The older I get, the more I’m believing in fate and that things happen for a reason.
Who knows. Maybe there’s no such thing as fate. Maybe things don’t happen for a reason. Maybe I’m just looking for some explanation as to why we have gone through the things we have gone through.
Whether it’s fate or not, I feel like the universe is pointing me in certain directions because there are people I was meant to meet and things I was meant to do and lessons I was meant to learn.
And although financial difficulties totally blow, and the stress of things we’ve endured (like a near foreclosure on our home) is exhausting and frustrating and nerve wracking, more and more, I’m thinking these things were supposed to happen.
I think we needed to learn a thing or two.
Money doesn’t solve all your problems. I mean, there are super rich people whose lives are seriously fucked up.
But not having enough money to live comfortably is debilitating. It affects the amount of time you can spend with your family. It affects the way you treat your kids and the quality of the time you have available to spend with them. It affects your marriage. It affects your health. It affects all aspects of your life.
Especially your freedom to do the things you want. And not just big things. Little things. All the things.
As Zig Ziglar said, Money isn’t the most important thing in life, but it’s reasonably close to oxygen on the ‘gotta have it’ scale.
I don’t need to have bazillions of dollars. I have learned in the last couple years that I need much less to be happy than I ever thought before.
But my goal is to get to the point where I never, EVER have to worry about money again.
I think one of the things we often do when thinking about how to have more money is that in order to have more, we have to make more. And we go crazy and drive ourselves into the ground trying to find more ways and more time to make money.
Sometimes this isn’t an option. Not in the immediate future, anyway.
But there are lots of ways we can make more money. And one of the biggest ways we can do that without taking on another job or getting a raise is reducing the amount of money we need to survive. I don’t think we look at this stuff very often.
If we change the way we spend our money, we will have more of it left over at the end of every week and every month and every year. And that will give us more freedom.
I really wish I had made some changes years ago. I wish I had realized back when we first got married what was really important and what didn’t really matter at all.
I wish I had felt confident enough back then to not give a flying f*ck what anybody else thought about the kind of car I drove or the labels on my clothing.
I wish I had realized what things would really be important to my kids and which things wouldn’t have mattered at all two or three or ten years later.
My husband and I spent years wasting money that didn’t need to be spent.
Like on summer camps.
We spent a lot of money on camps for our kids. Baseball camp. Basketball camp. Horseback riding camp. Dance camp. Day trip camps.
For some reason I had myself convinced that the kids needed to go to those camps. Because everyone else’s kids were going to camp. My kids were going to miss out on something really important if they didn’t go to camp!
You know how many of those camps made a lasting impression on my kids?
Not really any of them. And we spent an assload of money on them.
This may not be the case for everyone. Maybe camps aren’t the thing you are spending money on. Maybe it’s something else.
It could be cable or an unnecessary cell phone plan. Maybe it’s an over-the-top vacation (or two) each year. Maybe you lease a new car every three years or you eat out more often than you eat in.
My point is that if you are living paycheck to paycheck or you are behind one (or more) mortgage payments or whenever the phone rings you don’t answer it because you know it’s going to be the credit card company wondering where their money is or if you don’t even open your mail anymore because you don’t want to know what’s inside the envelope, well, it’s time to make some changes.
Maybe you aren’t behind on payments. But maybe you are working multiple jobs to maintain your lifestyle and it’s wearing you down.
There is someplace you can cut down on expenses.
I’m sure of it.
Because a couple years ago when I thought we had cut all the unneccessary spending out of our budget, I was wrong.
In the past three years, we have cut the amount of money we need to make in order to survive almost in half.
Yes. In half.
I know you may not want to get rid of things or even cut back on things. You may think you won’t be able to survive without that certain cell phone company or 984 cable channels to choose from.
But you will survive.
I know because I’ve changed both of those things and while initially it may have been a little bit painful, now you know what? I don’t even miss that stuff.
And neither do the kids.
I think that’s often what holds us back. Thinking our kids need everything.
Your kids don’t need that stuff.
They need you to be realistic. They need you to be responsible. They need you to set a good example. They need you to model smart, financially sound behaviors for them. They need you to give them stability. A roof over their heads. A roof that you can keep over their heads.
So I want you to consider something.
Easter is coming up.
I’ve been wondering something for a long time.
When the hell did Easter turn into Christmas in March or April?
Forget the fact that the way most of us celebrate Easter has nothing to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ at all.
I’m not super religious. I’m okay with the Easter bunny. The kids love it. I loved it when I was a kid.
But you used to take a crayon, write on some hard boiled eggs and then dye them solid colors, wake up on Easter morning, search for Easter eggs hidden in the house, and then see your Easter basket and eat the chocolate bunny that was inside it for breakfast followed by a few handfuls of jelly bean chasers that you picked out of the green plastic grass in the bottom of it.
Now you go to (at least) one Hunger Games-esque Easter egg hunt at the local park for not even real eggs but plastic ones filled with your first round of candy or money or toys at least one week prior to Easter. Then there’s another one on Easter weekend. Then there’s the Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday for the real Easter eggs that you can’t even just dye anymore but now you have to tye dye and bedazzle and wrap with string and paper maché and whatever other annoying things Martha Stewart and Good Housekeeping have decided are the latest awesome things to do to your eggs..
And then there’s the Easter basket. It has enough candy in it to feed a small country for a month along with just as many presents.
It’s gotten a little bit out of hand.
And I think this is the root of many of our problems.
We feel like we need to give our kids all this stuff when, in reality, we were psyched when we were kids if we just got a chocolate bunny that was solid and not hollow.
So I’m just encouraging everyone to make a change starting there.
Reevaluate those Easter baskets.
Your kids don’t need the excess. They most likely don’t appreciate it. But now they’ve come to expect excess, which is a big part of the problem.
Maintaining excess is expensive. And uneccessary.
It’s not helping your financial situation. And it’s not helping your children to learn to be appreciative or grateful or responsible with money.
And when you are wondering whether or not your kids can live without the Disney channel, try asking yourself this:
Can your kids can live without a roof over their head?
And then you’ll have your answer right there.