Saturday, September 16, 2006

Cutting back

We have gotten to our usual end-of-the-summer surprise - the visa bill that has our annual trip to visit relatives in Minnesota on it has been paid, and we are flat broke. I dont know why this shocks so every autumn. When you fly across country with a guy in a wheelchair - so you have to rent the big van with the lift from Good Old Jim who is midwestern nice, but still running something of a racket and when you can't exactly crash on people's floors so you have to get a hotel room, the cost of travel just kind of adds up. (And this is not even counting our regular post-airplane-travel trip to the ER and then Children's Hospital for athsma treatments for the youngster in the house).

This year, the usual panic is compounded by Eli's preschool fees which are...well, let's just say that they're about what we'd thought pay to send him to a college prep school, if we were going to do that, which we are emphatically NOT going to do, now that we know what it costs.

So there's going to be a lot of rice and lentils around here in the next couple of months and we're trying hard to figure out what else we can cut back. Anyway, just in time, there's a whole lotta energy out there in blogworld to live more simply. And I'm trying to get behind it, because even though it doesnt SEEM like we spend that much money, obviously something is not working.

(I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Hey Juniper - don't you work PART TIME?? If your finances are such a mess, why don't you go get a REAL JOB like the rest of us??" At least, that's what I'd be thinking if I were you. But processing my issues about working full time is not the focus of our time together today. So just keep moving, buster. Not like I'm defensive or anything.)

AS I WAS SAYING before I was so rudely interrupted by my own train of thought, there was this email I got yesterday recommending the book Not Buying It: My Year of Not Spending, and then via Heather, found this suggestion from a guy who recommends giving away one thing that you really value, and then reflecting on how that feels. I also saw this link on the RevGals site about the woman (the movement really) to go 30 days with less. I started to write something really snarky here about how I could never ascend to the level of simplicity that could be acheived by the kind of person who can homeschool four children and harvest her own chestnuts, for goodness sake. And then I realized that this isn't a contest, luckily, it's about changing our lives and in a good way, and isn't that what God wants for us after all?

And that thought led to the next one - that there's a certain kind of simple living (as practiced by several people in my experience past and present) that seems unnecessarily smug and self righteous and competetive to me, and that's what was making me feel snarky - not the Intent site itself which is as sweet and authentic as anything you've read lately. So I'm trying to enter this time remembering the joy and gratitude for what we have already, the clarity that comes from clearing away clutter, and the creativity involved in making do.

Anyway, we're starting. This week, we got a load of free firewood from a neighbor who didn't want it (!!) and so we had a fire instead of the furnace for our heat these first chilly days of autumn. And my credit card is out of my wallet and in (Whew, I almost told you! But this IS the internet after all, so let's just say) a safe place.

And I'm hatching my plans now for Buy Nothing Day. Anyone want to go down to the mall and pray with me instead of shopping the day after Thanksgiving? Let me know.

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