Six months ago I started a series on my blog detailing why and how we live on less than $28,000 a year. (You can read that series here.) I had no idea that writing those posts would begin a journey for our family that has changed the way we think about money, and life.
When looking at your family’s financial situation, there are only three possibilities for changing where you are:
- Pay more attention to where your money is going;
- Lower your expenditures;
- Increase your income.
Some people may need to take action in all three areas to see a change in their financial situation.
For our family, we had lowered the expenditures to just about the bare minimum: one car, $100/week grocery budget, drinking only water and line drying our clothes. I was content with those choices because as I mentioned in my very 1st post of the series, we made the choice to live on less so that I could simplify our life and be home to homeschool our four children, one of whom has learning issues.
An interesting thing happened, however, as I read and responded to comments. I started thinking again about our decisions and about my mindset regarding money. I wrote a post about poverty versus frugality which was the beginning of the change in my thinking.
I started feeling that I had limited myself because of my poverty mentality. I think contentment is a valuable character trait, and I try very hard to practice it, but I started to feel that I was no longer just being content, but depriving myself and my family of the abundant life that I believe God has for each of us.
The photo that I chose for the Living on Less Than $28,000 Series represented my thinking about finances perfectly–TIGHT. While we have done a pretty good job of living our values and focusing on relationships rather than material things, I have actually made money more important in my life than it needs to be. I have spent a lot of time and effort to control money rather than letting it flow through our lives. (By the way, when I say “flow”, I don’t mean spending mindlessly and watching our money flow out of our bank account.)
As I evaluated everything, I felt that I was living a “less than” life. I was not living up to my full potential financially or in any other area.
So I started a journey, a journey to become all that God created me to be and to live in all of the abundance that He has for me– spiritually, financially, emotionally, physically. It isn’t really about a specific income number (although our income has increased a little), or about spending the least amount possible on every purchase. Living an abundant life has more to do with knowing my core values and truly living them–living intentionally rather than just allowing life to happen. It means opening myself up to possibilities instead of controlling and restricting myself.
In the next few weeks, I will be sharing the process that I have been going through toward leading a “MORE” life. I’ll tell you how my thinking has changed and how my life has changed and maybe my journey will help you to see money and life differently as well. If not, maybe it will at least be interesting reading. 🙂
Next Post In This Series: Passion
Well, I think this is very interesting…..I too,enjoy reading your posts,and enjoy sharing successes and struggles! I don’t understand anyone being ‘disappointed’ in a new series….. I would assume Kimberlee,that you started sharing not to put yourself on a pedestal,but simply to share your journey. Which is what you’re continuing to do…..It sounds to me like financially things are easing up for you,and that’s a GOOD thing! Going from debt,and stress,to near poverty,and all the lessons that go along with re-learning how to live….is a good thing too!
It sounds as if(without knowing more) you are able to relax a bit,and it’s probably due to all the extreme care you’ve taken with your finances that has put you in a position to ‘stretch out’ now. It does take balance though, to not put money or material goods in too important a position in our lives,whether we have a little,or a lot, it shouldn’t turn into our main focus. Thanks for the reminders!
I definitely have not tried to put myself on a pedestal! I just like sharing life in the event that my mistakes can help others avoid them. 🙂 Thanks for all of your encouragement.
Mary Kate says
Wow, I am SOOO excited to read this series of posts! I have been thoroughly enjoying your “less than” series and have applied so many great principles that I have learned from you. But just recently (within the last month) the Lord has been opening my husbands and my eyes to a different, balanced approach.. one that isn’t so obsessed with pinching every penny. It’s much like the way you are describing! Yay! So excited to learn from your journey. God bless!
Daphne @ Making Home Your Business says
I learned it best when I learned that everything is like a pendulum. In order to learn balance, you need to reach an extreme to figure out how to balance in the middle, over correct to learn the boundaries and capabilities and learn the disciplines in their entirety. Honestly, I think you did just what needed to be done.
Way to go on finding that extreme and, now, finding the balance. Can’t wait to see how it all turns out!
Just wanted to say, i think its amazing that you share such details of your life with so many strangers. Reading your posts has inspired me to focus on what i really want (to stay home with my children), rather than what we currently have (material things). I’ve also been reading The Secret, which has helped me to understand that what you focus on, is what you get in return. Focus on povery and your lack of money, and that is what you will get. Instead, focus your energy on abundance, health and happiness! Please don’t ever allow the people posting judgemental comments to stop you from posting… I will continue to read your posts, even if your path changes. It is not about the end result, it is the journey that matters.
Thanks so much for your encouragement Corrie–it means a lot!
That was a very intuitive blog entry! It strikes a chord with me because I have often felt that when I read some of the “thrifty blogs,” the writers are just as consumed with money as people who have lots of it! They are budgeting, watching every penny, slashing expenses etc. It’s on the other end of the spectrum, but the focus is still on money, money. Have you ever read the biography of George Muller, the man who founded the orphanages in England in the 19th century? His life inspires me every time. He prayed about everything for those orphans and NEVER publicly solicited funds! But George Muller allowed the work, plans, provision and spirit of God to move THROUGH him as he leaned on God every single day. His faith was amazing, and God always provided!
L Woods says
Kimberly, I have been following your posts now for about three months. I enjoy the tips and coupons you post. You seem to have a real life and family. You do not come from a fairtale I could never dream of being. This month I enjoyed lower electric and water bills, about $10 in savings. (Thanks to you!) I also put a substantial amount into our savings account.
I can’t wait to see what “more” you have in store.
I am so happy for you! It’s such a great feeling to be able to save, isn’t it?
I LOVE that biography Kiki! It challenges me to trust God more and more with our finances.
Very excited to see this!
I’m really excited about this new series. I really struggle with balancing frugality and contentment vs abundance. I have a four-year old, and I make a point of discussing budgeting in front of him. I often tell him certain things are too expensive, or that we need to wait for a sale, save for something, etc. I do this because I want him to learned delayed gratification and I want to avoid entitlement, and I also want him to learn the value of a dollar. But, I worry that I might be promoting anxiety and a negative relationship with money, as well as a poverty mindset. It’s such a tough judgment call! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.
By the way, that “disappointing” comment really has me stumped.
Thanks Claire. I know exactly what you mean about teaching your children. I stopped saying we can’t afford something and saying that we are choosing to spend our money in this way. I think it helps them internalize the fact that we are not victims, but can make choices about how we spend which is empowering rather than restricting.
Thank you Kimberlee; that is definitely an approach I will implement. Your ideas about how to handle finances and attitude toward finances have always been very valuable to me, which is why I ‘m so excited about this series.
Great!! Can’t wait to read what you have next.
Rach Merritt says
We use to always have a mindset “We can afford it”… which changed to “we don’t have the money for that” which changed to “we don’t NEED that”, which really changed to ” we don’t even WANT that.” Now we don’t focus as much on money. We have set our budget. “It is what it is” so to speak and we find ourselves very content. I do couponing, sales,etc.. but not as much as I use to do because we simply LIVE more simply!! Life is a journey–hopefully, we all grow and change in it. I am looking forward to hearing more… thanks for you insights.
At 50, I am nowhere near where I’d like to be. I am, however, aware that it’s because I have such a narrow-minded view of how things “should” be done. Thinking outside the box and being open to new possibilities has always been a challenge for me. I have thoroughly enjoyed ALL of your blog and I look forward to reading about your new “possibilities.”
Buddhism talks about ‘the middle path’…. what a goal. To find balance. Looking forward to reading more!!
Beth G says
Thanks for posting this! I have loved reading your series, and have learned a lot as our family works to steward our finances well. This post reminded me how the Spirit refines us as he works in us, and life is more than discipline – its not about how much we can force ourselves to endure – its about freedom in Christ as we live within his will.
I totally get where you are coming from. Just the other day I found myself saying to my oldest, who is 14, not to drink so much milk because it costs so much money. (he doesn’t really over do it – I was obsessing over the cost) He looked at me and said, “Mom, it’s healthy. ” That was a bit humbling. It hit me that the impression he might be getting is that money is more important than he is! I am very much looking forward to your new series 🙂 I need a priority check! I want my children to know they are blessings from God and that money is not more important than they are!
Thanks for your posts. Attitude is so key in finances as in everything else. Is striving for contentment an oxymoron? Good things to ponder.
“life is more than discipline–its not about how much we can force ourselves to endure–its about freedom in Christ as we live within his will.” That is so good Beth!
I really loved reading your other series and I’m looking even more forward to this next one, I had a grandma who was always in a poverty mindset and another one with less money but a mindset of abundance and it had a huge effect on me watching them. I love saving money but I always try to do it in a way that not only do I enjoy but that also blesses my family in more ways that just the bottom line.
I’d love to share with you some of the ways that I’ve done this if you are interested, one is in an earlier comment since I couldn’t help standing up to the “disappointed” comment.
Sure Andrea. That would be great.
I’m looking forward to your new series. I struggle with this as well….being so frugal that it borders on obsession. I believe it shouldn’t consume your day and I also believe God wants his children to live abundantly. What ever your defination of abundantly is.
This is AWESOME. I am so excited to read this series. I think a lot of us live under a poverty mindset to one degree or another whether we recognize it or not. Being content with what God gives us is super important… but so is not settling for less than what He’s called us to and all that He has for us. Amen!! Aaaaamen!! 🙂
I’m looking forward to the next series in your life and in mine.. 🙂
Amanda M. says
I can totally relate to your change in mindset. We are a family of 5 living on about $30K/year. We have student loans, mortgage, credit card debt, and expensive things are beginning to fall apart around here. Your previous series gave us a place to start, and we are content without many luxeries like eating out, but we could not do with just one vehicle since my husband commutes 30 miles one-way. How can I get to the kids if something happened while they attended school? What if I get called to sub and he’s already left? Oh, yes, we kept the cable t.v. so my husband would not go insane. Believe me we tried it, and it wasn’t pretty. lol. Otherwise we are pretty content, and I’m excited about your new series! Many blessings!!!
Jennifer G says
I have tried many times to figure out how to be a 1 car family. But we, like you, live too far from my husband’s job for that to be a reality right now. (His commute is just under 60 miles each way). Eventually we will be in a position to move closer to his job and when we do, then we can possibly drop the extra car. At this point, moving is not an option because we would literally be paying the savings (from car, insurance & gas) out in rent instead. There are so many more things we can do though, rather than dropping a car. I’m trying to focus on those.
This is something I am trying to find a balance in our lives. There is a value for being frugal, but when being frugal becomes more important than being a blessing to others, it becomes a bondage. It is just as much as a bondage as living beyond our means and going into debt for our own pleasure. So driving miles each Saturday to deliver food to the poor may be a waste in our budgeting, but it is very valuable in God’s economy. Adopting two children set us back financially, but God doesn’t always have us make the most financially sound decisions. I could get a job and be more secure, but my children would suffer. There is a balance, and the only way to achieve that balance is to prayerfully and carefully weigh each decision we make.
Very good perspective Linda–thanks!
“opening myself up to possibilities ” sounds an awful lot like your option 3 above: “Increase your income.” I’m disappointed.
Why does my opening myself up to new possibilities OR increasing my income disappoint you?
I’m confused too, why would opening up to possibilities equal increased income and why would any of that be disappointing. To me possibility means that she could save money in a new way that she enjoys more or finding a way of paying for something she didn’t think she could have before in a different way. I pay for my jewelry habit by making two and selling my extra on Etsy, then it doesn’t cost me a thing and I get the satisfaction of knowing that someone else is enjoying theirs as well.
It could also mean increased income but that’s only one of many possibilities and all of them are good.
I am offering this comment with respect I hope.
The direct quote is “It means opening myself up to possibilities instead of controlling and restricting myself” which does not sound like “increase your income” at all in my opinion. Being “open” is usually a pretty good trait to have and “being open to possibilities” sounds more relaxing that “controlling and restricting myself.”
I am puzzled as to how the leap from “It means opening myself up to possibilities instead of controlling and restricting myself” “sounds an awful lot like your option 3 above:” “increase your income” was made????
Being “open” is usually a good thing and a good trait. Even the serenity prayer is about being accepting and being flexible.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
I don’t see how any of this relates to “increase your income”. Sorry I am stumped by your comment.
Jodie Mo says
I have to say that I love your series and it has re-inspired my husband and I to get our budgeting back on track(something we have let go since there is now enough money to go around).
I remember when we first started “buckling down” a few years ago because of a mountain of debt and a house we couldn’t afford, we felt severely overworked and underpaid. Poverty was where we were at mentally ( and physically) and it was depressing.
Now after a move to the country and several other huge life changes, we have come to realize that not having control over our life ( and how we spend it) creates more of a sense of poverty than actually being poor. When we began to realize that what was really important was the quality of our life not the quantity in our life we became much happier people.
It’s not easy and it’s something you always have to work at but being happy with the life you lead is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
I’m also very excited to read this new series! It sounds like it may be just what we’re looking for!
I loved your living on less series so I cannot wait to read this one. You inspire me.
Wow, this is crazy, but I have been going through the SAME thing… wondering if my voluntarily frugal ways are allowing me to live a full life. I’m looking forward to reading your new series!
Love the last series, it has helped me sooO much, so I am also excited about the new series!! ..thank you for sharing you personal finances to help others.. God Bless!
Great perspective!!! Can’t wait to follow you in your new journey!
Can’t wait to read your new series and how things have changed for you.