Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Provident Living: Finding Fun in Frugality

I've been thinking a lot about frugality lately. Maybe it's because of the lack of security our family feels in this job market or maybe because of the counsel given by President Monson to the priesthood brethren last October: "We urge all Latter-day Saints to be prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living, and to avoid excessive or unnecessary debt."- President Thomas S. Monson, October 2008 Priesthood Session, General Conference

So often, we want our families to have what others have. Sometimes when I visit a beautifully furnished and decorated home, I feel my house is inferior and I need to go furniture shopping. When a friend tells me that a particular toy or electronic gadget greatly entertains her child, I feel like I should buy it for my kid. When I look at a beautifully dressed person, I believe my clothes need updating or accessorizing. However, this type of thinking is actually coveting. The "Keeping up with the Jones mentality" is one of Satan's tools, designed to make us miserable, either by buying things we don't need which clutter up our homes, buying things we can't afford and getting into financial trouble or by wishing we had something we don't have instead of counting our blessings. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said, "All too often a family's spending is governed more by their yearning than by their earning. They somehow believe that their life will be better if they surround themselves with an abundance of things. All too often all they are left with is avoidable anxiety and distress."

We have all heard the phrase "money doesn't buy happiness." It is actually true! Tim Kasser, Associate Professor of Psychology at Knox College and author of “The High Price of Materialism,” conducted a study of people in the same zip code within the same age group. The study compared people with a consumer mentality (typical consumer-driven middle class) versus “voluntary simplifiers” who downscaled their lives by buying less and even working in lower paying jobs. Surprise, surprise! Voluntary simplifiers were much happier while people with a consumer mentality lived lives of anxiety, depression and physical problems.

My husband and I have friends who live a life of voluntary simplicity. At the time that we were neighbors, my husband and I were busy commuting and working in the corporate world (before we had children.) Meanwhile, our friends had a small business which paid their basic necessities but didn't allow for many extras. They didn't subscribe to expensive cable/satellite service or eat out at pricey restaurants. Instead, they enjoyed listening to music on CDs, reading books and watching movies they borrowed at the library. They called their visit to the library "Lover's Night Out." They took walks, found free hiking trails, and explored local towns and historical sites for entertainment. Even though my husband and I could go to a movie or a see Broadway show anytime we wanted and visit the nicest restaurants around, we were stressed out all the time and exhausted. Our friends, on the other hand, were happy and content. There is a lesson to be learned from our neighbors. Frugality can be fun!!

So with the new year, I am determined to find fun in frugality, live life more simply, and count my blessings more often. How about you? How can you live a more joyful, simple life? Please share your thoughts.



4 comments:

Kari said...

Several years ago I simply made the decision to be happy.

I know it sounds really corny, but I decided to accept my current level of financial means and live happily within it.

My husband and I decided to downsize to only one car and eliminate a second car payment. I accepted that it was best for our family if I didn't work outside the home and that meant a permanent loss of between 45-65K per year.

That meant our retirement plans would change. A lot of plans changed! :)

But accepting what I have and living with gratitude for the gifts that have been given has completely changed my life and brought with it a peace I had previously only glimpsed briefly.

I know that there is a cost for everything and I'm not willing to pay the cost that comes with additional income and "things".

Lynn said...

Oh! I SOoo needed to hear this. This certainly made me happy to know I am on the right track....I was beginning to wonder. : D Satan is Sooo sneaky.

Thanks for your wonderful blog!

Kathy said...

I've been thinking a lot about this topic lately. Less, oftentimes, really is more. I think living simply keeps you from being trapped by your stuff. Thanks for the great post.

Jukebox Hero said...

Yes, thank you for sharing your insight. It definitely helped!

Preparedness Quotes

"When faced with the choice to buy, consume, or engage in worldly things and activities, we all need to learn to say to one another, 'We can’t afford it, even though we want it!' or 'We can afford it, but we don’t need it—and we really don’t even want it!'" - Elder Robert D. Hales, April 2009 General Conference

"Many areas of the world have experienced difficult economic times. Businesses have failed, jobs have been lost, and investments have been jeopardized. We must make certain that those for whom we share responsibility do not go hungry or unclothed or unsheltered. When the priesthood of this Church works together as one in meeting these vexing conditions, near miracles take place.

"We urge all Latter-day Saints to be prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living, and to avoid excessive or unnecessary debt."
- President Thomas S. Monson, October 2008 Priesthood Session, General Conference

"Avoid the philosophy that yesterday's luxuries have become today's necessities. They aren't necessities until we make them so. Many enter into long-term debt only to find that changes occur; people become ill or incapacitated, companies fail or downsize, jobs are lost, natural disasters befall us. For many reasons, payments on large amounts of debt can no longer be made. Our debt becomes as a Damocles sword hanging over our heads and threatening to destroy us."
- President Thomas S. Monson, April 2006 General Conference

“We have built grain storage and storehouses and stocked them with the necessities of life in the event of a disaster. But the real storehouse is the family storeroom. In words of revelation the Lord has said, ‘Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing’ (D&C 109:8.)”
President Gordon B. Hinckley

"We need to make both temporal and spiritual preparation for the events prophesied at the time of the Second Coming. And the preparation most likely to be neglected is the one less visible and more difficult--the spiritual. A 72-hour kit of temporal supplies may prove valuable for earthly challenges, but, as the foolish virgins learned to their sorrow, a 24-hour kit of spiritual preparation is of greater and more enduring value.

"We are living in the prophesied time 'when peace shall be taken from the earth' (D&C 1:35,) when 'all things shall be in commotion' and 'men's hearts shall fail them' (D&C 88:91.) There are many temporal causes of commotion, including wars and natural disasters, but an even greater cause of current 'commotion' is spiritual." Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“Every father and mother are the family’s store keepers. They should store whatever their family would like to have in case of an emergency…(and) God will sustain us through our trials.” President James E. Faust

“We live in a most exciting and challenging period in human history. As technology sweeps through every facet of our lives, changes are occurring so rapidly that it can be difficult for us to keep our lives in balance. To maintain some semblance of stability in our lives, it is essential that we plan for our future. I believe it is time, and perhaps with some urgency, to review the counsel we have received in dealing with our personal and family preparedness. We want to be found with oil in our lamps sufficient to endure to the end.”- Elder L. Tom Perry, Ensign, Nov. 1995

"Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had their year's supply of food. . . and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have at least a year's supply of debt and are food free." President Thomas S. Monson

"Just as it is important to prepare ourselves spiritually, we must also prepare ourselves for our temporal needs. … We have been instructed for years to follow at least four requirements in preparing for that which is to come.

“First, gain an adequate education. Learn a trade or a profession to enable you to obtain steady employment that will provide remuneration sufficient to care for yourself and your family. …

“Second, live strictly within your income and save something for a rainy day. Incorporate in your lives the discipline of budgeting that which the Lord has blessed you with. As regularly as you pay your tithing, set aside an amount needed for future family requirements. …

“Third, avoid excessive debt. Necessary debt should be incurred only after careful, thoughtful prayer and after obtaining the best possible advice. We need the discipline to stay well within our ability to pay. …

“Fourth, acquire and store a reserve of food and supplies that will sustain life [if local laws permit such storage]. Obtain clothing and build a savings account on a sensible, well-planned basis that can serve well in times of emergency. As long as I can remember, we have been taught to prepare for the future and to obtain a year’s supply of necessities. I would guess that the years of plenty have almost universally caused us to set aside this counsel. I believe the time to disregard this counsel is over. With events in the world today, it must be considered with all seriousness.” - Elder L. Tom Perry, October 1995 General Conference

“Maintain a year's supply. The Lord has urged that his people save for the rainy days, prepare for the difficult times, and put away for emergencies, a year's supply or more of bare necessities so that when comes the flood, the earthquake, the famine, the hurricane, the storms of life, our families can be sustained through the dark days. How many of us have complied with this? We strive with the Lord, finding many excuses: We do not have room for storage. The food spoils. We do not have the funds to do it. We do not like these common foods. It is not needed -- there will always be someone to help in trouble. The government will come to the rescue. And some intend to obey but procrastinate.” - The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.375

“All too often a family's spending is governed more by their yearning than by their earning. They somehow believe that their life will be better if they surround themselves with an abundance of things. All too often all they are left with is avoidable anxiety and distress” - Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

"Be prepared in all things against the day when tribulations and desolations are sent forth upon the wicked." D&C 29:8

"Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine, and earthquake cannot happen here. Those who believe this are either not aquainted with the revelations of the Lord, or they do not believe them." President Ezra Taft Benson

"Fear not little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. . .Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." D&C 6:34, 36

"I believe that the Ten Virgins represent the people of the Church of Jesus Christ. . . They (five foolish) had the saving, exalting gospel, but it had not been made the center of their lives. They knew the way but gave only a small measure of loyalty and devotion.

"The foolish asked the others to share their oil, but spiritual preparedness cannot be shared in an instant. . . . This was not selfishness or unkindness. The kind of oil that is needed to illuminate the way and light up the darkness is not shareable. . . . In our lives the oil of preparedness is accumulated drop by drop in righteous living." - President Spencer W. Kimball

“We encourage families to have on hand this year’s supply; we say it over and over and over and repeat over and over the scripture of the Lord where he says, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say?” How empty it is as they put their spirituality, so-called, into action and call him by his important names, but fail to do the things which he says." - President Spencer W. Kimball


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