Giving myself grace vs. making excuses

Hello! I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve actually had the chance to sit down at my computer for more than 15 minutes.

I have been working on three, yes THREE, big DIY projects this week and I’ve also got something huge in the works that has kept me busy over the past several weeks. More to come on that very soon. 😉

But today I wanted to share with you something I’m struggling with and an amazing article from Ruth at Living Well Spending Less® that’s really helping me gain some perspective.

I am a serial procrastinator. As a result, I am often left with a mountain of work I have to squeeze into a small amount of time because I’ve put off important, deadline-driven stuff until the last minute. This leaves me feeling exhausted and defeated. I’m trying to get better at managing my time, but it continues to be a challenge.

ahh-procrastination

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One question I have is when is it good to take a break from all the chores and work? When are breaks healthy and when are they just excuses for me to do something other than what I should really be doing at the moment?

Below, Ruth sheds some light on the difference between giving yourself grace (we all need it sometimes!) and just making excuses for not doing what we need to do.

As women, I think we tend to be pretty darn hard on ourselves, and sometimes our expectations are unreasonably high. We want to be good moms and good wives and good friends, and we want to do all those things we think we are supposed to do, and be involved with church and school or start our own business or implement all those ideas we see on Pinterest. The list goes on and on.

And, because we put so much pressure on ourselves, it is really easy to feel like we are failing when we can’t get it all done. This is exactly why it is so important to be able to give ourselves grace when things don’t turn out exactly the way we wanted them to, or when we let ourselves down, but I also think sometimes we don’t give ourselves the grace we need because we are afraid it might mean we are making excuses.

What is the difference between grace and excuses and how can we tell which one we are choosing? 

Grace vs. Excuses

  • Grace says ‘mistakes aren’t fatal’; excuses use mistakes as a reason to quit.
  • Grace realizes that progress is more important than perfection; excuses use perfection as a reason to procrastinate.
  • Grace says ‘I am not my mess’; excuses let the mess define them.
  • Grace understands the bigger picture; excuses fixate on the small details.
  • Grace recognizes that people aren’t perfect and offers forgiveness; excuses use the failure as a reason to write someone off.
  • Grace is big; excuses are small.
  • Grace offers courage; excuses propagate fear.
  • Grace brings hope; excuses make you feel hopeless.
  • Grace gives you the ability to try again tomorrow; excuses allow you to give up.

I think Ruth’s list is super insightful and I’ll be using it to help determine when I really need to take a break and when I need to keep working to break my bad habit of procrastination. 🙂

This week, will you give yourself grace or will you make excuses?

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.”

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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.

Cash-Flow-for-Kids

(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