Thursday, August 21, 2014

Different strokes . . .

So often, other families make choices with their lives that we just don't understand. There's a reason we don't understand why a person chooses to do something one way, when our own, and different way makes better sense to us. We simply don't know the details and background of their lives that bring them to their choice.

What works for me might not work for you.

I make yogurt regularly. On Tuesday, I made 5 quarts of plain yogurt. I saved several dollars by making that yogurt. But making yogurt might not be the right choice for you. Let's say you only like yogurt a little. Would it really be worth spending a couple of hours to just make a little bit of yogurt? You may conclude that you're money and time is better spent buying small amounts of commercial yogurt when the price fits your budget.

Our family eats a lot of beans. We save a small fortune on our groceries by eating beans in place of meat, several days per week. Does that mean that every frugal family "needs" to eat loads and loads of beans? What if eating beans has a disastrous after-effect on your body? You may decide that you'd be better off saving in other ways, and skip the beans.

I lived rent-free in my parents' home for a couple of years in my early 20s. Was this right or wrong of my parents? Did not having to pay rent lead me to a life of financial irresponsibility? They had their reasons for allowing me to live there rent-free. While we didn't have a formal agreement, I'm certain I was allowed to live there for free as an enticement to get me to stay there, for the remaining years of my mom's life. I became her after-hours care-giver, before and after the nurse was there for her daily 8-hour shift. Cancer left my mom physically disabled, and she wanted to remain in our home and care for all of us (my brother was still in high school at that time), as best she could for those last months. My being there allowed her to continue being "mom".

As many of you know, our grown son still lives at home. He pays us a small rent each month. You may be thinking that he should be out of the house at his age. But you don't know the circumstances which have led us to keep him living here. Circumstances change, and he'll be moving on to his own place when that happens.

This has been an extremely difficult year for our family, financially. Many of you have probably wondered why I just don't get a full-time job (I do work 1 day outside the home for pay), and ease our financial stress. Well, you don't know the particulars that have drawn us to the conclusion that me still at home is the best situation for our family, right now. Again, our family's circumstances will eventually allow for me to have more time for other pursuits.

As bloggers, we tend to only show you the "pretty" side to our lives. The messy side we leave shut behind closed blog doors. This isn't to deceive you into thinking our lives are wonderful. We assume that you know that no one's life is perfect. Keeping the messier aspects of our lives behind closed doors provides privacy for those we love, our families. We should all be entitled to a little bit of privacy in dealing with our own difficulties, don't you think?

I once judged someone (in my mind) for using a Keurig-style coffee maker. "What are they thinking? That's about $1 per cup of coffee!" My own coffee costs about 10 cents per cup. Surely, my way is the better way. But what if this couple had previously been spending a small fortune keeping Starbucks' stockholders happy? Then even a $1 cup of coffee would be saving them money. I enjoy a great cup of coffee, too. If I had the money for K-cups, I know I'd enjoy them, and maybe drink less coffee in the end.

Sometimes, we just don't know why others make the choices that they do. And sometimes, they don't know why we've come to our own conclusions. Take what works and leave the rest.

15 comments:

  1. Lili

    I hope a poster wasn't critical or rude to you about your lifestyle choices or creative financial outlooks. I agree 100% with you column today and have experienced many times throughout the years from family, friends and even strangers. Please know that you are awesome and your choices are 100% right for you and your family. Take care and keep smiling!

    Lisa

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  2. Good morning Lili ~

    First off I am guessing you are getting some not so nice comments and/or email - I'm sorry. That sucks and I think you are sooooooooooooo right people just don't know and to that need to keep their opinions to themselves ;) (heheehhe)

    I think it's awesome you let your son live there still. My oldest is about to enter university in the fall and she will have 10 years to get her phd. We have told her that is she stays home and goes to school we will pay her full tuition. Of course this choice isn't for everyone and I get that, I am not even suggesting everyone do that, it's something we wanted to do and certain sacrifices needed to be made on our end as the parents (and we get that too) to make it happen, Lord willing it will ;)

    And the yogurt and the bean thing made me laugh --- not top food choices from my family so I do as you suggest - skip and move on ;)

    Remember chin up. Haters sometimes like to rain on our parade - tell them it's a sunny day and rain on someone else ;)

    Many blessing --- always
    Cathie

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  3. Good morning Lili,
    Thank you for posting this. We all have different circumstances, no two are alike. That's why I love reading your posts, you may do something that I can incorporate into my routine, to help live a simpler life. I have noticed though, it often takes more time, to live a simpler life. LOL Hugs to you and thank you for putting your life out there for us to read!! Your friend Lona

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  4. Such good thoughts Lili. I appreciate your blog and have taken a lot from it. No, not everything you write about is something I would do or choose or even think might be the right thing for my family at this time, but I do find your sharing to be quite inspiring and creative and it has often helped me to think outside of my little box.

    Being judgmental is part of the fallen sinful human condition. We all do it...ALL of us, some more than others, but we all find ourselves judging another because their choices don't line up with ours. We need to be more willing to give each other grace, don't you think?

    We don't eat beans except in chili and taco soup and as sides but like you I make yogurt (from 1 gallon of milk) at least every 10 days! Gotta have my homemade Greek yogurt fix every day! LOL

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  5. True words. We each need to choose where (and if) to spend more. It's part of our individuality. I run into this with organics. I choose to buy some items organic (or local unsprayed or GMO-free) for many reasons, not the least of which is my cancer history. And some don't understand why someone on a "tight budget" with five kids at home might do that. :) So I understand the flak that can come with some choices. You do a great job, both with keeping to your budget, and with sharing with us so we can learn to do even better with our own budgets. Thanks for blogging!

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  6. Ooh, very convicting. I can find myself falling into the "if you'd do it THIS way, you would have more money/time/etc. to spend on other things ... " but that's because, like Linda says, we all are judgmental from time to time of others whose choices are different from ours. I try to remind myself to consider others with grace-filled thoughts, but I confess, it's not always easy.

    On the other end of things ... last fall I felt very judged by a couple of different people because of my not-full-time work schedule. As you know, I work in a Resource capacity, which means I am a substitute occupational therapist when the hospital needs coverage. My hours vary widely based on their needs and my availability. I spent many months working through my hurt and anger at these people's perceptions--but when it gets down to it, it's up to me to decide how to respond to the perceptions or criticisms of others. I have found that when I feel angry and hurt, it's because I am placing too much importance on what others think, rather than on what best meets my needs and my family's needs. As you (and Paul Harvey) have said so eloquently--not everyone knows "the rest of the story"! Thank you for a timely reminder to consider others with grace and to respond with grace and understanding to other's comments.

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  7. To say it bluntly, people can be such jerks! I find it so incredibly frustrating that people have the nerve to judge others, especially when there are so many factors that go into how everyone lives. I am fascinated by how we all live our lives differently, from how much money we spend on groceries to how we furnish our homes, spend our free time, etc. Like Kris said, we need to not place too much importance on what others think (and say), but I know that negative comments can be very hurtful. I am reminded of a quote that I came across a while ago that has been helpful for me. I hope it is for you too -- "It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters".

    Jayne

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  8. I have composed a post like this many times in my head. There is a lot of judgement out there and it really bothers me because as you said, we never know what's going on behind closed doors. Thanks for this very important post and keep doing what your doing both on the blog and in your life because only you knows what is best for you.

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  9. Very well said, Lili. Occasionally I find myself wondering about someone else, "Why don't they just do THIS (insert my way of doing things here)" and then I know I need to step back and think about their circumstances and their decisions - or even just ask, so I can really understand!

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  10. I do agree with Linda. Judgement is part of the human condition. We all hope we learn to be less judgmental but at times we all are guilty of it.

    That being said, no one has to justify to anyone else what/how/why they do. It is all about personal choices dictated by personal circumstances, and no one's circumstances are identical. If I see someone making a bunch of yogurt I just figure they like it and it is none of my business if they make it or buy it in little cups. I always try to take what is applicable to me and my life and just read what isn't as food for thought and another way of looking at things. Just cause I like blue doesn't mean the entire world likes blue. There are all hues of colors in the box!

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  11. Great post Lili! I find these sorts of attitudes to be rampant especially in the "greenie" community where there seems to be no shortage of self-righteous indignation. I've gotten to the point where I've "unsubscribed" from a number of blogs because I was just sooo tired of people lambasting others for "eco-sins" such as using plastic bags, or paper towels, or a clothes drier, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    Personally, I find the work you do in supporting your family to be nothing short of amazing. I know I sure couldn't do it. And while there is much I do not know about your life and situation, but this much is clear to even the most casual observer: Your family is incredibly lucky to have you.

    Oh... and one more thought. In my (perhaps not so humble) opinion, jobs are really overrated! :-)

    Peace & Love,
    Cat

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  12. Hi all,
    Thank you all so much for your kind and supportive words! Truly, I think you're all wonderful people!

    And, actually, no, I didn't receive criticism directly. But I had been thinking about some other blogs and forums and how people can be so judgmental. One forum, in particular (unrelated to frugal living), had some very judgy, preachy people. It really bothered me. "Walk a mile in my shoes" kept running through my mind. We don't know what has transpired in someone's past or the situation that they're dealing with presently, to be able to say that they "need" to do one thing or another. And I also understand the other side, that often we just want to offer "help".

    One thought, though, that is something I read a while back, for dealing with such judgmental attitudes is this:

    What other people think of me is none of my business.

    I have no power over what other people think of me. So it's best that I just focus on myself.

    I'm glad you all enjoyed my post!! I'll be back next week -- have a great weekend!!! ((((hugs))))

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  13. Oh good. Everyone here seems to be so nice and I was going to be sad if there was a "Debbie Downer" lurking on your blog somewhere. I studiously avoid blogs where there is a lot of negativism and judgmental attitudes. Your blog is refreshing because it combines helpful information with kind commenters. Too bad we can't all go out for coffee (or, in my case, tea!). :)

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  14. I'm slow catching up on posts.
    I have to say I totally agree with this post. Every family works out what "works" for them and that is really what is important.

    Even when I look at my own life I see things that I could do that might be more frugal or might be "greener" or ..... the list could go on. However, we are okay with where we are and what we have at the present. If, or more precisely when since it is inevitable, circumstances change we will adapt...lol

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  15. So glad you hadn't received any negative comments. I was wondering after reading the comments.

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