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We existed only a mere hair above the poverty line for the first several years of our marriage.  Though in Canada, calling it the ‘povery line,’ rings a bit false in light of how the majority of the worlds’ population lives in terms of personal wealth.  However, smack dab in the middle of my first world problems, I remember resorting to things like taking a calculator with me as I shopped the grocery store, carefully adding up each item and beelining to the check-out when I’d reached my limit, whether or not I’d finished getting all the items from my list.  I remember also, things like telling my husband that, no, we couldn’t rent a movie tonight – even though it was Cheap Tuesday – because we’d already maxed out our entertainment budget for the month and we didn’t have the two dollars, though there was a full week left before the month officially expired.  I remember sitting on the living room floor for the first eight months of  our married life, because we didn’t have a couch.  In retrospect, I remember that we didn’t care much.  We knew it was temporary, and it felt something of an adventure, as I finished my schooling.  We languished obliviously on blankets on the floor.  We knew our days of eating oatmeal for two meals a day were numbered and so they took on an aura of rose. 

We’re almost twenty years down the road, today, and our financial outlook is brighter.  I can’t say definitively, though, that life is any more fun.  It was fun then and it’s great fun now.  I do have to confess, though, that my budgeting muscles, which were once so strong, have atrophied a wee bit of late.  Because I don’t have to budget anymore, I’m afraid that I’ve become lazy.  

Christmas is the time – for me at least – when I’m most inclined to count my blessings and to think of others.  We just purchased a rather extravagant trip to an exotic locale for the family and in light of that, have become aware, again, of our pennies.  Pennies are important, I find.  I want my pennies to count.  We’ve been perusing the FH Canada Christmas catalogue lately and we’re trying to decide what to buy.  Surely if we can afford a family vacation, we can prioritize a cow or flock of chickens or two for people to whom “need” means something very different from what it means to me and mine? 

Do any of you who have been more careful with your spending of late have any good tips for me and for those like me who feel a renewed commitment to being wise spenders so as in turn to be wise givers?  I’d really love to hear them.  Some things we have begun to do again are:

  • turn the furnace down at night and during the day when no one is home
  • using up our current grocery roster before going out to get more
  • we’ve cut our Christmas spending by 3/4 this year and are trying, instead, to be more creative gift givers
  • bundle our errands so as to prevent excess driving
  • being consistent with our kids in reminding them to turn off electricity when it’s not in use
  • saying ‘no’ to that third Starbucks that week; I find I’ve become quite extravagent that way
    I’m finding that I like myself a lot more when I’m cautious with my pennies.  I want to be that responsible global citizen who loves others through her cash.  Who really needs three Starbucks a week, anyway?