Living in fear

There is something that people don’t realize about being on the edge of poverty.  You live in constant fear of your bank account.  You check it when you wake up, you check it throughout the day, you check it before you go to bed, just in case.  Every text message, every email, could be an overdraft notification.  The problem with living on the edge of poverty is that you have the occasional reassurance that you have money so you can sign up for things that only work on a monthly bank withdrawal.  You have that thought of “of course i will have $8 by this time next month, $50 a year from now, that can happen.  The problem is that by the time it does happen you 1) don’t always remember and 2) don’t always have the money.

This fear can be completely debilitating.  It makes you not want to get out of bed, not want to go out in public.  You hoard money away so that you have cash “just in case”.  You know exactly what time you have to deposit or transfer money in order for it to count for that day so you don’t get an overdraft.  You try desperately hard to not let people know how little you have.   It’s by far the worst place to be.  It’s very hard to get out of it.

We are finally on our way out.  saving this money, buying this land, moving, C getting a new job, it’s all helping us come out of this.  In fact, as long as everything goes as planned (famous last words), this should hopefully be the last month of this.  Today i looked at our accounts and they all had money in them.  I know we have bills to pay, I know we have no clue when C will get his first paycheck, I know that we aren’t out of the woods, but for once in a really long time our accounts have over $100 in them, each, not combined.  Yet I still can’t breath.  I still feel like the bottom is going to fall out, and it still may.  We are still waiting to see if C gets an unemployment check for December, we are still waiting to see on a lot of things.

I want you to realize though that it’s not easy.  Please don’t dismiss the struggle.  Don’t talk about how lazy poor people are, or how people just want the easy way out.  That may be true for a few, but it certainly isn’t true for most.  We don’t want to be here.  So stop your judgements, stop your preconceived prejudices, stop looking down on us from your high towers and help.

What life means to me

It seems that as we get closer and closer to our goal I realize more and more about what we are doing and why we are doing it.  At first it started out as us wanting to finally be self sufficient.  We are at a place in our lives where we can’t be living like this anymore.  We can’t be living paycheck to paycheck praying that we can feed our children, pay for gas, or constantly asking people to help us with things.  I FEEL like I am taking advantage of people.  Whether or not I actually AM isn’t the point, I feel like I am and I don’t like it.  We should be helping others more than asking others for help.  I’m not saying we should never ask for help, that’s silly.  Everybody needs help at one point or another, it’s the fact that I feel like I am constantly asking for help that upsets me.

During this process we made the decision that we were going to use our resources to help others become more self sufficient and confident in themselves.  We know how it feels to be in that situation.  How tiring it is, how down on yourself you get, and how hard it is to get out of it.  We want to show people how they can.  We want to have excess food to give to people, we want to teach people how to cut down on their monthly spending, become better members of the global society, and we want to give away our excess income to aid others.  This is something we are very passionate about.

One thing we don’t want to do is boast about it.  I honestly believe that real charity asks for no praise.  Most of the charity we do is anonymous,  It’s between us and God.  Nobody else has to know, in fact most times I never see the response to my charity.  There is a part of me that wants to, but I know it’s best for me if I don’t.

The sermon at church today was about just this, which is what has spawned my post today.  One of the things he brought up was that it’s ok to consider ourselves saints.  We have such a stigma on the term “saint” from the Catholic church, but (if I have this right), we are actually saints in that we are sanctified by Jesus.  As much as I may agree with this sentiment I will consider myself sanctified but I know myself better than to consider myself a saint.  Not that I am not a saint, because by this definition I am, but because once I start to consider myself a saint I will start to think more highly of myself than I should.  I do not want to put my actions on a pedestal, I do not want to mentally pat myself on the back for doing good, or boast about my actions to others.  I know that I need to separate myself from this in order to remain humble.  I do these things because I am no better than anybody else.

He also spoke about our own personal ministry.  How we minister to other people.  To me, this project is my ministry.  Now don’t get me wrong, C does not share my religious ideas, this isn’t a “we are going to make you feel uncomfortable if you don’t share our religious beliefs” kind of project.  Not in the least.  C is agnostic, I was a Buddhist for 11 years, some of my family is Muslim, we have friends of every religion, we love everyone.  Am i going to hide my religion from you to make you feel comfortable? No.  Am I going to push it on you and tell you that you are going to hell for not believing in Jesus, or that you don’t deserve my love?  Never, that’s absurd.  Before i converted to Christianity someone from my old church, while trying to convert me, asked me how I will feel when my son comes to me someday and asks me why i’m ok with going to hell.  my response was 2 fold: 1) Buddhists don’t believe in hell and 2) No child of mine will ever tell another person that they are going to hell.  No matter what religion they chose it is their job to love other people, leave the judgement up to God.  I still strongly believe in the later.  I also believe that Buddhists don’t believe in hell, but I’m not a Buddhist anymore.

There are 2 things I will not hide from you.  The first is that my love comes from Jesus.  I love you as Jesus loves me.  The second is that no matter what religion you are, or non religion, I feel it’s important to find people that keep you grounded.  For years I went to church even though I wasn’t a Christian because it kept me closer to the person I wanted to be.  I reminded me that I am not perfect and that I needed to put others before myself.  Without it I become selfish and egocentric.  I lose my peace, and I don’t like myself.  I urge you to find people to talk to, find a place to worship, find what makes you a better you.

We want to help others find their peace.  It’s so easy to become caught up in the craziness and constant hurry of life but there is so much more to life than that.  We need to step back and find what makes us happy, what helps us breath.  That to me is life.

The race has officially begun!

WE WILL BE LAND OWNERS SOON!!  The owner accepted our offer!  No counter offer, no having to figure out new numbers, he accepted our offer right off the bat!

For those of you who are planning on becoming self sufficient yet have limited immediate resources or bad credit or both here is my advice to you:

1) find an area where you would like to live and land is fairly inexpensive.  We chose an area that was about 20 minutes out from our ideal area (where a 5 acre lot goes for $60-$100,000), and ended up spending $43,000 for almost 11 acres of land.

2) find a piece of land that is the closest to what you want and ask about owner financing.  Many times the owner will be willing to do a 5 year financing plan because banks tend to not want to give loans to people just buying land, especially not if you are planning on building your own home.  So you must be creative on how you can buy the land without having the money up front and without having to go through a bank.

3) Don’t insult the owner.  Don’t get me wrong, you want to make sure your offer is within your budget, and allows for some wiggle room if they don’t accept your offer and you must come back with a second offer.  ie: don’t give them your top numbers first, but don’t low ball them either.  Here is what we did, we knew the seller wanted a large down payment which we couldn’t offer, so we offered a down payment that was within our budget but offered a high monthly payment with a high interest rate.  we figured out what a 10 year loan would be with 7% interest, which ended up being $50 below what we wanted our monthly payment to be.  We aren’t too concerned about this because we will be paying off the loan in less than 5 years.  Once a property is built on the land a bank is far more likely to give a loan.  Also once the property is built the funds we were using to pay the rent on where we will be staying and what we are budgeting towards building the house will be able to go towards paying off the land as well.

Now that our offer has been accepted we have a race to complete before papers are signed.  We need to research what permits we need in order to build.  We need to go out and start measuring and blocking off where we plan on building.  We also need to start putting money aside and fundraising for the build (we have a lot of money to drop very quickly in order to excavate and put in the foundation).  Above all we need to find a place to live and start packing.  We aren’t going to stay in our current rental property.  It’s too expensive and too far away.  We are looking for something small and no more than $350 a month, and much closer tot he property.  This will easily fit into our budget and we wont have to dread the drive to work on the house.

As of right now we have to finish Feb with $3000 as a down payment.  right now we have $700.  Our major goal is to finish january with $1500, Which means we need $800 to finish this month.  That’s totally doable, hopefully, it does make me feel a bit ill to think about, but we can do it!

Also I am looking into doing a fundraising project to raise money to build the house.  Any thoughts on which fundraisers are best would be much appreciated!

It’s not about you

I know I have mentioned this before, but I get frustrated at people very easily.  It’s a huge flaw, a giant flaw, a flaw that I really try to work on.  As I try and work through this flaw of mine I have come to realize that I get frustrated at the selfishness of other people.  I just want to yell at people, “it’s not about you”.  The world isn’t about us.  I know its easiest to put ourselves first in this world, but when you think about it we are a blip, each and every person is just a tiny blip in the history of the world.  We should be striving to make the world better instead of trying to make the world serve us.

Don’t get me wrong, i am no saint, i am far far from being  saint.  I am not perfect.  I will never claim to be perfect.  I made a realization a long time ago that I could never be happy if I continued to think I was the center of the world.  I searched a lot for the peace that I felt I needed to be happy and in that search I found the teaching of Buddhism.  I am now a Christian, I have been for about three years, but I still cling to many of the Buddhist philosophies that are actually the philosophies of many religions that have been forgotten or passed over.  The thing that really struck me was that in order to be at peace you need to put others first.  I learned to ask several very important questions, like how are my actions effecting those around me?  Will my actions hurt those around me or hurt myself? is what i want congruent with what is best for the world?  Will I be hurting the Earth? Questions like that.  My answers always came in the form of this; if my actions are hurting myself or my environment then i need to change them, if they are hurting myself then i need to find an alternative that does not hurt others, or perform those actions and take the suffering myself.   It is not in my power to decide that someone else should suffer for my own well being.  I apologize when i have wronged others despite my own pride, and that hurts.  Going against your own pride is very painful.  It’s also cathartic.  The one that I have not been able to get past though is not expecting things from others, or not being upset when others disappoint me,  I think this is where my frustration towards others comes in.  I think I expect everyone to ask themselves these same questions and come up with these same answers.

How has my life changed because of this? I try to be very careful about the things I say about other people.  Do i succumb to mindless gossip?  Oh heck ya.  There are people who annoy the crap out of me and I would love nothing more than to tell everyone about why I don’t like those people, but I know better than that.  I also know that if i did I would have to apologize to them at some point, so I keep those thoughts to myself because I am not ready for that.

I also have dietary restrictions.  They aren’t life threatening, I don’ have an allergy, i will not end up in the hospital, so when I am with other people and they are offering their hospitality in the form of food I forgo my dietary restrictions for their own comfort.  I get upset when I spend time and energy on meals for other people only to have them not eat it for various reasons, I know how much it hurts me and I would never wish that on another person.  I follow my dietary restrictions when i am home but I will never force them on another person.  When people come to my house though they can be sure that 99% of what they are eating is preservative free.

I have very strong beliefs on how the world should work, and how other people should treat each other.  I believe that you should care about yourself and what you put on or in your body.  I do not believe that your own personal beliefs should cause harm to those around you.  A fellow business person caused me to lose quite a few of my clients over a personal belief that she had which she chose to share publicly, not even considering how it would effect my business.  Due to her actions I chose not to purchase from her business.  Do i tell others not to?  No i would never do that.  I know this hurt, I know how it feels for people to take away business and I would never do that to another person, no matter how much I want to.  I also know that someday I will purchase from her again, because I know that it’s what is right, but not while the wound is still fresh.  I don’t need an apology from her, i need to forgo my own hurt pride.

When C started working at his other job, the one that screwed him over, one of the first things he did was get raises for the workers under him because he felt they needed it and deserved it more than him.  They had been there longer and were getting barely over minimum wage.  He could have taken the raise himself, he could have done what other managers have done and take the hours himself and cut his coworkers hours when it got slow, but he didn’t because he knew what was right, and I know that God works things out. if we follow his will and put others first we wont forgo suffering, but He will cover us somehow, and He always has.

Lastly I try to make sure that my own personal beliefs do not damage the environment.  I recycle as much as I can or purchase things in reusable or recyclable containers.  Our family of 4.5 (one is a part time child) produces 1 bag of trash (kitchen bag, not 33 gallon bag) every 2 weeks.  I started looking at our trash and what we were throwing away and realized that I was throwing away a lot of things that could be reusable.  We use cloth diapers for our children.  It takes more energy for me to clean them, but I am not adding to the diaper waste in landfills.  It also only adds an extra $5 of water a month to our bill.  I also don’t wash them in bleach.  I wash everything in a washing soda, borax, and dawn mixture.  It is amazing.  My clothes have never been so clean.  I also clean the house with hot water, white vinegar, and dawn.  We haven’t bought paper towels in over 2 years.  I have a stack of small washcloths I use to clean with.  I also have a stack of softer washcloths i use for baby wipes that i wash with the diapers.  Our milk comes in glass jars, i typically don’t put vegetables in the plastic bags at the grocery store unless they are small and i have to.  We buy very little packaged food and what we do buy the packages are recyclable.  We compost everything that we can, including our Christmas tree once we take it down.

This is where my annoyance for others come in.  I know it’s wrong, I know it’s actually selfish of me to feel this way, but it gets me so aggravated.  I have my personal beliefs, and they are my personal beliefs.  I frustrates me when I watch other people say they share in those beliefs but they do it in a selfish way.  They force others to compensate for those beliefs, they make others feel inferior for not sharing those beliefs, or they only follow the beliefs that directly pertain to themselves and their own well being.  I want to tell them that they missed the point.  it’s not about you.  it’s never about you.  It’s about doing what’s best for the world around you.  You can’t say you love others and in the same conversation put them down or make them feel inferior. it’s a half-assed attempt to do what you know is right.  Have faith that if you do what is right things will still work out in the end.  It will at least bring you peace.

Christmas Miracles

This time of year has always been really tough on me.  It’s a combination of winding everything down, paying for gifts and all the other Christmas who-ha, my birthday (which is really more of a hassle than anything else, especially since the lovely state of Kentucky likes to make your car taxes and tags due on the last day of your birthday month.  Happy birthday!  pay taxes), stressing about money we don’t have, and wrapping up all the business stuff for both of our businesses.  We usually spend almost the entire month of December looking forward to the next year and how much better IT will be because it must be better than this year.  This year hasn’t been much different, in fact, this year has probably been the most stressful year we have had yet.  From what I understand many people are in the same boat we are in.  From hours being cut, surgeries (which kept me living at the hospital for almost 2 months), stepping down from my position at work, the wedding, kids, being pregnant with our fourth, dealing with breaking down and getting government aid, and adding this project on top of everything (which has really kept us sane), I don’t know how I haven’t completely imploded.  Somehow I have survived.  Not only have I survived, but this has been the best, most productive December in a VERY long time.

I have been losing a lot of sleep in the past two months.  All of the stress of everything, mostly money, has kept me up from about 3-6 most every night.  I pace the house, watch tv, blog, and work on the budget during that time.  Oh, and have massive heartburn.  It’s not pleasant and i wouldn’t wish this sort of insomnia on anyone.

About a month ago I wrote a list, i like lists, i tend to write a lot of them.  This was a different list than I have written before.  It was a “Things that keep me up at night and stress me out” list.  I wrote down everything that I need to have resolved by the end of the year.  This was the list:

Things that keep me up and night and stress me out:

  1. The divorce (my attourney sucks and has taken close to 2 years to finalize my very uncomplicated divorce)
  2. Get our marriage license (we NEED to file taxes as married next year)
  3. C’s job (either make more money or get a new one)
  4. file for partial unemployment
  5. SNAP benefits
  6. Fix baby girl’s insurance

As of Christmas eve EVERY SINGLE ONE of these things had been taken care of.  I wrote a very nasty email to my attorney about how she had assured me multiple times that the divorce would be final by the end of the year and (at the time) there were only 16 days left, half of which were holidays and I needed to know what she planned on doing about it.  I hate being stern with people, or threatening people,  but sometimes you just have to grow a set and take care of it.  Three days later the divorce went through.  The following day we went and got our marriage license, and on Christmas eve the certified license arrived in the mail.  C had a second interview on Christmas eve and got the job which is such a relief for the both of us. We received our SNAP benefits which allowed us to eat for this month.  C applied for partial unemployment, which he only has to take advantage of for the month of December.    Lastly I spent about an hour talking on the phone with 3 different people to fix baby girls insurance.  She should be able to see the doctor again after the 1st of the year which is a HUGE relief for us.

Every time something got checked off the list we would joke about how it was a “Christmas Miracle!!”.  I told C today that it was a God thing.  I know that not everything is going to work out for us, in fact looking at our track record nothing should work out for us.  When it does I give praise where I feel it is deserved.  We also have to thank our friends and family that have helped us along the way too.  We couldn’t have done it without them.  We still have a really long journey ahead of us, but this gives me hope.

I know I have said this before but I’ll say it again, stress IS NOT healthy.  A small amount of stress is healthy, we need it, but not the kind of stress that I was suffering from.  Don’t let yourself go through this.  Making that list of all the stressful things in my life has made a HUGE difference in my mental and physical well being.  I think I am going to continue to do this.  Make a list of the six things I need to have completed by the end of the month and work towards those.  Please don’t let stress get to you like it got to me, figure out how to break your stress down and work on it piece by piece.  We are told at work “eat an elephant one bite at a time”, and it works.  it’s so much better to break things down instead of looking at the giant picture.

Also we currently have $700 saved towards our goal.  I know it’s not quite our goal for this month but it’s better than $400, and based on how this month has gone I’LL TAKE IT!!  Plus we have 5 days left, and 5 days is a long time.

Budgeting

I’m gonna get down and dirty here.  One thing that I have been very guilty of is being overly optimistic about money.  To be completely truthful, we have none.  However, when we DO have some we tend to be a little less strict on our spending than we typically are.  I think that’s fairly typical of people in our position.

I am going to be completely truthful about our budgeting right now, as i think we all should be.  I think we all give this air of “everything is ok” and that’s not ok.  We need to share our burdens with someone, it’s not healthy to live with that sort of stress.  I’m not just talking about money either, i mean at all, in all circumstances.  Maybe you have money but you are lonely, or are having stress in an area that you really shouldn’t be handling on your own.  Talk to someone, please.  Stress is not healthy.

This is our current budget:

$750 rent

$200 electric

$185 cell phones

$80 internet

$25 water

$85 car insurance

$200 gas for the car

$15 for trash (we pay $45 every three months)

then we have various other bills we pay whenever we have a little extra money

Thankfully we don’t have to worry about food anymore, although our food budget was never very large anyway.  We were given $277 for food every month, although they gave us a month and a half to start.  We have a full fridge and enough food to last us into the new year.  The only thing we have to buy before then is the fresh vegetables.  That’s it, and we still have over $200 left over to go into next month.  I am thrilled.

We end up paying about $1540 a month in just basic bills and getting to and from work.  C typically makes about $1500 when he is working full time.  At the moment he is making closer to $800, which basically means we barely pay our rent.  We also get $360 from my sons disability and i bring in about $600 from my work.  right now we are basically scrounging to make things work, but we are still somehow able to save even little bits for our project.  As it stands right now we probably aren’t going to end the month with $1500, but $1000 still looks very doable.  We had great success with our fundraiser, which was really exciting and encouraging.  This is my one stress, money.  The thing that keeps us up at night.

Our landlord has been awesome and has allowed us to pay our rent in two segments during the month.  We paid our second segment yesterday.  After we got home C got a call from the property manager telling us he had to come over and bring us something.  For about 30 minutes we were very freaked out that we would be getting an eviction notice.  When he showed up at the door with a giant ham we just about cried.  It was pretty amazing.

The point of this is: it’s ok to open up about your struggles.  It’s ok to say, “we barely make our budget every month”.  it’s ok.  We plan on being very open with our budget not only through this whole process but from now on.  We need to be in order to do what we want to do and teach people to stop being victims and start taking control of their lives and their finances.

This is our ultimate plan:

$450 mortgage payment ($50,000 at 15 years)

$185 phone

$80 internet

$85 car insurance

$200 gas for car

Which would be about $1000 for everything.  This is a prediction of the amount we will be spending but we are hoping to be able to build the house with only a $20,000 loan, which would be closer to $250 a month.  Plus our cell phones and internet should really be paid for by our businesses.  Once again we are not counting food, however, buy this point we really shouldn’t be spending much on outside food.  We will be spending money on growing our own but we aren’t sure yet what that will cost.  Nothing near what we are currently spending though.

That’s a little more than one of C’s current paychecks to pay for everything.  That’s exciting for me to think about.  This is what makes me press on.  We shouldn’t be making enough to survive, we shouldn’t be working to pay bills and everything else falls to the wayside.  That’s not a life.  That’s not living.  We want to LIVE and show other people how to live as well.

Christmas

Christmas is such a stressful time of year for me.  Not just because you somehow have to scrounge together enough money to have a decent christmas (which for us means a tree, and two gifts for each child, one from us and one from santa), but also because it is the slow season at C’s work so we have to do everything on a shoe string budget.  We also have to wrap up everything we need done before the end of the year.  This year I have had to deal with a lot of government stuff.  I hate government stuff.  Not to mention that the government shuts down for about 2 weeks right before the new year so everything has to be completed before, well, basically today.  The two offices we need will be open next monday and tues, and the 29th.  So yay, lets complete everything in 3 short days with one car.

You know that things are bad when you have a list called “Things that are causing me stress which is why I am not sleeping”, and only 2 things out of 7 have been crossed off that list.  I am really concerned that we wont be able to pay our rent let alone save anything this month.  The good news is that unemployment came through for C so that will hopefully make some sort of a difference.  I have heartburn.

I seem to always have this breakdown around this time every month.  it’s that freak out period where I have no clue how any of this is going to come together, but I have faith that it will.  I have learned that in situations like these faith is about all you can have because I really spend most of my time holding my breath waiting for things to happen.  For people to come through, for the usual disappointment of C’s paycheck, for just things in general. I can’t predict the future.  I don’t know if C will get a bonus this year, or how much it will be.  If we will get an unemployment check and how much it will be.  If C will get paid enough to pay bills.  I can sit and worry (which I do about 3-5 hours out of the day), or i can have faith that God has a plan and things will work out if I keep plugging along.  So i’ll keep plugging along.

Money is no God to have

I am learning a lot about this journey as we strive closer to our goal.  I find it amazing how this isn’t just a piece of land, or a house, or a dream, it’s a life choice that will not only change us but also hopefully change those around us.

A lot has happened in the past two weeks to drive us even closer to this goal.  We are moving in May, period.  Things may happen but we will figure it out, we always do, but we have to move in May.  We can no longer live the life that we are living.  It’s not healthy for me, for C, and definitely not for our kids.  I do not want to raise my kids in the situation we are in now.  They deserve better than this.

I am going to get religious here, and I’m sorry if I offend people but I feel this has to be said.  I have spent too many years getting more and more frustrated with the way America is going.  At bible study the other night we were watching a video, a woman was giving a sermon and in it she said that as Christians it was our duty to vote for the politicians that held up good Christian moral values, and as soon as she said it I laughed.  I couldn’t stop myself.  Those politicians don’t exist anymore. If we were to truly follow what she was saying nobody would vote for anyone.  We are told as Christians that we are to worship no other God, and have no idols, but we do have idols.  Money is our God.  I hear time and time again from people that we are a Christian nation, well aside from the obvious religious freedom aspect of America, we will also NEVER be a Christian nation because we worship money. If you took any politician and gave him the choice between money and what is good for the people they would chose money hands down.  That isn’t the world that I want to live in, nor is it the world I want my children to live in.

I absolutely love my church family, we are a small church, very close knit, and for the first time I feel like I am in a church family that strives to live by Jesus’s teachings, to love others as He loved us.  I get so frustrated watching Christians today hide behind the mask of being Christian as a reason why they should get away with not following that command.  It’s very hard for me to be in close relationship with people who think only of themselves and how they can gain from other people or situations.  I want to scream, “It’s not about you”.  Stop trying to manipulate situations to be in your best interest.  Take a step back and look at the situation as a whole.  How will your actions effect not only yourself but those around you.  What consequences are going to come from this.  Are other people going to be hurt in the process or just you? Stop putting your best interests in front of others, that is not the Christian way.  That’s not the way of any religion.  As much as it pains me, and as much as I have to swallow my pride time and time again, I would much rather do what is best for the greater good and take the hit myself than gain from my actions and watch others suffer.  I couldn’t live with myself.

We don’t want to be a slave to money anymore.  We don’t want to have to put money ahead of people, and i feel sad for those who do.  Money is no God to have.  It will only make you miserable.

Important lessons we should be teaching our children

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.