Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Pursuit of Stuff

I live in a very nice community that I really like. I live in a cookie cutter house (you know the kind, it blends in with everyone else's in the neighborhood) in a cozy neighborhood within walking distance to the community library. Homeschooler's heaven right? Maybe.

I will be the first to tell you that I feel quite blessed to have all that I have. The Lord has certainly taken care of us. While I could not drop a couple hundred in Macy's for a pair of jeans without having a cardiac arrest, I certainly can party at the Goodwill like it's 1999. And maybe even Target on a day I am feeling quite flush.

I was at a local babysitting co-op meeting the other day and one of my friends told me she had placed an offer on a house. She lives in a duplicate cookie cutter neighborhood a mile or so away in a three year old gorgeous house, yet is buying another? I know what you are thinking and you are dead wrong. She has decided to down size.

This is a family of 6 who currently reside in an approximately 2400 square foot house, three levels, finished basement, yada, yada, yada. She could not be more thrilled to be moving into the 50 year old little cape code just a mile away. I could not be any more excited for her.

My friend and her husband have decided to make a bigger investment in their family instead of their stuff. Their children all go to private school and they tithe faithfully. This is more important to them than perfectly manicured lawns or brand new crown molding. They are building a legacy that will make a difference and have a lot of meaning. I applaud them with a standing ovation.

I have recently become much more convicted that my husband works to support our stuff. Although we got our house for a steal, the taxes are ridiculously high. We have a small amount of consumer credit card debt that bought items for which I probably could never account. Do I really want my husband to have the aggravation of working so hard to pay the interest on some thing that I can no longer even identify, that I had to have? Frankly, I would not mind retiring in a double wide somewhere (as long as some freakish storm does not pick it up and carry us away a la' Oz style) with a buttload of money to do with as we wished. I would like to write a check out right for my child's college education; which of course will not be necessary as all home schooled children are brilliant and go to school on full scholarships, right? I want to never have to "rob Peter to pay Paul" and cringe when we turn the heat up as it is wasted in the couple rooms we rarely use (dining room, guest room, etc.). Bottom line is that I want a fat bottom line.

So how to get there? Baby steps, to steal a term from Dave Ramsey, a money guru I adore. No more McD's runs due to laziness and buying K.Z. yet another 6 pack of socks when he cannot find the 1300 pair he already owns (I kid you not, I have done this recently). And cash. All cash. I have tried this a few times and was very successful and then got lazy. We usually use our check card, which in theory is cash, since it sucks money from our checking account. However, I still have to sit and face Quicken after I use it and decide which "cookie jar" that expenditure is coming from. It's amazing to me that something so rudimentary and basic has to be reinvented and thrown in a pretty package for my generation. If you don't have the money to pay for it, don't pay for it. It is just common sense.

The other day we went out to lunch to celebrate K.Z.'s big derby win and then hit Cold Stone for ice cream. Three times now I have fretted over just what category in my budget I was going to use to cover it. Then I remembered, we used cash for both... and I had a big sigh of relief.


TheTutor said...

As you know, we pay cash for everything also and are looking for our matching double-wide to park across the field from yours, so this isn't a criticism but a question 'cause I am really confused.

Isn't the cash you used to eat out technically budgeted in one of your cookie jars? You just took it out before shopping rather than after, right? You still have to budget it. Am I missing something?

You can't withhold from me... if there is a penny-pinching strategy out there, I must be informed of it! :)

Aduladi' said...

You are right, I was unclear there! The cash that we spent was our allowance money (since although we have a "dining out cookie jar" in Quicken, we never leave it alone enough to let it accumulate, LOL!), plus a little leftover birthday money. I try and always take our allowance out in cash straight away to keep us accountable.

The problem I tend to run into is that I take the "oh well" attitude at a store if I exceed my budget at the register (grocery store is the biggest culprit). After all, with a check card I know that there is money in the bank even if it is allocated for another purpose. With cash, I would have to make due and put something back which is exactly what I need to start doing!


TheTutor said...

Okie Dokie! Confusion gone. Thanks! :)