The truth is that after our rent and bills are paid, we don't have a lot of wiggle room in our budget. Despite limited funds, we try to live richly on what we have - we do our best to balance limited resources and a full life. In order to do that, we make the most of our privileges. Everyone's situation will be unique, but each family can identify their own wealth and do their best to amplify their good fortune.
My choice to stay home has affected our income, but not our quality of life. We try to emphasize the value of time, family, and all the wonderful things we have despite a smaller bank account.
Here are some ways we've made the most of our advantages:
- Hand-me-downs. We have some really awesome and generous friends and neighbors who have provided us with a ton of gently used clothes and baby/kid items. We of course pay it forward when our family outgrows items as well. This has freed up some money in our budget to put towards other things like travel.
- Gifts. We have a large family that simply adore our son and want to shower him with gifts at the holidays. We suggested that rather than more toys (that he has so many of), we'd get much more out of memberships to the local zoo and/or children's museum. Family members pooled their resources and we received memberships to both - which ensures that we always have a fun, educational indoor or outdoor outing lined up!
- Family Time. We are lucky enough to have family nearby (like, really nearby). Leo has three Uncles that live within three blocks of our home - which means that we get to see them pretty regularly. It has always been nice to have them nearby, but especially now as I enter the third trimester of pregnancy, it has really become a resource. Letting Leo go out for a couple hours and have a blast at the playground with someone he adores and I trust completely has been a really welcome break.
- Quality food. We make it a priority to have nutritious and wholesome food on our table. We can't afford to eat a completely organic and local diet - but we do limit eating out so we can spend more at the grocery store and farmers market. We also learn about what's in season (and therefore cheaper) and where to find great deals on quality food.
- Free/Cheap Activities. We seek out all the great free things there are in our neighborhood and city. Parks, ponds, festivals, museums that offer "pay what you can" days. There are a lot of fun things to do out there without spending more than a few dollars.
I know our son is young at only 22 months old - but I like to think that he feels like he is the luckiest kid in the world because we have modeled focusing on what we have, rather than what we lack. I hope we can keep it up so even when he develops an awareness of money, he still feels rich. How is your family fortunate? What do you do to maximize your blessings?