If you want to know the truth, I personally read (and try to respond to) every single social media and blog comment that comes in. I don't have anyone who does it for me, it's all done by solo me-yo. Even if I someday find myself with 100 employees, I wouldn't give that up because it's the only way I'm directly connected to my Freebs virtually, and can be tuned in to what's going on in your heads and hearts (since I'm no mind reader, unfortunately).
I read a blog comment recently that stopped me in my tracks.
I meant to glance quickly at new comments on my way to make lunch for my kids (I have to manually approve most, which helps me know when a new one pops up). I saw this particular comment on my weekend getaway post and it rang in my head so hard I couldn't concentrate on anything else! It left my hands ITCHING to sprint back to the computer and reply as soon as possible. The comment is so important, I decided to dedicate an entire post on it, and use it as a chance to clear the air, come clean with some truth about how we spend money, and have a little girl talk about scarcity and abundance.
I've been nervous about this post because I bet it will be taken the wrong way by some. But I hope you can hear (in my ramblings) that this comment merely made me realize I needed to do some explaining, and am using it to get a conversation started – not intending to “call out” or “chew out” the person who wrote it! That being said,
Grab a snack and get comfy, this one could take a while, because I want to have a little discussion about…
SCARCITY VS ABUNDANCE
Trust me, this is important, so don't skip this part.
When we were first married 8 years ago, we were in a scarcity stage of life. We were new homebuyers, had our first jobs, trying to make ends meet and figure out how to live well without spending too much. Especially once we hit our financial disaster. Our mindset and actions revolved around hunkering down, working hard, and surviving. This is an important stage of life and no one should EVER be ashamed of it. It's also important to know scarcity stage will come and go throughout your life as jobs, seasons, and life circumstances change.
We worked our tails off. We sold our car and walked everywhere. We sold our furniture (all of it) and slept on a mattress on the ground, and sat on blankets on the floor in our living room. We ate Top Ramen 4 nights of the week, had no problem taking hand-me-downs from neighbors, and did everything we could to make a few extra bucks in order to get out of scarcity mode.
And we did.
Within 1 year we got out of $15,000 of credit card debt (and $10,500 of car loan debt) while only making $32,000.
But you know all of this, so I'll just refer you to my story for full details.
We called it “going to The Ranch”, referring to the Biggest Loser Ranch that the show contestants go to, where they eat nothing but vegetables and water and exercise literally 6-8 hours per day for 3 months to lose as much weight as possible and turn their lives around. We considered our methods as drastic to our finances as going to the Biggest Loser Ranch is to someone's weight. The important thing to note is that the purpose was to work as hard and fast as possible…
…in order to live the rest of our lives getting ahead, not just getting by.
Scarcity mode is doing what you need to do to stay afloat, cutting out all frills, extras, and unnecessaries. Keep your head down and survive.
…But what happens next?
What happens when you have a handle on your debt? You have a cushion in savings? You have a stable job and actually have money to spare each month. Now what?
THIS IS WHERE ABUNDANCE MODE KICKS IN
Abundance is the stage of life where you have a little cushion in your wallet, so now it's time to lift our eyes off the ground where you're only focusing on your next step, and look ahead instead. It's where you start planning for things you had previously nixed: vacations, retirement, investing, upgrading your home, and maybe even finally buying that non-necessity you've been dreaming of.
That is the Abundance mindset.
It's thinking bigger. Using forward thinking. Using your money wisely, and maybe even risking some of it in hopes of it growing, instead of worrying about stashing 100% of it away to help make ends meet. It's about outsourcing things that you don't HAVE to do, so you can use that time (or money) doing something that will propel you/your family/your finances forward.
It's about switching from “we CAN'T afford it”, to “HOW can we afford it?”
(And finding a way to make it happen the RIGHT way)
OK. So now that we know the difference between the two,
…here is my response to the comment:
WHY I'VE BEEN FOCUSING ON “SPENDING” POSTS LATELY
First of all, let me say the penny-pinching money-saving posts are not going anywhere!! Heck, I just posted about how to make rundown shoes wearable again!! Trust me, they are important and are going NOWHERE!
With that being said, if there's one thing I've learned in working with families it's:
Learning to spend money properly is probably more important than learning to save money.
Here in the Page household, we are having to reinvent ourselves! We are still frugal (it's in our bones, how could we NOT be?), but now that we've saved hard and accomplished our debt and savings goals, we are now having to learn to spend money – the right way. And man, it's tricky!
My family is in abundance mode right now, and I'm going to be frankly honest…
…it's WAY harder than scarcity mode.
Why? It's harder to say no! To stay grounded! To not run out and spend money when you finally have it for the first time in your life! To not fall into old habits. To not make the same mistakes. To part with the money we worked so hard to earn and save. It's harder because we're NOT rich, so it's hard to find the balance between finally being able to spend, while still needing to save and be super responsible. It's more about choices than about necessity, and that is REALLY HARD! Life was simpler and easier in Scarcity mode.
It's kind of like the Biggest Loser Ranch example. It's hard at the ranch because they're working out all day – it's HARD work. What they need to do is black and white. NO sugar, NO junk food, NO messing around. But what about once they lose the weight and get home? Living with food is harder than at the Ranch! Because sometimes it's not so black and white. Sometimes you can spare to eat a few extra calories. Finding the balance is harder…even though the WORK is just as hard in both scarcity AND abundance modes.
For the last 7+ years, it was easy to say no to things, to not get my hopes up for things, to do things myself because we didn't have the budget to hire it out, to make do, get by, and put dreams on pause. But now my husband's company is doing well (for right now, knock on wood), my businesses (plural) are starting to make money, we have no credit card debt, and we finally have an impressive amount in savings. It took us 8 years of backbreaking labor to get here,
…and now what?
I see blogs showing me how to get a great deal on a $1,200 Kate Spade bag…or how to DIY a rug that I have no interest in making…or how to live off of $12,000 per year. But what happens if we don't need to live off of $12,000 per year? What if I don't need a designer bag? What if we want to get entrepreneurial and make our money work for us? What if we want to invest in wise investments, or even start companies that make us even more money in the future? What if we want to find ways to go on (lavish or not) vacations, improve our home, experience the world, buy things – maybe even expensive things – without it killing us financially?…while still running a home with 4 little kids and trying to juggle the day to day battle we call motherhood?
I'm not saying I know it all. In fact, I'll never claim that I know better than anyone else. All I can go off of is what WE do/have done that worked for US, share every detail of it, and hope that it helps someone out there too.
I've been trying to share things we're doing, in real-time, with you all so you can learn from our successes and failures.
THE “SCRIMP AND SAVE” POSTS ARE ALREADY ON THIS BLOG, BY THE THOUSANDS
And don't worry, they will never stop! I am a family finance guru at heart, and bound to frugal living via DNA. But variety when blogging is important.
The only thing I knew in the first 3 out of 4 years of blogging was the scarcity way of living. Protecting every dollar like it was a living person. I have several thousand posts on this blog, all of them in some way about how to save a buck, spend less, avoid spending, budget, buy the cheaper versions of things, find things for a deal…and most of them were written while in scarcity mode.
I created a beginner's guide page to help you find my most helpful posts, in order of how you should follow them.
I'll admit that I'm not the best at updating it, and will work on that. But it has TONS of my fundamental money-saving and budgeting posts, so check it out and I bet it will give you much of what you are looking for! If not, please take the time to look around! I have lots of categories on the drop-down menu on the top of my site.
IT'S TIME FOR MORE “PHASE-2” FRUGALITY POSTS
Just as this one comment is drawing lots of attention and brainpower from me, all comments do the same! Over the last year, I started getting more and more feedback from Freebs asking for more “what next?”-type posts. Well, if you ask, I'm going to give y'all what you want! (or try to, at least.)
I started getting many emails and comments saying, “I see how to scrimp and save, but how do we finally save for that vacation we've always wanted to take?” Or “how should we be smart about buying a new car for the first time in our lives?”. Since the blog is already full of the “stage-1” scarcity posts, I thought it was time to bring on the variety!
IT'S ABOUT PROVING A POINT
Whenever I post about something abundant, it's not about being flashy or showing off, it's about proving that there IS a right way to live abundantly…and that there is NOTHING wrong with it! I am not in any way ashamed or apologetic about how we live!
Heck, I'm so proud of it I talked about it on national TV and in magazines several times. I have no shame. I'm absolutely proud to make myself the guinea pig of “The New Frugal” movement, and proving that Frugal DOES get a facelift on this site.
Sure, there is a time and season to live abundantly. We weren't able to go to Europe when we were in scarcity mode, we were hard-nosed focused on getting out of debt and building up a savings. But once your T's are crossed and your I's are dotted, there is nothing wrong with working toward abundance.
I CAN'T KEEP SECRETS
I hide nothing, and I have an inability of keeping secrets. If I'm in Paris, you're going to see pictures of us at the Eiffel Tower on social media. I mean, could you blame me? If I never brought it up, explained it, or taught you about how we afforded it…would you ever trust me as a frugal living guru? If we do something “abundant”, I like to show you how we did it rather than leaving you judging and guessing.
I CANNOT AND WILL NOT LIE TO YOU ABOUT HOW WE ARE ACTUALLY LIVING
Oh boy, I'm about to get in trouble for what I'm about to say. But here goes…
I have spent time looking at Instagram feeds and blogs that are kind of like watching a Victoria's Secret commercial…you can't look away because of how beautiful and desirable they are, but it makes you want to sit in your closet with a pack of Oreos and cry a little. With their perfect, bright photos, their impeccable houses, their perfect puppies and children, their $400 “play clothes” and $1,400 rugs in their bedroom-sized closets…
…and it's gorgeous. All of it.
I'm super happy for them…but also have an innate feeling of wanting to find a reason to hate them at the same time (oh my word am I really saying that out loud??). It makes me want to know them. Be them. Hang out with them. Be their best friend. Follow them around and spy on them.
…But it also makes me want to roll my eyes and stay away with a vengeance. I guess following “perfection” on social media just makes me feel bad about myself, and ultimately makes me a bit uncomfortable.
Because it's not REAL.
My soul knows it, my brain knows it, yet my eyes want so badly to believe that those perfect Instagram pictures are reality, and that I'm doing something wrong by not facilitating the same situations in my own home.
I'm sorry guys, I've been in the blogging and TV industry long enough to know any “perfect” blog, IG feed, or even celebrity you're following is staged. The industry tricks and secrets I know would totally kill the magic for you, so I won't even go there. But just know that no matter what you think, no matter how wonderful, clean, and organized someone is, no matter how much money someone makes, or how wonderful someone's kids are,
no one's life is perfect.
Yet, we PINE after perfection! We gawk at it and spend hours surfing pictures of it online! We are so curious about perfect-looking people!
While there is nothing wrong with finding inspiration from the beautiful parts of their life…doesn't all the vague perfection make you curious?
For example, I want to know what's REALLY going on. I want to know how much money they make. I want to know if their house is really that clean all the time. I want to look inside their toilet. I want to know if their boobs hurt when they were pregnant like mine did, and if they wear the baseball glove-sized pad for 2 weeks after having a baby like I did, or if they really walk around in a silk floral robe and Chanel slippers all day, the day after having a baby. I want to know if her husband is funny, and if her dog ever pees on her carpet. I want to know if she and her husband fight. I want to know if they ever argue about money.
I want to know what it's REALLY like in their house.
When I started my blog I vowed to be REAL. To show, for better or for worse, what life is REALLY like in our house.
What it's REALLY like to live on a budget. Struggle with starting a company. Fight over finances. Have bad days with your kids. I want to be the best friend, not the most popular girl that everyone pines over and secretly wishing some form of ill-will on me. I want people to follow me, good days and all, because of the reality of my life.
The truth is…
We went to Europe! We went to Disneyland with my family! I have cleaning ladies come sometimes! I want to buy an even bigger house someday! My kids are super well-behaved sometimes! Once in a while, I have a good hair day!
There is absolutely no shame in that. In fact…
We are able to do those things BECAUSE of how frugal we are, not in SPITE of it.
If it happens (which seems to be rare, especially in regards to the well-behaved kids and good hair day part) then you better believe I'm going to show you exactly what the REALITY of it is, and how I accomplished it…rather than leaving you pining for it/hating me for it, and always wondering in the back of your mind if it's all a facade. I want it to show YOU that YOU can do these things too, if you want to, and that a tough financial situation or setback shouldn't deter you from living the life of your dreams!!
I have nothing to hide. We worked our (boy I wish I cussed…) BUMS off to get where we are. We continue to work our bums off. We practice an insane amount of self-control, work hard, and sacrifice good things in order to enjoy GREAT things. I hope our abundance stage of life inspires you!
We all know I have no filter, and will never NOT answer a question (unless we're legally not allowed to say so because of business or a nondisclosure or something). That's a promise I made to myself and to YOU. (And Bubba luckily has given me the a-ok because he feels the same way. For the most part.).
So just know that whatever I post is posted with the intention of giving it to you straight, and hopefully for the better. 🙂 And if I ever have the honor of meeting you in person (which I hope I do!), I hope you find comfort in knowing I strive to be the exact same person online that I am in person (again, for better or for worse).
IF THIS BLOG ISN'T HELPFUL, IT MIGHT BE BECAUSE IT'S NOT BEING READ WITH AN OPEN MIND
Sorry guys, oh yes I did.
I'm not saying that to be critical, and I'm certainly not saying that my blog is the end-all, know-all, fool-proof, one-size-fits-all, best blog in the world. I'm not saying that at all. I'm more saying it as fact. If you think you can only learn from someone who is in the exactly same situation as you (kid-wise, money-wise, marital status-wise, gender-wise, generation-wise, geographic…wise?) then you're missing out on a serious amount of life learning. Not just from me, but from anyone! All you need is a humble attitude and open mind and you can draw inspiration and helpful information from ANYTHING!
Going back to using myself as living proof, I teach, preach, and coach with love and understanding since I've been there, but I also do it with a “no excuses” attitude. We have all the cards stacked against us at some point. There was a time when we were making ZERO income, and had a newborn baby, and a ton of debt. Yet we bounced back. And now we're thriving. Life can throw you major curve balls and send you straight down Hard Knocks lane. But there are thousands of people every day that defy the odds and make the life of their dreams, because of good old fashioned hard work and a positive attitude. Watch The Pursuit of Happyness. It's one of the most inspiring movies I've ever seen. I cry every time.
If you feel like no one understands you or that nothing you're reading is helpful, try to flip your attitude…it WORKS!
Get all Pollyanna on yourself! Find a way to put a positive twist on everything. My husband is a great example of this. He is incredibly humble. Any time anyone gives him advice, even if I think it's ridiculous, he ALWAYS takes it to heart, and finds a way to apply it in his life! Because of it, my husband is a very successful, happy, well-liked person. He is such an example to me and his mindset has blessed our family.
I BELIEVE IN TEACHING TO FISH, RATHER THAN GIVING FISH
Did you know that I named this blog FunCheapOrFree because originally I was posting deals and coupons? I did it for a few months then quit because I HATED it. It wasn't clicking with my soul. I felt like it was putting a bandaid on a broken femur; it might help stop the bleeding, but wasn't going to help the core issue of finances.
I stopped blogging for a few months, then in February 2011 decided to go back to what I know…which are the fundamental principles I personally try and test, that actually seem to work.
When I write a post – any kind of post – I write it with a mindset of teaching you to fish so you can take principles from within the post and apply it to YOUR situation. Because let's be honest, the number of you with 4 kids the exact ages and genders of mine, living in my same neighborhood, in the same state, with the same interests and abilities as mine, that likes doing the same things as me, with the exact same job as my husband are…well…zilch. I try to write so that you can scan the megaposts, take what YOU want and what YOU need for YOUR situation, and learn how to apply them in YOUR life.
YOU MUST REMEMBER THAT THIS BLOG MAKES MONEY
No lie. I don't have secrets, remember? Read The Truth about How My Blog Makes Money for more on this.
At the end of the day I have done everything in my power to provide as much free, original, unique content to YOU as possible, and this is able to happen because of great sponsors, ads, and trade work. I don't like being paid to say things, which is why I can't remember the last time I did a paid sponsored post. If a company approaches me with a product or service that I like and want to try, I will usually take their product instead of compensation so I can try it obligation-free. I love this because then I can honestly say, “I tried it, I love it, and I'm not being paid a dime to say whatever I want about it.”
If I try something and don't like it, you'll never hear about it. Ever. But if I try it and like it, you'll hear about it AFTER I find a way to make it as affordable as possible for you! That's just how I operate. So keep that in mind. Not that it should matter, but sometimes we don't pay out of pocket for some of the things I own or do, but I will never blog about something that I wouldn't pay for with my own money.
Wow, can we say tangents?
Again, I can't thank the commenter enough for the feedback. I hope I didn't offend her or anyone else with this novel. I just feel it's important to clear the air and make sure you trust me and know that I have your best interests at heart.
I honestly love you all, in a totally non-creepy way I promise.
Thanks for reading, and please keep the feedback coming! (…just pretty please smile while you type it? It makes it come out less harsh.). AAAH I feel better getting that off my chest. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to the 10,000 things I just neglected by writing this.