Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Living In a Material World

Guy with the free items we acquired today.
We're nearing the last half of July and the second half of the year, and not a single one of you (except for Jenn and Gantrie) have kept me accountable for my 2011 goal???  Your mercy astounds me!  Remember this post in which I said:

"I have pledged to myself that, with the exclusion of some essential items, I will do everything within my power to not purchase a single new item in 2011."

Well...I stuck with that goal pretty well for the first three months of the year, but when I realized that I was hauling home lots more stuff from my Goodwill trips than I was depositing, I decided to give thrifting a rest.  We did save a good deal of money though, which helped when we suddenly had to buy a new (used) car and a new washing machine.

I found that getting lots of items free or cheap was counter-productive to my efforts to teach my children that they can't have everything.  But the truth is that they live in a material world, and they can, in fact, have just about every thing ever made, even if it's second-hand.

During one particular trip to the Goodwill, I found the most amazing toys for my kids for just a few bucks.  I had to stop myself when we found two barbies for 50 cents each.  I recalled that my mother had to scrimp and save her money in order to buy me ONE barbie doll.  I made my kids do five big jobs that day in order to earn their toys so that they would understand that nothing comes without work.

Even our amazing find today: two bats, three baseball gloves (including a lefty mitt), a batting helmet, and a huge bag of baseballs--all for FREE--is both a blessing and also just another obstacle to my goal of making sure my children value time, value work, and understand the sacrifice it takes to get STUFF.  

Conscientious Moms out there...It is an uphill battle!

I guess this reality check helps me to renew my resolve to make the gifts that I give my children, because now that I have witnessed how ridiculously easy it is to get any mass-produced toy out there, I realize how precious, priceless, and rare a handmade gift really is.


  1. Keeping goals are hard. That is why we have a mid-year review. We revise what is working and what isn't.

    Free isn't always great. Buying is easy. Earning it is hard. It is hard especially when there is such a happy smile received. How's the prep coming for your writing workshop?

  2. How did you get it for free? And I really have to limit my goodwill trips. Regardless with how cheap it is, I am still spending the money and bringing stuff into the home that I don't always need. I probably don't mind moving for that reason--it's always a way to purge want you don't need!

  3. It is all too true that homemade gifts are much more precious than gifts that are bought at the store. I have two homemade dolls that I treasure, although I know I didn't truly appreciate them as a child. One doll was made for me by grandmother and one was made for me by mother. Now that both my mother and grandmother have died these gifts remind me of the love that they have for me. It touches me that they spent their time and talents in creating something for me. What were once playthings are now priceless treasures.

  4. Oh how I wish that we could go back to the days when a simple whittled toy, or a dress simply sewed was an amazing and wonderful gift. All too often we get things without thinking about where they came from. Interesting, this instant gratification world we live in. :)

  5. Im trying to show my girls that you can't have everything when you want it. I actually have no problems explaining that we are on a strict budget and so we can't just go out and buy things. I know a lot of parents Ive met don't like to talk money with their children but I don't see a reason why you can't just simply explain the reasoning behind why you can't do something.

    I try to do mostly handmade gifts and get my children involved with the making of them. It makes more of an impact on them when it takes actual effort to give a gift then it does when I have them choose something at the store. My oldest is getting to a point now where she wants to make people things and give them as gifts and doesn't understand why we would buy something instead. Its a bit of a double edged sword at times, right now I'm working on birthday/Christmas's (birthdays are in Nov, Jan and Feb with Christmas in the middle) and I have to buy some stuff because of time constraints, she doesn't understand the whole I don't have time to do everything thing.. "But Mom, your my MOM YOU CAN DO ANYTHING" love ya kid.

  6. Oh my goodness, that video video of your kids is so cute.
    I have a hard time with this concept ALL. THE. TIME.
    I grew up outside of the States and I remember living in areas where members from church lived just across the street from us in one-room dirt-floor homes while we lived in a nice, furnished apartment. During that time of my life, the disparities b/t poverty and middle class were so obvious all the time. I have often felt like I live in a material world and sometimes suffer much guilt from all the nice things I have when I know my brothers and sisters have so little. But I also know the Lord doesn't want me to feel guilty all the time. I have had to learn how and when to give, to be generous, to be loving and sincere and to also build up our own investments/material goods for our family and our future. It is a constant internal battle, I guess. But, that is amazing that you have committed to Good Will so much! I am super impressed. And I always think it is a good idea to have the kids do chores for their earnings.