Editor’s Note: This is a post in the series, Simplicity in Action.
My husband and I had a major difference of opinion. He liked to spend money on doing fun things, like going out to eat, concerts, movies and going out to eat. I insisted spending money on activities was a waste because in the end, you didn’t have anything to show for it. At the top of my list of major offenders was amusement parks that cost SO much and improved nothing in your normal life. I much preferred to spend money on a piece of furniture or a new dress.
Fast forward ten years, two house-wide de-clutters and two No Spend months. I’ve changed my tune. I’m not checking off the list of acquisitions for a picturesque middle-class family anymore. I’m questioning them instead. I see all our income (beyond the basic bills) as potential savings, rather than allocating it to a budget category and expecting to spend it all. When we face a financial curve ball, like a $700 tire blowout, we dig in and spend less until we’re out of the hole. A lack of money isn’t as scary as it used to be. We know what we have to do and we know we can do it.
My shift in thinking came a year and a half ago when I started reading the blog Loving Simple Living. In it Lorilee points out that overspending causes stress and it’s up to us to spend less than what we make. She literally says, “Stop it!” I don’t know why, but that did it for me. Finally. I decided I was tired of spending money on extras early in the month, only to get to the end and freak out because we didn’t have enough money for an unexpected doctor’s appointment.
I grew up in a family where money wasn’t managed well and thought I needed to purchase certain things. Not buying it meant what I wanted wasn’t important and deprived me of something good. But what I saw as good, no matter how much I enjoyed it, brought something bad along with it. The stress of overspending. Lorilee made my choices obvious. I could give myself a nice thing or I could give myself the peace of having enough money.
For the first time, I experienced months of spending only on needs until the very end and deciding (if there was money left) what to use it for. It felt so good to have enough for the necessary things. This success gave me momentum and hope for the de-cluttering process. De-cluttering success gave me courage to try the No Spend month I’d dreamed of for over a year. In the end, we decided to use our No Spend savings and more on a trip to California with two days spent, guess where? Disneyland.
So I’m on the same page with my husband now, knowing that money we spend on experiences and fun and rest and charity are not wasted. We just returned from this trip, with very little to show for it, except memories and photos and stronger bonds with each other and our two kids. And actually, that’s where all the richness is.
Read more from Kendra at her blog: Have Mercy