It’s easy to look back over the last several years, and think if only I’d done this or that, we would have been a lot better off a lot sooner.
I’m sure that anyone would have thought we were crazy a few years ago when we didn’t have any money, and maybe on some levels, I would have been smarter to just get a job rather than be so determined to stay home with my kids!
But we did eke it out. We stuck with our determination to make a living from home, we went through some serious rough patches, but we made it.
People think I’m exaggerating when I say we were dirt poor, because we look alright from the outside – just maybe a little bit anti-social. But the truth is, we had a roof over our heads only because of the graciousness of our landlords allowing us to delay our rent payment. We weren’t anti-social, we couldn’t afford to drive our car.
And you know what? I wouldn’t trade the lessons those experiences taught me for the world!
Money isn’t the answer to everything. Money can buy things, but it can’t buy experience, and it can’t buy character.
6 Things I learned From Being Dirt Poor
Happiness is a choice you make. Yes, you can be happy – even when you’re dirt poor. I’m ashamed that it took me so long to learn that lesson, but I can at least confidently say that I never would have learned that happiness is not based in material wealth if we hadn’t been so broke for so long. It truly is a gift from God.
You can work really hard. I thought I knew how to work, but then we went broke, and had kids. Between having a toddler, being pregnant (and then mom to a newborn), growing as much food as we could, trying to help my family out when we lost our mom, and trying to build a business, I finally learned work ethic for real. My former, pre-pregnant self is a little ashamed of how hard my pregnant self could work (let’s not even get started on my teenaged self!).
You don’t have to spend money. This is really important, because if you have a spending problem, making more money won’t fix it – it will only grow with every paycheck. I’ve always believed that it was my duty to wisely steward the gifts God has given me, but now I realize that my stewardship always has room for improvement.
Good food doesn’t actually cost a lot. Spending $20 a week on groceries was a luxury, and we learned to eat, and eat well, (or less) for the whole family. My cooking skills were forced to improve as we got creative with less expensive food (and FYI, tempeh tacos are actually really good!), and find free food where we could.
(What toddlers do to a bowl of apples 😛 )
You can make more things from scratch than you think you can. You’ll be really surprised how many things you can make from scratch to save money. From the afore mentioned tempeh, to homemade body products. Not only are they cheaper, but they’re much more healthy!
You don’t have to be rich to live a healthy lifestyle. Fitness and good food don’t have to cost a fortune. Despite our meager food budget, we managed to eat well using tactics like buying frozen produce over fresh, cooking dried beans instead of buying canned, and hunting deer in the fall and winter. We set up a weight rack under our car port, which was a tremendous help in staying fit, and as a chronic outdoor runner, I find gyms boring. So even though we couldn’t have afforded a gym membership if we had wanted one, we didn’t need it, and still managed to stay very active.
Above all, I think experience with poverty gave us the ability to live apart from our wealth (or lack thereof). We don’t so much view money as an all-consuming need now.
Earlier this year, I was offered a job that would have almost doubled our income. I knew the hours would work around Gabriel’s, so baby sitting wasn’t an issue, but the fact is, I want to be home with my kids. So I said no.
I’m earning enough money as a stay-at-home mom right now, and if God sees fit, He’s welcome to increase those earnings, but because I know that I can crunch my budget down to almost nothing, I can say “no” to that job offer, and stay home for my kids with confidence.
Because the most important lesson I’ve learned from being poor is that I am not my money.
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