Isn’t it funny how there are so many articles, books, blog posts, etc., about saving money? It is the simplest thing in the world. Stop spending so much, or make more money. The end.
Just like losing weight. Stop eating so much, or get more exercise.
And yet somehow both of these goals have spawned huge industries, everything from books on saving money (that you have to BUY), and diet food (that you have to EAT).
The standard advice on money saving is things like stop buying meals out, shop at thrift stores, start a garden, bake your own bread, buy on sale, use coupons. Not only is this rather obvious, it all involves BUYING things.
Don’t go rummaging for junk for your house at thrift stores instead of an expensive place. Just stop buying it all together. Gardening is a wonderful hobby that brings real joy, but I am willing to bet you are not going into debt buying carrots and tomatoes. If your children have literally nothing to wear, I suppose getting them clothes at a thrift store is good advice. But buying them simple clothing, buying them only what they truly need, is not the real problem in your budget, I would guess, even if you buy it new.
What we are really looking for when we search for information on these topics is, how can I make this thing, this hard thing that I know I must do, easier? How can I get this done without the pain, without the work, without feeling the pinch and the hunger?
That is where the “money saving” advice becomes useful, even if it is answering a different question. Cloth diapers do indeed cost less in the long run over disposable (but still more than not having a baby). A garden grown tomato costs less than a store bought one (if you garden wisely, not filling up expensive raised beds with expensive soil), but still more than skipping the tomato all together. I am ABSOLUTELY not saying to not have babies or tomatoes in your life, just that they still cost money no matter how they get here.
So we are trying to live a life of joy, a life full of babies and tomatoes, and we want to know how to spend the least amount of money doing it. That is the question I am answering with this blog. Recording the small joys. Building a life of contentment that over time, has made me able to leave Starbucks, Target, and Panera in the dust and never look back. I am happy here, at home. It took me a while to get there. I started baking, gardening, chicken keeping, etc. to save money, and if I were to really calculate it, I’m sure I have saved quite a bit. But that is not the REAL savings. What it really did was make me happy with my life, give me a purpose, in a way that buying bread, tomatoes, and eggs never did. It keeps me away from the constant wanting, fills the hole and the boredom that mindless shopping and driving around never could.
Saving money. We all know how to do it. We just don’t know how to do it without being miserable.
And to rephrase that thought, what we are saying is, I am unhappy when I don’t spend money. That is something that no book can fix. You must find your own way, your own contentment. (Although I am happy to use this space to record mine.) And that is the hard truth about saving money.