  I just WANT it.

The problem with the word need is that it's taken on an entirely different meaning, to my generation.
It no longer pertains to actual physical need, but rather what I feel I need at the moment.

I have made financial missteps in the past and quite assuredly I will make them in the future and I am happy I have because it has taught me more than almost anything else in life.
It's taught me what I value.
It's taught me what I don't value.
It's shown me my focus, at times.

I believe the Lord has been working in our family and in my heart, for some time now, to give us a different focus on what we do with the money that He has granted us.
Call it being thrifty.  Call it being frugal or just call it boring.
I'm trying to look at each and every purchase threw the lens of:

Do I need it?
Is it worth sacrificing a dollar that could be used for someone who really needs it?
Do I already have one that is working and functional?

These questions and the scriptures that the Lord is showing me, are changing my perception of money.  Suddenly, I feel a renewed freedom.

A freedom that comes from having enough (more than enough), giving to those that REALLY need it and using what I have wisely. I hope I am found faithful and I hope when I'm not, I realize it and change paths.

So, tell me.  What is your journey like, in regards to finances?  What have you learned?
I would love to learn more from you.



Matthew 6:24

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."



14 comments:

  1. Oh girl. Ohhhh girl. You are exactly where I was two years ago and honestly, I'm still kinda "there". These are the things I still wrestle with all the time. And I often don't come up with the big, great answers, but I find comfort in the asking.

    Have you read Jen Hatmaker's 7?? I think you might love it.

    xo

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    1. Yes! I read it a few months ago, on the recommendation of my friend Noelle, who I have such respect for, in this regard, as well.
      What a convicting book. It has manifested itself in the way I am operating my "daily" spending. We don't eat out as much anymore, we give of our time more, we give up things that we don't need more freely (although still a large struggle for me).
      That book was a deal breaker for me, as I was already thinking some of these thoughts. Especially as many people my age are asking what they should be teaching their children about money and it usually revolves around saving. I want that to be a component as well, but I want the focus of money (and time and effort) in our house to be on handing it off FREELY and seeing what God can do. And I'm still wrapping my brain around that.

      So, I suppose the next question is......what now? (and....why aren't we neighbors?)

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  2. Oh, man. I really wish I had read this beFORE I went to Costco this morning! I go through cycles of being super frugal and then of having a "let's treat ourselves" attitude. Lately, I have too often been the latter. I liked the list of questions you ask yourself before a purchase, especially the last one. That works in so many situations for me! Jason always says that all the money we have isl God's, and when I think of it like that, that helps, too. Thanks for the reminder, friend!!

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    1. AND thanks for the links to Flower Patch Farmgirl. I'd never been to her blog before, and I can see there is a lot of wisdom there. :)

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    2. You're welcome, my beautiful friend.
      PS-You've always been the most stylish frugal girl I know.

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  3. i've spent the better part of the last 9 months going over this. going on disability and shortening our monthly income changed things for us. now being fully self-employed and not having a reliable steady income from me will be a real challenge to maintain our budget.
    As a person who likes to shop for sport I've more or less turned it into a game of "can I find it for less" and do I really NEED all that I have. I've tried to give away as much as I can and teach my daughter the same thing. Honestly I dislike money so much and all that it entails. greed, dishonesty, lusting after the latest and greatest.
    I know I'm guilty of it (and also of rationalizing my purchases) but I am working on getting better. Learning to differentiate a NEED from a WANT is the first step right?

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    1. I like that game! And i really believe that it forces us to reevaluate what things have true value in our life (what we are willing to splurge on) and what things we just buy out of impulse.
      Good for you, Amber!

      And...I've really began to dislike money too. Or maybe it's just the frequency with which people are ALWAYS talking about it. And what they are doing with it. Where they are "investing" it. Where they are spending it.
      It's tiresome.

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  4. I'm new to your blog, but this post is so timely for me. I've been thinking a lot lately about finances. It's an uphill battle for me to differentiate between "need" and "want", because society and culture pressures us to upgrade, to make our lifestyle bigger and "better". But I want to be a better example for my son, and that's what I find hardest. How do you explain to a child that it's better to give than to receive? I'm 32 years old, and I'm just figuring that out for myself. That's what I'm struggling with now.

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    1. Welcome, Dejah!
      I'm new to this blog too, so you're in good company! :)

      I don't have that figured out yet, but what I DO know, especially with working with kids for so many years is that what you do is a far more effective tool then telling your kids something, verbally. They watch everything you choose (and don't choose)....The fact that you are struggling with it means you are already doing a great job.
      Keep on, girl!

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  5. BAM. Love this. Today, when I drove thru Chik-fil-a to get a large diet coke because I was "stressed" the thought popped into my head "the $3 you are spending are equivalent to what someone else in another country uses to provide for their entire family". And then I say I "can't" sponsor a child because $30 is a lot. Something is wrong here...

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    1. I loved this, Lauren.
      Mainly because I've done it about 100 times, this last year.
      Old habits die hard, I suppose.....

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  6. amen! throughout our marriage finances (usually lack there of) have always been on our minds. recently though after going through dave ramsey's course - we realized how much money we just throw away every month on meaningless purchases.... even groceries - if we don't create a meal plan then we overspend EVERY month because we aren't prepared - we are lazy or tired and decide to just go out to eat - after all we "deserve it" right?! this is the main frame of mind that jake and i are trying to work on - with eachother and the kids - the whole "i deserve this"......it is such a nasty self centered phrase that i feel has really become the norm with our generation......

    jen hatmaker's 7 really convicted me of what we call "normal" in the US....normal for us to have more clothes in our closet then we know what to do with...normal for us to throw away food since we never got around to eating it...excess of everything! we are working on simplifying our lives as much as we can...focus on what really matters - God, family & friends. we are continually reminding ourselves that if we are viewing our life more like God would....it doesn't matter if we own our house or rent, or what style of clothes we have, or what type of car we drive - ALL that matters is what type of life we are leading - are we focusing on the Lord? are we following His commands...helping orphans and widows, loving your neighbor, etc....it's VERY easy to fall into the trap of believing everything the world tells us we "need" - so we are striving to continually place our focus on the Lord when we are struggling with the "need" for something new. We are SO BLESSED! Love you friend - thanks for posting this!

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    1. You said it!
      This is one of many reasons that Sean and I respect you and Jacob so much. Your purpose, plan and value have never hinged on things, what you have or what you appear to be. Nor do your relationships with others hinge on those things. It's a beautiful quality that is rare and you will see it manifest in your children....giving, loving and doing for the Lord and for others.

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  7. this post stirs me. as did the book "7". as does shannon at flowerpatch girl. as does jesus. the stirring that is.

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