Monday, June 9, 2014

Frugal Living and Surprise Blessings!

 My housewares, clothes, and shoes are from thrift stores, my furniture is from craigslist, and my children ride bikes and wear clothes handed down from other children. When we do buy something new it is usually our computers, phones, some toys, and other modern conveniences that will last longer when purchased from the original store. But other than that, I'd say we live a pretty frugal lifestyle on second-hand stuff.
 As I look around my house I am pleased with the way we live our lives, and happy with the way we spend our money. Neither Micah or I really desire to have a lot of "stuff" nor are we constantly looking to purchase new stuff. 
It's nice to have comforts like cars to get from place to place, chain saws to trim trees, and big, comfy beds to sleep in. I also admit that I really love buying clothes. I'm somewhat of a thrift-store junkie when it comes to clothes shopping. My closet is always full of new-to-me- skirts and blouses I've found for a good deal at our local DI. However, If it came down to the knitty gritty we could certainly live without these things...  I guess my point is, that it feels really good to live simply. 
 I really like the old motto that the pioneers used to live by,
"Fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!"
(That's what they be sayin')
I think about this motto every time I sew up a torn blanket, or mend the crotch of someones pants. My kids think I can fix anything, which is pretty flattering. They bring me their ripped-open stuffed animals and watch cheerfully as I patch up the holes, making them all better. When we get pants that are too long, everyone expects me to hem up the bottoms and make them work. These past couple months I've salvaged an old baby changing table, a plain jewelry shelf, and some picture-frames from yard sales. I was able to restore and paint them to look brand new. I think it's a lot of fun to see what I can acquire and create through simple ways. 
(My jewelry arrangement. Cost me about $15 for the shelf, frame, paint, and plastic mesh)

Micah and I have been recently called to teach the Marriage and Family Relations class at our church, and today our lesson was on Managing our Finances. We talked a lot about living correct principles of economic constancy. 
Basically, if we (as husband and wife) follow the 5 basic principles to budget wisely, be honest in all we do, learn to distinguish between needs and wants, live frugally, and pay an honest tithe, we will be blessed with financial security and peace of mind under any economic circumstances. There will also be more unity in our relationship, more solidarity in our family, and a greater influence of the Holy Spirit in our home. The foundation of all these principles is, of course, to seek the Lord first: 
"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33, is the scripture to go along with this lesson.
The Lord has given us everything we have, and it is imperative that we include Him in every aspect of our lives, including how we choose to manage our finances, is what that means to me.
Today's lesson also talked about how overindulgence and poor money management places a heavy strain on marriage relationships. Many marriages suffer because couples cannot agree on how to manage their incomes, or they stress constantly over not having enough to meet their wants and needs. It was interesting for me to sit back today (while Micah taught the lesson) and think about how following these economic principles has blessed our lives together.  
I've personally  never been very good at money management, and have had to learn these past 9 years how to budget wisely within the meager finances of our marriage and family. When I was a single woman I often racked  up credit, spent more than I earned, bounced checks, and paid bills long after they were due. I didn't have the discipline to think wisely about the consequences of my actions. If I really wanted something, I figured I was meant to have it, no matter the outcome of my choice! (oh, please!) I remember getting my first credit card in college and realizing I could buy ANYTHING I wanted! So I did, until I got my first bill, and quickly realized how stupid I was being.

Since I've been learning to follow these economic principles in my life, I've seen how putting the Lord first, and having the discipline to manage our money has blessed my family financially as well as spiritually. 
First of all, Micah and I don't argue much over money, which is handy. We budget wisely and spend frugally, we are honest with our purchases, and can usually distinguish between our needs and our wants. (Yes I want a brand new wardrobe from Gaia Conceptions, but do I need it? No, I guess not.) 
And in return I feel that we have everything that we need. We're not wealthy, nor do we have a lot of extra spending money, but we have happiness, gratitude, and the basic necessities of life. I am grateful for a roof over our heads, for food to eat, for clothing to wear, for water to drink, for good, overall health, and for the peace in our home that comes from following the Lord.  These are the most valuable things in my life, and I am truly grateful for them! 
(I love my little living room with our craigslist couches and our second-hand kitty cat)

These past years I feel we have been really blessed with big and little (material) surprises, which have greatly impacted my views on living simply. I've found that when you want or need something, and you pray about getting it, then it either finds it's way to you, or the need/want goes away. (Instead of running out immediately and buying it, stressing over it, or going into debt over it.) 
This has been true for so many things in my life, and I truly believe the material surprises come when we leave it to the Lord and put those positive thoughts out into the Universe! No stress over stuff, just live and let it come, has been my motto.

Below is a list of just a few material surprises which have blessed our lives, and in turn have inspired us to pay it forward in other ways:

*We have received large boxes of good, quality hand-me-down clothes in the mail for our boys, for the past 8 years! An old friend of mine gave birth to a son the year before Zadok, and ever since then she has been giving  us the clothes he has grown out of. We have loved getting those "Christmas" packages in the mail- full of shoes, shorts, sweaters, jackets, pants, socks, surf trunks, and even toys! I am always so overwhelmed with love and gratitude for the amazing generosity this person possesses.

*In 2007 when Micah and I first moved to Rigby, Idaho, someone left an anonymous $200 dollars on our front porch! We were just starting out again after a big move, and boy was this gift appreciated!

*Later that same year we heard a ding-dong-ditch at our front door and found 5 bags full of groceries! Such a blessing for our poor, little, struggling family at the time!

*I don't shop very much, but it seems that when I do, I find exactly what I need! Especially at thrift stores or craigslist. There must be some kind of law of frugality that states: you will find the exact thing you need when you least expect it!

*In 2008 we had to move to another state again and didn't know where we would stay upon our arrival. A girl I had never met before heard our story and offered us a room at her family's ranch. It not only helped us out financially, but this girl is now one of my favorite people and besty friends. :)

*In 2010 when a secret Santa left a basket full of goodies, toys, and clothes at our door while we were living in Salt Lake City, UT, we felt so loved!

*When we moved to Hawaii in 2011 we gave away almost everything we owned and arrived with just several suitcases of clothing and keepsakes. Our first Sunday at church we found a family that rented us a fully furnished home with all the comforts we needed to care for our little family. Huge blessing financially!

*When forty dollars came floating past us while we were swimming in the ocean. We were able to buy boogie boards for the kids, which they needed. (yes, that is a need in Hawaii)

*Shortly after we moved back to Hawaii, a dear, old hanai-aunty sent me $250 dollars in the mail to buy new clothes for myself. It was such a shock and surprise, and I had a blast spending every last dime on me! (she made me promise I would). Love her!

*That time when we got our taxes back and had just enough money to take a trip to Oahu for a family vacation. Shortly thereafter we moved back here to Utah. Looking back I feel forever grateful that I got to go to my special island of Oahu one last time before we left.

*After our house caught on fire this past Christmas season, the neighborly Santa Claus came over and showered our family with food and gifts. 

*a wonderful friend pulled her big truck up in our driveway just this past weekend and dropped off a baby stroller/bike trailer, a toddler car-seat, a high chair, a bassinet, 2 Pack n' Plays, a nursing pillow, a baby bathtub, several more car-seats to choose from, a box of diapers, a changing station, a Vaporizer, a tricycle, a box of legos, a baby walker, a bouncy seat, a diaper bag, and few other baby knick knacks that were also destined for the thrift store. Everything second-hand, but in excellent condition! Such a huge surprise and blessing considering we still didn't have much stuff for the baby's arrival in 5-6 weeks!

I can't think of anymore right now, but I'll add to this list as I think of them. It's good to count our blessings....name them one by one. 

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