How Can You Afford Help?
It seems I’ve hit a nerve with my previous post in which I mentioned that we’ve hired someone to help us out around the house and with the kids. Although many of you don’t comment publicly, I’ve received a number of private comments that say basically the same thing:
We can’t afford to hire help! How can you do that?
My heart goes out to all those who are hurting financially, living paycheck to paycheck, and going without some of life’s basic necessities in order to keep food on the table and a roof overhead. I’ve been in that position, stressed about money and terrified that something on my car would break. I understand that desperation and want to acknowledge that it’s not always possible to sacrifice anything else.
I have a close friend who has been known to bake her own bread to save money and to walk several miles with a stroller to pick her kids up from school because she doesn’t have money to put gas in the car. She and her husband are both well-educated, white-collar professionals who never anticipated they’d be in that situation. Life has taken it’s toll. To those like her, please excuse yourself from the rest of this post.
However – if you’ve had a family vacation in the last year or pay for cable TV, I challenge you to keep reading.
Rick and I have chosen to live simply. We have one television, but no cable or satellite. We have one computer and one smartphone, which we won’t replace until they wear out. Our children have plenty of toys, clothes, and nice things, but we’ve purchased very little of it ourselves. Most of their things are hand-me-downs or gifts. We haven’t been on a traditional family vacation since our honeymoon. When we go away, we visit family and friends, often staying in their homes.
We don’t have it all figured out and we’re not perfect. There are times we spend money on things unnecessarily. Those who are close to us may look at our financial decisions and shake their heads, wondering how we can say we live simply when they live so much more simply. And we have a great blessing in Rick’s parents who live right down the road and often partner with us to help us achieve our goals.
In 2014, in the USA, we can easily get caught up in the expectations of others, concerned more with what they think of us than what will bring us peace. We want to appear wealthy, rather than build actual wealth. We want to have it all right now, unwilling to wait until we can actually afford what we desire. I use the word “we” because I have been there and still struggle with it often.
I know you’re wondering if I really suggested you stop taking annual family vacations. Would you feel such a need to get away from it all if you had less stress in your daily life from having help around the house? It’s great to see the world and have different experiences. But what if daily life could be more enjoyable and less stressful? Then a fun vacation every few years might be enough.
We independent, American, middle class families may technically be able to do it all, but what environment are our children raised in? What kind of memories will they have?
What price do we place on peace?