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Best Advice: Less is More

Financial gurus Jill and Mark Savage share some tips to help you save more money but still live well.

Successful financial endeavors require self-improvement!

Those who sacrifice deny themselves something in order to serve a higher cause.

Another way to say it is that when we sacrifice, we surrender something of value for the sake of something—or someone—else.

Living with less requires sacrifice. If I want to live on less, I may need to sacrifice a hobby I love. If I want to have less stress, I may need to give up volunteering for my favorite cause.

What are some of the things parents may need to sacrifice to give their families more? 

Comfort
A family we know, the Springers, has chosen to remain in a small house with a small mortgage. This enables Mom to remain at home and their kids to attend a Christian school.

In their case, the whole family has sacrificed comfort—Mom, Dad, six children, and two dogs share tight living conditions with three small bedrooms. Yet children rarely see sacrifice the same way we do. Sharing a bedroom with a couple of siblings can be normal for them. 

As for us, Mark sacrificed his comfort by continuing to sleep on the waterbed we’d purchased as newlyweds. This wasn’t a sacrifice for Jill, who liked the waterbed. But Mark’s back needed more support.

Each time we got financially close to being able to buy a new bed, we’d add another kid to the family. Their needs would push Mark’s need a little farther down the priority list. It was only when Mark’s back turned into a pressing health issue that we moved taking care of his need up the priority list. But taking care of the kids’ basic needs was our first concern.

Hobbies
While you don’t want to lose yourself in the midst of parenting, you may have to make adjustments in their hobbies to better fit the needs and finances of the family. 

Mark loves to golf, but for many of our child-rearing years, that sport was not in our family budget. Rather than giving up something he enjoyed, he found a less expensive alternative he could also enjoy: disc golf. A small investment of about $20 to buy a set of discs was all it took to play on several free courses in town.

He introduced some of the guys at church to disc golf (also called Frisbee golf) and now he has a group of four to six guys who play almost weekly. Disc golf not only fits our family financially, but it also is a better fit for our schedule.

Eighteen holes of golf require a commitment of up to four hours, whereas eighteen holes of disc golf take just about an hour and a half. This more easily accommodates the additional family activities that are often on our timetable.

Entertainment and Recreational Activities
Our family went without cable television for nearly 17 years. For Mark, who loves to sit back and watch TV to relax, that wasn’t a sacrifice made easily. Jill can take or leave TV so it wasn’t such a big deal for her.

Every year, we’d sit down and look at our budget to see if there was any way to fit cable into our monthly expenses. Because we’d chosen to live primarily on one income, the reality of our choices stared us square in the face. We weren’t willing to sacrifice what we felt was best for our family so we could have cable television. So once again, we recommitted to the sacrifice so we could continue living out our vision for our family.

Did you used to enjoy going to the movies but find that it’s now a rarity? Join the club—it’s the same for us!

Used to have season tickets to watch your favorite team play? Yep, there are a lot of parents that have given that up too.

We haven’t given up recreation and entertainment completely; we’ve just found other, less expensive, and less time-consuming recreational and entertainment options. 

Sometimes sacrifices are a necessary part of living as a family. They both improve the family dynamics and develop young people into responsible, contributing adults. Making these kinds of sacrifices are a necessary part of living with less—but they can help put your family first. 

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