There are so many “things” that take up space in our lives. Possessions. Some big, some small, some attached to beautiful memories and some that are just plain rubbish.
Becoming obsessed with “things” is easy.
I see it in my kids. They always want “things”. I’m not talking endless snacks, love or attention. Those things come to them from me freely; I’m talking about possessions. Actually, not only possessions. They always want to be out doing things. Expensive things. They don’t realise that some things cost money.
Our house is full of a lot of their things. And with four kids of varying ages, you would expect there would be a lot of things. Clothes, books, toys, electronics the list goes on and on.
For Christmas, my kids received a lot of things. I come from a big family myself, and I know they’re going to get a lot of gifts from my family and also friends who know just how tough it is to pull together Christmas on virtually no income. I knew they would be getting a lot of gifts and it did ease the pressure for me. I was able to save money leading up to Christmas and buy them each a larger/quality/wanted present, and Santa brought them a few smaller presents. There weren’t as many gifts as usual under our tree, but they didn’t even notice because they had been given a lot of gifts on Christmas Eve from my family. It turned out to be a great Christmas.
In the days after Christmas, they were at their Dad’s house. It gave me a chance to go through all the gifts and put some away to bring out as the year progresses. It still left a pretty full and impressive playroom for their return.
When they came home, there was happiness – for about a day. Then it started. I call it the “I wants”. I want this. I want that. I want. I want. I want. It drives me insane. Boys, you have a room full of new toys, some that haven’t been opened and you’re already asking for new things. No way, this is stopping. NOW.
The kids need to learn the value of “things”; they need to learn that each time we have takeaway, it costs money. That each time we go somewhere, it costs money. They need to learn that these things are special and not everyday occurrences. And I need to learn to stop trying to give them the life they had before the divorce, and I need to stop trying to compete with their other home where the values are different, along with the income.
After giving it some thought, I decided that we were going to strip back to a more simple way of living. With more focus on being together and less focus on things, instant gratification and trying to give them big expensive outings which honestly I can’t afford.
I’m also tired of the constant money pressures. It’s a stress that doesn’t need to be there if I could manage things differently and stop giving into the “I wants” then I’d be able to save money and stop living week to week.
So, how does our simple living work?
During the school term, we spend as little money as possible, we buy nothing but essential foods, pay bills, fuel for the car and everything else gets saved. I pay the older two boys pocket money, and they do chores around the home. This pocket money has always been wasted, and I never used to be too fussed with it until they’d spend it and then keep asking for more money.
Their pocket money now gets saved. I pay the money, and we go into the bank, and they deposit it into their accounts themselves. The bank was fantastic at supporting this idea and even showed them how to deposit money into the bank through the ATM, so we don’t have to line up.
Food is stripped back to basics, no expensive meals, no takeaway and one treat meal and dessert per week. I’m trying to use up everything I have in the freezer and pantry before restocking. Same with hair products, soaps and cleaning products – use up what we have before we buy any more.
On the weekends the boys are with me, we only do free activities such as bushwalking, going to the park or free community events. We’re going to focus more on the time we spend together rather than what we are doing. When we go out, we take drinks and snacks.
For myself, my downfall used to be take away coffees. Every morning on the school run and sometimes the afternoon school run I’d get a coffee. At $4.80 a coffee – it adds up – QUICKLY! Plus in my pantry, I have jars of instant coffee and coffee pods. So I’m using all of these up before buying any new coffee.
Yes, the instant coffee is KILLING me, but it’s also showing the kids that I too am making sacrifices as they know how much Mum loves her coffee.
I have jars and jars of free beauty products, makeup, hair products, soaps and perfumes that have been sent to me to trial, these are all going to be used completely before I buy more.
We walk to school whenever we can, which is also a killer as I live at the top of a steep hill. Pushing a pram with a toddler in it and a 4-year-old standing on it because he can’t walk up the hill is not easy first thing in the morning. Especially after only drinking an instant coffee! It’s almost tempting to drop the kids off in the car but I’ve turned it into a challenge. The hill is getting slightly easier each day, and at the very least I know my butt and thighs are getting toned!!!!
The fresh air is also an awesome start to the day.
At the end of the school term, during the school holidays, we’ll spend some of our savings — not all of it and not on frivolous things that get discarded after 10 minutes. B1 is saving for a FitBit type watch, and B2 is saving to take us all to the movies. I’m saving to take the boys out at least once during the holidays and a mini shopping spree at Kmart.
One week in and it’s going well. B1 brought home the dreaded book club from school and promptly handed it to me with his list of books. I looked at him “ah, are these essential items????” after a big sigh from B1, he stuck his list to the fridge to look for the books during the school holidays, later he came back and suggested he might look at the Op shop first for books before buying new ones.
Do you live simply? Do you have any tips for me?
Kirsty is the founder of That Noise Is Mine.
An established blogger, writer and business owner raising 4 children independently. Kirsty is determined to succeed in this new life forced upon her.