Happy With What We Don’t Have {from the Archives}

Talk about a blast from the past! This was the absolute very first post I ever wrote, and it was written as a guest post! Happy to Be at Home is no longer, but that was one of the first blogs I read. Those ladies encouraged me to write my story, which is how the following post and this blog came about.

I was so very tempted to edit the heck outta this thing when Joy found it for me last night, but decided against it, choosing to remember how far I’ve come. So here I am, asking for grace and humor as you wade through my very first, passionately written (pretty sure I forgot my filter on this one), messy blog post.  Look for updates at the end!

“You’re so lucky that you get to stay home.”

I hear that all the time, and although I do feel very blessed to be at home raising my children (where on earth would I rather be?), I can’t stand that comment. I assume that they assume that I’m home because of the prolific money tree growing in the back yard.

There is no money tree. Trust me. I can’t even keep house plants alive.

I get to stay home because we have made some choices. We made these choices early and often and it’s a darn good thing. We are now able to live well on my husband’s tiny-Kansas-town teacher salary. Do you have any idea what teachers’ salaries are in the tiny towns of central Kansas?!?

Anyway, just because we are a few dollars away from qualifying for WIC services doesn’t mean that we don’t live well. And you know what? We also put nearly 15% of his income into savings last year. IT CAN BE DONE.

It’s all a matter of perspective. Of choice. We choose to be happy with what we have and what we don’t have, and we are abundantly blessed for it.

Here are just a few things that we choose to be happy with.

1. Our vehicles. They’re older (’94 pickup and ’01 minivan), and they both have well over 100,000 miles on them but…

  • They are paid for (we don’t do loans on anything except our 15 year mortgage).
  • They are functional and safe.
  • They are saving us money in the tags and taxes and insurance departments.

2. Our tv. It’s old (1996ish), it’s not digital, and we have only one channel. But…

  • We have three small children. That’s FREE entertainment! Who needs another distraction?
  • We can borrow videos from the library for our “tv fix.”
  • We are able to watch that $600-1,000 that we could have spent on cable/satellite GROW in our mutual funds each year. (We have this thing about wanting to retire someday…)

3. Our tiny town. (Okay, so that’s not a thing that we own, just work with me on this.) We are 15 minutes from the nearest grocery store and an hour from “real” shopping and entertainment. But…

  • I have learned to plan ahead. No quick trips to the store to satisfy a baking craving.
  • Everything I want to do is within 4 walking blocks. We walk to the park, the swimming pool, the library and post office, and to our friends’ and families’ houses.
  • Lance walks to work. Seriously, it is sometimes a full week before we get a vehicle out of the garage.

4. Our house. It’s not big (1,450 sq. feet, 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, unfinished partial basement) and it’s old (1916) and we’ve had and still need to do a lot of work on it, but…

  • We purchased a lot of house (you should see our huge yard and garage) for relatively little money. (it’s a tiny-town thing)
  • We fix it up as funds allow. (Remember, no loans.) We think it’s looking rather nice!
  • One bathroom = less cleaning. I hate cleaning. (Check back with me in 12 years when I have 2 teenage girls and one bathroom…)

5. Our home furnishings. Nothing is new, and we’ve spent about $1,000 TOTAL on ALL of our furniture, but…

  • We have truly beautiful furnishings (including antiques, we love antiques!) that were either given to us or purchased cheap from someone who was “upgrading.”
  • We love the thrill of WAITING and finding something for very little money that others pay through the nose for. More money for the retirement fund!
  • Why on earth would we want to spend oodles of money on nice furniture when we have small children living in our home?!?

I could go on and on, and I plan to… on my own very new blog, The Finer Things in Life. (oh my goodness, that links to my old wordpress.com blog!) Please join me as I expand my thoughts about our finances and how we manage thrive happily in these consumer-driven, double income, materialistic times. We are so very happy with what we don’t have!


Now tell me that wasn’t fun! 😉 Life has certainly changed in the last five + years, but the more things change the more they stay the same, right?

  • Living in a small house on a teacher’s salary with three children ages 5, 3, and 1 is way different than living on a teacher’s salary with five children ages 10, 8, 6, 3, and 1. The part-time income I now make from this site and a couple of virtual assistant jobs makes things so much easier on our family. And, I’m still home! (And I still can’t keep house plants alive.)
  • We still make hard financial choices, and we still go without many things, but my income helps us say “yes!” to some fun things, too.
  • We still have that ’94 pickup that our kids can’t ride in! Ha! We did upgrade to a 2005 suburban with cash, and yes, it also has over 100,000 miles on it. Apparently we prefer our vehicles to be well loved. (and priced for cash!)
  • Our tv cratered. We now have a newer (still no flat screen!) model, which was a generous hand-me-down from relatives. After 14 years of marriage, we made the choice to get DirectTv for my sports-loving history buff of a husband. He has sacrificed SO MUCH for our family that I am thrilled we can finally do this for him!
  • We’re a little more mobile now with the kids’ activities, but we still live in the same house, in the same tiny town. A friend opened a little store here where I can grab an emergency half gallon of milk if needed, but living here still keeps things simple!
  • My positive attitude about having one bathroom in our small home? Well, well, well. I need to work on that positive attitude as of late. 😉 We are actually making plans, God willing, to add another bathroom and more square footage to this home of ours. (The house has been paid off for over 2 years, so we’ve been saving and praying. Looks like it’s time to invest…)
  • Cleaning is still not on my favorite activities list.
  • Pretty sure our home looks the exact same as it did when I wrote this post, 5+ years ago, except for some wear and tear on our already old furniture. Seriously, though, I still believe that new furniture and little people don’t mix. It’s all good. We’ll upgrade someday.

And there you have it. My very first post! Thanks for digging through the archives with me in October!

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  1. ILuvIt! Amy, you’ve always kept it real, and I love how that hasnt changed over the years. Thank you for sharing this little piece of your past with us.

  2. I loved reading it and how fun to read the updates. Congrats on getting your house paid off and starting to plan the next step! I’m starting to brain storm ideas on how we should celebrate when our mortgage is over. We are hoping in the next 5 years.

    • So excited for you! The end is in sight! (And we were so busy with babies that we never really “celebrated” other than earmarking that money for home improvements. We should do something!)

      • Yeah, we currently have a 2 1/2 year old and an almost 5 month old so our celebration won’t be anything too fancy – but maybe a dinner out and leaving the server a ridiculously big tip followed by a fun dessert at home. . . We’ll see though! Just something a little different and fun! You so should do something!

  3. Oh, yes, I did love this. So funny, Amy! I must admit, however, that it does nothing for my temptation for discontentment. I grew up in a MN tiny town and would just love to go back one day. Right now, though, the Air Force tells us where to live. Friends think I’m crazy for wanting to live so small, but I wish to give my kids the kind of freedom I grew up with. I’m okay with the fact that the nearest quality shopping was 80+ minutes away. For now, I live vicariously thru you. 🙂 And I pray desperately about the lack of contentment that sometimes washes over me.

    • Blasted Air Force. 😉 If it helps, every once in a while I long for a wee bit of adventure. My cousin (air force) just got stationed in Italy!

  4. That WAS fun! What a great post for reflection! Thinking of writing my own like this so one day…in five or so years, I can look back on it too! I also enjoy living small (though our house is pretty big—the location is what got us and the price). But living out in the country of a smaller town keeps our spending down as well. Our nearest “good shopping” place is around 75 miles away and I’m okay with that. The grocery store is 10-15 minutes away, but still it takes much longer for the actual trip if you haul the kids…so it saves us from just “running to town” quite a bit. We, too, are happy with what we don’t have. :~)

  5. This is fabulous, my friend. While so much has changed over the past few years, I love that what’s important hasn’t changed.

  6. So fun. I wasn’t reading your blog 5 years ago, so it’s neat to see how things have changed for you. Makes me think how things have changed for me too. You still sound like a fun person.

  7. I love that you are revisiting past posts! I think I started reading your blog right after your little guy came along. I love seeing how things were before I started reading!

  8. I so needed this today. You see, I have two days left at my job. Next week I will start a new job which will be hard on our bottom line (half the wage of my current position) but which will be wonderful for our family in that I will be able to be more present as MOM. While I know this is the right thing for us, and I did plenty of praying and pondering before I applied for the new position, there are moments when I falter and worry that we’ll have a hard time adjusting to the lower income. Your post has reminded me of all the reasons we’ll be fine and ultimately better than fine!

  9. That was great! We’re talking about moving and a smaller home is definitely appealing to us for the price tag and less maintenance. Have a great weekend! 🙂

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