After nearly two years of hearing, "I don't know how you do it!" (it being living on one income so I can stay home with our baby) we finally decided to open up about how we're making it work, and here we are on week three!
So, how do we do it? Let me recap my list:
And now to add another:
3. We make the best of what we already have.
In other words, we do our best to practice good stewardship. Webster's says that stewardship is "the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care." I think that the first step to this is viewing money as a blessing, not as an entitlement.
My husband and I have both been giving some pretty incredible gifts in our lives. Neither of us ever had to go without food, shelter or clothing as children; those were always provided for us by our parents, even at their own personal sacrifice. I've said here before that while I grew up in a well-to-do home, it wasn't always that way. My parents fought and struggled and worked incredibly hard, and they were always willing to do without in order to give to their children. My mother, my beautiful mother, wore the same twenty-five cent yard sale dress for years in order to save for school clothes for us.
Both of us were given our college educations by our parents. Both of us were given cars to drive. We were even given our beautiful and large wedding. And I don't say all of that to brag in any way at all; I say it to point out that these were gifts. We weren't entitled to them, they weren't expected, they were undeserved. Each helped to set us up for security and success, and each was a clear expression of love and sacrifice.
So now, as adults, how can we be good stewards of gifts like those? You never stop being thankful and appreciative of them. We've put our degrees to good use, and because we didn't have outstanding undergraduate debt we felt comfortable going into "good debt" for my husband's graduate degree. We take careful care of our cars and we plan to drive them until their last possible breath. We've taken careful care of our wedding gifts, and still daily use many of them, like our knives and pots and pans. We added gifted money to our savings and used all of that savings for the down payment on our home.
On a more day-to-day level, it's a little harder. It's hard to appreciate what you already have when it's old or faded or lacking in style. I'm not perfect, but I do try hard to make sure something is truly used up before I replace it. We painted our kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them. Before we replaced our old damaged countertops, we stretched them out a few more months with some special counter paint. We've taken hand-me-down after hand-me-down for furniture and other household items and been amazed by what a good cleaning and fresh coat of paint or new knobs can do. We made do with a nearly 15-year-old hand-me-down couch for the first almost five years of our marriage by cleaning it regularly with a rented upholstery cleaner and some cute pillows. (We finally replaced it a couple of months ago with a Craigslist find.)
Pinterest.com is an amazing resource for upcycling stuff you have on hand. A new picture in an old frame can or rearranging showcase items on a shelf can do wonders for loving a space in your home. When I've struggled with loving my home, wishing I could afford something new from Restoration Hardware or Anthropologie, I've rearranged furniture or called my mom to help me rearrange a space. I've found that painting something old a bright, new color and hanging up my favorite photographs in my home go way further with making me happy in it than dropping $200 at Home Goods.
Now if only I could be better about this philosophy when it comes to clothes!