Thursday, October 29, 2015

My Story - Becoming Frugal

**As part of my blogging experience I wanted to work on my writing. I'm by no means an author, but enjoy telling stories and I hope that this blog can be a great forum for that.

Growing up my family didn't have a lot of money. As a young child my dad worked as a self-employed contractor and, though extremely talented, wasn't able to run a successful business for very many years. When my parents split in the fifth grade our budget got tighter as my mom provided for us - in conjunction with my dad's child support payments - on an at-home hairdresser's salary. We lived off of state assistance for some time, usually bought used clothing, and rarely ate out or went to activities that weren't free. I honestly didn't really even care, but I always knew my parents did.

Like for many, money was a point of conflict in our home. I used to lay in bed for hours at night asking the Lord to bless me with opportunities to take those burdens out of my home. I would dream of becoming a famous singer and leaving an envelope of cash on my mom's doorstep -- enough to pay off the house. Or to win the lottery and buy her a huge mansion somewhere with maids (so I wouldn't have to clean it ;)).

Once I was older I would often help my mom with her finances. As banks began to move toward an online presence I began to help my mom make the house payment (I wouldn't pay, just help with the computer stuff). When I began to drive I would routinely make her business deposits and know when to ask the teller to pay off the line-of-credit and know how much to transfer to savings. I would help my mom scan and fax receipts to Workforce Services and tally all her business and family expenditures for reporting to the state so that we could eat the following month.

I used to think that this was a burden no child should have to go through -- to see how little our family actual lived off; it wasn't fair that I had to carry the same stress that my mom packed around on a daily basis. It would make me sick shopping with my mom. She would want me to try things on at the store, or come home with things she thought I would like and I would actually feel physically ill and try to convince my mom that I didn't need anything or to return the items she did buy.

Now that I am a mother and wife I am so grateful for my own mother's vulnerability. I'm grateful that I was able to see the importance of saving, the importance of spending less than you earn, and the importance of being frugal.

Something that my church emphasizes is staying out of debt. In one of my favorite talks given by Elder Robert D. Hales or the Quorum of the 12 Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints said the following:
Of course some debt incurred for education, a modest home, or a basic automobile may be necessary to provide for a family. Unfortunately however, additional debt is incurred when we cannot control our wants and addictive impulses. And for both debt and addiction, the hopeful solution is the same—we must turn to the Lord and follow His commandments. We must want more than anything else to change our lives so that we can break the cycle of debt and our uncontrolled wants.

Now that I have an income that my family can easily live comfortably on I've found it harder and harder to be frugal. I like nice things. I like to look nice. I like my home to to look beautiful and my boys and husband to have things they enjoy around them. I like having the tools I want to create things I want to create. But I don't need any of those things. The things I need are a happy family, a roof over my head, food to nourish mine and my family's bodies, etc.

There are so many other things I want to say in this post, but I think I'm going to wrap it up with some more of Elder Hales' talk:
How then do we avoid and overcome the patterns of debt and addiction to temporal, worldly things? May I share with you two lessons in provident living that can help each of us. These lessons, along with many other important lessons of my life, were taught to me by my wife and eternal companion. These lessons were learned at two different times in our marriage—both on occasions when I wanted to buy her a special gift.
The first lesson was learned when we were newly married and had very little money. I was in the air force, and we had missed Christmas together. I was on assignment overseas. When I got home, I saw a beautiful dress in a store window and suggested to my wife that if she liked it, we would buy it. Mary went into the dressing room of the store. After a moment the salesclerk came out, brushed by me, and returned the dress to its place in the store window. As we left the store, I asked, “What happened?” She replied, “It was a beautiful dress, but we can’t afford it!” Those words went straight to my heart. I have learned that the three most loving words are “I love you,” and the four most caring words for those we love are “We can’t afford it.” 
The second lesson was learned several years later when we were more financially secure. Our wedding anniversary was approaching, and I wanted to buy Mary a fancy coat to show my love and appreciation for our many happy years together. When I asked what she thought of the coat I had in mind, she replied with words that again penetrated my heart and mind. “Where would I wear it?” she asked. (At the time she was a ward Relief Society president helping to minister to needy families.)
Then she taught me an unforgettable lesson. She looked me in the eyes and sweetly asked, “Are you buying this for me or for you?” In other words, she was asking, “Is the purpose of this gift to show your love for me or to show me that you are a good provider or to prove something to the world?” I pondered her question and realized I was thinking less about her and our family and more about me.
After that we had a serious, life-changing discussion about provident living, and both of us agreed that our money would be better spent in paying down our home mortgage and adding to our children’s education fund.These two lessons are the essence of provident living. When faced with the choice to buy, consume, or engage in worldly things and activities, we all need to learn to say to one another, “We can’t afford it, even though we want it!” or “We can afford it, but we don’t need it—and we really don’t even want it!”
Those two lines, more than any others, are what I use to remind myself. Last year I taped it to my front door to remind myself every time I left the house of what was most important. And so I thought I'd try and make a printable for you! If there is a color that you'd prefer over purple (my favorite...) that you'd like to match your house let me know! I can make them in any color!


Just follow the links to save them and/or print them off from Google Drive:
Can't Afford It jpg|pdf
Don't Need It jpg|pdf

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