I know my position as far as finances might not be popular with a lot of people. I may be pretty vocal about it sometimes, like today, on facebook. The Book of Mormon references the danger of being attached to worldly things on more than one occasion, it's a warning, not just for days of old, but most especially for the present. There are few things where I feel like I really excel and live up to my potential as a daughter of God. I feel like if I can be financially responsible, and follow His counsel, it's another step in the right direction. If my opinion comes off strong sometimes, it's because I feel strongly. And most often my opinion is directly in correlation with something I've already learned the hard way. My intent is never to make someone feel judged or like I think of them a certain way, I tend to think the best of people until they throw out a personal attack on my character. So I'm just going to share what Steve and I have been through, in hopes that people better understand why I think the way I do. Not everyone has the same experiences, but I feel that we can all learn from each other.
Steve and I made some ridiculous choices in the beginning of our marriage that lead to a lot of stress, a lot of tension and a lot of sleepless nights. I went so far as to print out our "financial record" from our first year of marriage as a visual aid, to help us. We were both working and should've been doing exceptionally well, but instead we fell into the "red" every month... EVERY MONTH. We became pregnant during that year and had Kalea. Being on mat leave seemed at first like a curse. In fact in some ways it was, we had to give up our apt and move ourselves and our baby into my in-laws basement, and thus we lost some of that independence that we had been craving when we got married. What we didn't understand in those first months of marriage, we learned in the next year plus while living with Steve's parents. We were so blessed to have that time with them, and for Kalea to get to have that time with them. You learn a lot about your spouse when you live in such close proximity with their family, you learn a lot about your in-laws that many people think you wouldn't want to, but I can promise you it was a blessing. We learned a lot about money. We learned a lot about budgeting. We learned a lot about fulfilling obligations. We learned a lot about what we want for our own family. We organized our financial house. We were able to find affordable housing in one of the most unaffordable cities in the country. We were able to trade in our "mistake" for a reliable car. We had a second baby. We don't end the month in overdraft anymore. Both sets of our parents have been huge blessings through these somewhat difficult early years of our marriage. They have contributed financially, emotionally, spiritually, physically and have offered endless babysitting and even some cash when we just needed a night to ourselves to get out and escape from our challenges. In all of this I have learned so much that has become so important to how I conduct myself, and how I manage our family finances. I might suck at math, but I have made covenants and promises to live in a way where I can provide for my family and then the poor. I don't consider our finances to be "ours" anymore. What Steve and I earn/gain or are blessed with is not ours, so in matters of spending, I seriously reconsider everything now. That's not to say that I'm perfect at it, or that I don't ever indulge, it just means that I've come to a place where I am really understanding the value of what we have. And what I value isn't what the money can buy us, it's how we can use it to bless those around us.
On our date the other night we were discussing what it would be like to have the money to travel wherever we wanted with our kids. I made some comment about not wanting to take my kids to these places unless there was an opportunity to serve, which kind've threw a curveball in the convo. Here's what I want for my kids. I want them to know that our blessings are from the Lord. I want them to know that if they are going somewhere fabulous, they don't get to go for "free". I want them to learn that they aren't entitled to vacations just because they're our kids and we have money. I want them to see the world, not a resort. I want them to get their hands and feet dirty serving someone without the luxuries we have. Because, boys and girls, we are blessed to live where we do, as we do. We are not entitled to the luxuries of the world, but the blessings of heaven. We are under covenant to walk as Jesus walked and do as He did. I want my kids to know that that is more important to mom and dad then a pretty vase or nice curtains. I want my kids to know that the experiences we provide them are opportunities for growth and opportunities to love and reach out and connect with other human beings. I want to have the money to provide them those opportunities as they grow, so if that means I forgo shopping at places that buy things for pennies in impoverished countries and successfully re-sell them for hundreds and thousands of dollars here, then I will forgo those stores until the day I die. There is so much temptation in the world to live up to other peoples' expectations, there is only one that I care about and His is pretty clear. I expect that Steve and I will have many financial temptations in the coming years as we move our family forward, I expect that we won't succumb to many of them, but there will be those few that we stumble on. I pray everyday that our financial decisions won't have negative impacts on our children or their children, etc... I pray everyday that I can be an example to them and live in a way that teaches them that it is more important to live happily within your means than any other way, and when blessings come we spread that good fortune around.
*On that note*
We have wonderful friends who are very financially blessed. They helped us provide some "nice to have things" for Kalea that we couldn't have been able to afford when she was born, the curtains in Brynlee's room come from their home, I have another pair waiting to be hung in our living room. Thank you.
Growing up, there was a family who at some points provided Christmas for our family and bags of hardly worn hand me downs that my parents could only someday dream of being able to afford for me. Thank you.
These are people who we love, respect and cherish. They have used their blessings to bless us, and how grateful I am for each one of them. Their examples have not been wasted on our family and those acts of kindness and love will speak more for them in the next life than any of the nice things that fill their homes now, and they know that.