Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What's So Great About the American Dream?

Due to my current job related anxieties (see my post here if you don't know what I'm talking about) I've been thinking a lot the past few days about paring down our lives.  I look around my house and I see so much stuff that I never use, never need, and never even think about.  And I spent my hard earned money on this junk.  Hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars of our money over the course of our marriage.

Ok, so I'm probably the junk-buying culprit.  I know.  It's something I've been needing to work on.

At any rate, I need to stop spending money on stupid junk we don't need.  But it's the "American Dream," right?  To buy whatever we want that we don't need, whenever we want to.  I've totally bought into this way of thinking, and it's honestly brought nothing but problems.  I have bought stuff when we didn't have the extra money to buy it (I mean this is really going to be an ongoing battle.  I almost did it again this morning), I have bought stuff we didn't need just because I was feeling stressed out or depressed.  How much have I sabotaged our savings account?

Sometimes I think I don't want to know.

But with the very real possibility of a job change/pay cut coming down the pipes, I am re-evaluating.

The sad thing is that I have a really hard time deciding what is a luxury, and what is a necessity after years and years of just buying what I want, when I want it.  I look at our netflix bill and think "it's not even $10 a month, how much of a difference is that going to make?"  But we've been paying for Netflix for about 4 years now.  That's hundreds of dollars.  Netflix is not a necessity.  I mean, that's just one example, but really, I know there is so much more that we can cut out.  After all of these years though, it really is hard to decide what we really can't live without.

I just keep thinking to myself, why the heck have I bought into the lie that being able to buy whatever I want will make me happy?  I think this is the case a lot of time regardless of the cost to our savings account, our ability to pay bills, or stay out of debt.  What is wrong with me?

Now I'm sitting here in a house full of stuff, lots of it without a home or permanent place (re- a permanent mess), and I'm more anxious than I am happy.  Anxious that I have bills to pay, a baby to raise, and a house that is a complete mess.  And for what?  For STUFF?  

Oh man.  I just feel like there is so much that I need to change.  So much that I need to work on and so many priorities that I have got to switch around.  I need to be so much more grateful for what I have than I am, and I want to stop wishing for more and more in the way of material possessions.  I want to be done with the American dream.  I want what is real and intangible.

Smiles from my daughter

A relaxed day with my family

Home-cooked meals and no rushing around

Food in our bellies, a roof over our heads, and a healthy family.

Friends and a community of people around us that we can support, and will support us.

Faith that is real, vibrant, and alive

These are the things that matter, and this is what I want to focus on.

That's just my two cents worth.  =)

This -------> is what is important.


  1. Have you heard of "7" by Jen Hatmaker? It's all about trying to avoid the trap of consumerism. I have just started it, and I pass on the recommendation I got from several friends. If you want to live more simply, this is a great book to read.

    1. I haven't heard of it, but I will definitely be checking it out now. Thanks Carrie! =)

  2. I agree it's hard not being able to buy what you want whenever you want. I've always been frugal, but I didn't truly become 'frugal' until now since my husband and I are full-time college students with a toddler and expecting baby # 2. Only my husband works so if it weren't for cloth diapering we wouldn't be able to survive! Seriously, I cannot afford to buy disposable every month. We have had to completely give up date nights, we do not go out to eat (AT this past weekend we were out of town and Gabe was cranky so we thought maybe just this once we'll do Subway, but then we reminded ourselves that the $15 we'd spend at Subway is actually needed to buy laundry detergent in a few weeks, etc.). When I'm at the a store like Wal-Mart of Joanne's Fabric and I see other people shopping and buying stuff for their babies/kids sometimes I get jealous. Whenever I shop I take forever because I have my phone calculator out, making sure I'm getting the best deal for my money. Sometimes it's the choice between what I need more...not do I need this but do I need it that bad. Like our baby # 2 due in December, it'd be nice to have those cozy fleece onsie pajamas for her, but I find myself debating to buy the really cute $8 ones at Wal-Mart because that seems so expensive to me! Whereas last pregnancy I would have thought it was cheap. Now my idea of cheap is the baby section at Good Will or Salvation Army.

    Anyway, sorry for a rant :) My point is that it is possible to live on a single budget and be happy. My family has everything it needs. I have taught myself to sew over the past few months so that I can make diapers and cloths for my kids. It's much cheaper to buy the fabric yourself and then you get to create super cute clothes that you wouldn't be able to afford at the store! So yes, it can be stressful changing your lifestyle, but it's possible and worth it. I could be one of those moms in college that does school and work full time but to me it's not worth it. I'm still able to make my family dinner, clean the house, and spend a few hours every night with my son and husband and to me, these luxuries are much more important than material luxuries.

    Best of luck in your job venture!

    1. Thanks for that rant Amanda! I love knowing that it's totally doable, and I think it's always awesome to hear how other moms are making ends meet. I know it's going to be a struggle, but I'm going to try to do whatever I can do be home with my daughter as much as possible! I actually just decided to start up a Mary Kay business tonight to try to make some extra income (which will hopefully put us one step closer to being a stay at home/work at home mom) a little ways down the road. I have high hopes for it. =) I'll let you know how it goes. I just want to be able to be there when my daughter is growing up! It's so important to me.

      Thanks again for the comment. I really did find it encouraging. You keep up the awesome mommy-ing!