We hear this time and time again, “I want to give my kids the things that I didn’t have”. It’s a great sentiment, especially for those who didn’t grow up with much.
I have been in both places. I have wanted for nothing and have had extra to spare and I have struggled to pay for food and gas to get to work. Neither place is an especially happy place for me to be, but if I had to chose between one or the other I would chose the later.
I never again want to live in excess, and I don’t want to teach my kids to live in excess either.
In church today the sermon touched on how we aren’t truly grateful (and the way that I took it) you don’t truly know yourself until you have nothing. We live in a world of excess, where we praise excess, expect excess, and we live in the comfort of this excess, yet it can be lost easily. It’s just things, money, arbitrary items and numbers that can be taken from you in an instant. It isn’t until these things are gone and you are truly humbled do you realize your strength and where it comes from. I still struggle with the thought of other people knowing how little we have, I feel that it makes me less than them, but it doesn’t. Whether your strength comes from yourself, or your God, or whatever it is that you believe in that keeps you stable, you don’t really know until you lose it all. Two years ago I realized that no matter what happened in my life that God had a plan for me and I had to trust that plan. The less I have in my life the more I trust the plan that he has. It’s a comfort to know this. I am a better person for it.
When we have more money, when we are finally able to pay all of our bills and put money aside, will I give my kids the things that I can’t give them now? Probably not. I will put money aside for their college funds, I will put money in a retirement fund for us, and we will probably have some sort of small savings, but i like who we are now better than who I am when I have disposable income. We have discussed it in great detail and whatever excess funds we have we will donate to a greater cause. I don’t want us to buy something new every time an old thing breaks, I want us to try and fix it first. I want our kids to have essential problem solving skills aside from just spending money.
I recently went on a rant about how we put things above people. It was a harsh rant, and probably should have been more thought out more than it was, but the truth of it is still the same. When I had excess I put money and things about the Lord, people, and my family. I became a person I was no longer proud of. I don’t ever want to see that person again, and I don’t want to see that person in my children. I want to teach them the value of money, the value of faith, the value of critical thinking, and the value of people.
When we do have more money we will sit down every few months, with our kids, and decide what we want to live on, what we want to put in savings/college/retirement funds, and the rest is going to people in greater need than us. We will involve our children because I want them to understand what we do and why we do it. I want them to understand money before they leave home and have to control and handle it on their own, and I want them to have faith that no matter how much money they have that they can be happy.