Money stresses me out. I hate to be that wife, that mom, that Christian woman, who loves Jesus and her family and is (for the most part) grateful and content, but is STILL almost ALWAYS worried about money. But I am.
Let me be clear.
My husband has a great job. We always have enough food (sometimes too much). I know we are among the world's richest people living where we do, not worrying where our next meal will come from or if our children will go to school or if we will have shelter or clean water. We are blessed.
But I still worry about money.
I struggle with this tension, and maybe you do, too.
I've struggled with wanting more stuff and not being content with what I have. I've struggled with comparison and ingratitude and entitlement. I think we all do at different times.
I'm thankful to say that I'm not in that space right this minute. (Not to say I won't be tomorrow. I'm pretty selfish, and I really like new journals and cute cardigans.) Right this minute, I'm struggling with a desire for ease and comfort. For a break from the bills and the work and the worry.
I just want the money to always be there
To just be waiting and ready for that car repair or big boy bed or new phone or whatever large, unexpected or semi-expected purchase that comes up.
But it's not. It never is. We are (by that I mean, my husband is) wise with our money. We have (he has) made really wise decisions for over 12 years to build our savings, live debt free, not live from paycheck to paycheck.
But still, there's a tension. Because money doesn't make itself
It's always going out the door to food and clothing and diapers and shelter and basic necessities, not to mention any little desires like date nights or new cardigans.
There's this constant push and pull with medical bills and freelance writing gigs and cell phone plans and speaking engagements, and every time I feel like I make us a little extra, I see it float away to pay for something super important that isn't a cardigan. (I have a cardigan addiction, clearly.)
In addition to this constant stream of bills and never-ending list of gigs to pay for said bills, I have another problem: A money-saving obsession.
Every once in a while, I get all huffy about money
"THAT'S IT!" I say. "I'm going to save us a BILLION DOLLARS if it's the last thing I DO." I then embark on some sort of nonsense, crazy-making mission to save money in every way possible. Researching tips on Pinterest. Making lists of new habits, new apps, new processes to put into place so we can just be CHILL ABOUT MONEY for ONCE.
Here is what happens. I save a BUNCH of money. I really do, but then I'm super overwhelmed by all the things I need to do to save $2 here and $4 there. I become a prisoner of money-saving and money-making with little joy and peace and trust and contentment. That is for the birds, friends.
So here's what I'm trying to do ... And maybe you want to join me.
I know it's cliché, but for real. This is one of those areas where we really act out our faith. Trust Him. Trust Him to care for your family's basic needs. Pray over Matthew 6:25-34. Every day if you need to. Sing it in a song if that helps. Do whatever you have to do to build your trust in His wisdom and provision above your own efforts.
I don't know about you, but I can get tunnel vision and dedicate myself to a task to whole-heartedly that I forget everything else that's important. I need to set limits on my efforts to provide for my family. I need to set limits on how much time or brain space I'm going to dedicate to making and saving money, and I need to set boundaries about what I'm not willing to sacrifice. For me, those limits usually entail time with my husband and children, being present and joyful with them. I need to set aside my work-at-home tasks and my money-saving projects in order to focus on them and give them my full attention, at least for a little while each day.
Weigh the Return on Investment
If you are working 10 hours to save $2, that probably isn't worth it. I know I sometimes get a fever for savings and before I know it, I've put a lot of time and effort in with very little return on investment. As a stay-at-home mom, since I don't get a paycheck, I sometimes feel like my time and effort isn't worth anything. I would have made $0 anyway, so what's the big deal? The truth is, our time is extremely valuable. You need to set a mental monetary value on your time. How much is your time worth? $5/hour, $10/hour? Use that as a barometer for whether or not a job or money-saving task is worth your time.
Seek Contentment Before Comfort
This is really the heart of my issue, and maybe yours, too. "Improving my situation" seems within my reach by saving here, earning there, and maybe on the other side I'll finally relax about this whole money thing. The truth is, if I'm not content now, I won't be content later. There is always more money to make, more money to save, more stuff to buy, more comfort to seek. I need to pray for contentment in the here and now, and ask for comfort from my God, not my circumstances.
Edit Your Information Stream
This is probably the MOST IMPORTANT thing I've done and will continue doing. I'm careful about what I see on social media, magazines I look at, catalogs I get. I don't read or even look at anything that's going to make me want more stuff. But even MORE than that, I'm careful where I get my money-saving tips from. There are so many money-saving blogs and magazines and tips and tricks out there, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and bombarded with information. We can do this, sisters. We can manage our money well without letting it eat us alive. We can be good stewards and make wise decisions without being stressed and obsessed. With trust in our Lord, contentment with His provision, and manageable money-saving solutions, we can finally chill about money once and for all. Who's with me?
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Marie Osborne's website. It has been modified and republished here with permission.