The following is a guest post from Jamie at Steady Mom. Her blog is a gem and one that I read regularly.
You don’t need me to tell you that times are tight. Frugality is an important part of making life work in today’s economy, especially as a mother.
Yet sometimes I find that the pressure of needing to save money leads me to feelings of deprivation, focusing on what I can’t do.
Instead, I prefer to think about investing our family’s money, choosing with intention the items that will bring the best return on investment — in time, financial savings, and quality of life. This helps me feel empowered, not stifled. I enjoy knowing I’m spending our money in ways that reflect our top priorities.
So here are three ways to buy without feeling guilty afterwards:
1. Invest in your family’s health.
Quality, whole food costs more than mass-produced, processed food – there’s just no getting around that fact. Saving money on food is possible, but it isn’t worth sacrificing quality to do so. Most families in the United States spend less of their income on food than those in other developed nations. While that sounds positive, it’s sadly true that those in our nation also spend more on health care – in a large part due to illnesses caused by the cheap, overly processed food we tend to eat.
Michael Pollan, best-selling author of In Defense of Food, advises people to spend more on food, but buy less. This strategy evens out the cost. I’ve found in our home that since we began investing in high quality food, we’ve naturally lessened the amount of money spent at Starbucks and similar spots. This has meant less of an impact on our budget as we choose what’s best – healthy food for our bodies.
When you invest in nutrition for your family, your body isn’t the only thing that feels better – your mind does, too. I love the feeling I have after shopping at our natural food store. Instead of handing over my family’s hard-earned dollars to the Mega Big-Box Grocery Store, I’ve supported a local business adding sustainable value to the world. What a return on my investment.
Need help figuring out what type of food to invest in? Check out these links:
- The Dirty Dozen: Top 12 Foods to Eat Organic
- Healthy Homemaking: One Step at a Time by Stephanie Langford
2. Invest in your home library.
Call me old-fashioned, but I think books never go out of style. Your local library is a wonderful place to use regularly, but every inspiring home needs its own shelves of tried-and-true favorites. I’m not referring to stocking up on too many 25-cent finds from tag sales. Remember: It’s about quality, not quantity.
So take the time to make sure that the books you have inspire you and your little people. Books like Honey for a Child’s Heart and The Read-Aloud Handbook are fabulous resources to point you in the right direction.
Once you’ve found titles worth keeping forever, don’t feel guilty for devoting a little of your family’s budget on them. Books are truly an investment – in our children, in our imagination, and in our education.
3. Invest in experiences, not more stuff.
Most of our homes don’t need any more stuff. That’s why so many books and blogs have been written to help us organize our possessions before they consume us.
So when it comes to special occasions – holidays or birthdays – think outside the box. Instead of spending money on more toys for our children or ourselves, let’s invest in experiences.
The possibilities are endless: memorable vacations together, tickets to the ballet, or maybe taking our kids to a new ethnic restaurant. Spending money this way invests in our relationships and in valuable memories the family will never forget. Try to get that same return on investment from another plastic, disposable toy off a store’s shelf.
Money itself is nothing to be afraid of, even in lean times. It’s just a tool – a powerful one we can use to bless our family. Yes, at times we’ll sacrifice in order to meet a higher priority. That’s okay. With each dollar we spend, we input into the type of atmosphere and culture we want for our loved ones. By investing intentionally, we reap the benefits of a closer, healthier family.
Jamie writes about her journey toward becoming a more intentional, professional mother at her blog, Steady Mom. Topics include getting organized, retaining enthusiasm, learning together, and making memories. She candidly presents the successes and struggles of doing life with her six-year-old daughter and two four-year-old sons (not twins!). You can find her with a cup of hot tea in one hand and a satisfying book in the other. Jamie’s upcoming book, Steady Days, will be available this winter.