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Chris and I have learned the key to success in budgeting and saving and I wish we had embraced it sooner. Heck, I wish I could say we embrace it fully now! The long-term commitment to scrapping and saving every dollar starts to feel more like sacrifice and self-denial than smart planning. That’s when things get tough. Most of your friends and family may not be making similar choices and it starts to get really old quickly. Other people are living in dream homes, wearing beautiful boutique clothing, and driving spaceship-like minivans and you are still living in a rental wearing clothes from college and driving a ten year old sedan. The key to happiness here and in all other stages of your financial life is CONTENTMENT. Hear me out because this is such a vital message. We will never be happy with our financial profile if we cannot learn contentment. Having the house, clothes, and minivan is not worth it if you are sacrificing time with your people to work long hours and stress about money. Things do not bring happiness and you can still find joy on a tight budget. We have found that contentment for us comes primarily from two different sources:
- Relationships. Think about all the stuff you have. Would it mean anything at all to you if not for your people? You have been entrusted with the heart of your spouse and the development of your precious little ones and those are the things that matter. Love your people and pour into them. Develop relationships with friends, extended family, and church members. Bring people into your home without apology about where you live or whether or not your furniture matches (I can help you here, but more on that later). This kind of transparency is what makes real relationships anyway. Light those old candles, pull out your board games, and send out the invites. Find cheap recipes that feed a crowd and cook them. You don’t need to have a meal worthy of the queen unless you are actually friends with the queen and then I would LOVE to meet you (see Contact link above). Love the mess out of your people and you will never regret the things you didn’t buy.
- Gratefulness. One Thousand Gifts* is a beautiful book that had been on my reading list for years before I read it. I so wish I had read this one earlier because it truly transformed my viewpoint of the world. Ann Voskamp invites you to soak in with gratitude all the small, beautiful moments throughout your day. Some days this is easy and some days you reeeaallly have to look for your thankful moments because they sure don’t seem beautiful at the time. Since reading this book, I have found myself overwhelmingly, tearfully grateful for tiny, squishy arms with dimpled little hands wrapped around my neck. I breathe in the scent of baby hair while snuggling my sick child and thank God for her even though I am tired and I really wish she would go to sleep. I try to first recognize and be grateful that my husband is a hard worker who is never late for his job before I get mad that he forgot to take the pile of coupons to pick up groceries on his way home. It’s a gradual shift in thinking and it’s completely counter-cultural, but it truly brings the peace you are seeking. I am totally a work in progress with this one. It does not come naturally, but we must be intentional about giving thanks for the sake of our families. We all know what happens when Mama ain’t happy and our people deserve better from us.
These truly important things don’t require money and you can invest fully right where you are. Relationships and gratefulness breed contentment and contentment is the key to saving without feeling deprived. Skip the expensive nights out that lead to a busted budget at worst, and are dampened by the bully called Comparison at best. Trade it instead for a Friday night at home in sweatpants with homemade pizza, a Redbox movie, and a family piled on the couch. Wouldn’t you rather have that anyway?