Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Money matters, but not THAT much

    Tim and I got married young.  Neither of us had graduated from college.  Neither of us had much experience living on our own or supporting ourselves.  (I had had my own tiny apartment for a few months and was sort of making ends meet, if you don’t count unpaid credit card bills.  Tim lived with his parents until the day we married, except of course, for a year away at school and a year and a half in the seminary).  Neither of us was anywhere near having a career.  We were probably very naïve about the realities of adulthood and the cost of life.  We started our family less than two years into marriage.  We had another little mouth to feed.  Still, neither of us had a college degree.  Neither of us had what you could call a career yet.  I quit my job right away, but really, I wasn’t making much money anyway.   Tim went back to school when our first baby was 6 months old.  He was still working full time to support us, so finishing school took a while.  He graduated with his bachelor’s degree literally weeks before our second baby was born.  Our story sounds very irresponsible, I guess.  And, maybe from a financial stand point, it was.  Tim has struggled to support our family over the years and has worked two jobs for four years, at least, in order to allow me to stay home.  His jobs have always sort of played second fiddle to our family.  They paid the bills but were never our focus.  For that reason, the jobs never really provided much more than what we needed to pay the bills.  We’ve never had a lot of savings.  We’ve never had a lot of luxuries in life.  We’ve never had many extras.  That has really been okay.  Of course, there have always been brief moments here and there when we have wished for more money.  But, overall, I don’t think we regret any of the choices we’ve made. 
    The economy is bad now.  Everyone knows that (well, except the politicians and the mainstream media).  We have seen friends struggle.  We, too, have been are being effected.  In many ways, we’re better off than others though, not because we had more to start with or because we’ve had something to fall back on but because we didn’t and we haven’t.  We were already used to a simple life.   We’ve always made sacrifices.  We’ve always had to have priorities.  There have always been things we couldn’t do or couldn’t have because they just didn’t make the cut on the final budget.  That’s the way our life is and it is a life we are very content with. Sometimes I wonder how some other people do it, really.  I hear of people who claim to be in dire straits financially but their lifestyles don’t seem to change.  Now, obviously it is none of my business where and how people spend their money but sometimes I feel bad as I see people struggle yet see them still feel the need to keep up with others, or with the life they used to have.   I wish I could say, “It is okay to do without.  Your kids will be fine without art camp or dance class or ice skating lessons or _____ fill-in-the-blank.  Your kids will survive without organic foods.  Your family’s peace is what matters.  Trust God to provide but be willing to suffer the consequences of living within your means.  It is not so bad. “
    There are blessings in doing without.  There really are.  Tim and I have built a life together.  We have always strived to live within our means and we’ve really done pretty well with it.  We have been creative and frugal and we are proud of and grateful for what we do have.  It is not fancy but it is ours and it was earned and it was bought without putting ourselves into major debt.  Our children do not expect to have everything they want in life.  They are content with what they have.  They can see that God’s blessings are not bought at any store and that, though their friends have a lot more toys and are involved in a lot more extra-curricular activities, they have a strong family who loves them and a ton of joy and fun in their simple lives.  They do not feel they are missing out, though they do, in fact, miss out on certain things in life.  (We don’t have a Wii or any Nintendo DS’s or a flat screen t.v. or memberships to any pools or organic food in the pantry or any extra-curricular activities currently or etc….)  Our family really and truly is our focus in life and that is something we would not change for the world.   
    They say money is the root of all evil.  I am not sure that is really true but money certainly can have a greater control over us than it should.  Money can change our focus, change our priorities, change our values if we let it.  A lack of it  can fill us with worry, anxiety, and fear.  A little financial struggle in life can do wonders for our perspective.  It keeps us humble.  It keeps us grounded.  It keeps us grateful.  I’m not sure why the economy is as bad as it is (nor do I even care to find out) but I do know God is using this as an amazing opportunity to teach us so much about life and about Him and about what is really important in this world.  Lessons that will benefit us so much more in the long run than big bank accounts ever will….


  1. Kari, I enjoyed your post. Money has never been very important to us either. God always makes sure we have what we need. We've had times when we've had to cut back and make sacrifices but I think such times really bond a family together. Working through hardships draws people closer. Yes, there are more important things in life than money! Maybe some people miss out on a lot because they keep waiting for the right financial time (which may not come). We got married on little money and without jobs. We didn't wait and here we are still together 28 years later. It all worked out just fine!

    I worked out how to follow your blog. I feel very clever! I won't miss your new posts now.

    God bless.

  2. Great points. I have been stuck in both worlds. I couldn't agree with you more and yet still wanting more. Thank you for putting into perspective for me.



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