My philosophy on ‘less’

On my About page, I write that, “… I believe that, with a little imagination and a lot of optimism, anyone can create a lovely home without spending a fortune. Living Rich on Less is not simply about making our dollars stretch farther … Rather, it centers on my quest to edit my life so that I have room for the things I love and, more importantly, the people I love.

At times, this proves a challenging quest, as I do adore pretty, shiny things. But as Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote,

    “The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.”

So, when it boils down to it, I guess my idea of “less” includes doing more with less, while also being picky about what I bring into my life. And, if I’m being completely honest, this is not always easy.

I once had a Facebook follower challenge my claim to live rich on less by pointing out that I had so much stuff in my home. And she’s right. My house does have SO MUCH STUFF. It’s overflowing with stuff. Aren’t a lot of homes overflowing with stuff?

It’s funny because, many times, we complain that our biggest homemaking headaches revolve around our need to purge, organize, donate, clean and get our family members to pick up ALL OUR STUFF. Yet we don’t seem to take responsibility for how the stuff made its way into our houses in the first place. It’s as if naughty little trolls visit our homes while we’re away, filling them with junk and leaving a scene that resembles an episode of “Hoarders.”


So what are those of us who are committed to “living rich on less” to do? Well, one thing that works for me is to be extra careful about shopping.

Below are some tips on how we can curb that shopping impulse (and subsequently keep ourselves from being featured in a TV documentary):

  1. Get picky. Before you run to the checkout counter with that cute sweater, stop! Think long and hard. Do I really need it? When (exactly) will I wear it? Is it similar to one I already have in my closet? Will I look absolutely amazing in it? If possible, consider waiting at least 24 hours before you buy it. Chances are, the urge will pass.
  2. Ditch those credit cards. More than a decade ago, my husband and I committed to living free of credit card debt. Getting out from under that weight has been one of our greatest blessings and has led us to make other smart financial decisions as well (thank you, Dave Ramsey).
  3. Stick to your shopping list and shop less frequently. Before you head to the store, make sure that you write on a list of paper things you need to buy and try to stick to the list.
  4. Find another hobby/habit. If shopping has become a regular part of your free-time routine (I was guilty of this before we had kids), try to divert your attention to something else. Exercise, chat with friends, write a book, organize something, start a home improvement project, etc. I think it’s important to recognize that shopping can truly become an addictive, destructive behavior – even an escape route for some people. We have so much more to offer the world than our wallets, wouldn’t you agree?

The truth is, I love to shop. But as my life continues to get richer and fuller with the hobbies and people I love, I’ve discovered I don’t have the time or desire to hit the shopping mall very often anymore. And honestly, I don’t miss it. Neither does our bank account.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21

What are your thoughts on ALL OUR STUFF? Got any tips for living rich on less (and with less)? I’d love for you to share them.

4 ways to keep your kids from mooching off you forever

As parents (or grandparents), we spend a lot of time teaching kids good manners, how to be safe, and how to act appropriately in public. But often we neglect one of the most important lessons – preparing them to be financially responsible.

Statistics show that kids aren’t learning much about personal finance in school. That means, if we’re not teaching them about money, there may be no place in their world where financial education takes place. As a result, they will likely enter adulthood with very little awareness of what dollars and cents really mean.

Below are four ways we can teach children about money and set our little ones on a path of future financial success and prosperity.

1. Model good money behavior. Kids are more likely to do what you do than do what you say. Make sure you’re showcasing healthy financial philosophies and behaviors in your own life. Also, be honest and transparent about your financial situation, including the mistakes and successes you’ve had with money and how you’re working to reduce debt and increase saving and giving. Don’t brush off questions about money or pretend it’s not important. Instill in your children from an early age that handling money in a smart and generous way is one of the most important aspects of a successful life.


(Our daughter loves playing “Cash Flow for Kids“*  with us. It’s a fun game, created by the author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” that teaches the basics of earning and spending, assets and liabilities. The other day, as I was buying something online, Eva said, “Mom, you know that’s a liability, right? We should try to build assets instead.”) 😉

2. Avoid the phrase, “We can’t afford it.” This may cause children to worry that the family is struggling financially. Instead, consider saying, “We choose not to spend our money that way.” Even better, consider asking, “How can we afford it?” This encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills, expanding childrens’ understanding of how value and wealth are created. It also teaches that we do, indeed, have a great deal of control over our ultimate financial destiny.

3. Involve kids in household shopping. Take them to the store and let them hold your list or coupons. This is a great chance to talk about planning, saving and finding the best value. Don’t, however, overexpose children to shopping. Shopping as simply a leisure activity encourages materialism and impulse buying.

4. Consider an allowance but never a loan. An allowance can help children learn how to handle money on their own. Experts recommend starting at age 6 with a weekly amount and then spacing out the timing as children get older. You can use it as a way to teach short- and long-term saving as well as good spending habits and giving philosophies. Resist the urge to give kids a loan. It’s important they make choices and then live with the consequences. If they spent their month’s allowance in the first week, too bad. By experiencing a negative consequence firsthand, they’ll learn to make smarter choices.

“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” – 1 Tim. 6:17-19

Do you feel you’ve done a good job teaching your kids or grand kids about money? What challenges have you faced in this area?

* Affiliate links provided for your convenience

Waiting is painful, yet fruitful

On Tuesday afternoon, my husband and I took the kids to the lake to swim. While I was taking a dip myself, I got water in my right ear that still has not come out. I’ve shaken my head sideways so much I now have neck pain. I’ve tried every home remedy and over-the-counter product you can get your hands on. No luck. My right ear is still frustratingly clogged.

I’ll probably need to see a doctor to fix the problem, which won’t happen until Monday at the earliest. So until then, I’m stuck with a water-logged ear and jacked-up hearing.

If you’re anything like me, you despise those times when life is difficult and nothing you can do at the moment will change your circumstances.

Yet these are also the times when I’m reminded how desperately the fruit of the Spirit needs cultivated in my weak, earthly self.



Patience and self-control seem to need the Master Gardener’s care most often in my life, it seems. 😉

Our culture is not one that teaches patience, is it? The frustration of drivers behind the wheel or the troubling amount of debt the average consumer now carries are everyday reminders of how difficult it has become for us to wait … for anything.

Many times, I have been impatient and frustrated with the Lord when He hasn’t answered a prayer immediately or operated according to my schedule. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve even tried to manipulate situations or circumstances and “fix things on my own” in an effort to get my way.

Will I ever truly grasp that an omniscient (all-knowing) God who created and rules over time can never be late?

Waiting requires patience along with a good measure of faith, doesn’t it? Ironically, it’s typically the difficult, need-to-wait circumstances I face that truly grow – and display – patience and faith in my life.

Obviously, a little water in my ear is not the most difficult, patience-producing event I’ve ever experienced. But it’s one more, small reminder that God’s work is like a seed planted deep in the soil. I can’t see the underground process. But just as a budding tree eventually appears, in time, the Lord’s ordained outcome will become evident.

What difficult circumstance have you faced that required you to develop patience and faith?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)